Tramp the Dirt Down April 8, 2013 6:04 AM   Subscribe

So, my comment suggesting that people not come into the Thatcher thread and say 'As an American, I don't know much about this, but you should probably be more nice about her' was deleted. I imagine the place to put it is here?

I think I put it pretty mildly, and I'm confused as to why it's OK to sanctimoniously tell people they should not be angry or flippant about her death, but not OK to say that people who don't know much about her legacy and have never felt its effects shouldn't tell other people how to respond.
posted by Acheman to Etiquette/Policy at 6:04 AM (1147 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

That thread is being way over-moderated. For once, we don't have a completely useless obituary thread and the hall monitor thing is wearing thin.

However, telling people "to stay out of it" isn't cool.
posted by spaltavian at 6:08 AM on April 8, 2013 [29 favorites]


Yes - it looks like comments are being deleted left and right.

One character signs of respect are ok in a obit thread but gloating one-liners are bad.
posted by schwa at 6:08 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Richard Nixon was a great statesman, and should be treated with more respect in this thread about his death... why, yes I'm from China, why do you ask?
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:08 AM on April 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


That was deleted? I think this just fundamentally isn't a thread that taz gets.

I think she is assuming that people are making jokes.
posted by jaduncan at 6:09 AM on April 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


You said, "As an American, you should stay out of this one, seriously."

Anyone can post in the thread. Nobody has to say nice things. Nobody has to put a dot. People can say what they'd like about how horrible she was or how horrible her policies were, what happened, how people suffered... but a hundred comments that are "yay, the witch is dead," is not what Metafilter is for.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:09 AM on April 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


This, finally, is the day Thatcher died. Let the people enjoy the occasion, and we can have a serious discussion tomorrow, OK?
posted by cincinnatus c at 6:10 AM on April 8, 2013 [32 favorites]


But keep the "." posts, those are very productive.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:10 AM on April 8, 2013 [77 favorites]


"As someone who has no idea what I'm talking about, I'm going to dictate your behaviour."

How's that for you? There's a difference between "celebrate no man's death" and "let's pretend one of the most vicious politicians of the modern era was actually a nice lady," which is basically what you're saying.
posted by Jilder at 6:10 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


I have no problem with people coming into the Thatcher thread and typing the thing you recommend they don't. It's an opportunity to educate them as to why, specifically, some people are - still - so angry with someone who hasn't held office in over two decades.
posted by Wordshore at 6:10 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


OK, so why is it for 1001 dots?
posted by jaduncan at 6:11 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know she was roundly hated by nearly all British mefites but the blood lust glee in that thread is sickening. She may have been a horrible human being in your view but she was a human being nonetheless.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:12 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I had a fairly unfunny, fairly harmless one-liner deleted. It was nothing I'd stand by as one of the great achievements in my life, but I completely fail to see how it was any less genuine, valid or substantive than the .'s and bland commiserations that the mods would prefer.
posted by forgetful snow at 6:13 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Mine was deleted and it was not "yay, the witch is dead," it was in response to a post about Cheney. Maybe not a very good post, but don't pretend it's only one type of post being deleted.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:13 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


but the blood lust glee in that thread is sickening.

But the glee exists. Deleting it and pretending mefi is above all that doesn't make it go away.
posted by schwa at 6:14 AM on April 8, 2013 [29 favorites]


Okay. Taz, I think that you're thinking that people don't honestly mean what they are saying.

I think where I fundamentally part company is that you say "we don't need 10,000 cheap snarks", implying that people aren't being sincere. You're heavily overmoderating the thread, and it might be a good idea to get the opinion of other mods if you haven't done so already.
posted by jaduncan at 6:14 AM on April 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


Thatcher is on the non-sarcastically "worse than Hitler" scale for many people, due to her actually having governed where they live during their lifetimes -- not a historical figure.

A modicum of decorum is probably more than you should hope for.
posted by ardgedee at 6:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


People should be allowed to vent their spleen. She was the most divisive person in Britain in the last 100 years... I'm actually pretty annoyed at how Mefi is moderating this
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [61 favorites]


She may have been a horrible human being in your view but she was a human being nonetheless.

Well, yeah, if she was some lower-order lifeform she wouldn't have been responsible for her actions.
posted by spaltavian at 6:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


double block and bleed: "...but she was a human being nonetheless."

[citation needed]
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:16 AM on April 8, 2013 [77 favorites]


Well, yeah, if she was some lower-order lifeform she wouldn't have been responsible for her actions.

Yeah, human beings get judged for their actions. Boo fuckin' hoo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:16 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'd be interesting in revisiting this topic when George W. Bush dies.
posted by fight or flight at 6:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


You said, "As an American, you should stay out of this one, seriously."

Yeah, and I stand by that. It wasn't a joke. It wasn't 'The Witch is Dead'. It was a serious comment. I think it's OK for British (and Irish, etc) people to have a thread about Thatcher without people blundering in complaining that they aren't being given more meaningful information about her legacy and so can't flesh out the vague memories of a Spitting Image puppet that are all they have to contribute to the conversation. There are Americans contributing meaningfully to that conversation, but they aren't the ones telling people off for making the wrong sort of comments. I'm not talking about mods here, but ignorant users who don't know a coal mine from a hole in the ground.
posted by Acheman at 6:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


People should be allowed to vent their spleen. She was the most divisive person in Britain in the last 100 years... I'm actually pretty annoyed at how Mefi is moderating this

Divisive means that some people liked her. The truth is, we have this conversation every time a controversial or ill-liked figure dies. It helps to imagine someone you would not like to see disparaged when they die.

I'm no fan of Thatcher, and I like to vent spleen quite a lot, but obit threads are not for that purpose per se.
posted by OmieWise at 6:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd be interesting in revisiting this topic when George W. Bush dies.

The Shrub was a simple tool, and everyone knows it. Norquist and Cheney's obit threads, however, will be easily this epic.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:20 AM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Since dots are A-OK and short jokes aren't, clearly we need a counter-dot of some kind.

Comma, maybe? Nicely equal to the dot, but the antithesis.
posted by aramaic at 6:20 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since dots are A-OK and short jokes aren't, clearly we need a counter-dot of some kind.

💩?
posted by schwa at 6:21 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


People should be allowed to vent their spleen. She was the most divisive person in Britain in the last 100 years... I'm actually pretty annoyed at how Mefi is moderating this

People can vent as much as they want. It doesn't necessarily have to be on the blue.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:21 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


If this thread was not 'for' the purpose of discussing our reactions to Thatcher's death, then what on earth was it for?
posted by forgetful snow at 6:21 AM on April 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


"yay, the witch is dead,"

The "witch is dead" wrt Thatcher has been a meme since long before anyone knew what a meme was. Seriously, we who lived through it have been promising to mark this moment with a party for most of our lives. Now that it's actually happened, I guess I'm feeling pretty empty. But waiting for the woman's demise has been a cultural touchstone for many Brits for generations, making this reaction pretty much inevitable.

This is not to excuse our tastelessness, just to offer some context. I'm with Acheman, Americans probably can't parse this. I fear without British moderation the thread is doomed to be train wreck.

We've been waiting more than twenty years to say it. The witch is dead.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 6:21 AM on April 8, 2013 [55 favorites]


People should be allowed to vent their spleen.

Is there any way to vent one's spleen better than simply saying "suck it, bitch" or "yay she's dead" or anything equally as pithy?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Seems to me like there are odd moments in this world when things happen that crystallize so much emotion, that the regular rules of conversation are slackened off a little while people deal with it.

In normal obit threads the emotions are generally ones of sadness, and accordingly, the mods go easy on the "substantiveness requirement" and people post a bunch of dots.

This is a time when we need the same leeway to be angry.

This moment is just as emotional for Brits as it was when Diana died, and if you're too young or not British and you don't get it, that's understandable but maybe knock off telling us what we should feel about it?
posted by emilyw at 6:23 AM on April 8, 2013 [33 favorites]


The "witch is dead" wrt Thatcher has been a meme since long before anyone knew what a meme was

THIS
posted by schwa at 6:23 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there any way to vent one's spleen better than simply saying "suck it, bitch" or "yay she's dead" or anything equally as pithy?

Has anyone said either of those things? (If they did, they've been deleted.) Or is this just hyperbole?
posted by hoyland at 6:23 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll never understand how the death of someone who did truly destructive, evil things on a massive scale should not be celebrated. Just because someone didn't outright gas civilians doesn't mean they didn't do epic harm.

Fuck her, let the hate flow.
posted by nevercalm at 6:24 AM on April 8, 2013 [32 favorites]


According to the thread, I'm a Marxist.

Good to know.
posted by mephron at 6:24 AM on April 8, 2013


I was the poster who originally added the 'witch is dead' comment, and I'm not apologising for it.

Thatcher dying and 'ding dong the witch is dead', has been around for decades, and when I look around the net today, especially at Scottish sites, it's practically the first response anyone makes.

FWIW, I've not felt happy at the news, or celebrated the fact that she's died. It's just closure, along with 30 years of anger at her actions. The amount of damage she caused is absolutely incalculable, and the mods simply don't understand the level of rage involved here. Tone down the most offensive stuff, sure, but appreciate that spleen needs to be vented.
posted by daveje at 6:25 AM on April 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


jaduncan: "You're heavily overmoderating the thread, and it might be a good idea to get the opinion of other mods if you haven't done so already."

She has. Personally I'd prefer it if we could show a bit more class in noting Thatcher's passing, but in terms of moderation, early snark has been removed from threads for a long time now and dots of remembrance have been okay here for as long as I can remember. The Thatcher thread is no different even if the volume of comments is much higher. I don't quite understand how dots figure into this really, because I don't see too many of those in that thread.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:27 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the love of Cthulhu, CUT THE MODS SOME SLACK on this (impossible) one.

Look at it from their point of view. This is a major breaking news event and there are comments coming in quicker than can be read. It's an extreme trigger event which will generate an extremely wide, and divisive array of opinions, matching the person at the centre of the event. Honestly, if you go into some bars and pubs in the UK and mention Thatcher in anything less than derogatory terms, fights break out. But in other places, some people will be saddened at the news.

It is, frankly, impossible to please everyone on this one. Or come close. Could you moderate this FPP - in real time as they are trying to do - and have people not upset at the strength of some of the comments, or that comments were being deleted? I'd fail hopelessly at trying to reconcile these extremes through moderation. So would you.

Also, there are *other* posts, and parts of MetaFilter, that need moderation at the same time. It's not just that one of the most divisive politicians of the last century or so has died, today...
posted by Wordshore at 6:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


> That thread is being way over-moderated.

Agreed. MetaFilter is not a tea party.
posted by languagehat at 6:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [31 favorites]


I don't quite understand how dots figure into this really, because I don't see too many of those in that thread.

It's the counterpoint to a relief that someone has gone. If the stance is that people repeatedly expressing happiness and relief is redundant, it's hard to see how dots expressing sadness aren't and why a double standard should exist.
posted by jaduncan at 6:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


bit more class

Yeah, as has been pointed out in the other thread, now might not be the right time to use phrases like 'bit more class', 'classy' etc. seeing as how they are all historical synonyms for 'in the manner of the upper classes'.
posted by Acheman at 6:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [70 favorites]


I'm not suggesting that any comments should be deleted. I'm almost never in favor of that. Just as you should be free to offer your opinion that her death is the greatest thing since sliced bread in an open discussion, I should be free to offer my opinion that gloating over anyone's death is distasteful. I'm not trying to silence you all your life.

Even though I am an American, that doesn't mean that it's ok to tell me to STFU based on that fact. I paid my five bucks just like you did and I'm free to chip in my 2 cents.

That being said, I hate dot threads, too.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:30 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


We don't need a hundred "witch is dead" comments. We're not telling anyone they have to be nice, or to put a dot. I'm not a fan of the dot myself, and definitely not a fan of Thatcher.

Speak up and say what you have to say, but a thread full of short, empty, repetitive witch / vampire etc. comments is going to get tiresome for everyone.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:31 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Heh. I just got called right-wing.

That thread's going to be a train-wreck whatever happens. I'm not overly keen on moderation (especially when it happens to me), but Wordshore's probably right. Cut taz some slack here.
posted by Leon at 6:32 AM on April 8, 2013


Even though I am an American, that doesn't mean that it's ok to tell me to STFU based on that fact.

Nobody's saying that. But insistence from American Mefites that we should be respectful and nice are really ill informed and need to be kept in context. Thatcher destroyed large swathes of the North, destroyed livelihoods, drove people to starvation and exile, and co-incidentally also started an expensive unfounded war. There are reasons our British users are responding to the news so passionately, and telling them to calm down is really tone deaf.
posted by Jilder at 6:33 AM on April 8, 2013 [54 favorites]


Has anyone said either of those things? (If they did, they've been deleted.)

Thus spake Taz:

We don't need a hundred "witch is dead" comments.

Sounds like "yes."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:33 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


First thing I thought of when I saw this news was "wow, that's going to be a crummy Monday for the MeFi mods."
posted by smackfu at 6:34 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't understand this opinion that when people die their bad actions are erased. She was a witch before she died, and now she is a dead witch.

Some people need to get off their high horse specially when they don't know what the fuck they are talking about. I can't say anything about the hypothetical death of Dick Cheney, etc. but I know that people in the US tend to be a lot more politically correct than the rest of us, and maybe that's something to consider.
posted by Tarumba at 6:34 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


There was a comment that Americans should stay out of it. The STFU was hyperbole on my part.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:35 AM on April 8, 2013


We don't need a hundred "witch is dead" comments.


Indeed, a few thousand would be much better.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:36 AM on April 8, 2013 [31 favorites]


There are reasons our British users are responding to the news so passionately, and telling them to calm down is really tone deaf.

Except no one is telling them TO calm down. This is a request for eloquence in speech, as opposed to a request for moderation of emotion.

And okay, yeah, "the witch is dead" may be a meme, but - look at it this way, at the very least, wouldn't it be more fun to get way more over-the-top baroque in your vitriol instead of just tossing off a one-liner?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:36 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think part of the context that Americans are missing is that the eventual death and funeral have been heavily politicized by both sides for a long time.

On the left, "How happy we will be when Thatcher dies" has been a longstanding meme for years, with songs written about it by multiple artists.

On the right, turning the funeral into a giant state occasion (if not officially a state funeral) is seen as a great way to set a triumphant seal on Thatcherite policies of deregulation, privatization, monetarism and shrinking the state.

In this climate, any expression of either contempt or respect, is a political act.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:36 AM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


We don't need a hundred "witch is dead" comments. We're not telling anyone they have to be nice, or to put a dot.

Sure. So why delete one but not the other?
posted by jaduncan at 6:37 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's days like this when I go back and read the Ted Kennedy obit thread and marvel at how appalled we are at the behavior of conversatives.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:38 AM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Maybe you Brits could explain the way to say "be nice; she just died; at the same time I have no opinion I wish to share" in a less politically correct, UK manner. Also, if fries are chips and chips are crisps than what are crisps?
posted by michaelh at 6:38 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do think this isn't a thread where the mods can please everybody, because the visceral hatred for Thatcher is so great that even normally more polite people will be itching to get their bit in. For those of all y'all who don't feel the same way, because you're not British or haven't lived through it, it must seem awful the way people are carrying on about her, but trust me: it could be so much stronger if people weren't already moderating their comments somewhat.

The usual deletion of early snark won't work here because this is how people feel about her. This is not a disruption or derail, this is the painful truth.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:38 AM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


This is a request for eloquence in speech, as opposed to a request for moderation of emotion.

I respect your opinion, but would you be saying the same thing for a dot thread? "Hey guys, I'm sorry you're so sad, but could we maybe talk about why you are sad instead of just posting a single character comment?"
posted by fight or flight at 6:39 AM on April 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


> This is a request for eloquence in speech

Really? Eloquence is a requirement on MeFi now? I guess the threads are going to be a lot shorter from now on.

Seriously, this is bullshit. Some people are going to be eloquent, some are going to be snarky, some are going to drop tired one-liners, just like in every other thread. I honestly do not see the need to try to moderate this thread so heavily. Who exactly is harmed if people say "The witch is dead" a few times? And please do not tell me "MetaFilter's reputation," because I will laugh at you.
posted by languagehat at 6:42 AM on April 8, 2013 [102 favorites]


I respect your opinion, but would you be saying the same thing for a dot thread?

It depends on whether the mods themselves had made such a request first that everyone else seemed to not be getting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are reasons our British users are responding to the news so passionately, and telling them to calm down is really tone deaf.

There is a difference between telling someone how to feel and how to behave. We can all be thrilled about Thatcher's death, but that's not an excuse to act like an asshole. Thatcher's ghost won't be harmed by the vitriol, but Metafilter can be.
posted by gjc at 6:42 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


We don't need a hundred "witch is dead" comments. We're not telling anyone they have to be nice, or to put a dot.

OK, but why would dots, as a policy, be OK, but "witch" as a policy not be OK? One's a token of respect and one of disrespect. It seems an odd rule to allow only the positive side of the two.
posted by tyllwin at 6:43 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


> Thatcher's ghost won't be harmed by the vitriol, but Metafilter can be.

How? Explain to me in simple terms that I can grasp. I agree that MetaFilter is harmed when people call each other names directly, and the mods rightly delete such comments. I do not understand how MeFi is harmed by vitriol against vile politicians, and frankly I doubt you'll be able to convince me.
posted by languagehat at 6:44 AM on April 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


Thatcher's ghost won't be harmed by the vitriol, but Metafilter can be.

This is the point where languagehat laughs at you.
posted by schwa at 6:44 AM on April 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


That's a fair point fight or flight, but I think we have to take into account community tradition as well. Dots have generally been tolerated by the community much more than drive-by snark, and they tend not to provoke the same sort of free fall in the level of discussion, I feel.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:45 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cut out the over-moderation.
posted by unSane at 6:45 AM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


I can only post something that Teju Cole just posted on Twitter:

"No need to speak ill of those dead about whom speaking truth is far more damning."

She called Mandela a terrorist and was friends with Pinochet. Surely reminding everybody of this and many, many other things is enough to not only condemn her but to remind others - Americans and younger Brits alike - why this person should be condemned.
posted by vacapinta at 6:46 AM on April 8, 2013 [54 favorites]


This is not a 'regular' memorial thread, and I think the one thing that gives it away is the number of '.' that are present in the thread, compared to other memorial threads. Almost none. Moderation should be as light as possible, because I suspect if you ask people who are posting online they are likely moderating themselves before they post.
(...writes a scottish mefi, from a mining town)
posted by ewan at 6:46 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thatcher's ghost won't be harmed by the vitriol, but Metafilter can be.

Naah. As long as the vitriol is directed at her and the mods are doing their usual good job of containing personal fights between users, a little bit of hatred can't harm this site.

I think suppressing these feelings would be more harmful in the long run, this idea that we have to be nice (for certain values of nice) and rational (for some values of...) all the time.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:48 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Doesn't snark imply insincerity? In this case, I think folks mean what they say.
posted by zamboni at 6:49 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thatcher smashes MetaFilter: "there is no such thing as a 'community' weblog", cries ghostly Iron Lady from beyond the grave

-- BBC presenters ordered to use "most neutral expression possible"
-- New Pope to be renamed Pope Margaret I in honour of dead PM
-- Ben Elton's early stand-up career can finally rest in peace
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:49 AM on April 8, 2013 [59 favorites]


God forbid people not be allowed to post their unfunny contextless snark on one place on the internet!
posted by inturnaround at 6:49 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


This, finally, is the day Thatcher died. Let the people enjoy the occasion, and we can have a serious discussion tomorrow, OK?

As a non-UK citizen, but one who grew up in the shadow of Thatcher, this comment is fair.
Let the people have their say.

I can't say what or how is being moderated (and I am sorry that Taz has been lumped with it, but it was going to happen), and I can't say that this is an outlier thread that defines Metafilter, but for god's sake, there are people partying in the streets in the UK.

(It's anarchy. It's was coming some time.)

This says much about the world in the 1970s and today.
posted by Mezentian at 6:49 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe you Brits could explain the way to say "be nice; she just died; at the same time I have no opinion I wish to share" in a less politically correct, UK manner. Also, if fries are chips and chips are crisps than what are crisps?

You are not actually obliged to comment in every thread. I stay out of obit threads of people I've never heard of or know little about, because I don't know enough about that person to contribute meaningfully I'm only going to be adding noise. If you've got no idea who Thatcher is, or why she's so reviled, just asking everyone else to be nice is kind of a waste of everyone's time.

Except no one is telling them TO calm down. This is a request for eloquence in speech, as opposed to a request for moderation of emotion.'

There have been quite a few posts asking for compassion and niceness and not speaking ill of the dead. Most of them have not survived, as evidenced by this thread itself. Quite a few gently chiding ones still remain, though they're in the minority and really they've been responded to eloquently enough in thread.

I don't have a hassle at all with the suggestion that quickie one liners get the bin, especially at this point when the thread is clicking along white hot, but I do take offense to this general vibe that honestly, she can't have been that bad, now could she? Really, she was, and the response inthread from our UK mefites is strong because of that.
posted by Jilder at 6:50 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, really, this moderation is over the top. This is not I repeat not good for this community. Ugly personal attacks on other members should always be deleted. Comments voicing opinions about a dead politician should almost NEVER be deleted. This is getting ridiculous.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 AM on April 8, 2013 [75 favorites]


Special pleading abounds.

I think suppressing these feelings would be more harmful in the long run, this idea that we have to be nice (for certain values of nice) and rational (for some values of...) all the time.

The issue is when we get to not be nice. Because everyone has irrational hate about someone. And to simply imply that the enormity of their feelings gives them license to get their hate on opens the door to less absolute figures of loathing. And god help us when someone who is controversial dies.
posted by zabuni at 6:52 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "anti-thatcher at all costs, and to hell with what we're saying to other people and how we're treating them" rhetoric going on in that thread is pretty rubbish.

There's part of me wonders if people are getting so hysterical about denouncing Thatcher and the less angry people in that thread because they're slowly realising that they're in the wrong. Either that or left wingers just can't be reasonable. I suspect a combination of the two.
posted by zoo at 6:53 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


First thing I thought of when I saw this news was "wow, that's going to be a crummy Monday for the MeFi mods."

I got the image of a siren being triggered in the mod bunker when the news hit CNN. IT'S DEFCON 5, GETCHER HELMETS ON.

Just like newspapers have pre-written obits, the mods (in my imagination) have a siren set to go off at the deaths of divisive political figures.
posted by sonika at 6:53 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'd be interesting in revisiting this topic when George W. Bush dies.

Blink tags and animated gifs will be turned on, and the failover databases will be brought online to contain MetaFilter's collective glee.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:54 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, one of the things that wound me up about having my comment deleted was that I had reworded it about five or six times to cut out the spitting rage I was feeling and leave only a respectful request that people not comment on stuff they don't know about.

Every time you tell someone that political anger is unseemly, you give the ****s in power a chance to carry on without protest.
posted by Acheman at 6:54 AM on April 8, 2013 [41 favorites]


I do not understand how MeFi is harmed by vitriol against vile politicians, and frankly I doubt you'll be able to convince me.

What is your (unbiased and objective) definition of "vile politician"? Because, you know, everyone might not agree on what that is, and that's the crux of the problem.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:56 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Of course, zoo. I cannot be the fact that the hatred (or "hysterics", like you like to call it) is justified.
posted by Tarumba at 6:56 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel some skepticism about valuing good tone over felt truth when the subject under discussion is political. It seems to screw over the disenfranchised without generating much benefit beyond a superficial niceness.
posted by prefpara at 6:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


I love the idea that hatred for Thatcher is irrational. Speaking as someone who lived through those years and grew up a few miles from the mining towns, I can assure you it's not irrational. If you weren't in the UK then, you really don't have a right to tell me what's rational and isn't.
posted by unSane at 6:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [43 favorites]


left wingers just can't be reasonable

I hear if you dissect their skulls you can find a lump in the brain that causes unreasonableness.
posted by schwa at 6:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


David Cameron issues statement: "if only I could be as hated when I die"

-- Thousands of people on benefits start helpful petition
-- Boris Johnson's fringe flaps mournfully
-- New Pope to be renamed "Pope Marmite I" in oblique reference to Thatcher controversy
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


Blink tags and animated gifs will be turned on, and the failover databases will be brought online to contain MetaFilter's collective glee.

I do not understand why that would be. MetaFilter is a site with tens of thousands of members who each have their own unique views and therefore there is no "MetaFilter View" of any given political or social matter.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:59 AM on April 8, 2013


Can't breathe, I'm in stitches at the image of Boris Johnson's fringe flapping mournfully at half-mast
posted by forgetful snow at 7:00 AM on April 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Sad to see so many right wing americans on mefi these days.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:01 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well there we go then unSane. As someone who lived through those years and grew up a few miles away from mining towns, I'd like you to know it is irrational.

"You didn't live it and if you did then you'd know I'm telling the truth" is bullshit rhetoric.
posted by zoo at 7:02 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter has had a flag for "noise" for quite some time now. More than one "the witch is dead" is noise.

Metafilter is supposed to have higher standards. I agree completely with the mods; if "Roger Ebert was a hack and I'm glad he's dead" would have been deleted in that thread, than similar expressions should be deleted here.

We all get warned (some of us more regularly than others) that Metafilter is not our personal blogspace. Comments need to be some combination of constructive, respectful, appropriate for the context or funny.
posted by gjc at 7:02 AM on April 8, 2013


I had nothing to say in that thread. So I did not post a comment there.
posted by tommasz at 7:02 AM on April 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


Acheman: "Yes, one of the things that wound me up about having my comment deleted was that I had reworded it about five or six times to cut out the spitting rage I was feeling and leave only a respectful request that people not comment on stuff they don't know about."

I totally understand the sentiment, but with respect, that's not what you did. The way your comment read it appeared you asked Americans to refrain from commenting altogether. This is neither possible nor fair. Respectfully pointing out how the facts on the ground are in your experience different from what another user (American or no) appears to assume is pretty much always okay.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 7:04 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


zoo, how is personal experience bullshit rhetoric all of a sudden?

I personally never felt specially cut up over 9/11 (my own country had several terrorist attacks so it didn't feel that huge to me), but American people would have the right to feel livid if I told them what you just said.
posted by Tarumba at 7:04 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Every time you tell someone that political anger is unseemly, you give the ****s in power a chance to carry on without protest.

This is not actually a position that we agree with. I'm as "fuck the man" as much as the next person, probably more, but there's a difference between saying "Hey we have some standards of conduct here" and "Hey we think anti-politician speech has something wrong with it in a general sense so don't do it" I'm sorry this site can't, especially at times like this, be all things to all people. It's fine to be angry, or even gleeful about Thatcher's death. The space between that and when you make a comment on MeFi is when you can find a way to express that in ways that are appropriate here.

Obit threads about contentious people are one of the worst parts of MetaFilter because they invariably turn into two angry contentious threads and not just one. People seem to forget that we're a community here and the guidelines don't go out the window just because there's a big news event. There's always a big news event someplace.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:05 AM on April 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


I got the image of a siren being triggered in the mod bunker when the news hit CNN. IT'S DEFCON 5, GETCHER HELMETS ON.

When Cheney dies they'll pull out the facial shields. You know. To keep from getting shot in the face and stuff.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:05 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


When Cheney dies

Would you say that again? I just wanna hear it again.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:09 AM on April 8, 2013 [45 favorites]


I'm as "fuck the man" as much as the next person, probably more


Agreed - in a certain light, Jess looks like a combination of Che Guevara and Iggy Stooge.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:10 AM on April 8, 2013


Tarumba : Personal experience isn't bullshit. Saying that nobody from a similar situation as you could feel differently than you is rhetoric. Especially annoying given that I have similar personal experiences and I feel different to unSane. I'm not going to marginalize his experience, but he can do better than marginalize mine.

I think the rhetorical term is "appeal to authority" or some such nonsense.
posted by zoo at 7:11 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mostly come down on the side of there's so sense in taking joy at a person's death.

But.

I can understand the relief of scratching an itch, lancing a boil, pulling an infected tooth. Good, bad, or indifferent, Thatcher has made herself a focus for so much hate that I'm actually sort of impressed with the restraint. Hopefully the hate can fade with her memory.
posted by Mooski at 7:13 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


No true Scotsman, as it were.
posted by gjc at 7:13 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The way your comment read it appeared you asked Americans to refrain from commenting altogether

I'm an American who really didn't read that comment this way. I do think that people of whatever nationality who don't know anything about Thatcher should do themselves and everyone else a favor and not comment in that obit if all they have to contribute is A) a lecture about how it isn't nice to be angry and/or B) flapping a flag made of ignorance.
posted by rtha at 7:14 AM on April 8, 2013 [31 favorites]


Iggy Stooge?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is the first time a notable person has died that I immediately came to the Blue hoping to savor a few hundred mean spirited and snarky comments. I guess the universal hatred of Thatcher I've experienced in my life made me expect a lifting of obit decorum on this one.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:16 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love the idea that hatred for Thatcher is irrational. Speaking as someone who lived through those years and grew up a few miles from the mining towns, I can assure you it's not irrational. If you weren't in the UK then, you really don't have a right to tell me what's rational and isn't.

If "hatred for Thatcher is irrational" in that thread, then why are several Mefites over there making impassioned cases about just how wrong she was for the political course of the UK to the point that a few Americans are stating that they understand why she was reviled now?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:16 AM on April 8, 2013


sgt.serenity: "Agreed - in a certain light, Jess looks like a combination of Che Guevara and Iggy Stooge."

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean but I do know we can do without this sort of comment.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 7:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Iggy Stooge?

He's still alive m8, im talkin aboot the channelling of rebellious energy n that, ken ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was replying to this comment:

I think it's absolutely fine to point all of those things out. But a one line, "Ding! Dong! The witch is dead" adds nothing to the conversation about her life and impact on the world.

As an American, I remember the Spitting Image puppet and the comparisons to Reagan...so there's much to learn about her.

For as reviled as she is with some people, there are others who undoubtedly voted Conservative in the 1980s and kept her in power.


With respect, I think it was fucking vacuous and contributing far less to the conversation than other comments which were deleted.

What I also said in my deleted comment was that I'd like to add a full stop for every single person whose life she ruined, but there'd be no end to them.
posted by Acheman at 7:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


wow, that's going to be a crummy Monday for the MeFi mods

Except that it wasn't. The thread was going prefectly fine. We didn't have a "hundred" witch is dead comments. We had some, mixed in with a lot of context and longer posts. The problem with the thread was created by the moderators.
posted by spaltavian at 7:20 AM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


What I also said in my deleted comment was that I'd like to add a full stop for every single person whose life she ruined, but there'd be no end to them.

Most deleted comments (I think) have points that should not be deleted.

It is a fact of life.
posted by Mezentian at 7:22 AM on April 8, 2013


Rik Mayall to be buried alive with Thatcher to heal national rift

-- Rik, the "People's Poet," sacrificed to mollify pro-Thatcher lobby
-- Cliff Richard, Motörhead to play at Hyde Park double-funeral
-- North and South Korea offer Britain use of demilitarized zone on weekends
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:23 AM on April 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


I can't remember exactly who the last controversial post was, but I remember there was a big one, where a few people came in to talk about actualities, and were almost overwhelmingly told that it was not appropriate to do so.

These things need to be consistent. If people can't shit all over, say, a Zinn obit (for placeholder for what it actually is) then they should not shit on a Thatcher one.
posted by corb at 7:23 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have no idea what this is supposed to mean but I do know we can do without this sort of comment.

You don't know what it means but you can do without it - I agree it could be read the wrong way and for that I apologise - but please help yourselves moderate more effectively by displaying some honest communication.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:24 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Iggy Stooge is the one that did the fuckawful car insurance advert. Iggy Pop surely wouldn't have participated.
posted by spectrevsrector at 7:26 AM on April 8, 2013


Reddit will let you spit on her grave if you feel so inclined.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:26 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The comment sounded like it was meant to be mean. If it wasn't, choose clearer language next time.
posted by gjc at 7:26 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Damn British MeFites are mean. Remind me not to get in their bad side by destroying their country or whatever this lady did.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:27 AM on April 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


I'm curious if Taz would have been of the opinion that happy comments from people regarding the death of Georgios Papadopoulos should be deleted.
posted by jaduncan at 7:27 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


These things need to be consistent. If people can't shit all over, say, a Zinn obit (for placeholder for what it actually is) then they should not shit on a Thatcher one.

Howard Zinn is nothing like Thatcher. Even if you hate him for ideological reasons, ideological disagreement is not what's driving people's hatred of Thatcher.

I was thinking on my commute and really couldn't come up with an analogue for Thatcher. When bad political figures die, people usually have some platitudes about how terrible they were and someone turns up and explains their visceral reaction that's the result of experience others are lacking. Here, a large number of people have that visceral reaction.
posted by hoyland at 7:28 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


When someone dies that the Metafilter crowd mostly likes anyone daring to say something critical will be shouted down with a chorus of moralizing complaints about how crass and wrong it is to intrude such comments into an obit thread. I loathed Maggie Thatcher with every fibre of my being when she was PM, and don't have anything good to say about her now but that thread is not one that reflects well on the Metafilter community. This is why I stay out of obit threads, actually--there is something about them that seems inherently to put one in a position of bad faith.
posted by yoink at 7:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


please help yourselves moderate more effectively by displaying some honest communication.

Comments that tell a woman that they resemble men are a particularly nasty form of gendered insult and you should stop making them. If you insulted other users as continually and crappily as you insult the mods you'd be banned by now. Please consider stopping.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [92 favorites]


Thatcher fucked the part of England I come from. She fucked the miners. She fucked working class people right across the nation. Her policies resulted in my father being unemployed for the last fifteen years of what should have been his working life. She showed utter contempt for so many socially progressive things that had been laboriously built up since the war. She was a fucking monster and nobody is going to tell me I have to be nice about her bloody long-overdue demise, whether they come from the US, the UK or outer space. Some of us have been waiting years for this and we are going to rejoice. Rejoice.
posted by Decani at 7:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [66 favorites]


I'm curious if Taz would have been of the opinion that happy comments from people regarding the death of Georgios Papadopoulos should be deleted.

That's not especially helpful. She is doing the best job she can.
I've had umpty-comments deleted, I rarely agree, but it makes the Blue a nice place. And it's not like she's coming from a specific ideology.

Besides, what do you have against Webster's dad?
posted by Mezentian at 7:30 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Damn British MeFites are mean. Remind me not to get in their bad side by destroying their country or whatever this lady did.

The flip side to the veneer of polite and reserved we maintain is that if you let that slip for a second you see the frothing rage inside it that is barely in check when something as emotional happens to the country.

Anyway. Who wants a cup of tea?
posted by Brockles at 7:31 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


In these circumstances deleting negative comments and leaving "." is unfairly tipping the scales. Leaving a "." for Thatcher in front of a community with a sizable faction from countries damaged and destroyed by the woman is not a neutral action.

The issue is when we get to not be nice. Because everyone has irrational hate about someone. And to simply imply that the enormity of their feelings gives them license to get their hate on opens the door to less absolute figures of loathing. And god help us when someone who is controversial dies.

"Irrational hate", "enormity of feelings" and "controversial" are so off the mark as to be trolling. It's like saying anti-homeopathy posts should be deleted because those against are just piqued.
posted by bonaldi at 7:31 AM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's really not meant to be unhelpful. The point is that it's hard to have the same level of understanding for foreign leaders as the natives of that country.

I'm genuinely curious where the line is for how disliked someone can be before people expressing happiness that they are no longer around is not viewed as a problem.
posted by jaduncan at 7:32 AM on April 8, 2013


The difference between the visceral hatred against Thatcher and that of, say, to pull a name out of the hat, Hugo Chavez a while back is that the first is pretty much based in fact and personal experience, while the latter, well, wasn't.

You really can't have those pseudo-objective guidelines about threating every side the same, as they aren't.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:33 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


With respect, I think it was fucking vacuous and contributing far less to the conversation than other comments which were deleted.

Commenter with the "fucking vacuous" comment here. I frankly don't care that one person thinks that Maggie Thatcher was a witch. How does that add to anything? What does she mean historically? Dancing on a grave...not best of the web as far as I'm concerned.

Also, you can't say "with respect" and then use the phrase "fucking vacuous" in the same sentence and not be disingenuous with your "with respect".
posted by inturnaround at 7:33 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me add to the above that the reason I think this thread reflects poorly on Metafilter is not because of all the vitriol being heaped on Thatcher, but because it exposes all the standard moralizing about what is or is not "appropriate" for obit threads as simple hypocrisy. If the standard for obit threads was that we had a robust discussion of the career/contributions of the deceased, there'd be nothing wrong with such a thread about Thatcher.
posted by yoink at 7:34 AM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


Shame all this spleen couldn't have been harnessed and directed toward undoing all the evil she has done (and carried out while she was alive so that she may have witnessed the repudiation).

Still, the jokes and one liners have been funny.
posted by notyou at 7:35 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The difference between the visceral hatred against Thatcher and that of, say, to pull a name out of the hat, Hugo Chavez a while back is that the first is pretty much based in fact and personal experience, while the latter, well, wasn't.

Yes, that's exactly why I was curious about what Taz's opinion regarding those comments about Georgios Papadopoulos would be; it's a situation where she has the cultural background to understand it more than I can.
posted by jaduncan at 7:35 AM on April 8, 2013

We don't need a hundred "witch is dead" comments.
That's your opinion, not metafilter policy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:35 AM on April 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Comments that tell a woman that they resemble men are a particularly nasty form of gendered insult and you should stop making them.

Agreed, agreed - it was meant to be about channelling a certain spirit of rebellion, rather than a jibe about physicality (which is of course far from the truth) it came out the wrong way and I'd be happy to change it if I could.

Other than that, asking for honesty on the part of the moderators is not particulalry insulting, but I will check the tone of any such comments in the future.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:36 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thatcher fucked the part of England I come from. She fucked the miners. She fucked working class people right across the nation. Her policies resulted in my father being unemployed for the last fifteen years of what should have been his working life. She showed utter contempt for so many socially progressive things that had been laboriously built up since the war. She was a fucking monster and nobody is going to tell me I have to be nice about her bloody long-overdue demise, whether they come from the US, the UK or outer space. Some of us have been waiting years for this and we are going to rejoice. Rejoice.

I note that you pretty much said exactly this in the thread, and it was allowed to stand. I'm not sure what your complaint is here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Other than that, asking for honesty on the part of the moderators is not particulalry insulting, but I will check the tone of any such comments in the future.

Asking for honesty on the part of moderators is insulting because it is not so subtly implying that the moderators are being dishonest.
posted by talitha_kumi at 7:38 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


What does she mean historically?

The fpp is full of comments and links that do just that. It is much, much more than "Ding dong the witch is dead" and was even before comments like that got deleted.
posted by rtha at 7:41 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


a particularly nasty form of gendered insult

Isn't calling a woman a "witch" also a gendered insult?
posted by BobbyVan at 7:43 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


OH HECK YES

I've been waiting for this obit thread since I first joined mefi, no lie. I've been anticipating this for literally years, just waiting to see how it would all go down. Today is such a gift!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:44 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's also a bit rough on witches, too, frankly. I couldn't hope to curse people as thoroughly as she did if I worked at it every night of my life.
posted by Jilder at 7:44 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


The fpp is full of comments and links that do just that. It is much, much more than "Ding dong the witch is dead" and was even before comments like that got deleted

Indeed. I never said it was just that.
posted by inturnaround at 7:45 AM on April 8, 2013


Howard Zinn is nothing like Thatcher. Even if you hate him for ideological reasons, ideological disagreement is not what's driving people's hatred of Thatcher

Alright, what about Chavez? Would it have been welcome to go into a Chavez thread and shit all over it? What about when Castro dies? Will it be okay to go in and talk about how destructive his communist policies were and talk about how glad we are that he's dead?
posted by corb at 7:47 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


And if what I just said boils your blood, maybe it might be a good idea to think about how what you say might be boiling someone else's.
posted by corb at 7:48 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


she was a human being nonetheless.

You know who else was a human being.....
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:49 AM on April 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


Alright, what about Chavez?

As per usual this stuff is worked out on a case-by-case basis within our general set of guidelines. If you think that the mods are adhering to a particular ideological slant just include a few links to support your case and we can discuss actual examples and not "what if" hypothetical scenarios.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:49 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will it be okay to go in and talk about how destructive his communist policies were and talk about how glad we are that he's dead?

Probably better that than going in and saying "RIP Father, law student, agriculture worker and giver of cuddles ." yes
posted by bonaldi at 7:50 AM on April 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


Asking for honesty on the part of moderators is insulting because it is not so subtly implying that the moderators are being dishonest.


You can't save your arse and your face at the same time. Please don't insult me by insinuating I don't care about the Mods welfare, please just assume that I'm coming at it from a different position than yourself. You have a statement here that I will treat the mods respectfully and you know full well that that is what will happen.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:50 AM on April 8, 2013


"Irrational hate", "enormity of feelings" and "controversial" are so off the mark as to be trolling. It's like saying anti-homeopathy posts should be deleted because those against are just piqued.

If someone were to go into an obit thread of a homeopathy person, and have the same amount of glee that they died, they'd get deleted. Even if it was a personal grudge, perhaps especially if it was so. This is the reason why it's irrational. Not terribly the anger felt, but that it gives you some cause to break the damn rules of the site. That's the irrational part, the special pleading.
posted by zabuni at 7:51 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if what I just said boils your blood, maybe it might be a good idea to think about how what you say might be boiling someone else's.

Corb, the reason that what you just said "boils my blood" is because you have such a low opinion of us that you think we all think in simplistic binary terms like that. It's kind of insulting to think we'd "obviously" be angry in such situations.

grant us some credit, please.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:52 AM on April 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


First thing I thought of when I saw this news was "wow, that's going to be a crummy Monday for the MeFi mods."

Jesus, you know it. And taz has gotten a surprising amount of grief here this morning after deleting not a whole hell of a lot and none of it extraordinary as commenting and moderation practice goes around here.

I know that Thatcher is a hugely disliked, hugely controversial figure for whom a ton of Brits have singularly strong bad feelings. That's totally fine. Talking about the what and the why of her being awful in the thread is fine. A bit of snark mixed in is fine. But there is nothing remarkable about nixing and redirecting some excess substance-free one-liners from a thread, and as much as I get that Thatcher's not the usual famous dead person, the guidelines here don't just go away because people are angry. Be angry with a minimum of substance, ideally. Put something in the thread that makes it better, even if specifically a better condemnation of Thatcher's legacy if that's what you're feeling, basically.

asking for honesty on the part of the moderators is not particulalry insulting

By the implication that we are somehow dishonest when not specifically called to the carpet, especially by someone with a history of weirdly personalized jibes and accusations re: same, it sure as hell is. I do my best to just sort of roll my eyes and move on at most of your behavior these days, sgt., but like Jess noted, you've been basically terrible to us for a long while now. Maybe skip the wide-eyed-misunderstanding bit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:52 AM on April 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


corb: Alright, what about Chavez?

Several posters, including myself, criticized Chavez strongly in his obit thread.
posted by spaltavian at 7:52 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Alright, what about Hitler? …And if what I just said boils your blood, maybe it might be a good idea to think about how what you say might be boiling someone else's."
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And if what I just said boils your blood...

What if it just makes me laugh?
posted by aramaic at 7:54 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm staying off the Internet the day Bill Gates dies.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:54 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mistake Not...
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:54 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alright, what about Chavez? Would it have been welcome to go into a Chavez thread and shit all over it?

Did you even look at the Chavez fpp? Plenty of people being critical in it. You (general you) not agreeing with someone's take on a politician's legacy doesn't make their comments = shitting in a thread.
posted by rtha at 7:56 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Alright, what about Chavez? Would it have been welcome to go into a Chavez thread and shit all over it? What about when Castro dies? Will it be okay to go in and talk about how destructive his communist policies were and talk about how glad we are that he's dead?

If you have a visceral hatred of Castro or whoever and can at least sort of articulate why, that's precisely the sort of comment being made here. I don't see that as shitting in the thread.

I have the impression you might be Cuban, in which case you may well get a text like I just got from my mother when Castro dies. You might then be pissed when people tell you you're being rude expressing pleasure at Castro's death. (If you're not Cuban, deploy imagination.)
posted by hoyland at 7:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Be angry with a minimum of substance, ideally. Put something in the thread that makes it better

This is maybe time to revisit the "." discussion, then? Because they are of no substance, make nothing better, and yet they stand.
posted by bonaldi at 7:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Margaret Thatcher may have been the first (and thus far) only female prime minister, but that is not in and of itself worthy if respect. Women are just as capable of fucking shit up as men. Also, please save the "beloved wife and mother" shit for the next time a rocket scientist dies.
posted by sonika at 7:58 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is maybe time to revisit the "." discussion, then? Because they are of no substance, make nothing better, and yet they stand.

No. They are an inextricable part of the site and there is not going to be a way to make people stop using them sitewide and we're not going to try. There are Greasemonkey scripts for people who just can't stand the sight of them, but they're an indivisible part of MeFi culture.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd just like to say that I for one think that taz and the other mods have good intentions; my disagreement over an aspect of moderation policy isn't meant to be a personal thing.
posted by jaduncan at 8:00 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


GIFs were an inextricable part of the site right up until we extricated them.
posted by ryanrs at 8:01 AM on April 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


This is maybe time to revisit the "." discussion, then? Because they are of no substance, make nothing better, and yet they stand.

And are a unique oddity of mefi obit tradition, the holding up of which against comments in general doesn't actually have much use, much as I appreciate and sympathize with the weird logical friction of the thing. We also let someone make a CAPS LOCK DAY and a cat-scan post every year on the front page even though in a null context they'd be terrible, insta-deleted posts. Odd traditions are part of the place.

But the thing is, nobody ever broke an obit thread or spawned a metatalk by putting a dot in it; and there's even a greasemonkey script out there if you just can't abide them in any case. And this is an obit thread with remarkably, maybe even record-breakingly few dots per hundred comments, so it's weird that they keep coming up as some sort of counter-point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:02 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Be angry with a minimum of substance, ideally. Put something in the thread that makes it better

The thread had room for a link to Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead. It's a wonderful song with more than a minimum of substance, and as a bit of satire it's pitch-perfect for the occasion. It was in thread for approximately 0.5 seconds.

It wasn't my post, BTW, but I saw it as it glimmered there for its ultra-brief lifespan.

What, was that not funny enough, or something?

Anyway, one of my favorite things to do is link to music of one sort or another in related threads, and I really like it when other people do it too, and I hate to see it get struck down because it didn't jibe with a moderator's sense of decorum or good taste or whatever. It was light fucking humor, fer chrissakes! Jeezis!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:02 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Just as you should be free to offer your opinion that her death is the greatest thing since sliced bread in an open discussion, I should be free to offer my opinion that gloating over anyone's death is distasteful.

Not really. The first is commenting on the subject of the post, ie. Thatcher's death. Yours is a commentary on other peoples' comments, which should be made on MeTa, not on the blue.

The main thread should be free for people to express their reactions to Thatcher's life, work, and death, as unmoderated as possible, even if that reaction is "The witch is dead!". Anyone who admired Thatcher should be free to say so, as well. But if you just have a general problem with speaking ill of the dead, then make your objection in this MeTa thread, not in the FPP.
posted by rocket88 at 8:02 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


For folk who think this topic is being reacted to a bit feistily and divisive on MetaFilter, then there are other social media options available. Good luck in finding a more agreeable online place...
posted by Wordshore at 8:04 AM on April 8, 2013


As others mentioned corb, the Chavez thread had plenty of detractors in it. As will the Castro thread. The fact that you automatically jump to those folks as some sort of indication of "what politician will Metafilter love and will not tolerate mean things being said about" really says a heck of a lot more about you then Metafilter in general.
posted by edgeways at 8:04 AM on April 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


If I had a shitty snarky anti-Thatcher comment removed, I'd be more embarrassed than mad at the moderation. Because there are plenty of awesome snarky anti-Thatcher comments remaining that make even the way Metafilter dances on graves best of the web.

It's a special occasion, folks. Raise your game.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:05 AM on April 8, 2013 [11 favorites]



Maybe you Brits could explain the way to say "be nice; she just died; at the same time I have no opinion I wish to share" in a less politically correct, UK manner.


I think in this particular case, a statement like that is similar to people dropping into an obituary thread to say the person meant nothing to them or ask why they could care. They're both kind of gross and unnecessary.
posted by BibiRose at 8:06 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe Metafilter needs a single-character shorthand for "good riddance" in an obit thread? If a "." won't do, then how about an "*"? (".V.." might be too much.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:06 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comparing this thread, in which people are saying that we're being expected to "act nice", to the other thread, which is now sporting links to "list of anti-Thatcher songs" and info on grass-roots street parties alongside lots of impassioned accusations of her mishandling of the coal miners' strikes, has been an increasingly amusing exercise.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:09 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not really, no.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:09 AM on April 8, 2013


As per usual this stuff is worked out on a case-by-case basis within our general set of guidelines. If you think that the mods are adhering to a particular ideological slant just include a few links to support your case and we can discuss actual examples and not "what if" hypothetical scenarios.

Jessamyn, I don't actually have a problem with the modding, I'm just talking to other people about what they were saying. I admire the modding for attempting to cut out the vile stuff about Margaret Thatcher just as they did some others.

Did you even look at the Chavez fpp? Plenty of people being critical in it. You (general you) not agreeing with someone's take on a politician's legacy doesn't make their comments = shitting in a thread.

I think there's lots of room for criticism of all people. But maybe the "Fuck her, the vile Tory bitch" stuff is not exactly, shall we say, thoughtful criticism?
posted by corb at 8:10 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should really be smarter than to post responses without quoting what I'm responding to.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:10 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


...but they're an indivisible part of MeFi culture.

pun intended?
posted by solotoro at 8:12 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thread had room for a link to Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead. It's a wonderful song with more than a minimum of substance, and as a bit of satire it's pitch-perfect for the occasion

And I even linked to the Klaus Nomi version.
posted by daveje at 8:12 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Margaret Thatcher may have been the first (and thus far) only female prime minister

Telegram from pedant's corner, I freely acknowledge (and I was doing so well ignoring the use of "enormity" to mean "bigness", passim), but Golda Meir was Prime Minister of Israel well before 1979. Likewise Sirimavo Bandaranaike in Sri Lanka and, of course, Indira Gandhi in India. Heck, Portugal elected a female prime minister about six months after Margaret Thatcher, and there have been plenty of others since.

First female prime minister in the Mother of Parliaments is a landmark, of course, but she wasn't a total trailblazer.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:13 AM on April 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I have the impression you might be Cuban, in which case you may well get a text like I just got from my mother when Castro dies. You might then be pissed when people tell you you're being rude expressing pleasure at Castro's death. (If you're not Cuban, deploy imagination.)

I'll be totally viscerally happy when Castro dies, and my phone is going to light up like the fourth of July, but I'm not going to send Metafilter photos of me with a thumbs up and a thousand dollar bar tab. Even if it's what I'm actually doing. Time and place, is what I'm saying.
posted by corb at 8:13 AM on April 8, 2013


Shame all this spleen couldn't have been harnessed and directed toward undoing all the evil she has done

Where are the activists as austerity bites? They have been beaten back
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:14 AM on April 8, 2013


I tried to pull up the Osama Bin Laden death thread to see how many dots he got, but then my computer crashed and burst into flames trying to pull up the 4000+ comments.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 8:14 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The mod response to this was shamefully tone deaf. I've seen us relax our pearl clutching standards before and this was THE occasion. Yall done fucked this up.
posted by lordaych at 8:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Here's the worst thing about that thread: someone, whose name I do not wish to recall, responded to a critical comment about something or other with the following question:

"Hyperbole much?"

Now, let's just all calm down a moment and ask ourselves what has happened to our website - yea, to the very soul of human civilization - when such a comment can be committed to this website in apparent good-faith. Hyperbole "much"-? Isn't the whole point of hyperbole to be too much? I mean, you don't see some hyperbole and go, "Oh, that's quite a small amount of hyperbole, which is good because if there's one thing I hate about hyperbole, is when it is a bit over the top." It is bloody hyperbole! The use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech!! It's always "much"!!! It is by-bloody-definition a muchness!!!! It's not called "hypobole," is it????? It's not fucking "averagebole" or fucking "medianbole" for chrissakes!!!!!! I DEMAND SOMEONE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS and on that basis blah blah blah something something vote #1 quidnunc kid.

I bid you all a fair-to-middling evening.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:16 AM on April 8, 2013 [50 favorites]


But maybe the "Fuck her, the vile Tory bitch" stuff is not exactly, shall we say, thoughtful criticism?

Did someone here actually call her a bitch or are you just... making shit up?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I tried to pull up the Osama Bin Laden death thread to see how many dots he got, but then my computer crashed and burst into flames trying to pull up the 4000+ comments.

Honestly, I wasn't on Metafilter that night because my phone /was/ lighting up like a Christmas tree from every guy I ever served with anywhere ever, so I'm not sure how we handled it here - but how we as Americans handled Bin Laden's death, with parties in front of the White House and all, was, shall we say, not the best of us.

Did someone here actually call her a bitch or are you just... making shit up?

Yes. Though I'm conflating the comments about her being a vile human being with her being a "Tory Bitch"
posted by corb at 8:20 AM on April 8, 2013


I tried to pull up the Osama Bin Laden death thread to see how many dots he got, but then my computer crashed and burst into flames trying to pull up the 4000+ comments.

It was about 2000 comments about how disgusting the chanting crowd at ground zero was and about 2000 calling Obama a murderer.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:22 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes. Though I'm conflating the comments about her being a vile human being with her being a "Tory Bitch"

Yeah, that was somebody arguing that you couldn't expect Obama to be anything but respectful about her passing, so Imma gonna have to call a foul on that.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:22 AM on April 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


> And this is an obit thread with remarkably, maybe even record-breakingly few dots per hundred comments, so it's weird that they keep coming up as some sort of counter-point.

I wasn't in it, but I think the argument went: "Let's not have hundreds of identical 'the witch is dead' comments." "But we have hundreds of identical dot comments in other threads." Rather than "But the dot comments got left in this particular thread."

Which might make more sense?
posted by lucidium at 8:22 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

none of it extraordinary as commenting and moderation practice goes around here.
Indeed. Which is exactly what some of us feel is the problem.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:23 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looking at that thread, I can't really imagine what it would look like without the "overmoderation."

It's not exactly the pile of flowers and teddy bears y'all are making it out to be.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:24 AM on April 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I can't face wading through all the comments in either thread, my Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of joyous grave dancing that I find pretty distasteful despite growing up a full-on Scottish Thatcher Hater from the age of 5 (hey she stole our milk!). But if it helps the mods, a huge swathe of the UK has been waiting for this day for a long time. The parties have been long planned, the websites and memes written (a friend of mine did the http://www.isthatcherdeadyet.co.uk site), I literally know dozens of people finishing work early to go to the pub to toast her demise. So weird. But it's been something that people here have longed to happen and my only suggestions is to let them run amock and then, like the old lady, bury the threads in embarrassment.
posted by Callicvol at 8:27 AM on April 8, 2013


I'll be totally viscerally happy when Castro dies, and my phone is going to light up like the fourth of July

Will you be this happy?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:28 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah, I don't think the thread is really that bad. Plenty of people are saying nasty things about Thatcher. What else do you want?
posted by sweetkid at 8:29 AM on April 8, 2013


corb, you know when you link to a comment, we can actually read it, right? We know you're misrepresenting the linked comment. What do you hope to gain from that?
posted by spaltavian at 8:30 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


> clearly we need a counter-dot of some kind.


:)
posted by bukvich at 8:30 AM on April 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Callicvol: If you just skip over the first third of the comments in the main post things get a whole lot deeper re. why she's as hated as she is.
posted by Jilder at 8:30 AM on April 8, 2013


If you think that the mods are adhering to a particular ideological slant just include a few links to support your case and we can discuss actual examples and not "what if" hypothetical scenarios.

I'll bite. Let's go back a year to Andrew Breitbart's passing. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. I only went into the first 45 minutes of posts in that thread.

I don't think it's ideological, so much as it is the US-centric nature of this site - there was no standard for, as Cortex put it, "Put something in the thread that makes it better, even if specifically a better condemnation of Thatcher's legacy if that's what you're feeling, basically" when it had to do with a prevalent US political figure.

Now that it's about a foreign political figure, gnfti is asking for people to show a little class, which is a phrase that is pretty offensive used in context considering what Thatcher's policies did to my grandmother's lower class family and thousands of others. A standard which, quite frankly, didn't apply when it was a US political figure.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 8:31 AM on April 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm not sure how we handled it here - but how we as Americans handled Bin Laden's death, with parties in front of the White House and all, was, shall we say, not the best of us.

Did you feel that the Iraqi response to Saddam Hussein's capture also was uncouth of them?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:31 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


yeah, I don't think the thread is really that bad.

It's hard to tell how bad the deleted comments are, is the problem, because they're being deleted. I think a lot of this arguing seems borne of the frustration that we're having ignorance-of-controversial-comments forced onto us.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:32 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just want to concur with the other people who have said here that the moderation on the thread is excessive, but I think it is so in a qualitative rather than quantitative sense, because it seems somewhat arbitrary. There's been no clear elucidation of why the deleted comments or the kind of sentiment they represent are "not what Metafilter's for" and frankly I find that assertion unsettling. There shouldn't be mysterious standards derived from this unstated purpose of Metafilter that none of the users know about. I think we (the userbase) were all under the impression that comments get deleted for violating the guidelines rather than not conforming to what Metafilter is for, whatever that means. If I'm wrong about any of this, I don't mean to speak for anyone else, this is just my impression.

But this I will say with unqualified confidence: people asking us to be nicer or classier should be ashamed of themselves. When people are taken to task for correctly identifying their enemies, those groups and individuals who endeavor to ruin their lives for profit, we are privileging courtesy over moral awareness and I think that should be rejected as the cowardly nonsense that it is.
posted by clockzero at 8:34 AM on April 8, 2013 [48 favorites]


Someone should edit the Wizard of Oz movie to make Dorothy stop the munchkins mid-song, and tell them to STFU and have some class.
posted by Tarumba at 8:37 AM on April 8, 2013 [29 favorites]


I think the 'witch' comments are unnecessarily gendered insults, frankly.
posted by sweetkid at 8:43 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Let's go back a year to Andrew Breitbart's passing.

The Breitbart thread was terrible too, and was not specifically shruggingly allowed to be terrible because he was an American who we knew enough about to properly dislike or something; I for one knew less about him than I do about Thatcher, though I'm shit as a student of politics and political history in general so it's not like I'm up on her particularly either.

And we were in there saying essentially the same things. As much as I don't feel like "Mefi doesn't do x well" is always a super helpful way to frame things, obituary/death threads about famous unlikeable figures are something that consistently produce some of the worst stuff this site can produce, not because people oughtn't be angry about someone's life and deeds or whatever but because that gets used as a lever by which to budge into those threads comments that people as a whole on this site would pretty much unanimously agree were bad for the site in any other context.

And context matters, for sure; Thatcher dying isn't some well-liked uncontroversial author dying or whatever. It makes sense that a lot of people are angry, it make sense that people want to express that or process that in this place where they prefer to spend their time. But it's still a weird "this is the sort of site we want to be, except for every now and then when we're really angry at someone" outcome and it's consistently frustrating to me as someone who really loves this site for being a pretty unusual oasis on the internet that, when these things come along, some people treat moderation-as-a-continuing-constant as the outlier rather than the spike of crappy lazy aggregate commenting behavior that can take over a thread and make it worse than what Metafilter usually manages to be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Why do we even have obit threads anyway? Is "helping the userbase to process emotions" part of Metafilter's stated purpose?

It may be a longstanding custom, but it seems like a silly one that needs to be re-examined. If you're going to use the mods as therapists, maybe they ought to get paid therapist salaries.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:47 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why do we even have obit threads anyway? Is "helping the userbase to process emotions" part of Metafilter's stated purpose?

I don't know, I find them to be quite useful, sometimes, and even poignant. Some of the sentiments/news/anecdotes in the comments are the best of the web, and a well-written obit post contains links that certainly qualify. (Not all obit posts are AMAZING but then again not all FPPs are either.) I'm certainly learning a lot about people's interpretations of Thatcher's politics through this thread and through the original. No psychoanalysis necessary.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:51 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


corb, you know when you link to a comment, we can actually read it, right? We know you're misrepresenting the linked comment. What do you hope to gain from that?

You (and others) may feel that comment was appropriate. I, obviously, do not. I don't think it was a simple "what Obama couldn't say, I have no relation to these opinions whatsoever" comment. It is quite obviously implying that that is what Thatcher /really/ is, but Obama is forced to pretend she is not because he is a world leader. It's a roundabout thing of saying the same thing personally, and could have been said in much less offensive and gendered language.

Will you be this happy?

Less singing, more dancing, but I'm sure my hangover will keep me off Metafilter for a while.
posted by corb at 8:52 AM on April 8, 2013


Angry people on the Internet lashing out at moderators who, trying to pound some civility into the message boards on which they vent their rage, stifle the expression of their anger? Not new. Never mind "MeFi doesn't do x well," the Internet in general doesn't do anger well.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


cortex: One of the things that strikes me here is the difference of opinion between UK and non-UK mefites. The Thatcher thread is inherently somewhat UKfilter, and I think it's telling that the British members are the ones with a pretty universal opinion and are not annoyed by the remaining comments in any great way.

I don't know what the line is here, and I'm actually not sure that there's an equivalent American figure to compare this to. I'm not sure that the comparison to Breitbart is very apt; he was an enabler rather than a direct actor. Thatcher made personal, executive decisions that impoverished families and led to huge increases in suicide rates, and I think the people affected should have the ability to speak more freely about that on Metafilter.
posted by jaduncan at 8:58 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"...but she was a human being nonetheless."
[citation needed]


You are encouraged not to investigate this any further.
posted by Lizard People at 8:58 AM on April 8, 2013 [38 favorites]


Why do we even have obit threads anyway? Is "helping the userbase to process emotions" part of Metafilter's stated purpose?

To the extent that MeFi has posts about the news, well known people's deaths are news. They're also good first post material for a lot of people, helping them sort of test the waters of making a front page post where most people are likely to be not that snarky and less likely to question the whole purpose of the post in the first place. And a lot of people share interesting stuff in these threads, whether the person was liked or not-that-liked. The occasional "person who is generally disliked by some fraction (or majority) of the userbase died" posts are the downside of what is usually an okay thing to be doing here.

The fact that people have a lot of feelings about not just the individual in question but also the whole cultural notion of how you should treat or speak of dead people is just another facet to the way obit threads happen here on MetaFilter. Dealing with feelings about deaths, speaking of the dead, cultural traditions regarding deaths and just our own feelings about the person or even make these complicated. But complicated doesn't mean disallowed unless things are really awful. This is not really awful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I sometimes wonder if dw's crowd control method shouldn't be standard issue in threads about the deaths of controversial persons.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:01 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not sure which thread is best for this, but Death Etiquette from the Guardian is interesting:
There's something distinctively creepy - in a Roman sort of way - about this mandated ritual that our political leaders must be heralded and consecrated as saints upon death. This is accomplished by this baseless moral precept that it is gauche or worse to balance the gushing praise for them upon death with valid criticisms.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with loathing Margaret Thatcher or any other person with political influence and power based upon perceived bad acts, and that doesn't change simply because they die.
posted by bonaldi at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2013 [21 favorites]


And we were in there saying essentially the same things. As much as I don't feel like "Mefi doesn't do x well" is always a super helpful way to frame things, obituary/death threads about famous unlikeable figures are something that consistently produce some of the worst stuff this site can produce, not because people oughtn't be angry about someone's life and deeds or whatever but because that gets used as a lever by which to budge into those threads comments that people as a whole on this site would pretty much unanimously agree were bad for the site in any other context.

Sure - but people aren't complaining that the mods are trying to steer the conversation in a positive direction. I don't see anyone suggesting that a note similar to the one in the Breitbart thread is over-moderating. Jessamyn asked for links to show some kind of slant, to which the continued existence of comments in a thread about a US figure that would not hold up in the current thread about a UK figure is one.

I personally don't think that the moderators are actively perpetuate an agenda of any kind, but sometimes an agenda is perpetuated unknowingly through bias. A largely US-oriented moderator group could more readily identify with the destructive conservative movement that Breitbart was in the center of - it's more top of mind given that you're inundated by it all of the time.

I don't think the same can be said for the UK-centric viewpoint towards Thatcher for US residents (even for me as a Canadian, I'd not have it, save for my grandmother bringing me up with stories) - thus, the disconnect, in my opinion, makes it easier to take a surgical approach to the thread and why it seems a lot more one-liner anger gets through towards a US figure than a UK figure.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:04 AM on April 8, 2013


people aren't complaining that the mods are trying to steer the conversation in a positive direction.

*blinks*

What thread have you been reading?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


obituary/death threads about famous unlikeable figures are something that consistently produce some of the worst stuff this site can produce

The problem is answering the question, "unlikeable to whom?" Someone should maintain a Stuff Metafilter Likes page so we can know. I'll start:

* working at a start-up
* Unitarian Universalism
* having a "partner"
posted by Tanizaki at 9:09 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Dots are ok?

Hopefully dashes are too...

-.-- .- -.-- - .... . .-- .. - -.-. .... .. ... -.. . .- -..
posted by mazola at 9:14 AM on April 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


What thread have you been reading?

There's a big difference between suggesting people "stop being assholish" and deleting comments. One is a light limitation - the other is elimination. People seem to have a much bigger issue with the latter definition of moderation than the former.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 9:14 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was living in a small town in Catalunya when Samaranch died and I went into a bar on the evening of his death to find crowds of young people doing shots and saluting 'death to facists'.

I have to admit I was pretty surprised (I'd only read the kind of fawning coverage that Thatcher has been given, in both the left and right press) and I admit that I thought at the time that it was pretty distasteful. But I didn't say anything right then, because I literally every Catalan person I knew had lost someone in their family in the civil war and the Franquisme and I knew that feelings were still understandably strong.

Then I read more about him myself, and decided on balance to shut up. Possibly a lesson there.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 9:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


* thinking of oneself as a "rationalist" in an "echo chamber"
posted by emmtee at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2013


Jessamyn asked for links to show some kind of slant, to which the continued existence of comments in a thread about a US figure that would not hold up in the current thread about a UK figure is one.

I feel like we are reading different threads or something; there's been stuff left in the current Thatcher thread that's very much on par with or beyond the stuff you linked from the Breitbart thread, and for all the complaints about over-moderation there's been a handful of comments actually removed from that thread, all of them either basically substanceless, derails about Dick Cheney or "Marxisfilter", or metacommentary that should have been put over here in the first place.

I understand that a lot of people, obviously British members in particular, profoundly dislike Thatcher and her legacy, fully expect that to be something that gets aired in the thread, and feel like generally that's going about how it would be expected to. I think it sucks that how it's expected to go includes some below-mefi's-pay-grade commenting, but most of that that has happened is still in the thread. taz got out early with some gentle steering into the wind of inevitability and I don't envy her being on shift when it started. It's unremarkable and it's light-touch moderation in the vein that we've practiced here for years.

Also:

Now that it's about a foreign political figure, gnfti is asking for people to show a little class

gnfti is as foreign as Thatcher is, if not more so, and as a native Western European is probably closer to Thatcher's politics and cultural relevance than the American mods. And taz has lived in Greece for years. I'd say the two mods least likely to even make sense as targets of a "you don't get it because it's not a US thing" criticism are the two who were in fact awake and around when the Thatcher thread went up, because they're the ones who are in Europe.

There's a big difference between suggesting people "stop being assholish" and deleting comments.

We deleted comments from the Breitbart thread as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd be interesting in revisiting this topic when George W. Bush dies.

The Shrub was a simple tool, and everyone knows it. Norquist and Cheney's obit threads, however, will be easily this epic.


I dunno, we are a sentimental bunch. Compare The West Wing to The Thick of It... It's why punk is british, while America can put on a Broadway show (generalizing of course - exceptions in both directions). The Reagan thread had some vitriol but a lot of "I never agreed with him, but.." type of comments too.

I think the 'witch' comments are unnecessarily gendered insults, frankly.

Fair enough, but it's a reference that goes back to at least 1982. Americans are believers and optimists while brits see a cynical truth. Both sides have pluses and minuses, not judging at all (I have family on both sides) but I think there is a misunderstanding in style. Americans think some things are rude that british people just think is honest.
posted by mdn at 9:21 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is a request for eloquence in speech

No.

You don't get to tell other people how to express themselves to please some artificial standard you'd like them to hold themselves to.

I am behind my British comrades in their open expression of anger and relief.

I would dance on Thatcher's grave, were I willing to sully my dancing shoes.
posted by nacho fries at 9:25 AM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's why punk is british, while America

Please take inflammatory comments like this to MeTa to refrain from causing derails.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:25 AM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


Let me add to the above that the reason I think this thread reflects poorly on Metafilter is not because of all the vitriol being heaped on Thatcher, but because it exposes all the standard moralizing about what is or is not "appropriate" for obit threads as simple hypocrisy.

There's also a crowd control aspect to this. Metafilter isn't 100% united by any means (a few names popped up defending Thatcher in the Thatcher obit thread and I wasn't surprised to see any of them doing so) but there are some broad consensuses on the site and requiring the community to behave in a way it really doesn't want to is probably more mod effort than it's worth.

"." allows people to say something respectful about a death. Moving that to something like RIP won't do much to change it (and then you'll get complaints about that). The thing that makes the Thatcher thread remarkable is that people have so many substantial comments to make.
posted by immlass at 9:25 AM on April 8, 2013


It's why punk is british, while America can put on a Broadway show (generalizing of course - exceptions in both directions).

The Ramones. Andrew Lloyd Webber. Just sayin'.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:25 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


obituary/death threads about famous unlikeable figures are something that consistently produce some of the worst stuff this site can produce

I know you all want to run a classy joint around here, but metafilter at its worst is still less juvenile than much of the rest of the internet on a good day. Some of this hand-wringing seems like the worries of a parent who's discovered that their honor roll student has smoked weed and has a potty-mouth.

Stuff Metafilter Likes : *working at a start-up * Unitarian Universalism * having a "partner"

Wrong. I hate all those things.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:28 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Stuff Metafilter Likes

-- Hetrogenous opinions
-- Wait no it doesn't
-- Fuck you, you are BOTH wrong
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:37 AM on April 8, 2013 [46 favorites]


Tangent: Anyone care to talk about Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister in the context of Thatcher?

Because I love those shows, but have always been sort of curious how they played at the time. Were they considered explicitly political shows with a pro-Thatcher bent? Relatively apolitical and just amusing comedies?

Impressions welcome.
posted by pseudonick at 9:39 AM on April 8, 2013




You don't get to tell other people how to express themselves to please some artificial standard you'd like them to hold themselves to.

For the record, I was more clarifying a perceived misunderstanding, where the mods were saying "let's not have a thread where everyone says nothing but 'the witch is dead'" and were met with complaints that "omigod you're telling us we have to be nice". It wasn't anything I was myself saying.

I do admit that I agree, though, that not using a one-liner is better from a cathartic standpoint - because hell, if you're that mad, then I say own it and go big. When Giuliani dies the word count on my rant is gonna go into the quadruple-digits.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk was prepped for this eighteen months ago. I think that thread's accuracy has been proven today.
posted by holgate at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2013


It's why punk is british, while America can put on a Broadway show

It helps a lot that Broadway only exists in America.
posted by inturnaround at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


If countless "." are appropriate in an obit, so are countless variations on "ding dong the witch is dead".

I would have been distressed if the Mefi community had responded with anything less than a "tramp the dirt down" attitude for it would have been a great disrespect to all of those who suffered/continue to suffer due to her actions and policies.

Christ, might as well delete my response to Kissinger's death right now.
posted by she's not there at 10:00 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Why do we even have obit threads anyway?

For this one, anyway, a fair number of Britons clearly think Thatcher's death is today's best of the web.


> Fuck her, let the hate flow.

It seems as if it should be--but evidently isn't--possible at least to imagine what Thatcher herself is whispering right now from beyond the grave to those living people who still support her policies--not to mention younger ones for whom she is in the same category as Gladstone and Cromwell and Earl Siward, namely dead people they don't know much about. She is saying "See? These! These are the sorts of people we have to deal with, this is the spittle-flecked vituperation that is their only skill, this is why they must be kept under control and in their places. Fail, and you'll have the 2011 looters all over again. And more of them, and oftener, until that's all you have."

The first group, supporters, already thinks this. It seems to me to be a seriously dumb idea to give the second group, the ones who didn't live through her and don't remember her, any reason to think "Hmmm, she might have a point."

But whatevs, let the hate flow.
posted by jfuller at 10:01 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


If countless "." are appropriate in an obit, so are countless variations on "ding dong the witch is dead".

These things are not semantically the same.
posted by OmieWise at 10:02 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: This is the point where languagehat laughs at you.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:03 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The only problem I have with comments disparaging Thatcher is that I will likely soon hit the daily quota of favourites. Still, one less evil human being in the world is one less.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:05 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I read both threads and still don't understand why anyone was aghast at the reaction or felt it had to be moderated. I know moderation decisions don't get made by flags but I'd be curious to know how many flags were sent.
posted by bleep at 10:06 AM on April 8, 2013


These things are not semantically the same.

"." == I am unhappy that this person is dead.
"Ding dong, the witch is dead" == I am happy that this person is dead.

They are not semantically the same. They are semantic antonyms though, which is why it's hard to see why only one is acceptable.
posted by jaduncan at 10:07 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I heard on the radio that Thatcher had died, and my second thought was "Oh, the poor mods".

I need to get a hobby.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:08 AM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Posted nearly 6 hours ago, the frontrunners in blue jumped out to an early lead, accumulating 403 comments. The challengers in grey had an unfortunate late start this morning, giving up nearly an hour to the blues, but are fighting hard and just hit the 235 comment mark. Will the greys be able to overcome the early lead, or will they find themselves ever behind, a bunch of pastel-suited jackals unable to overcome the blue juggernaut?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:08 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


They are effectively antonyms though, which is why it's hard to see why only one is acceptable.

"." == I am observing a moment of silence as is the custom of this place.
"Ding dong, the witch is dead" == I am happy that this person is dead and feel the need to share that happiness with the people in this thread.

I'm sure for some people they seem antynomous. For me they totally do not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:10 AM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


On preview: I was just about to write what jessamyn wrote, almost word for word.
posted by OmieWise at 10:11 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thatcher's mental deterioration after she left office-- in eerie parallel with the cascading decline she inflicted on Britain by the rapacious stupidity of her policies-- had a flavor of divine retributive justice about it for me, and I wouldn't have been all that sorry to see her go on blighting the lives of her direct descendants and other immediate family for another decade or so.

Her death is an undeserved mercy.
posted by jamjam at 10:11 AM on April 8, 2013


Wrong. I hate all those things.

Also kittens, those fuzzy bastards.
posted by corb at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, that makes more sense. I think that you're both right that people are viewing this in different ways, and that's why people were talking past each other upthread.
posted by jaduncan at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2013


To expand a bit: I have left "." in threads where the only thing I knew about the person was from the content of the post itself. I was in no way unhappy that they died, but the thread made me interested in acknowledging their death in a small way.
posted by OmieWise at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2013


In some obit threads, apparently we are to respect the dead, and crass criticisms are treated as trolling, de-railing and inappropriate. In some obit threads, apparently we are free to disrespect the dead, and crass criticisms are treated as justified. Because that line cannot be applied in any principled way, and the mods should not be in the position of deciding whose graves it is acceptable to dance on and whose isn't, it seems to me that all obit threads should simply be locked after the post. The post can exist and fulfill the purpose of informing the readership of the news, to the extent there is believed to be utility in that [disclaimer: I don't think there is; I'd get rid of them all]. But insofar as any time there is an obit of a dead person we are forced into this exact discussion, which is often full of our least pleasant attributes, it would seem to suggest that the problem will not be organically solved.
posted by dios at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


any time there is an obit of a dead person

You should see how crazy it gets when there's an obit of a live person.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


"." == I am unhappy that this person is dead.

Anything other than the loudest condemnation is tacit approval?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


If countless "." are appropriate in an obit, so are countless variations on "ding dong the witch is dead".

They're really not, in the same way that a comment that says "I love this fpp! Thanks!" is not the same as "This band sucks, and therefore this fpp sucks." One generates a lot of flack and fighting, and one doesn't.

If MetaFilter were my personal blog, I'd let all the "ding dong the witch is dead" comments stand, no questions. But it's not, so okay.

In some obit threads, apparently we are to respect the dead

I am unfamiliar with any obit thread where this has been the policy. Respect (or at least, no name-calling) for other commenters? Sure. Respect for the dead? Never seen that requirement. Links, please.
posted by rtha at 10:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there is something missed by non-UK mods to the background of "ding-dong the witch is dead", but comparing a mark of respect where people are grieving and want to acknowledge that grief publicly is markedly different to an expression of glee.

Not being respectful enough is something that comes up time and again in obituary threads. The Mods have a fine line to draw between what they count as an acceptable unsympathetic response and one which does nothing but court a ghoulish kind of grave dancing. It's a hard line to draw, and probably it's a line that's never going to please everyone.

But you can't make such a direct comparison between peoples desire to mark a death with solemnity and peoples desire to say how happy someone is dead. They seem like different sides of the same coin, but they're not. This seems pretty obvious to me.
posted by zoo at 10:18 AM on April 8, 2013


zombieflanders: "You should see how crazy it gets when there's an obit of a live person."

Now that Cher's dead.
posted by boo_radley at 10:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"." = Let us join together as a community, in mourning the passing of this person.
"Ding, dong" = Let us join together as a community, in celebrating the passing of this person.

The British among us have been literally anticipating street parties for some time now; here it's an easy assumption that this is how she will be memorialised by the community, and that this tone will be the norm in all non-official Thatcher discussions.
posted by emilyw at 10:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So there is a real, un-adressed question in this thread that I'm still interested in talking about:

Many people came to this thread to say, they want to be able to express more sarcasm, vitriol, rage, snark, or whatever else about Margaret Thatcher than they generally would on metafilter.

One thing I like about the modding here is, there is not an attempt to be 100% consistent about e everything. The mods take into account that context does matter.

So a lot of us feel that we'd like to be more free than generally accepted to piss on Thatcher's virtual grave.

I recognize the mods don't have to say yes to that request, and I know that I can GYOFB if I want to, but anyway, it's a real request being made by a large number of people, and in general the mods do take community feeling into account.

So, is that something you'd consider, for this thread?
posted by latkes at 10:19 AM on April 8, 2013


Margaret Thatcher on TV
Shocked by comments on her obituary
It seems strange that she would be offended
Since her life's already come to an end

Mefi's not the mythical land of respectful obits
It's the home of drive-by-snark and content-less periods
And I love Metafilter, and that's why I'm not leavin'
But it's alright to be aware that
There's things other than grieving

with apologies to Sinead O'Connor
posted by Lorin at 10:20 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Putting aside particulars about this case... a "small moment of silence and or reflection"... is a valid response to a "hated" figure, and a beloved hero. Trying to "ban" dots is not the same as saying, tell us why you hate her, if you do, telling us you hate her is nearly empty in a way that a dot is not. Dot's are not "good" or "bad", they are neutral. Silence. Reflection.

Processing surrounding both figures is needed. I mean, defend sharing how bad she was for the country, and the people... telling people why she must not be forgotten, but a "." is not at all like ding dong a witch is dead.

No, while yes, "." can = sad, or distressed or whatever... it is not subsumed in that... it is a moment of silence. A moment for reflection, and a tiny one at that. If anything, those who hurt our lives need more processing... so we can define how they hurt us, how they harmed us, and, from that, how we can remedy what they did, and the legacy they left.

As a side note; I don't understand happiness that she is dead... has she been creating policy recently in secret? Not denying the viscerality of responses to "what she meant/did" in the least... frankly, I'd rather Mefi be known for comments like Decani's, telling what she did, which is a thousand times more powerful than any cheer. There is nothing to be happy about today. No one destroyed the foundational ideas she promoted while we weren't looking. Is the world not more closed and conservatively restricted, with less social safety nets? Yes, she pushed the ball to the hill, and gave a shove, but I mean, cheering this is a sad substitute for the day of cheering the burial of the sorts of safety net destruction that she (and plenty of modern, still alive, still working, still competing) figures.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:20 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


wolfdreams01: "Why do we even have obit threads anyway?"

For a while, I was curating a list of the obituaries posted to Mefi on the wiki. Haven't had time to add to it lately. But there are something like 600 obits listed covering around 7 years of the site. It's a nice way to look how they're often put together, and how the community treats that one FPP category.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but I think there are a lot of interesting posts there. People who were well-known and not. Controversial figures. I know I might never have heard of some folks without reading the mefi post about their deaths. Sometimes, an obit thread will turn up interesting stories and facts. too. Community reception seems like it's all over the map.

Per Jessamyn: "For a lot of people on MetaFilter, obit posts are their first posts. I think it's because it's an obvious "This is okay for MetaFilter" topic so that you're usually not going to get a bunch of "Who cares" responses, your personal tastes won't be questioned or snarked at. So, I can see a place for obit posts, and I've made a few of them myself, for people who I felt deserved them and who wouldn't otherwise merit posts here otherwise, but yeah the rushrushNEWS posts aren't so great."

The mods have also noted that setting a higher bar for the deletion of obit posts will mean that some folks have their first posts axed. Which isn't always a great scenario, so they try to find a decent balance. There are a members who feel that the bar for posting to mefi is high already, and have expressed their reluctance to make any FPP out of fear of how the thread will go. So deleting first posts could conceivably add to that and discourage newbies from trying again. A net loss for us all.

Anyway, I happen to like obit posts. Have created around 20 of them. I've long suspected that they can have a community-building effect. There's never been any sort of official policy that people have to show respect to the dead in obit posts. But posting meaningless inflammatory noise in threads has always been frowned upon by the mods no matter what the post was about.

I also like the significance of the period. There have been a number of metatalk posts about the dots, and links can be found at the bottom of that page. I suspect I'm in the minority for both obits and dots, but that's okay. We're large and contain multitudes. :)
posted by zarq at 10:20 AM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am just going to get this outta the way now and say that Bush's grandest moment was the over-enhancement of his package in the suit he was wearing on the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" boat. And that Cheney's heart should've given out three decades ago.

Not relevant, but I had the urge to spew scorn at people who I hate and will be dead in the next few decades.
posted by angrycat at 10:21 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The inevitable Annette Funicello obit should help balance things a bit.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:21 AM on April 8, 2013


I'm not really clear on why anyone would ever be "observing a moment of silence as is the custom of this place" for someone they didn't hold in moderately high esteem.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:22 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"As an American, you should stay out of this one, seriously."

This American, for one, is celebrating right along. Thatcher didn't just fuck the UK, she gave support and cover to monstrous policies and monstrous politicians that wound up fucking the working and middle classes all over the world.
posted by scody at 10:24 AM on April 8, 2013 [47 favorites]


I think there is something missed by non-UK mods to the background of "ding-dong the witch is dead"

On the day that Thatcher resigned in 1990, that song filled the corridors of my sixth form. I'll paraphrase a friend who noted that the 1980s left a lot of people in Britain sufficiently embittered and downbeaten that they kept little more than the hope of one day celebrating her death. Let's not take that away.
posted by holgate at 10:26 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Ding dong, the witch is dead" == I am happy that this person is dead and feel the need to share that happiness with the people in this thread.

I really think it's more than that. "Ding Dong..." is at the level of an accepted or previously promised response to her death. A generation of people have told itself for the last 20+ years that this is what Thatcher's death will mean to them, that this is what they'll say. (before the grave pissing, obvs) It's snark, but it's snark with history and it's snark which comes prefaced with "I don't speak ill of the dead, but this woman did such terrible things that when she's gone I'm going to say..."

This is my feeling anyway. No way that the American mods could know this I suppose, so this is no criticism of any deletions, but it deserves a little something by way of an explanation.
posted by zoo at 10:27 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I tried to pull up the Osama Bin Laden death thread to see how many dots he got, but then my computer crashed and burst into flames trying to pull up the 4000+ comments.

I posted a really cool FPP almost simultaneously to the Osama death thread, not knowing that that one was in the queue: "Come with me into the tormented, haunted, half-lit night of the insane." It was an emotional day for everyone. ;)

Trippy - that was nearly two years ago now.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:27 AM on April 8, 2013


Holy shit, anyone else see that giant cock FPP, that was some shit right there. Human diversity is an amazing thing.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:29 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So a lot of us feel that we'd like to be more free than generally accepted to piss on Thatcher's virtual grave.

Latkes, have you seen the thread in question? I'm not sure how much more pissing could get done without issuing everyone a diuretic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:30 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, anyone else see that giant cock FPP, that was some shit right there. Human diversity is an amazing thing.


That was the kind of post that Section 28 was passed to protect the UK from.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:31 AM on April 8, 2013


I have apparently misunderstood "." to mean "I am unhappy that this person is dead" rather than "I am observing a moment of silence as is the custom of this place". Therefore, I withdraw my comment re if countless "." are appropriate in an obit, so are countless variations on "ding dong the witch is dead".

That said, I think that thread on the blue—with the unabashed celebratory responses—is more honest and informative that the endless, "measured" coverage her death is getting on NPR today.
posted by she's not there at 10:31 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


> One of the things that strikes me here is the difference of opinion between UK and non-UK mefites.

Please, let's not overgeneralize. I am a US MeFite with nothing but scorn and contempt for Thatcher, and I see from this thread that I am far from alone (hi scody!). But I'll grant you there's a differential, and I now realize that MeFi should have a Scottish mod.

> It's why punk is british

Excuse me?? Ramones, Dictators, Dead Boys, Black Flag, Descendents, Misfits... Oh, just go here. (Click link at bottom of page for next 200.)
posted by languagehat at 10:32 AM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ad hominem: "Holy shit, anyone else see that giant cock FPP..."

Wait, isn't that the FPP we're all talking about here?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:32 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's why punk is british, while America can put on a Broadway show

I'm quite the sucker for getting sucked into an argument over this, but the term punk itself is American.
posted by item at 10:36 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can't we just have an understanding that '.' signifies 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!' for that thread only.
posted by mazola at 10:38 AM on April 8, 2013


What does a single period in a comment by itself mean?
It's MeFi shorthand for a moment of silence and is usually used in obituary threads.
MeFi Wiki: The Period
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:39 AM on April 8, 2013


No worries she's not there, in fact I also may have been the misunderstander of the custom; I guess my reading of the multiple functions of the "." could as well be the weird one, I always considered it as an opportunity to symbolize the action of taking a moment for reflection, not purely to actively say "this is making me sad" (but like I said, yeah, it clearly does sometimes mean that [but it sounds like my dual reading of it is not common]). It seemed like a dual role thing (still will be for me, anyway).

It seems like it is more needed for figures who ruined lives, than a person who did something that was 'universally' liked (a celebrity). Good deeds speak for themselves. While the terrible results of her policies live on in millions still voting for politicians just like her, and the many writers and such who are, even now, likely furiously writing a new history with her as a 'maligned hero'. Finding the words to encapsulate what was lost... takes time. So, sort of at odds with instant reactions in an 'as it happens' post.

Yeah, doubling up what others are saying; bringing in the sort of "You Esseans are ignorant like this", and "You Kanians are smart like that" generalization to an already complicated thing is probably unhelpful, and will further divide people over little differences, who are not actually disagreeing on substance.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:40 AM on April 8, 2013


mazola: "Can't we just have an understanding that '.' signifies 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!' for that thread only."

Is there a house icon? Preferably with two tiny silver feet sticking out?
posted by zarq at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Since dots are A-OK and short jokes aren't, clearly we need a counter-dot of some kind.

Comma, maybe? Nicely equal to the dot, but the antithesis.
I believe I have seen two used in the past:

!

*

I believe that the latter is intended as a representation of a certain anatomical feature.
posted by Flunkie at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2013


I'm genuinely curious: Why are these kinds of obituary posts even allowed or tolerated? They don't seem to meet the guidelines of the site at all.

The first sentence on the "Post a link" page:

Found something cool on the web and want to share it with everyone else? Great!

In what sense is a set of links to new sites and a Wikipedia article "cool"?

From the posting guidelines page:

A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others.

Does anyone seriously believe that all three of the criteria are met by this post? (Well, maybe the third one, if you consider what goes on in this, and most other obituary threads, discussion.)
posted by JeffL at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first group, supporters, already thinks this. It seems to me to be a seriously dumb idea to give the second group, the ones who didn't live through her and don't remember her, any reason to think "Hmmm, she might have a point."

I feel like this comment must have time travelled its way here from a decades old "angry feminists, amirite?" discussion. People aren't being nice enough about someone who ruined lives and the blame goes on them? Bleh. Fuck nice.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:42 AM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not much of a grave-dancer on the internet. I use the period, where appropriate, for people who I respect (and know of) at the time of their death. For people I hate, I say nothing, I don't even read the thread. I already knew they were dead anyway - that's almost always the case with people I've heard of.

I've said this all before.

However, I still reserve the right to literally dance on anyone's grave IRL.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:43 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


mdn: It's why punk is british, while America can put on a Broadway show (generalizing of course - exceptions in both directions).

Sys Rq: The Ramones. Andrew Lloyd Webber. Just sayin'.


If those are supposed to be significant exceptions then I'll consider mdn's generalization proved.
posted by mountmccabe at 10:43 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It meets all of the criteria. Many people may have got their Thatcher news from here - particularly around recent developments like the Glasgow parties, police intervention, etc. There is something interesting about many of the links. And there is obviously quite a good bit of discussion.
posted by corb at 10:44 AM on April 8, 2013


Why do we even have obit threads anyway?

I'm genuinely curious: Why are these kinds of obituary posts even allowed or tolerated?


You know, we're falling into "all or nothing thinking" territory, a major no-no according to the Feeling Good handbook.
posted by Melismata at 10:45 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ad hominem: "Holy shit, anyone else see that giant cock FPP, that was some shit right there."

Link, in case anyone else missed it.
posted by zarq at 10:46 AM on April 8, 2013


Why are these kinds of obituary posts even allowed or tolerated? They don't seem to meet the guidelines of the site at all.

The same general criticism holds for news posts in general. And honestly I have never been a big fan of news posts on the site, though now and then there's some pretty interesting discussion or site-cultural stuff that ends up hanging in them. But the guidelines you're mentioning are aspirational, not iron-clad, and people make the sorts of posts they want to make and we make calls from there.

Newsy stuff, of which some obit-type posts are a subspecies, are one of the things folks on the site seem to want to be part of the site even if the mods aren't really in love with the stuff, so we aim as much as anything to keep it at a balance. For some folks it hits the "interesting thing on the web" thing more or less on the head, because they find news of the world to be an interesting thing, they get it on the web, and they value the discussions about it that show up. So it goes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:46 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


okay, can somebody explain the giant penis post. l mean I do not understand the link in the giant penis post, or why the FPP was made
posted by angrycat at 10:50 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like obit threads. Depending on the person, I almost always learn something new about them, or about people's relationships with the deceased. The Mr Rogers thread was really interesting to me as someone who never saw an episode of Mr Rogers' Neighbourhood. I've been following the Thatcher thread with the, I suppose, the inverse sort of interest, because while I have some understanding of why she was so hated, the particulars were not always apparent to me. I'm learning new things from it, which is what I always hope reading the comments around here.
posted by Jilder at 10:51 AM on April 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


l mean I do not understand the link in the giant penis post, or why the FPP was made

It was spam, by a spammer, and the original link was not to example.com.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:53 AM on April 8, 2013


example.com - the only limit is YOU.
posted by mintcake! at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


okay, can somebody explain the giant penis post. l mean I do not understand the link in the giant penis post, or why the FPP was made

Someone who never got past Freud's third stage of development got bored at work.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:54 AM on April 8, 2013


l mean I do not understand the link in the giant penis post, or why the FPP was made
It was spam, by a spammer, and the original link was not to example.com.
It did pose some intriguing questions though.
posted by mazola at 10:55 AM on April 8, 2013


I'm not sure why we even allow news FPPs at all. I think all news posts should be made directly in MetaTalk, since they're just going to wind up here, anyway. Then we can just make all news and obit posts into no-holds barred poo flinging fests, with zero deletions and minimum adult supervision. Then we can bury MetaTalk deep, deep down into the bowels of MetaFilter and power the machines on the methane off-gassing.

Just a suggestion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:55 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why are these kinds of obituary posts even allowed or tolerated? They don't seem to meet the guidelines of the site at all.

Obituary posts can be fantastic. In a thread about Fred Rogers or Gary Gygax, people can post various obituary write-ups from different sources, share remembrances and anecdotes, and generate illuminating conversation that is some of the very best of what MetaFilter has to offer.

That can happen in threads about political figures, too. The difference is that in threads about political figures—in particular, political conservatives—the valuable content is muddied by hate speech.

So as I see it, here's the theoretical trade-off: Keeping obituary FPPs poisons the community a little, but losing them sacrifies some great content. My personal solution is to support obituary threads and mostly ignore the political ones. This spares me from seeing some very ugly sides of people who, in unrelated threads about music or television or technology, may have worthwhile contributions to share.

It's not perfect but it's what I've found.
posted by cribcage at 10:56 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


But the guidelines you're mentioning are aspirational, not iron-clad...

Fair enough. I agree that the obituary threads are a subset of news threads, and I believe the news threads hardly ever meet the "Found something cool on the web and want to share it with everyone else? Great!" ideal either.
posted by JeffL at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2013


It was spam, by a spammer, and the original link was not to example.com.

I can't help but think that spammers are sitting around with their pre-drafted penis posts, waiting for big time, sure-to-stir-shit events like a Thatcher passing, thinking that they'll be able to get around MetaFilter security while the mods are distracted elsewhere.

This probably still gives them way too much credit, but it makes me smile nonetheless.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:58 AM on April 8, 2013


Margaret Thatcher and misapplied death etiquette (Guardian)

The dictate that one 'not speak ill of the dead' is (at best) appropriate for private individuals, not influential public figures... This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure's death is not just misguided but dangerous. That one should not speak ill of the dead is arguably appropriate when a private person dies, but it is wildly inappropriate for the death of a controversial public figure, particularly one who wielded significant influence and political power.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:59 AM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


It did pose some intriguing questions though.

example.com is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people carved giant phalluses from luncheon meat, or why.
posted by ambrosen at 11:02 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think that spammers are sitting around with their pre-drafted penis posts, waiting for big time, sure-to-stir-shit events like a Thatcher passing, thinking that they'll be able to get around MetaFilter security while the mods are distracted elsewhere.

So you're saying that spammers were holding their penises in anticip

(say it)

pation of Margaret Thatcher dying?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:03 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The mods should batten down the hatches: Annette Funicello also died today. And Lilly Pulitzer died yesterday.
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on April 8, 2013


I guess spammers are playing on male insecurities? I mean, outside of the assassin chick in 1Q84, what woman is like, seven plus or I'm out?

Also, I am from the U.S. and thought that Thatcher was less enraging than Reagan because Reagan seemed like a doddering fool compared to her I Will Cut You. Not saying she didn't do a lot of bad shit, but at age thirteen I was jealous of the Brits.
posted by angrycat at 11:07 AM on April 8, 2013


oh that's sad. I think Annette Funnicello, Thatcher and Ebert would comprise the 3 celebrities needed for "celebrities die in threes."
posted by sweetkid at 11:07 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And yet one of those things is not like the others.
posted by mintcake! at 11:11 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


No I agree.
posted by sweetkid at 11:14 AM on April 8, 2013


Metafilter: Sitting around with pre-drafted penis posts
posted by zombieflanders at 11:15 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stuff Metafilter Likes

-- Hetrogenous opinions
-- Wait no it doesn't
-- Fuck you, you are BOTH wrong


I think that's the best summary of Hegel I've ever read.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:17 AM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


She is saying "See? These! These are the sorts of people we have to deal with, this is the spittle-flecked vituperation that is their only skill, this is why they must be kept under control and in their places. Fail, and you'll have the 2011 looters all over again. And more of them, and oftener, until that's all you have."

Are you incapable of distinguishing looters from angry comment writers on the internet or do you just like writing dead Thatcher fanfic? It isn't clear to me, honestly.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:18 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm just wondering if they're still going to be able to air the Thatcher footage already shot for Celebrity Apprentice 2014. I was kind of looking forward to what insiders have been calling the "Boardroom to end all Boardrooms," which apparantly involved one "elderly yet vicious" candidate literally biting off part of another candidate's ear and spitting it out at Donald Trump.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:19 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am from the U.S. and thought that Thatcher was less enraging than Reagan because Reagan seemed like a doddering fool compared to her I Will Cut You. Not saying she didn't do a lot of bad shit, but at age thirteen I was jealous of the Brits.

I'm also from the US and I thought Thatcher was more enraging - because dumb and mean you can at least chalk up to "well, maybe at some level he didn't know better", but smart and mean, you can't do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:22 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think there are people the world would have been better without. I'm not sure why being elated by these people no longer existing is a bad thing. Thatcher fully falls into this category for me.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:23 AM on April 8, 2013


Let's face it, Reagan/Thatcher were a team and both are deserving of scorn (dead or alive).
posted by cjorgensen at 11:24 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


sweetkid: "Annette Funnicello, Thatcher and Ebert"

Ebert's got one thumb up, one down at the welcome cocktail.
posted by chavenet at 11:25 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


What about when Castro dies? Will it be okay to go in and talk about how destructive his communist policies were and talk about how glad we are that he's dead?

Um, yes.
posted by ericb at 11:31 AM on April 8, 2013


What about when Castro dies? Will it be okay to go in and talk about how destructive his communist policies were and talk about how glad we are that he's dead?

I can't wait. Just because some of us are on the left doesn't mean we like Communism and its dictators. That's just simplistic and, frankly, insulting.
posted by grubi at 11:33 AM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]



oh that's sad. I think Annette Funnicello, Thatcher and Ebert would comprise the 3 celebrities needed for "celebrities die in threes."
posted by sweetkid at 2:07 PM on April 8 [+] [!]



It's four if we count Lilly Pulitzer (yesterday.)

❀ Lilly Pulitzer

☝ Roger Ebert

oo Annette Funicello (mouse ears! get your mind out of the gutter)
___
L L Margaret Thatcher
posted by peagood at 11:37 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't wait for Castro to die so our pop stars can vacation in peace.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:37 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Won't somebody think of the paparazzi?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:38 AM on April 8, 2013


📷
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 AM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Allowing a community to be elated at the death of a public figure who has had an incredibly negative and incredibly real impact on many of its members' lives is to allow emotional catharsis. I understand that it's difficult in those instances to be welcoming to all viewpoints as much as we can, but we're not talking about people fighting about ideological disagreements about a person's worth, we're balancing "well I agreed with some of her policies and think she was good for Britain" with "she actually fucked up my life and my family's life and my friends' lives in very measurable ways".

It's not like all Metafilter comments live up to some sort of basic degree of substance or merit - that's AskMe. On the blue, we have basic guidelines about not attacking other members, not using oppressive slurs or allowing hate speech, and taking meta-discussions about the worth of other posts/comments to MetaTalk. Beyond that, comments should be allowed to stand, and in my experience generally are. That the person being discussed has passed away should not change that policy.

I liked The Guardian's piece on this - Margaret Thatcher and Misapplied Death Etiquette.
posted by Phire at 11:45 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


...people the world would have been better without...
Because it is like writing slash-fic.
So while the first bit;
people the world would have been better without.

Is arguable, but it is sort of reasonable as a hypothesis, though it is untestable, and purely wish fulfilment, the second half doesn't really relate to that;

I'm not sure why being elated by these people no longer existing...

They were in the world. Saying that she "no longer exists"... is not true. The mess they made is in the aisle still. People are still sloshing around the milk bottle they smashed, all over the aisle... people are cutting their feet on the glass, and corporations are shuffling the glass around, charging a monthly "shuffling fee", so none of us step on the glass all the time, so as to rise to the point of action; but we are all getting cut at some intervals. So, I mean, the world would be the best place ever if people didn't have to go to war, because they adopted peaceful partnerships or something... but saying it over and over will not make it so, nor erase our caches of weapons, or wipe away our stockpiles of manuals for teaching hate.

No rules seem to be in place saying "no scorn", or actually at all about political beliefs, there are (almost uniformly) words of scorn, what does seem to be is request for contextualization. IHATE is a widely known view... why? Is worth asking, and answering. People do seem to be allowed to express joy at a passing; there are still standards.

just, well, to be clear,
This demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure's death

does not describe the 'silence' I was talking about, there isn't a modifier of "respectful" on what I was referring to. My silence was to get past the joy, or rather, more likely "relief", or "closure"... and move back into remembering that joy now is wasted and tiny, compared to the effort left needed to actually change anything. So, yeah, that "relief" might feel ok, but it can be gotten anywhere, while it massively distracts, and takes attention away from the people in there sharing their experiences, or knowledge of some part of the history, who are explaining to younger people, non-Britons, and such "Why" her legacy is to be looked at and broken down by the harms she caused and left in her wake (remembering that it was not her alone, but many, many people). Some people can shift their reading, so one comment is just a few expletives, and little context, and then the next is a history lesson, and those people can pull out something... many (good people) will just move on.

What about when Castro dies?
I can't wait.
I can't wait.

Ok, so, like (not arguing the point), but this idea that the world gets "better" when a bad person doing bad things dies... I don't get that would it be possible to show how this is? Who was in power before Castro? Before Thatcher, Reagan, etc. Was it possible that there were people who thought that when they were gone, "things could finally get even better"? I mean, I guess it is a view that the world is "Progressing", but it presumes that there is only one direction through which it can progress... which, as the Rise of Thatcher showed, with, the commensurate tearing down of provisions of the Beveridge Plan that had empowered the people of Britain.

I don't understand this view of politics and leaders (first leaders as "singular", yeah, they [or their successors] may cultivate that cult view of their legacy, but it is basically never the reality). It would appear that the world, and our history is a push-pull one, not a "Moving on up" one. Closure. That is the best descriptor, not joy, and closure is not here, or promised, or a given, nor a certainty.
posted by infinite intimation at 11:53 AM on April 8, 2013


Is that the closest corb has yet come to calling the entirety of Metafilter that isn't herself pinko commie scum? I think it might be.

Every time someone here expresses a less-than-positive opinion towards someone in an obit thread, there is always, always some comments expressing dismay at such rudeness. A number of posts will ensue, saying that however bad the now-deceased were, they were still a person, they had a family, that celebrating someone's death is barbaric.

I am with those who think there are people in this world who actively make it a better place, and I agree with the above-linked Guardian article that death does not suddenly make someone above reproach. Fellow MeFis can disagree with me all you want about who is on the list of people whose deaths are actually a net gain for humanity, and/or find it unseemly that I choose to find a positive in someone's passing.

But there is no convincing people to believe as you do on this matter, as years upon years of obituary posts and related MeTa posts can attest. I wish some people would understand that, if they don't want to see anyone be anything other than respectful in the face of another's death, especially when the figure is someone like Margaret Thatcher, then they should know that Metafilter allows a certain amount of leeway on the topic, and no amount of sanctimonious moralising or finger-waving is going to have an effect.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:57 AM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually hope the Annette post can wait until some of the pissing-on-grave mood passes over.
posted by jfuller at 11:58 AM on April 8, 2013


I am more curious about how the giant penis post was made by someone who had a total of one comment on another post, and one answer in AskMe. Wasn't there a requirement of having made at least three comments before making an FPP to discourage spammers?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:59 AM on April 8, 2013


Used to be three for a long time, but we lowered it a while back to one to reduce the impediment to good-faith first time posters on the reasoning (which seems to have borne itself out) that spammers gonna spam either way.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:01 PM on April 8, 2013


Spam-bam, banhammer-man.
posted by infinite intimation at 12:04 PM on April 8, 2013


Is that the closest corb has yet come to calling the entirety of Metafilter that isn't herself pinko commie scum? I think it might be.

Whatever it is, it has succeeded in derailing the issue. I suppose megakudos are in order, as Limbaugh would say.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:05 PM on April 8, 2013


Newsy stuff, of which some obit-type posts are a subspecies, are one of the things folks on the site seem to want to be part of the site even if the mods aren't really in love with the stuff,

Well, yeah. The value of MeFi for me at least lies far more in being able to discuss interesting topics with a community of sometimes frightening intelligence and erudition (as well as the occasional dum-dum) than as just a repository of interesting links.

I think all news posts should be made directly in MetaTalk, since they're just going to wind up here, anyway.

Naah, I've done plenty of newsy rather than cooly link posts and only one or two ended up in MeTa.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:05 PM on April 8, 2013


I'll just post my . here, oh it's not for Thatcher, but for all the witty cracks about her death that got deleted.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Would it have been welcome to go into a Chavez thread and shit all over it?

I dunno corb, you tell me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


6, if one counts calling him an autocrat. But it is a derail, all the same.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 PM on April 8, 2013


> Are you incapable of distinguishing looters from angry comment writers on the internet

(° (°
posted by jfuller at 12:14 PM on April 8, 2013


I don't know what that means, either.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:18 PM on April 8, 2013


I have eyes on my buttcheeks?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

___
L L Margaret Thatcher
OK, I'll admit it: I don't get it. Is it... is it... is it... an AT-AT?
posted by Flunkie at 12:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Wicked Witch's feet protruding from the house that fell on her.
posted by ericb at 12:24 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


The LL stands for Ladies Love.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Ah. I thought it was some newly designed circles of heaven and hell (Ebert being on top, of course).
posted by Melismata at 12:27 PM on April 8, 2013


It's the cold, vacant stare of the recently deceased. Or Cher. Depends which social media you browse.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:28 PM on April 8, 2013


If her horny feet protrude, they come to show how cold she is, and dumb.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:32 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


But dead witches look like this!
posted by misha at 12:36 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've found it refreshing that people haven't been letting mustn't-speak-ill-of-the-dead keep them from saying what they feel.

Of course, I am a misanthropic crank...
posted by Zed at 12:38 PM on April 8, 2013


...how about one dot for "so sorry" and two dots for "hooray" ?

Maybe we could use an asterisk for "I'm standing in line waiting to piss on his/her grave" for those stronger sentiments.
posted by mule98J at 12:46 PM on April 8, 2013


We also let someone make a CAPS LOCK DAY and a cat-scan post every year on the front page even though in a null context they'd be terrible, insta-deleted posts.

Could you imagine if Thatcher died on CAPS LOCK DAY?

I believe the word "EPIC" would truly apply.
posted by eriko at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2013


*****************************ɿ__
posted by forgetful snow at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2013


Are "Rust in Peace" comments being removed, too? Because I was surprised there weren't any.
posted by oulipian at 1:03 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


~~ _/\_ ~~~
~~~~~~~
posted by misha at 1:04 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting how not only was this day and this kerfuffle not only completely foreseeable, but completely foreseen:

See this 2009 thread about Mefi's obit norms.

And this 2010 thread about the Elizabeth Edwards obit thread.

The Thatcher grave-pissing festival has been long anticipated by many Mefites, it seems.
posted by yoink at 1:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Artw's name is legion
posted by forgetful snow at 1:06 PM on April 8, 2013


this idea that the world gets "better" when a bad person doing bad things dies...

The idea that the world gets "better" when a bad person who had some time ago retired from doing bad things dies, is a total waste of effort and emotions. (Applies equally to Thatcher and the future inevitable Castro obit) You're not going to outshout the mourners and you'll just waste money on the sarcastic wake.

(However, it may help to identify the mourners who wish to celebrate the bad person's accomplishments and discount their future opinions appropriately)
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:14 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Considering the following points:

1) I am an (very tired) American.

2) My reaction seeing the post on the front page (without clicking on it) was actually: "OH man, that's terrible, I LOVED her on Jon Stewart!!! Frowny face."

3) Come to Metatalk.

4) Realize I was actually thinking about Madeleine Albright...

5) Slap head and now agree with Acheman.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:15 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

(° (°

I have eyes on my buttcheeks?
Surely that's nipples going spung, in the Heinleinian sense? or is that (*(*?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:19 PM on April 8, 2013


Glenn Greenwald | Salon: Christopher Hitchens And The Protocol For Public Figure Deaths -- "Etiquette-based prohibitions on speaking ill of the dead should apply to private individuals, not public figures."
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone's clear that at least the mods are not saying "don't speak ill of the dead" right?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:27 PM on April 8, 2013


yoink: " The Thatcher grave-pissing festival has been long anticipated by many Mefites, it seems."

It's fun to explore the links in those posts.

The Post: (from 2007)
[NewsFilter] Jerry Falwell was found unconscious in his office today and has since died. Exactly what did they mean by "heart challenges" ?
posted by scblackman (573 comments total) [add to favorites] 14 users marked this as a favorite [!]

The First Comment:
Oh my dear God in Heaven, thank you for blessing us with this man, Your servent. In his short time on earth he acomplished much good an... wait... did you say Jerry Falwell?

Fuck Jerry Falwell.
posted by wfrgms at 1:46 PM on May 15, 2007 [25 favorites −] [!]

The Fifth Comment:
I usually don't wish ill of the dead. In this case -- enjoy fucking Hell you scumbag.
posted by ericb at 1:48 PM on May 15, 2007 [3 favorites +] [!]
_
And then... a debate whether we should feel obligated to show respect to the recently departed.

All of this has happened before and all of it will happen again.
posted by zarq at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


You're not going to outshout the mourners and you'll just waste money on the sarcastic wake.

But, you help to set the historical record straight.

Whitewashing Thatcher’s Divisive Legacy -- "Globe’s lazy, super-rosy Thatcher obit reveals the dangers of not speaking ill of the dead."
posted by ericb at 1:31 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I dunno corb, you tell me: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

It is always weird to me to find myself in the position of defending klangklangston, but there is actually no vitriol in his posts whatsoever. He was talking about negative aspects of Chavez, but no death-celebration or "that bitch" or "Ding, Dong, the witch is dead" type stuff.
posted by corb at 1:33 PM on April 8, 2013


languagehat: "> One of the things that strikes me here is the difference of opinion between UK and non-UK mefites.

Please, let's not overgeneralize. I am a US MeFite with nothing but scorn and contempt for Thatcher, and I see from this thread that I am far from alone (hi scody!). But I'll grant you there's a differential, and I now realize that MeFi should have a Scottish mod.

> It's why punk is british

Excuse me?? Ramones, Dictators, Dead Boys, Black Flag, Descendents, Misfits... Oh, just go here. (Click link at bottom of page for next 200.)
"

How are The Pork Dukes not on that list?
posted by Splunge at 1:38 PM on April 8, 2013


It is always weird to me to find myself in the position of defending klangklangston, but there is actually no vitriol in his posts whatsoever.

I notice you ignore the other 3 comments that weren't from klangklangston.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:39 PM on April 8, 2013


Everyone's clear that at least the mods are not saying "don't speak ill of the dead" right?

You are and you aren't. What you are doing is applying a different standard of quality to comments speaking ill of the dead than to comments respecting the dead. Comments respecting the dead need be no more than a single dot. Comments speaking ill of the dead, if they were no more than "yay, the witch is dead," were deleted. I understand the double standard, I even agree with the double standard. But it is a double standard. The bar is higher for negative comments. Not high - but higher.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:39 PM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


no death-celebration or "that bitch"

Wow. Keep misquoting.
posted by grubi at 1:41 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


But at that level, it's the same double standard applied all over the site. A response that simply says "this is worth reading" stays, while "this is shit" will get deleted.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:41 PM on April 8, 2013


He was talking about negative aspects of Chavez, but no death-celebration or "that bitch" or "Ding, Dong, the witch is dead" type stuff.

There is only one comment in hundreds that calls her a "Tory bitch". There are no "that bitch" comments. Thus, whatever imputation you are trying to make that all or most of the negative comments call her a bitch would seem to be a falsehood. Sorry, I meant to say "outright lie".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:42 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


yes, and again, the comment didn't outright call her a "Tory Bitch, the context is key there."
posted by sweetkid at 1:44 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which is good, because it's just plain mean to call someone a "Tory Bitch, the context is key there."
posted by brain_drain at 1:47 PM on April 8, 2013


"celebrities die in trees"??


Footnotes please.
posted by Namlit at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


but there is actually no vitriol in his posts whatsoever

"You (and others) may feel that comment was appropriate." Others probably did not.

It's striking to me that you made a fuss here about thoughtful criticism (as addressed to someone who is A) dead and B) not actually in the thread) and then went into the fpp and were belittling and not at all thoughtful in your criticism of comments made by actual, living mefites in that thread.
posted by rtha at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


The bar is higher for negative comments. Not high - but higher.

Yup, that's fair. I see this as more trying to get people to mind the "Don't be an asshole" line but I see a wide chasm between "Don't speak ill of the dead" and "Pissing on people's graves is generally considered boorish even if you didn't like the person"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:52 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


What she said. It's not a "don't speak ill of the dead" thing; this is more a thing where someone you don't like having croaked is not grounds for suspension of the otherwise generally held guideline of not just jumping into a thread with terse, lazily-rendered grousing. (Though even most of what could be described as that has been left to stand.) The presence or not of a corpse is secondary.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


The presence or not of a corpse is secondary.

The story of my life.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's striking to me that you made a fuss here about thoughtful criticism (as addressed to someone who is A) dead and B) not actually in the thread) and then went into the fpp and were belittling and not at all thoughtful in your criticism of comments made by actual, living mefites in that thread.

That is actually exactly the difference between the living and the dead. Speaking ill of the dead has a higher bar, because they are not able to defend themselves. Living mefites have the ability to defend themselves and to respond or to clarify.

Also, in no case did I use profanity to describe actual living mefites, nor did I hope for the hastening of their death. Which /is/ different from the comments in the thread, where there were multiple comments hoping that she had died earlier.
posted by corb at 2:02 PM on April 8, 2013


Speaking ill of the dead has a higher bar, because they are not able to defend themselves.


Although on the other hand, they're dead.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 2:04 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


That is actually exactly the difference between the living and the dead.

Yep. The living are around to see you spit on their decades of suffering and that of their friends, families, community and country.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:04 PM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


you made a fuss here about thoughtful criticism (as addressed to someone who is A) dead and B) not actually in the thread) and then went into the fpp and were belittling and not at all thoughtful in your criticism of comments made by actual, living mefites in that thread.

I don't get this either. And it's something you have a history of, corb. I really can't tell if you mean to be intentionally provocative or are just so wrapped up in your own vision of the world that you think telling someone to suck it up and stop begging is "nicer" than harsh words about an ex-Head of State.

Speaking ill of the dead has a higher bar, because they are not able to defend themselves.

Of a private, or maybe even quasi-private individual, maybe. Of an actual public figure, that's absurd.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


The presence or not of a corpse is secondary.

Paging Mr. ColdChef. Mr. ColdChef, please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone.
posted by ericb at 2:06 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


cortex can be all nonchalant like that because he was smart from the very beginning.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:09 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


corb: " That is actually exactly the difference between the living and the dead. Speaking ill of the dead has a higher bar, because they are not able to defend themselves."

If you mean, "should have a higher bar" then that is certainly debateable.

However, if you do indeed mean, "has a higher bar" then no, it doesn't necessarily. Everyone's sensibility on such things varies. If someone has committed heinous, unspeakable acts, then I personally don't have a problem with saying so after they've died whether or not they are here to defend themselves. There is value in speaking the truth about such things, as opposed to engaging in revisionism and sweeping the facts under a rug. Especially in cases where there are victims involved who are still living.
posted by zarq at 2:11 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


they are not able to defend themselves.

Good thing you're here to remind us that it's much more important to speak respectfully of someone who is dead (and whom you've never met) than it is to do so to someone right there in the metaphorical room with you. That's some set of standards.
posted by rtha at 2:12 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


cortex can be all nonchalant like that because he was smart from the very beginning.

It's my vanity that will be my undoing, when after the investigation has all but closed I feel compelled to show the detective my fashionable cane and he realizes the handle is not marbled ivory but a polished amalgam of human teeth.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:13 PM on April 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


octobersurprise: I think a lot of it honestly is that there are people who are offended by my very beliefs, regardless of how they are phrased. I generally try to avoid profanity and personal attacks, but a lot of times people interpret general commentary, particularly on the "social safety net", as an attack on them and theirs.

If you can think of a polite way to phrase that even if some people personally suffer in the short term, that doesn't mean that it is a bad policy, and that it is crucial to ultimately straightening out the world to kill the sense of entitlement that a lot of people have, I'd be much obliged.

zarq: Yeah, I mean should have, or has in my opinion.
posted by corb at 2:13 PM on April 8, 2013


She may have been a horrible human being in your view but she was a human being nonetheless.

She worked, sometimes successfully, to destroy commonalities between the people in public and private spheres. She was an evil PM who wanted the people of the country to be gristle for the profits of what she thought of as productive individuals. The scary quote every takes out of context is this, "And, you know, there is no such thing as society."

Putting it back into context makes its sound worse, more so when you consider the many tens of thousands of people SHE put on the dole after destroying British manufacturing. "I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

So no, I think I'll be more than a bit evil myself and relish this ending for a bit.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you can think of a polite way to phrase that even if some people personally suffer in the short term, that doesn't mean that it is a bad policy, and that it is crucial to ultimately straightening out the world to kill the sense of entitlement that a lot of people have, I'd be much obliged.

Good Christ on toast, a polite way to phrase your beliefs is to leave aside language like this: From here, it sounds like people are complaining because they used to receive free magical unicorn candy from the skies, and then under Thatcher it didn't fall anymore, while ignoring the fact that there was no such thing as magical unicorn candy - it came from somewhere and there was a cost for it.

It is inaccurate, belittling, disrespectful, and unconstructive. It appears to willfully ignore that people in the fpp were not talking about magical goddamn unicorn candy, but about jobs and housing and dignity.
posted by rtha at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2013 [47 favorites]


But if you are the only person who gets to judge what's "respectful" or "constructive" then all this is totally pointless.
posted by rtha at 2:23 PM on April 8, 2013


Accusing everyone that is part of the social safety net, which almost undoubtedly includes yourself in some fashion, of having a sense of "entitlement" to basic care and respect--health, voting, support when one is unable to fully care for one's self--is an attack on them and theirs. There really is no polite way to phrase that.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:23 PM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Everyone's sensibility on such things varies. If someone has committed heinous, unspeakable acts, then I personally don't have a problem with saying so after they've died whether or not they are here to defend themselves.

You don't get to duck criticism just because you can't defend yourself.
posted by grubi at 2:24 PM on April 8, 2013


yes, and again, the comment didn't outright call her a "Tory Bitch, the context is key there."

My apologies. The original commenter did not call Thatcher a "Tory bitch", but used that phrasing rhetorically, in fact, to note what language a head of state would not use to describe her. So there are really no comments that use "that bitch" to describe Thatcher, at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:24 PM on April 8, 2013


jobs and housing and dignity.

The free market will decide who's worthy of jobs and housing and dignity, thank you.
posted by scody at 2:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you were meant to be respected and given opportunity, you'd have been born into the aristocracy, right?
posted by grubi at 2:29 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If someone has committed heinous, unspeakable acts, then I personally don't have a problem with saying so after they've died whether or not they are here to defend themselves.

I'd be scared to say so, if they were still here to defend themselves after they'd died.

Especially if they'd committed heinous, unspeakable acts. I've seen Reanimator.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 2:31 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you can think of a polite way to phrase that even if some people personally suffer in the short term, that doesn't mean that it is a bad policy, and that it is crucial to ultimately straightening out the world to kill the sense of entitlement that a lot of people have, I'd be much obliged.

Yeah, it's just an abhorrent belief that when put into practice means people die without medical treatment because rich people don't want to pay taxes. It can't be phrased politely.

You might be able to phrase it less euphemistically, making it clear that you are okay with poor people dying so rich people don't have to pay more in taxes instead of calling it short term suffering but you would still probably get the same reactions.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


It appears to willfully ignore that people in the fpp were not talking about magical goddamn unicorn candy, but about jobs and housing and dignity.

Except to some of us, that IS "magical goddamn unicorn candy". No one has a right to a job. No one has a right to be housed. Everyone has a right to dignity, but only because it is an internal thing that you create for yourself - which cannot be affected by any opinions or policies of Baroness Thatcher. You make your own dignity and you take it with you.
posted by corb at 2:35 PM on April 8, 2013


Mods, I feel for you here, but this is the inevitable consequence of promoting a culture of lazy political one-linerism. Just like everyone races to make the predictable snarky zinger about Republicans or oil companies or manufacturing jobs in China or economists or whatever else, everyone will race to be as nasty and as vitriolic as possible upon the death of a politician like Thatcher.
posted by downing street memo at 2:36 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Except to some of us, that IS "magical goddamn unicorn candy".

That's a fairly childish way to view a world, don't you think?
posted by Greg Nog at 2:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [48 favorites]


but a lot of times people interpret general commentary, particularly on the "social safety net", as an attack on them and theirs.

Yes, there is a lot of emotion involved in these discussions. That is, in part, because many people here have seen their own lives and the lives of their families improved (sometimes dramatically so) by the presence of a social safety net:

-State-supported education, and consequent social mobility have benefited a number of members here.

-Having appropriate supports in place to respond to unexpected serious illness or injury, and to mitigate their secondary effects (loss of income, family stress, etc.), have also helped a number of people here, and might have helped others had they been present.

-The recognition that large-scale economic events which might mean a negative on the balance sheet for a corporation, might also mean job-loss, homelessness, or starvation for a working person; and having a system in place by which these impacts are minimized, and by which such events cannot simply be used to further beat down wages. This has also benefited members here, or at the very least, benefited their parents or grandparents; and could significantly benefit others, were such measures still in place.


So yes, there are people here who will take your positions on the "social safety net", as an attack on them and theirs. And they may not be wrong.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I like how Corb thinks because we hate thatcher that we must love Castro and Chavez.
posted by empath at 2:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Anyone who wants a better understanding of the visceral hatred toward Thatcher might like to educate themselves on the human consequences of the miners' strike by watching the banned 1984 documentary "Which Side Are You On?" From the BFI film site:

"Loach has always felt that no documentary can ever be neutral or 'balanced' (and nor can the news) and he acknowledges that he made the film entirely from the miners' point of view. Following the decision to pull the programme he said "It is clear that only approved people can make comments about a struggle as decisive as the miners."

Loach felt himself a victim of media bias in the banning of the programme. He declared: "The way the news is covered is crucial to who wins this dispute and certainly some people are allowed to comment and others are not. People hold down their jobs by making the kind of programmes they know will win the approval of their masters."

Definitely worth watching, IMO.
posted by doreur at 2:43 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's a fairly childish way to view a world, don't you think?

I feel the same about the widespread attitude in MetaFilter's political threads that because a person disagrees with PoliticalPosition_XYZ, that person is evil and hateful and motivated by malice.
posted by cribcage at 2:43 PM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


So there are really no comments that use "that bitch" to describe Thatcher, at all.

Are you sure none have been deleted from the thread?
posted by jacalata at 2:44 PM on April 8, 2013


Except one of those is a straw man, and one of them literally uses the words "magical unicorn candy".
posted by ominous_paws at 2:45 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you can think of a polite way to phrase that even if some people personally suffer in the short term, that doesn't mean that it is a bad policy, and that it is crucial to ultimately straightening out the world to kill the sense of entitlement that a lot of people have, I'd be much obliged.

I can't think of a polite way to say that. I suggest you consult the works of Mao or Stalin.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:45 PM on April 8, 2013


No one has a right to be housed.

Yeah, and Thatcher made sure fewer people would have either the right or the house.
posted by grubi at 2:46 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you can think of a polite way to phrase that even if some people personally suffer in the short term, that doesn't mean that it is a bad policy, and that it is crucial to ultimately straightening out the world to kill the sense of entitlement that a lot of people have, I'd be much obliged.

yes, that is always true, when "some people" is anyone but me, my family or anyone I like. Otherwise yeah, fuck those people. They should learn to suffer for the greater good. Selfish bastards.
posted by Tarumba at 2:47 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


corb: " zarq: Yeah, I mean should have, or has in my opinion."

I understand the impulse.

As I said earlier, this has all happened before and will again. A conversation we've had several times before in MeTa.

The site is not of one mind on the subject. In part because it's considered polite in some segments of modern society to be respectful of the dead at all costs. And in part because there's value in pointing out that sometimes, people just haven't earned it.
posted by zarq at 2:48 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


They should learn to suffer for the greater good.

And if they find their suffering to be undignified, why, they have only themselves to blame!
posted by scody at 2:48 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you can think of a polite way to phrase that even if some people personally suffer in the short term, that doesn't mean that it is a bad policy, and that it is crucial to ultimately straightening out the world to kill the sense of entitlement that a lot of people have, I'd be much obliged.

Feeding the hungry is the opiate of the masses.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:50 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait is the candy made out of unicorns, or what?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:50 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Corb doesn't owe anyone anything -- by her own words! -- yet she lives in health, walks in safety and breathes fresh air thanks to hundreds of millions of humans who came before her and created medicine, lawful societies and environmental regulation that their children and their children's children would have a future relatively free of hazard.

I feel an amazing gap in empathic capacity here and I just don't understand it. How can one grow up so empty?
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


Apparently, "Fuck you; I got mine" is an -ism.
posted by grubi at 2:51 PM on April 8, 2013


Wait is the candy made out of unicorns, or what?

It's made out of the men of straw.
posted by grubi at 2:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Isn't in each artist (7): " Especially if they'd committed heinous, unspeakable acts. I've seen Reanimator."

Speak softly and carry a boomstick.

This baby was lovingly built in Grand Rapids, Michigan
posted by zarq at 2:54 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait is the candy made out of unicorns, or what?

Before Thatcher, it was. Now all you can find is magical artificially-unicorn-flavoured candy. And the magic is usually just something lame like arcane mark anyways.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 2:56 PM on April 8, 2013


Wait is the candy made out of unicorns, or what?

It was a casual frustrated metaphor, but I'll totally flesh it out. It is hand-spun by the unicorn's delicate hooves, and brushed smooth by their flowing manes.

Corb doesn't owe anyone anything -- by her own words! -- yet she lives in health, walks in safety and breathes fresh air thanks to hundreds of millions of humans who came before her and created medicine, lawful societies and environmental regulation that their children and their children's children would have a future relatively free of hazard.

Um, I do none of these. And my children have a future fairly full of hazard. Their children's children I shudder for.
posted by corb at 2:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you sure none have been deleted from the thread?

None have, for whatever that's worth.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:59 PM on April 8, 2013


No one has a right to be housed.

Yeah they do. We're a rich country, and we can handle putting a roof over everyone's head. It's not that big a strain. We can handle subsistence level food and a minimum standard of medical care, too.

It's that whole human dignity thing. That and not having to step over corpses in the gutter. But I'm selfish that way.
posted by Leon at 3:00 PM on April 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


Isn't there something a little sexist in the relish with which people call her a witch?
posted by Area Man at 3:00 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm really sick of the argument that Corb must be a horrible person because of her political beliefs. I don't think its true and, worse, I'm bored of reading the same arguments in almost every political thread.
posted by Area Man at 3:02 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Everyone has a right to dignity, but only because it is an internal thing that you create for yourself - which cannot be affected by any opinions or policies of Baroness Thatcher. You make your own dignity and you take it with you.

So you do not believe that any human being should be treated with dignity until they prove they've earned it?

And my children have a future fairly full of hazard. Their children's children I shudder for.

Why? They'll just earn their food, their shelter, and their dignity just like everyone else is supposed to. Do you not think that they are capable of doing so?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:03 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


to kill the sense of entitlement that a lot of people have

Note, too, that you write "a lot of people," not "everyone." You're entitled to respect here, apparently. And you're entitled to the guns you horde and every cent of the wealth you earn, but "a lot of people" need to have their sense of entitlement "killed." Really, dear, you are the Kim Kardashian of political theory.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:03 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Isn't there something a little sexist in the relish with which people call her a witch?

What people? Which remarks?
posted by grubi at 3:04 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know if she's a horrible person, but comparing housing, food, and medical care to 'unicorn candy' just isn't the sign of a deep or even practical thinker. Poor people don't just disappear because you sneer, condescend, neglect or just don't care about them.

Frankly I'm sick of that sort of thing in every political thread.
posted by sweetkid at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


> Um, I do none of these.

Your views are manifestly held from a position that is bereft of factual basis. Which clears things up for me, thanks.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:05 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Margaret Thatcher and the Misapplied Death Etiquette (via The Guardian)
posted by Splunge at 3:06 PM on April 8, 2013


Really, dear, you are the Kim Kardashian of political theory.

Setting aside terms like "witch" and "bitch," this right here is sexist.
posted by cribcage at 3:06 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Poor people don't just disappear because you sneer, condescend, neglect or just don't care about them.

Eventually they do!
posted by shakespeherian at 3:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please shut up about corb and her personal political beliefs, everyone. She has MeMail, you can engage her there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


If this is just going to be another round of new boring person whose name isn't worth remembering standing in the middle of a shouting circle, I say close this up.

Maybe I'm just raw over Ravine the Impossiblist dying, but shit, it's the same stupid empty arguments every time.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:08 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually respond to it, even.
posted by corb at 3:11 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I genuinely want to know what "bitch"/"witch" remarks are supposedly being bandied about in the blue with impunity. Seems to me, if you make a charge like that, we should have some sort of proof.
posted by grubi at 3:11 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't there something a little sexist in the relish with which people call her a witch?

I said this in the other thread (and got an amusing reply that kinda proved my point), but I think a lot of the vitriol (not disagreement, but real viciousness) came down to the way she rode roughshod over gender roles. Right back to the milk-snatcher epithet. I think most of her opponents would die before admitting it, though. We'll have to wait a couple more generations before historians can look at that one honestly.
posted by Leon at 3:12 PM on April 8, 2013


I said this in the other thread (and got an amusing reply that kinda proved my point), but I think a lot of the vitriol (not disagreement, but real viciousness) came down to the way she rode roughshod over gender roles. Right back to the milk-snatcher epithet. I think most of her opponents would die before admitting it, though. We'll have to wait a couple more generations before historians can look at that one honestly.
posted by Leon at 11:12 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


If you honestly believe "a lot" of the vitriol has anything to do with gender roles I don't know what to tell you.

Gender roles isn't even in the top 20 or so reasons to hate her.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:15 PM on April 8, 2013



Isn't there something a little sexist in the relish with which people call her a witch?

I said this in the other thread (and got an amusing reply that kinda proved my point), but I think a lot of the vitriol (not disagreement, but real viciousness) came down to the way she rode roughshod over gender roles. Right back to the milk-snatcher epithet. I think most of her opponents would die before admitting it, though. We'll have to wait a couple more generations before historians can look at that one honestly.


Just went and read through your comments in the thread and the response and I agree, Leon. I brought up there that I think the term 'witch' is gendered and also got the response that "oh that's how people talked about her for YEARS that's all." Yeah, because sexism?

I mean there's no way she's not extra hated for being a woman. Why would that age old truth suddenly not apply in this case?
posted by sweetkid at 3:15 PM on April 8, 2013


I mean there's no way she's not extra hated for being a woman. Why would that age old truth suddenly not apply in this case?
posted by sweetkid at 11:15 PM on April 8 [+] [!]



Yeah. And people extra hated Hitler because he was short, I mean why wouldn't that age old bias apply in that case?
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:19 PM on April 8, 2013


sure, those two things are exactly the same.
posted by sweetkid at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it was his mustache, more than being short.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


mean there's no way she's not extra hated for being a woman. Why would that age old truth suddenly not apply in this case?

Mostly because she's hated so much for things that she incontrovertibly actually did, that lingering misogyny pales in comparison.

The witch thing, so far as I know, has to do specifically with the Dorothy song.
posted by emilyw at 3:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I don't like about the "We only need so many 'The witch is dead comments,'" is that MetaFilter is (ostensibly,) a community in which everyone is equal and has their own voice. And part of that to me rings false when mods get to step in and say "Well, everyone gets a voice but your voice is represented by this post here and you don't get to add yours, because it's close enough to one that's already here.

Fuck that. We all paid our literal dues, let us all post what we want. It isn't hate speech, it's how we are feeling and it's fine. Someone way upthread said it already: MetaFilter is not a tea-party and the people who are here are not children. Just because sometimes our threads resemble reddit's doesn't mean MetaFilter is going down the tubes. Mods would do well to think about that.


Fucking dot obit-threads.
posted by InsanePenguin at 3:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh was there a bad person named Hitler at one point? Let's make comparisons!
posted by shakespeherian at 3:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean there's no way she's not extra hated for being a woman.

I don't hate her because she's a woman. I hate her because she was awful, horrible, destructive, selfish, and took pride in hurting people. I could not give two shits about her gender or genitalia. They have no bearing on her actions or my reaction to those actions.
posted by grubi at 3:22 PM on April 8, 2013


"It is always weird to me to find myself in the position of defending klangklangston."

The more you do it, the better it feels!
posted by klangklangston at 3:22 PM on April 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


"I mean there's no way she's not extra hated for being a woman. Why would that age old truth suddenly not apply in this case?"

Well, like, how much extra? Like, 50 percent extra? Or like 10 percent extra? Because if I'm sussing out the relative evils between possible sexism in enthusiastic vitriol versus just actual deserved vitriol, I'm curious where that line is.
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]



I don't hate her because she's a woman. I hate her because she was awful, horrible, destructive, selfish, and took pride in hurting people. I could not give two shits about her gender or genitalia. They have no bearing on her actions or my reaction to those actions.


That's not really the whole story though, there are plenty of people saying in the thread, "No, people really, REALLY *hated* her, kids sung songs about it, etc." That institutional sexism has no part of that just isn't accurate to me.
posted by sweetkid at 3:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


aaaaaaaand godwins, time to close it
posted by iamabot at 3:26 PM on April 8, 2013


Just to add: I don't deny that it's probably happening, but she was pretty vile woman, and I've gotta say that I'm not feeling particularly more enthusiastic about tramping down her grave than I was, say, Jerry Falwell or Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan.

"That's not really the whole story though, there are plenty of people saying in the thread, "No, people really, REALLY *hated* her, kids sung songs about it, etc." That institutional sexism has no part of that just isn't accurate to me."

Kids in my neighborhood sang songs about Reagan.
posted by klangklangston at 3:26 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Generally speaking, indifference toward gender seems more sincere if your first comment in a thread isn't about gender.
posted by cribcage at 3:27 PM on April 8, 2013


Kids in my neighborhood sang songs about Reagan.

SHARE OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.
posted by corb at 3:28 PM on April 8, 2013


Please shut up about corb and her personal political beliefs, everyone.

Can you explain why corb can make provocative statements about her political beliefs but we have to shut up about them?
posted by octobersurprise at 3:28 PM on April 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


On the subject of deletions in that thread -
It's over 700 comments now, overwhelmingly negative in both verbose and pithy ways. So there is no support for the idea that "mods don't want us to say anything negative."

Hardly anything has been deleted. I count 5 deleted comments that were about Thatcher herself -- of the "ding dong"/"stake in her heart" variety, nothing more than a sentence or two long -- and all of those in the first hour or so of the thread. (There were a few more that were either metacommentary or a clear derail about Marxism. Again these were mostly in the early part of the thread.) As far as I can see, a gentle nudge in the direction of - as taz said - not being as awful as possible, and that's it.

I think the middle part of the thread where people have got into deeper commentary about her legacy was really interesting.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:29 PM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


sweetkid: politics is a tough game, and I've no doubt she could take it. I really couldn't care less if she got called witch or milk-snatcher or anything else, but I find the rush to denial really interesting. It mirrors denial I've seen (been part of) on other topics, and I think there might be a big unexamined blind spot there, but I don't have the correct language to tease it out.
posted by Leon at 3:29 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's not really the whole story though, there are plenty of people saying in the thread, "No, people really, REALLY *hated* her, kids sung songs about it, etc." That institutional sexism has no part of that just isn't accurate to me.
posted by sweetkid at 11:25 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


Do you hail from Northern England, Wales or Scotland?

If you did you might have a better footing for your certainty on the reasons behind hatred for Thatcher.

A lot of us live in areas she destroyed or very close by. We deal with the consequences of what she did every day.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:32 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That institutional sexism has no part of that just isn't accurate to me.

I think what bugs me about this claim is that it is a broad rhetorical brush used to invalidate criticisms of her activities as the leader of a country. Didn't like how she made millions of jobs redundant through privatization efforts? Sexist. Didn't like that she knocked Argentina about? Sexist. Didn't like that she supported Pinochet and apartheid in South Africa? Sexist. Didn't like her government's cozy business relationships with Murdoch's tabloids? Sexist.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]



If you did you might have a better footing for your certainty on the reasons behind hatred for Thatcher.


you're misunderstanding what I'm saying. I'm not saying that people only hate Margaret Thatcher because of sexism. I'm saying that institutional, societal sexism definitely has a lot to do with the force with which people hated her, the things they said and continue to say about her, and how those things spread. It just doesn't make sense to say we have a sexist society, but this doesn't affect the legacy of Margaret Thatcher in any way.
posted by sweetkid at 3:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't have a cite, but I remember a lot of people (in real life, not Metafilter) making fun of her because she "looked like a man" or was in some other unspecified way also unfeminine. This was at the time, though, not recently, so it may just be that times have changed. But I seem to recall a lot of people being upset that Thatcher had violated their expectations of women as kind and gentle creatures.
posted by corb at 3:37 PM on April 8, 2013


You very rarely, if ever have a cite.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


"SHARE OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN."

On top of Old Smokey,
All covered with blood,
Hinckley shot Reagan
With a .44 gun.

That's the one I remember best, but there were a bunch. One that I know I'm misremembering now was about giving him 40 whacks with a "baseball axe." Which, god only knows that was.
posted by klangklangston at 3:39 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't have a cite, but I remember a lot of people (in real life, not Metafilter) making fun of her because she "looked like a man" or was in some other unspecified way also unfeminine.

I think you're thinking of Janet Reno.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:41 PM on April 8, 2013


Can you explain why corb can make provocative statements about her political beliefs but we have to shut up about them?

Can I use an analogy about two five year olds fighting and the way my mother never accepted the excuse 'but he started it!' as a valid reason for being the second member of the pair?
posted by jacalata at 3:42 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Margaret Thatcher on a cold day is an expression to denote premature ejaculation prevention. Don't think there's an equal expression for male leaders.

And call me a horrible person but I look forward to having this same discussion when Rupert Murdoch dies.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:43 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Could the "40 whacks" one be related to / derivative of the Lizzie Borden rhyme?
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When the job was nicely done
She gave her father forty-one
posted by Flunkie at 3:44 PM on April 8, 2013


2 five year olds vs 5 two year olds is what i will be wargaming for the rest of this flight.
posted by iamabot at 3:46 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


People hated Thatcher more, because she was a woman.
They mocked her husband for being weak and ineffectual, because he was married to a powerful woman.
They constantly bought up her inadequacies as a mother, because she was a woman.
She continued cuts to free milk introduced by a previous labour government and was forever branded a "milk snatcher", because she was a woman.

Bringing up the fact that you live in the North of England or Scotland does nothing to further your assertion that you know better about if there was sexism involved in the degree to which she is hated.
posted by zoo at 3:46 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can you explain why corb can make provocative statements about her political beliefs but we have to shut up about them?

Everyone, including corb, needs to shut up about them at the point at which they are becoming the focal point of a thread that is not actually about that. However, issuing a pre-emptive "Don't talk about this sort of thing" isn't helpful so it's not until there's an active "Let's all grill corb about her beliefs which she has sort of thrust into the middle of this conversation about something else" derail that we wander in and suggest people occupy themselves complaining about Thatcher or something.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:46 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can you explain why corb can make provocative statements about her political beliefs but we have to shut up about them?
Nobody is stopping anyone from making provocative comments against Thatcher. I think people would just rather that people tried to stop attacking corb.
posted by zoo at 3:48 PM on April 8, 2013


"Could the "40 whacks" one be related to / derivative of the Lizzie Borden rhyme?
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When the job was nicely done
She gave her father forty-one
"

Probably. They were almost all double-dutch, hopscotch or those clapping hand game rhymes (I don't know the proper term for those clapping hand games, e.g. Miss Mary Mack). So things tended to mutate pretty quickly.
posted by klangklangston at 3:49 PM on April 8, 2013


Can I use an analogy about two five year olds fighting and the way my mother never accepted the excuse 'but he started it!' as a valid reason for being the second member of the pair?

You could, but considering that we aren't your children and metafilter isn't the back seat of your car, it isn't likely to be very enlightening.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:49 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


See just there. That's it in a nutshell:

I don't have a cite, but I remember a lot of people (in real life, not Metafilter) making fun of her because she "looked like a man" or was in some other unspecified way also unfeminine. This was at the time, though, not recently, so it may just be that times have changed. But I seem to recall a lot of people being upset that Thatcher had violated their expectations of women as kind and gentle creatures.
posted by corb at 3:37 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


You very rarely, if ever have a cite.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:38 PM on April 8 [2 favorites +] [!]


One of these is a comment about the situation, and one is a comment about the person they're disagreeing with.
posted by zoo at 3:50 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm supposed to be cool with someone asserting on all possible occasions that my whole family deserves to starve and die, but somehow it is difficult to do.
posted by winna at 3:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


Bringing up the fact that you live in the North of England or Scotland does nothing to further your assertion that you know better about if there was sexism involved in the degree to which she is hated.
posted by zoo at 11:46 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


I didn't do that.

And repeating assertions doesn't make them true.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:52 PM on April 8, 2013


You said:
Do you hail from Northern England, Wales or Scotland?
If you did you might have a better footing for your certainty on the reasons behind hatred for Thatcher.

posted by zoo at 3:53 PM on April 8, 2013


One of these is a comment about the situation, and one is a comment about the person they're disagreeing with.

One of these is a comment about the situation, and one is a comment about how the person they're disagreeing with often makes points without citations, which leads to nasty and baseless accusations of sexism, such as those you and corb have chosen to make.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:56 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whatevs. I'm not getting involved any deeper with this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:57 PM on April 8, 2013


You said:
Do you hail from Northern England, Wales or Scotland?
If you did you might have a better footing for your certainty on the reasons behind hatred for Thatcher.
posted by zoo at 11:53 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


Yes I did.

I was wondering if sweetkid had ever met any of the people whose motivations she was speculating upon which is different to the way you characterised it.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:58 PM on April 8, 2013


Let's all grill corb about her beliefs

I don't think it's necessary to grill corb about her beliefs, she always seems more than eager to explain them to us at length herself.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well wonder no more. I agree with sweetkid, and I have.
posted by zoo at 4:00 PM on April 8, 2013


Well wonder no more. I agree with sweetkid, and I have.
posted by zoo at 12:00 AM on April 9 [+] [!]


I am sure you do.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:05 PM on April 8, 2013


People hated Thatcher more, because she was a woman.
They mocked her husband for being weak and ineffectual, because he was married to a powerful woman.
They constantly bought up her inadequacies as a mother, because she was a woman.
She continued cuts to free milk introduced by a previous labour government and was forever branded a "milk snatcher", because she was a woman.

Bringing up the fact that you live in the North of England or Scotland does nothing to further your assertion that you know better about if there was sexism involved in the degree to which she is hated.


You're making the assertion, you back it up. Evidence, I believe, is how that is done. Got any?

For the record, I don't believe I have ever criticised Thatcher for looking like a man, for having the charactertistics of a man or any of that shit. I don't give a damn about Denis. I am a little too young to remember the milk stuff. I hate her because she was a despicable turd of a human being.
posted by biffa at 4:13 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, anyone else see that giant cock FPP, that was some shit right there. Human diversity is an amazing thing.

Jonah Falcon, Man With World's Largest Penis, Frisked By TSA At California Airport
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on April 8, 2013


The thread on the blue is an almost uninterrupted stream of abuse directed at the deceased, but the complaint is - correct me if I'm wrong - that the moderation is too heavy? And that people aren't being allowed to express their glee at her death?

?
posted by kavasa at 4:15 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I now realize that MeFi should have a Scottish mod.

Yes! Then that bagpipe post I've been working so hard to prepare would be sidebarred quicker than you can say "bowl of haggis, lassie!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


The British satirical TV program "Spitting Image", the most popular satire in Britain in the Thatcher years, regularly portrayed her as having male characteristics - wearing pinstriped trouser suits, walking into the toilets and discussing policy with her cabinet while using the urinal. Was that institutionalized sexism? Hard to tell... it was a riff also on the oddity of the traditionally highly (small-c) conservative (large-c) Conservative party having a female leader, and the unprecedented situation of Britain having a female prime minister.

It was also a joke about her increasingly autocratic and Churchillian approach to her cabinet and indeed the country - to the point where one skit around the 1987 election had her voice coach outlining where her voice was going (first to Thatcher standing in a study with a bulldog, speaking in the voice of Winston Churchill, and finally to Thatcher in a radiation suit, with audio from the Nuremberg rallies). On the other hand, she was also often portrayed, in particular by Gerald Scarfe, as a sort of ersatz Britannia.

(From a caricaturists' point of view, the things which lent themselves best to caricature were definitely gendered, but not in a "mannish" way - her hair, her twinsets, her nose, her handbag.)

Plus, of course, there was the description of being ridden roughshod over in a cabinet meeting by Thatcher as "handbagging" - which was something she played up to to a degree, using her black Asprey bag as a prop.

Is that institutionalized sexism? Yeesh. Spitting Image was a puppet show, and it used that freedom to create exaggerated caricatures - Norman Tebbit was a bomber-jacketed thug, Roy Hattersley projected gouts of spittle every time he spoke, and so on. There were likewise satires of her domestic life, with Denis as a hen-pecked husband, that don't have exact parallels with former Prime Ministers, although there are comparable approaches - Peter Cook's portrayal of MacMillan as a Pooteresque middle manager, or the jokes about Ted Heath's confirmed bachelorhood in the 70s.

I think it's impossible to ignore the fact that Margaret Thatcher's gender was remarkable and remarked upon in British political culture at the time - on the right, some people felt that it was inappropriate for her to be "wearing the trousers", both in her marriage and in cabinet, and on the left there was a feeling from many feminists that she had betrayed her gender (Thatcher would have responded that she felt no kinship with them just because they happened to share a gender, and, as has been mentioned, thought feminism was "poison"). However, it was perfectly possible to criticise her without bringing in her gender, just as it is perfectly possible to criticise the policies of Barack Obama without bringing in his race, which is equally unusual for a US President.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:23 PM on April 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I love how Acheman opened this thread because he wanted people to be nicer to Thatcher and just created a second place for people to be mean. Someone should do a study of what percentage of metatalks go the way the poster intended.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:24 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love how Acheman opened this thread because he wanted people to be nicer to Thatcher

...really, really not.
posted by jaduncan at 4:26 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love how Acheman opened this thread because he wanted people to be nicer to Thatcher and just created a second place for people to be mean.


That's not how I read Acheman's OP at all. Like, the exact opposite.
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:27 PM on April 8, 2013


yea it's the opposite.
posted by sweetkid at 4:28 PM on April 8, 2013


I'm just jealous that Maggie got to thwack Christopher Hitchens on the bum. Naughty girl.
posted by nacho fries at 4:29 PM on April 8, 2013


It's over 700 comments now…
Hardly anything has been deleted. I count 5 deleted comments that were about Thatcher herself


And thus it wasn't necessary to stir up a shitstorm by deleting them in the first place. They comprised less than 1% of the thread and were a lot less vulgar or mean-spirited than the hundreds of comments left standing. IOW, a perfectly fine illustration of over-moderation: the pointless, arbitrary, and capricious deletion of harmless one-liners.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:31 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Interesting. I had no idea the woman was detested so much.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


In conclusion, Margaret Thatcher is a land of contrasts.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:36 PM on April 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


I don't want to bring up cites for sexism about Thatcher, because to do so requires that I mine the nastiest and most sexist places on the internet and newspapers: places that I, as a feminist, would prefer not to go. I can do so, but it is just an ugly, ugly place. It's pretty easy to do - I did it in five seconds via google - but in order to cite it I'd need to quote it, and I don't want to repeat that stuff.
posted by corb at 4:37 PM on April 8, 2013


This is really interesting to me. The English-speaking world has had countless numbers of politicians (and corporate leaders, and others in power positions) over the last decades who have gutted the economies of towns, neighborhoods or regions, and reduced their people to humiliating circumstances, under the auspices of neoliberalism.

I wonder if anyone has other examples of leaders who have faced such unified, unyielding, decades-long anger from the people of those regions.

This anger doesn't arise every time this happens (for example, the rotting industrial ghost cities of the Upper Midwest didn't all party when Reagan died). I wonder why it happens some times and not other times.
posted by cairdeas at 4:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tangent: Anyone care to talk about Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister in the context of Thatcher?

Because I love those shows, but have always been sort of curious how they played at the time. Were they considered explicitly political shows with a pro-Thatcher bent? Relatively apolitical and just amusing comedies?

Impressions welcome.


That actually is the climax of Adam Curtis' documentary series "The Century of Self." You can watch all 4 hours of the documentary at that link, it is one of the most worthwhile investments of 4 hours I ever spent.

I believe the Thatcher segment starts about here. IIRC the primary thesis is that politicians used psychological manipulation to appeal to peoples' narcissism, in a deliberately cynical attempt to undermine the social compact by making them distrust government. I could not find the spot (somewhere in the last segment, the last hour, probably after the Thatcher section) that specifically discusses Yes, Minister as an attempt to sell the Thatcher policy to the people, by making it comical and non-threatening.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:39 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd like to agree with LobsterMitten, "I think the middle part of the thread where people have got into deeper commentary about her legacy was really interesting.", and thank the people who are finding and posting real info.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:40 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sexism is such a part of our culture that sexism will flavor any critique of female public figures. On the other hand, it would be actively sexist to pretend she wasn't evil because of her gender. As full humans, women are as capable of monstrousness as men.

I literally went on a march to celebrate the death of Ronald Reagan, and as is appropriate for gender parity, I envy my Brit compatriots who are partying in the streets right now.

There are lots of people in history who have done bad things, but few match the scale of Thatcher.
posted by latkes at 4:42 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


the rotting industrial ghost cities of the Upper Midwest didn't all party when Reagan died

He's just so darn charming!
posted by grubi at 4:45 PM on April 8, 2013


I have no doubt there is criticism of Thatcher that is based on sexism, and that frankly is pretty horrid. All high profile women are subjected to this abhorant behavior. However to then extroplate ALL, or even most, harsh critism of Thatcher as neccesarily springing from the same place is pretty damn absurd. And for the record she did damn little to promote other women in politics. She was more proud of being the first scientist to become PM than the first woman. Thatcher was the recipient of benefit of a certain type of feminism, but was hardly an egalitarian or feminist herself.
posted by edgeways at 4:47 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I now realize that MeFi should have a Scottish mod.

Sellic from the Huddleboard is a good shout, he bans people for Lent and looking in his general direction.

There was a thread there about cavity wall insulation that progressed into a mano a mano showdown in a Mcdonalds drivethrough in Glasgow.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:48 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


However to then extroplate ALL, or even most, harsh critism of Thatcher as neccesarily springing from the same place is pretty damn absurd.

Did anyone say that though? (I checked but I might have missed something. All I saw people saying is that there it's unlikely there's no sexism in play at all. Not that it is the cause of all or most criticism or invalidates any of it.)
posted by cairdeas at 4:50 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"This anger doesn't arise every time this happens (for example, the rotting industrial ghost cities of the Upper Midwest didn't all party when Reagan died). I wonder why it happens some times and not other times."

Bush was in office, the Iraq War had just started (and just started to confirm what every right-thinking person knew before hand: It was going to be a shitshow), and we were still just barely coming out of the economic doldrums of 9-11/Dotcom bust.

We cheered, but few of us were in a party mood.
posted by klangklangston at 4:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Celebrating when your enemy dies in comfort at the age of 87 is pretty weak sauce.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:51 PM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


That's what I find even more bizarre and interesting, klangklangston. Bush wasn't just "in office" -- he swept lots of those states! Millions of the people living in the circumstances created by Reagan cheerfully voted for him to bring back those same policies!
posted by cairdeas at 4:54 PM on April 8, 2013


However to then extroplate ALL, or even most, harsh critism of Thatcher as neccesarily springing from the same place is pretty damn absurd.

Did anyone say that though? (I checked but I might have missed something. All I saw people saying is that there it's unlikely there's no sexism in play at all. Not that it is the cause of all or most criticism or invalidates any of it.)


Yeah, no one has said this. What I was saying was not to then extroplate ALL, or even most, harsh critism of Thatcher as neccesarily springing from the same place
posted by sweetkid at 4:56 PM on April 8, 2013


My bad. I misread the quoted material as being sincere.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:57 PM on April 8, 2013


I have set and read every comment on this post, along with the FPP on the subject, in real time, and I have to honestly say, from the deepest darkest reaches of my inner being, I can not express enough how much I enjoy each and every one of you. You have made more than one of my days lately, and good work deserves a pat-on-the-back.

In my real life, this is where the other person would say "how much have you had to drink?"
(It was a bit drunkly-I-Love-U)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 5:13 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Taz:
[Guys, please don't be as awful as possible here? There is more to say than "I'm glad" or "the witch is dead," etc., and we don't need 10,000 cheap snarks.]

We don't need a hundred "witch is dead" comments.

Deciding what "needs" to be said in this discussion is politically charged and feels like heavy-handed moderation to me, however few comments are deleted on such grounds.

An unimaginative, coarse comment celebrating Thatcher's death does add something to the discussion: it adds a comment celebrating Thatcher's death. It is about exactly analogous to the weight that a single untrained voice brings to an entire stadium singing "When Maggie Thatcher Dies". Does the song need to be louder than it already is? No, but that objection misses the point of the singing.
posted by richyoung at 5:15 PM on April 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Here's another thing that's fascinating. Why does Kent elect Conservative after Conservative, while Yorkshire is so strongly Labour? Is there less Thatcher hate in Kent? Why?
posted by cairdeas at 5:16 PM on April 8, 2013


"Deciding what "needs" to be said in this discussion is politically charged and feels like heavy-handed moderation to me, however few comments are deleted on such grounds. "

You've confused MeFi with the unfettered paradise of SHITCOCK.
posted by klangklangston at 5:18 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there less Thatcher hate in Kent? Why?

Because there's a lot more money in Kent.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:22 PM on April 8, 2013




Can I use an analogy about two five year olds fighting and the way my mother never accepted the excuse 'but he started it!' as a valid reason for being the second member of the pair?

Sure, if you want to be condescending and rude to everyone involved.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:24 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Charlie don't surf's link to Ian Curtis' television show is exactly what I was going to search for later. I don't know how truthy it is but the bit about Major beating Pennock when the polls had Pennock way up because people were ashamed to tell the pollsters they were going for Major is pretty intense.
posted by bukvich at 5:25 PM on April 8, 2013


I'm not sure she's dead.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:28 PM on April 8, 2013


bukvich, Adam Curtis.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because there's a lot more money in Kent.

It doesn't look very far off by the disposable income data. £2k a year per head is enough of a difference for one region to see you as a monster and another region to keep voting to further your economic policies? Is it really just that?
posted by cairdeas at 5:35 PM on April 8, 2013


d'oh!
posted by bukvich at 5:36 PM on April 8, 2013


That's what I find even more bizarre and interesting, klangklangston. Bush wasn't just "in office" -- he swept lots of those states! Millions of the people living in the circumstances created by Reagan cheerfully voted for him to bring back those same policies!

In the US, lots of people - member of both of the two major parties - do not vote strictly based on their economic interests.
posted by JeffL at 5:38 PM on April 8, 2013


My partner, who hates Thatcher with the hate of a thousand suns, pointed out that there are a lot of things to hate Thatcher for, and you can keep on talking about how you hate Thatcher for quite some time without ever going to gendered insults.

We obviously disagree on how to discuss the recently dead, but I agree that there's no need for them (gendered insults like witch).
posted by corb at 5:39 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Right, JeffL, which is what I was wondering about. Why sometimes a public figure is hated and reviled for destroying people economically, and other times, people are just meh about it, and other times, the economically destroyed people adore and revere that public figure.
posted by cairdeas at 5:41 PM on April 8, 2013


Sure, if you want to be condescending and rude to everyone involved.

Well, obviously. If they didn't want to be condescended to they could try not acting like five year olds.
posted by jacalata at 5:41 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wasn't suggesting no one can dislike Thatcher or criticize her. I didn't like Reagan, so I don't begrudge those who disliked his U.K. equivalent. However, all the references to her as a "witch" suggest that there is some sexism in play. Really, how could there not be? She was such a powerful woman and plenty of people on the left and right weren't actually comfortable with powerful women.
posted by Area Man at 5:45 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure, if you want to be condescending and rude to everyone involved.

Well, obviously. If they didn't want to be condescended to they could try not acting like five year olds.


Your contentless insults are far more a sign of a lack of maturity than people having passionate debates about provocative political topics.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:52 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nope, sorry. Everyone knows what corb thinks, she brings it up constantly. Everyone also knows who disagrees with her and exactly why, because they've been through it millions of times. If none of the involved parties can resist retreading the same argument yet again, after being asked to desist, they are not having a mature debate about controversial topics, they are talking past one another and causing noise for others to wade through.
posted by jacalata at 5:55 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It doesn't look very far off by the disposable income data. £2k a year per head is enough of a difference for one region to see you as a monster and another region to keep voting to further your economic policies? Is it really just that?

Well, regional differences are regional differences. Much of Kent is fairly rural, and it doesn't have an urban concentration like Leeds or Sheffield - the closest thing it has is Canterbury. Kent's industries did not see the sharp decline of the 80s, at least not to the same extent - the coal mining industry in Kent was over long before Thatcher. Lots of well-off people live in Kent and commute into the financial center of London. Yorkshire is historically one of the hearts of the trade union movement in Britain, and Kent isn't.

Basically, they are very different areas, demographically, culturally and politically. It's like... Illinois is pretty solidly Democrat, and Wyoming is pretty solidly Republican, even though they have about the same median disposable income.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:57 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


iamabots law: As an online discussion grows longer the probability of that discussion becoming about one participant, not the original subject, approaches 1.
posted by iamabot at 6:00 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


taz again.
posted by bardic at 6:02 PM on April 8, 2013


There are quite a few options for how to handle seeing a post from corb you disagree with. If you find the potential debate interesting you can engage in it with a single post or in depth. You can also ignore it. If you find it out of line you can flag it. If the moderators ask you to stop, you should stop.

Insisting that since you disagree with her and she posts more than you like you must post multiple times that she must be a five year old is just as much engaging with her as debating her is. You're just doing it in a worse way, with an insult instead of content.

I disagree with corb A LOT, but she mostly brings an interesting and fresh (for Mefi) perspective that I like to read. I'd prefer you not call her a five year old because insulting people too much can drive them away from the site.

Just because you perceive her as doing something negative to the conversation doesn't mean you should retaliate.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:02 PM on April 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


The views of most active political posters are probably similarly predictable, it just doesn't stand out as much when you aren't taking less popular positions. That doesn't mean their contributions aren't valuable.

I mean, I can predict the broad strokes of anything Ironmouth will bring to a political conversation but he displays a lot of insight and thought and rigorous understanding of the law to his positions that makes him unique. Not a perfect poster and sometimes the moderators have to reign him in from getting into take all comers territory, but still it's not cool to just be insulting to him when he gets like that. There are better ways to handle it, not like I'm Mr.Perfect there but still.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:11 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


However, all the references to her as a "witch" suggest that there is some sexism in play.

I don't think anyone's disputing that. They're trying to tell you they didn't hear the news and decide to call Thatcher a witch as a convenient substitute for a word that starts with 'b' or something.

I just went through the other thread. There are a number of 'ding dong the witch is dead' references and two uses of the phrase 'Iron Witch'. I can't really comment on the latter. I mean, it's obvious where it's coming from, but it's not something I have the context to comment on. We've already been over the memetic nature of 'ding dong the witch is dead' thing. It was pretty clearly part of the venting of spleens at the start of the thread. That had run its course before people in Britain mostly went to bed, so it hasn't simply stopped because of the time zones. Yes, perhaps next week they'll think to themselves 'Huh, yeah, a bit sexist, wasn't that?' but you're not going to make them (or me, apparently) feel guilty about it right now.
posted by hoyland at 6:11 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's an interesting disconnect for me where people get upset about people expressing in some cases long, profoundly interesting grievances against a public figure that made life arguably worse for many millions of people in an obit thread, and the general lack of availability for those people to make those well-reasoned, well-founded thoughts and feelings known otherwise.

When else do people have an opportunity to express how they feel about Thatcher? She and Reagan shat upon the world and made it worse for a decade, and the effects of their enshittening have been felt for decades hence. But she hasn't done anything notable in decades.

So when do we get an opportunity to discuss her legacy except upon her passing? It's not like there are a lot of Best of the Web opportunities to discuss Thatcher popping up on a routine basis, and when they do, it's usually at best as a tangent.

This is an opportunity for people to explain, at great length and in some cases excruciating detail, how she made the world a worse place. When else would we get a chance to really think and talk about this? Do we have to sit politely and wait for 10,000 word dissertations on economics to discuss these things?

The bad news about news is that it has to be news. When somebody does something abhorrent and then doesn't do anything newsworthy for 20 years, there's no chance to really talk about what they did except when they make the news. In this case, it's death that made the news. But I don't think the mere fact that a bunch of animate neurons became inanimate neurons is a magical dividing line that means we can't talk about things. We get to talk about things.

And if there's a preponderance of short, snarky, "good" type sentiments, it might be worth wondering why these sentiments are being expressed, referring back to the abovementioned long and detailed comments, and wondering why those sentiments exist instead of falling back on cheap "speak no ill" sentiments to claim that those long-thought, well-founded opinions should not exist.
posted by Shepherd at 6:13 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Actually I don't think I've given a position related to corb's opinion at all. What happened was
1. corb posted
2. other people responded
3. it got boring and started to take over the thread the way it frequently does when corb comes in, so moderators asked them all to stop. I had not gotten involved at all because I find it unproductive.
4. people said 'but why aren't you telling HER to stop first?!'
5. I made fun of all those involved in the constant 'let's make it about corb' fest, and specifically those saying roughly 'but SHE started it'. For an example of someone who used to have similar problems and managed to fix it, see konolia, so yes I think corb is partly at fault for the way threads become all about her opinions - however, that wasn't what inspired the five year old comment. I'm sorry if you have seen people attacking her so often that you assumed that was the specific motivation for my comment.
6. You jumped in because you think objecting to a continuous, unproductive and stupid dynamic on both sides is just my way of trying to silence the side I disagree with. You were wrong, but that's ok. You may wish to avoid throwing in your own comments of 'well no YOU'RE being immature' if you want to have a serious discussion about not insulting people, but fair enough, I started it and it's hard to resist falling down to the level of your opponent even when you are specifically arguing that"Just because you perceive her as doing something negative to the conversation doesn't mean you should retaliate."
posted by jacalata at 6:23 PM on April 8, 2013


"When else would we get an opportunity to talk about this?" is logical enough but it misunderstands some fundamental principles about how MetaFilter works.
posted by cribcage at 6:24 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH here is my take on the "moderating obits of people considered to be bad" thing:

1. A site where a death is met with a string of one-line "Good, I'm glad, fuck them" sort of messages is often one I wouldn't want to be a part of. I don't want to name a specific example, but I hope everyone would agree that it's true that there are deaths that fit this mold for them.

2. At the same time, I will generally never have a problem with someone reflecting in some amount of detail for at least one specific reason for their antipathy. For example, someone could say something like "Her policies gutted the entire region I grew up in and reduced every family I knew to destitution. I'm glad she's dead." and I think I'd be fine with even a whole thread of hundreds of comments like that. Like that's not my ideal outcome or anything, but I think it's markedly better than pure bile.

3. I guess that's it, really.
posted by kavasa at 6:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


OMG ain't nobody got time for that
posted by agregoli at 6:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


How's your bronchitis, agregoli?
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:28 PM on April 8, 2013


Not sure what that means, nooneyouknow, but this discussion about how people are arguing and how best they could argue in the future has gotten so metametameta that I'm a little amazed. Metafilter, dude. Beans!!!
posted by agregoli at 6:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


for example, the rotting industrial ghost cities of the Upper Midwest didn't all party when Reagan died

part of the reason for that is they were already rotting industrial ghost cities when reagan got elected

it started in '75 in my hometown and went down fast
posted by pyramid termite at 6:35 PM on April 8, 2013


iamabots law: As an online discussion grows longer the probability of that discussion becoming about one participant, not the original subject, approaches 1.

You would codify such a law, iamabots.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:35 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Actually I don't think I've given a position related to corb's opinion at all. What happened was

What happened was you described discussing something with corb as an argument between five year olds. corb is necessarily one of the five year olds in the comparison, so yes you attacked her. When confronted with this you have been trying to justify a double standard in which it is okay for you to directly insult and make fun of her and others but not for anyone else to discuss something with her.

A condescending insult is not a solution to a thread dynamic you find unproductive. It's just piling on more non-productivity in a manner that is going to make the dynamic worse.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:36 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


> "I got the image of a siren being triggered in the mod bunker when the news hit CNN. IT'S DEFCON 5, GETCHER HELMETS ON."

DEFCON 5 is Everything Normal; proceed with your day.
DEFCON 1 is when the shit is hitting the fan.

DWRoelands: "
Blink tags and animated gifs will be turned on
"

Joy of joys blink is already enabled.

>: "Isn't calling a woman a "witch" also a gendered insult?"

It varies a lot from mythos to mythos and religion to religion but there are plenty of male witches out there.

>: "But the thing is, nobody ever broke an obit thread or spawned a metatalk by putting a dot in it; and there's even a greasemonkey script out there if you just can't abide them in any case."

There must have been dozens of metatalk threads asking what the "." means.
posted by Mitheral at 6:41 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


GETCHER HELMETS ON

I didn't even know Cher did helmets!
posted by Jehan at 6:48 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


When confronted with this you have been trying to justify a double standard in which it is okay for you to directly insult and make fun of her and others but not for anyone else to discuss something with her.

Yes. I think calling out stupid behaviour as stupid is ok, and should be ok, especially when said behaviour is so repetitive that the participants must not have realised how stupid it is. That is a separate action to 'constantly behave stupidly', so I have actually applied a different standard to it. I can see that you disagree here, or perhaps think I am not aware that I treat these two actions differently, but that's your problem.

If you think that meta-argument about the way an argument is conducted is never ok, then I suggest you leave MetaTalk and go back to MetaFilter, where you would be right.
posted by jacalata at 6:52 PM on April 8, 2013


Denis
*pours a gin and tonic* Let's get relaxed!
/Denis
posted by unliteral at 6:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not sure what that means, nooneyouknow

Was referring to Sweet Brown.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:20 PM on April 8, 2013


that's your problem

Classy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:21 PM on April 8, 2013


If you think that meta-argument about the way an argument is conducted is never ok, then I suggest you leave MetaTalk and go back to MetaFilter, where you would be right.

I am a big fan of meta-discussion, for instance points such as, "It may be damaging to the discussion to substitute insults for content." You can have a discussion of corb's contributions without calling people stupid children.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think calling out stupid behaviour as stupid is ok, and should be ok, especially when said behaviour is so repetitive that the participants must not have realised how stupid it is.

And you should feel free to do so, however, it's unclear to me why replying to a comment you think is stupid is stupid, but chastising a comment for being stupid by replying to a stupid comment is smart.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:35 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


She may have been a horrible human being in your view but she was a human being nonetheless.

Citation please.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


You would codify such a law, iamabots.

And now I realize that the name is iamabot.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:42 PM on April 8, 2013


You must have missed my reference to repetition, octobersurprise. Although obviously, by having attempted to explain it to so many people now I am guilty of the same thing. Being called out as 'unclassy' by BP is in itself so mindboggling that I must have seriously misstepped somehow, and will now leave you all to have your mature conversation about exactly how vicious one should be to the memory of Thatcher.
posted by jacalata at 8:21 PM on April 8, 2013


Breaking: The Archbishop of Cantebury has squelched a proposal to cremate Thatcher's remains saying, "the lady is not for burning."
posted by humanfont at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Richard Nixon was a great statesman, and should be treated with more respect in this thread about his death... why, yes I'm from China, why do you ask?

If you're suggesting that as an American, I would ever tell someone to shut up because they're Chinese ... uh, no. If someone respects Nixon for creating the EPA or affirmative action or any number of other important things he did, I respect their right to express their opinions, regardless of whether I agree with them and — of course — no matter whether they're Chinese or of any other nationality.
posted by John Cohen at 8:29 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Being called out as 'unclassy' by BP is in itself so mindboggling that I must have seriously misstepped somehow

Maybe doing the very same thing you are calling out others for is part of that misstep.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:33 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Celebrating when your enemy dies in comfort at the age of 87 is pretty weak sauce.

This is no defense of Thatcher, just pointing out that she suffered from dementia for many years before her death. That is in no way shape or form dying "in comfort." Margaret Thatcher the person likely died long before Margaret Thatcher the human did.
posted by sonika at 8:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think that whole cultural question of "does someone deserve respect just because they've died" is an interesting one. I'd say no. Especially for public figures, whose actions have great power and who need to be critiqued. I agree that the encomium is really for personal settings and relationships: you can keep your thoughts to yourself when you're standing directly in front of the people who loved that person. But even in that case, what you're really showing is respect for the survivors, not the dead. At best you're probably just showing restraint for the dead.

We should die as we live, fair game, and accountable for our actions in life. It's a fair time to assess a person's contributions, because all opportunities they will personally have to change, or to reframe their life's work are now over.

In every death there is some of the sadness and inevitability of mortality, and it's a serious moment that we know we'll all partake in. That's definitely an occasion for note, and that's where I'm coming from when I post a "." For me the period is not, and has ever been, an approval or a sign of grief. It is simply a moment of acknowledging our common humanity and mortality and, perhaps, considering the legacy of an individual, for good or ill.
posted by Miko at 8:34 PM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Kids in my neighborhood sang songs about Reagan.

SHARE OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.


Not exactly nursery rhymes but kids certainly sang plenty of songs about Reagan. Here are sixty of them (links may be dead, I can't check them at work).
posted by pullayup at 8:38 PM on April 8, 2013


If you're suggesting that as an American, I would ever tell someone to shut up because they're Chinese

I think it was a reference to normalization of Sino-US relations and its contribution to detente and the admission of China to the UN, and to the idea that one's perspective on a public figure can be very different because of the context(s) in which you knew of them.
posted by Miko at 8:38 PM on April 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Kids in my neighborhood sang songs about Reagan.

Oh, did you sing,

"My President has a first name, it's R-O-N-A-L-D,
My President has a second name, it's R-E-A-G-A-N,
and we must impeach him today
and if you ask me why I'll say
Cuz Ronald Reagan has a way of fuckin' up the U-S-A"
?
posted by latkes at 8:53 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I count seven posts about dead people for today's front page posts, several of them as obits. What the heck? Is death this week's theme?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:53 PM on April 8, 2013


This is no defense of Thatcher, just pointing out that she suffered from dementia for many years before her death. That is in no way shape or form dying "in comfort."

I know what you mean, but I think my point stands. Inevitable death in old age is victory, and she did not die in prison. I see no reason for her enemies to celebrate.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I have no doubt the mods are acting in good faith, but I find this really upsetting. Whatever the intention is, the end result is a whitewashing. Like it or not, sites like MeFi are tomorrow's (and today's) historical records. Deleting the comments in question forges a false consensus and that's really fucking icky for an issue as paramount and immediate as the unfolding legacy of neoliberalism.

I would have been 100% behind the mods not approving this obituary thread on the basis of "not a good post" or even "too contentious". But allowing it and then making it into a de facto propaganda job is (in my opinion) an upsetting decision.
posted by threeants at 9:09 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


> making it into a de facto propaganda job

Wait... what?
posted by introp at 9:13 PM on April 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


threeants, if you look at the thread you'll see that it's very far from being pro-Thatcher propaganda.

I mentioned above that hardly any comments were deleted -- only 5 comments that were about Thatcher, all in the first hour or so. And the deleted comments about Thatcher were not substantive critiques, but short "ding dong the witch is dead" type comments, most of them less than a sentence.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:21 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not crazy about pairing the words "deserve respect." It gets too close to that idea of respect being "earned, not given," which is one of those mottos that's so childish it would be beneath notice if it weren't so annoyingly pervasive in popular culture.

Respect makes the world go 'round. It benefits the person it's directed toward; society and discourse generally are made better by having it as constant background; and when you keep a constant tone of respect toward other people, irrespective of who they are, it tends to keep you a better person. It's a good thing all around and there's no worthwhile goal, including rejecting or punishing someone, that can't be done with respect.
posted by cribcage at 9:21 PM on April 8, 2013


Deleting the comments in question forges a false consensus

What consensus do you see in the thread in question?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:22 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Deleting the comments in question forges a false consensus and that's really fucking icky for an issue as paramount and immediate as the unfolding legacy of neoliberalism... making it into a de facto propaganda job

That makes sense, what with Fatcathowie shipping American moderator jobs to Greece and Netherlandia and wherever the hell lobster mittens are manufactured.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:24 PM on April 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


Ugh, I have no doubt the mods are acting in good faith, but I find this really upsetting. Whatever the intention is, the end result is a whitewashing. Like it or not, sites like MeFi are tomorrow's (and today's) historical records. Deleting the comments in question forges a false consensus and that's really fucking icky for an issue as paramount and immediate as the unfolding legacy of neoliberalism.


I was going to say that the comments that were deleted were contentless "I'm glad she's dead" comments, but the mods leave up all the likewise contentless .'s in other obit threads, so *shrug*.
posted by empath at 9:29 PM on April 8, 2013


Ok, fair enough, I'll grant y'all that the end result here isn't really staggeringly different, in an aggregate sense, than if the comments had been kept in the thread. I still find the implications of that type of decision disturbing, and I guess I really don't understand why the mods doubled down and offered some pretty flimsy (again, just in my opinion) reasons that those 5 comments were deleted instead of just being like "our bad, we deleted a few comments rashly and somewhat arbitrarily, sorry".
posted by threeants at 9:38 PM on April 8, 2013


I mentioned above that hardly any comments were deleted -- only 5 comments that were about Thatcher, all in the first hour or so.

Well, early happenings reverberate in large threads and can set a tone. That's why the early snark gets the ax in the first place. Not complaining here, just pointing out how people may have gotten an outsized sense of the impact. The deletions reverberate in a meta sense just like a bad comment might more directly.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:45 PM on April 8, 2013


I understand that people can get an outsized sense of how much stuff was deleted, and that's why I did a count to let people know. (For future reference, if anyone's curious about deletions in a thread, you can always ask via the contact form.)

threeants, from my perspective, taz was in there early because this was predictably going to be an intense thread, and she left a note and deleted just a few of the comments that were edging toward the worse kind of response (which could have the thread filling up with nothing but "I piss on her grave, me too" kind of stuff), giving just a light nudge away from that. And after that point the thread developed into a more substantial discussion of why Thatcher was bad, people's experiences, etc. I think for the most part it's been a really interesting thread, better than a lot of obit threads of disliked people go.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:15 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


let the hate flow

If there's one thing I've learned from movies, it's that people who talk like this are villains.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:45 PM on April 8, 2013


If there's one thing I've learned from movies, it's that people who talk like this are villains.

Yeah, well, if there's one thing I've learned from trying to treat life like it's a movie, it's that movies oversimplify their messages and morals and ideas out of a combination of laziness, space limitation, and corrupt management.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:53 PM on April 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


> let the hate flow

If there's one thing I've learned from movies, it's that people who talk like this are villains.


Good, good, yes, villains.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:00 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Woah, this got huge after I retired early last night. Unsurprising, I suppose. Right, I must return to the obit thread. I need to make a blacklist of everyone who put a dot or said something complimentary about the old monster.
posted by Decani at 11:33 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nice.
posted by zoo at 11:36 PM on April 8, 2013


I'm not crazy about pairing the words "deserve respect." It gets too close to that idea of respect being "earned, not given," which is one of those mottos that's so childish it would be beneath notice if it weren't so annoyingly pervasive in popular culture.

Respect makes the world go 'round. It benefits the person it's directed toward; society and discourse generally are made better by having it as constant background; and when you keep a constant tone of respect toward other people, irrespective of who they are, it tends to keep you a better person. It's a good thing all around and there's no worthwhile goal, including rejecting or punishing someone, that can't be done with respect.
posted by cribcage at 5:21 AM on April 9 [+] [!]


I would say you are confusing respect with politeness. Good manners should be the default behaviour, yes. Respect, however, does indeed have to be earned.
posted by Decani at 11:37 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pages and pages of discussion of Thatcher with derails into punk no one has mentioned Crass. Shame.
posted by wayland at 11:41 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


If there's one thing I've learned from movies, it's that people who talk like this are villains.

You mean like this guy?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:03 AM on April 9, 2013


IMO it's more likely that the change an hour or so into the thread was due to this Meta, and not the deletions. Deleting "ding dong" did nothing for anyone: words that aren't visible can't change anything. The only influencing factors are messages that remain posted and Meta threads.

If trigger-happy mods would instead post an advisory comment and a Meta link, they could avoid developing a reputation for over-moderation and pissing people off. You don't have to delete to moderate. Deletion is not the only tool in your holster.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:10 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


threeants, from my perspective, taz was in there early because this was predictably going to be an intense thread

Look, this really bears repeating. Mods, whether you make 100% the right decisions or not is not the issue. This kind of criticism of the moderation is really toxic, unfounded and underplays that there is no perfect way to mod divisive threads about contentious issues or people and keep everyone happy. I'd like to thank you for doing the thankless task of shepherding things with a light touch. It is a light touch, and as ever, a lot lighter than the most of us would do it if we were asked to be king for a day.

I, for one, am also glad for you that this didn't fall late on a weekend or a public holiday.

Thank you.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:01 AM on April 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


Thatcher doesn't deserve this much fucking attention. She's been functionally dead for 20 years, and spiritually dead her whole life, and historically about as relevant as Yorkshire pudding. Overrated in her day, she's now seen as a pioneer of neoliberal austerity and neoconservative militarism, and proof that women are just as craven, violent, and power mad as men when given political authority.

Good riddance is all I can muster. Fucking zombie queen.
posted by spitbull at 1:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god I love Luke's face in that clip, it's how I imagine my face looks sometimes after I hit enter on the blue.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:14 AM on April 9, 2013


Don't be starting on Yorkshire pudding.
posted by biffa at 4:31 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I count seven posts about dead people for today's front page posts, several of them as obits. What the heck? Is death this week's theme?
posted by five fresh fish

And how about Reveen The Impossibilist (I'll never forget him) and Johnny Esaw?
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 4:41 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


words that aren't visible can't change anything. The only influencing factors are messages that remain posted and Meta threads.

I think this is wrong. Words that are not visible can change things insofar as the effects that would (might) have occurred had they been visible are mitigated. Sure, there is no magic that makes people post "nice" because of the aura of a deleted comment, but the presence of snarky comments does seem to lead to more snarky comments. In that sense, deletion changes the tone of a thread, although it does not guarantee that more deletions won't be necessary to maintain the deletion.
posted by OmieWise at 4:58 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, in many ways I'm actually boggled by the amounts of complaints over effectively....five deletions total. I was getting images of deletions raining down left and right.

If anything, though, the problem maybe is that the deletions weren't consistent but people imagined they were. "Five an hour!"
posted by corb at 5:02 AM on April 9, 2013


I was getting images of deletions raining down left and right.

Well, that's the image "a hundred comments that are "yay, the witch is dead," is not what Metafilter is for" gave me, so I'm sure I'm not alone.

Which is also, I suspect, the underlying premise that people were pushing back against: Metafilter is for hundreds of dots when nice people die, it can surely be for hundreds of expressions of relief or gladness when a hated oppressor dies, too.

That volume wouldn't have decreased the other interesting posts that happened in that thread, any more than the dot-storms decrease the good posts in regular obit-threads
posted by bonaldi at 5:24 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


IMO it's more likely that the change an hour or so into the thread was due to this Meta, and not the deletions.

I think it's very much this. Possibly also taz trying to redirect people to chat (I didn't go, so I don't know if anyone else did). Acheman's comment did, I think, change the tone of the thread. Maybe he should have come to Meta to begin with and not said it in the thread, I don't know. But let's not pretend deleting 'ding dong the witch is dead' saved the thread or something.

I'm still put out by the idea that a comment consisting only of a dot is 'good for Metafilter' but not one line conveying one's dislike of Thatcher. The reason this is an obituary thread with substantial discussion is because there are so few of the damn dots. Not because 'ding dong the witch is dead' got deleted, but because we don't have some lazy empty platitude of a punctuation mark.
posted by hoyland at 5:28 AM on April 9, 2013


Maybe Metafilter needs a single-character shorthand for "good riddance" in an obit thread? If a "." won't do, then how about an "*"? (".V.." might be too much.)

I think this is a good idea. Since '.' is basically a 'hurrah' for a person, we need a 'boo'.

.|..

will do nicely over here.
posted by unSane at 5:34 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


bonaldi: "Which is also, I suspect, the underlying premise that people were pushing back against: Metafilter is for hundreds of dots when nice people die, it can surely be for hundreds of expressions of relief or gladness when a hated oppressor dies, too. "

This is not the premise. Of course people can express relief, and many have. Of course they can be brief in their comments. What we have removed is disposable snark, derails out of the station, and metacommentary. This is not new.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:42 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


What we have removed is disposable snark
Well, include that in the premise, then, and I think the point still stands. Which is, I think: Thatcher is different. You accept disposable ".", you should have accepted disposable snark in this case, too.

Tbf, seems like you pretty much did, given the low numbers of deletions, but the mod messaging made it seem like there were being many more deletions. Hence the pushback.
posted by bonaldi at 5:51 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


I need to make a blacklist of everyone who put a dot or said something complimentary about the old monster.
posted by Decani at 11:33 PM on April 8 [+] [!]


Please Oh Masterful, Powerful, Official, Understanding Seer

Teach Wisdom And Truth
posted by ambient2 at 6:10 AM on April 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Since '.' is basically a 'hurrah' for a person, we need a 'boo'.

I don't think "." is "hurrah". It is meant to be a graphic representation of a moment of silence, so "." is more like "this person died and death is sad and so this is a general sign of respect for the fact that death is sad and other people are grieving for them".

Although, I'll grant you that a lot of times people may feel more passionately about that "." if it's someone they admire. But I've left "."'s in threads about people I was only mildly aware of, and it wasn't quite a "Hurrah".

I need to make a blacklist of everyone who put a dot or said something complimentary about the old monster.

How many blacklists does this make for you, then?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:15 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


What we have removed is disposable snark...

I do like the concept and/or the phrase "disposable snark". Nice one. #steals
posted by Wordshore at 6:19 AM on April 9, 2013


Dots and "disposable snark" are clearly, substantively different. They're different in their content and different in their historical context on mefi. Why should they be treated the same?
posted by kavasa at 6:33 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which is, I think: Thatcher is different.

Whenever someone says this, what they really mean is "I am different." One of the annoying things about the comments in this thread from devout Thatcher-haters is the constant refrain of "Sure, those rules are fine, but when we're talking about someone I really, really hate, the rules don't apply because MY FEELINGS!"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:33 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


There is a 'constant refrain' here?
posted by edgeways at 6:40 AM on April 9, 2013


I need to make a blacklist of everyone who put a dot or said something complimentary about the old monster.

Ignoring those who disagree with you is always a winning solution.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:43 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]



I think this is a good idea. Since '.' is basically a 'hurrah' for a person, we need a 'boo'.


I don't think we do. This is also why we don't have downvotes or antifavorites and things.
posted by sweetkid at 6:50 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ignoring those who disagree with you is always a winning solution.

Or partisan politics.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:51 AM on April 9, 2013


Well, include that in the premise, then, and I think the point still stands. Which is, I think: Thatcher is different. You accept disposable ".", you should have accepted disposable snark in this case, too.

Have you read this thread? There were like five comments deleted. Shitty, snarky one-liners are deleted all the time on this site and that's great. There has been plenty of room between this enormous thread and the huge OP for people to say everything from "Thatcher saved Great Britain from the scourges of unions and communism" to "Thatcher was literally the devil and I will miturate, defecate, and dance on her grave, possibly simultaneously."

Also, .'s are not the same as unfunny one-liner snark. The dots are a long-standing tradition on this site that most members like, judging by the fact that so many people leave them in obit threads. If you hate them so much, install the Greasemonkey extension to remove them, or just fucking scroll past them, but stop comparing them to the kind of crap that thankfully gets deleted on this site every day.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:52 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whenever someone says this, what they really mean is "I am different

Well, damned if you do and damned if you don't. I am basing "Thatcher is different" in the context that is often used by mods to smack down "what if" hypothetical policy questions. The answer there is always, roughly "we don't do what if, we do policy in concrete instances and contexts".

Thatcher is a concrete instance and context, and I think that is universally acknowledged by both her supporters and detractors. An off-the-shelf obit policy is not the most appropriate here, a contextually aware one is required.
posted by bonaldi at 6:53 AM on April 9, 2013


Since '.' is basically a 'hurrah' for a person, we need a 'boo'.

That's not at all how I use it, and I don't think that's the commonly-held interpretation although I could be wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:53 AM on April 9, 2013


Since '.' is basically a 'hurrah' for a person, we need a 'boo'.

No. The '.' is a moment of silence, not a hurrah. Read the wiki.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:54 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


No. The '.' is a moment of silence, not a hurrah. Read the wiki.

You don't have moments of silence for people you despise. You only do it for people you don't care about as a result of social pressure. It's slightly more neutral than 'hurrah', but it's silly to pretend it's neutral.
posted by hoyland at 6:59 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


A lot of people have commented to say that . is not a 'hurrah'. I dropped an . on Annette Funicello's obit, despite not really caring about her beyond "death diminishes us and this is someone other community members care about." If people are saying that their .s are not hurrahs, it is misinterpreting their words to keep saying they are.
posted by corb at 7:00 AM on April 9, 2013


No. The '.' is a moment of silence, not a hurrah. Read the wiki.

A moment of silence is a gesture of respect. Must we suddenly begin respecting people when they die, if we didn't before? I don't see why.

Mods are saying that this whole thing got blown way out of proportion and I tend to agree, but I think there should be some sort of coherent policy in place to prevent such out-of-proportion-blowing. Shitty people will keep dying, after all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:00 AM on April 9, 2013


Have you read this thread? There were like five comments deleted.
Have you read my point? The mods made it seem like they were dealing with potentially "hundreds" of comments, and the negative reaction was predicated on that. The revelation that it was five came much later.

Also, .'s are not the same as unfunny one-liner snark.
In the context of an obit thread like this, they are. Hundreds of "."s add up to something I imagine akin to mourners leaving hundreds of pebbles on the grave of a beloved figure. They are meaningless noise standing alone, in aggregate I agree they mark something. A negative equivalency would be possible in the Thatcher thread, an aggregate of opprobrium.

stop comparing them to the kind of crap that thankfully gets deleted on this site every day.
Can't read it, can't tell what any of it's like, and neither can you.
posted by bonaldi at 7:01 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't have moments of silence for people you despise.

Maybe you don't.
posted by cribcage at 7:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can't read it, can't tell what any of it's like, and neither can you.

You're right. Neither of us can read them, so we've got to trust the mods. I do. If you don't, find another website to spend time on while your code compiles. There are lots of others out there.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:04 AM on April 9, 2013


I came across a phrase this morning that captures the dot for me: "my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking escapes me." (via) It describes how I expect to feel when someone I love dies, or when someone who has terribly hurt my loved ones dies, or when someone I barely know dies -- even though those will be very different emotions. It's a statement that I am bearing witness to something important, but which I can't put into words.
posted by jhc at 7:05 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


wayland: "Pages and pages of discussion of Thatcher with derails into punk no one has mentioned Crass . Shame."

For better or worse, half my favorite music wouldn't exist without Thatcher.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:05 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Another way to put it: sometimes "." isn't "hurrah for the departed", sometimes it's just "aw, sad" or "bummer".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:05 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thread seems like it went pretty well, all things considered. Pretty much everyone got to say what they wanted to, barring 5 "yay she's dead" comments. What are we expecting to gain if we adopt a perspective where the mods just don't moderate certain obit threads past interpersonal conflict? How do we as a community determine which obits get that treatment before they actually happen? Consider the post this meta post is about: it went up on taz's watch. If we retroactively declared it an exceptional obit thread, how is she to know? How will the next mod know the next such thread? And once more: what, exactly, does the metafilter community gain from adopting this approach?
posted by kavasa at 7:07 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're right. Neither of us can read them, so we've got to trust the mods. I do. If you don't, find another website to spend time on while your code compiles. There are lots of others out there.

That's a polite wrapper for both "fuck off" and a horrible logic fail. Trusting someone (which I also do) does not imply you don't desire transparency in the things they do. I trust the courts, I don't want every trial to be held in camera. I trust my management, I still want to them to publish accounts. The argument that because you like the results and trust the people means you aren't allowed to be concerned or curious about the things they do unseen is risible.

Another way to put it: sometimes "." isn't "hurrah for the departed", sometimes it's just "aw, sad" or "bummer".

Also too good for Thatcher, both of those.
posted by bonaldi at 7:13 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Semiotic analysis of the dot is going to be fruitless. It's not going away, you don't control it, and it doesn't require a karmic counterweight because neutrality and positivity have never required that here.
posted by kavasa at 7:16 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Another way to put it: sometimes "." isn't "hurrah for the departed", sometimes it's just "aw, sad" or "bummer".

Only just for my own self, every person's death is a reminder to reflect on how one is living one's own life, to remember that I do not live on my own terms, that my actions affect those around me both now and after I am gone. Additionally, I'm of the opinion that even the worst people alive (or dead) share a number of qualities with myself, and there but for the grace of God go I.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:17 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

What are we expecting to gain if we adopt a perspective where the mods just don't moderate certain obit threads past interpersonal conflict?
Freedom of expression.

We used to have it here. Sure, metafilter wasn't quite as nice in those days, or as popular, but I don't see nice-ness or popularity as particularly desirable goals.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:26 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, metafilter wasn't quite as nice in those days, or as popular, but I don't see nice-ness or popularity as particularly desirable goals.

Are you certain you haven't confused popularity with diversity?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is it honestly your contention that people in the thread that exists have been limited in their expression to "niceness"? Really? That it lacked freedom of expression?
posted by kavasa at 7:30 AM on April 9, 2013


corb: I don't think it was a simple "what Obama couldn't say, I have no relation to these opinions whatsoever" comment. It is quite obviously implying that that is what Thatcher /really/ is, but Obama is forced to pretend she is not because he is a world leader. It's a roundabout thing of saying the same thing personally, and could have been said in much less offensive and gendered language.

Actually, it wasn't, but feel free to misinterpret my comments any way you like. I will also happily call David Cameron a Tory knobcheese, in the interests of gender equality.
posted by mippy at 7:32 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Freedom of expression. We used to have it here.

Q: What does this statement have in common with Giotto's Marriage at Cana?

A: Both lack perspective.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:37 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


What the heck? Is death this week's theme?

Sorry to say it, but get used to it. The GI generation's in its final days, and the boomers are many.

You don't have moments of silence for people you despise. You only do it for people you don't care about as a result of social pressure. It's slightly more neutral than 'hurrah', but it's silly to pretend it's neutral.

A moment of silence is a gesture of respect.


You're both wrong about this. I routinely have moments of silence for people I despise. Death is a moment to acknowledge a certain history. There's no necessary valence to that response. My comment here is my way of looking at it (there are many similar comments in the thread). Don't assume a "." signifies mourning, respect, or approval. All we can really say it signifies is "I am responding to someone's death in a way I am choosing not to put into words at this moment."
posted by Miko at 7:40 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mis-spoke, Miko; I meant "respect" in a much more general sense (didn't necessarily mean respect for the person so much as the event itself), but I grant that it's a nuance I didn't do a good job of explaining.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on April 9, 2013


MrMoonPie: "Freedom of expression.

We used to have it here. Sure, metafilter wasn't quite as nice in those days, or as popular, but I don't see nice-ness or popularity as particularly desirable goals.
"

This place isn't "nice." Never has been. It isn't "popular" and let's face it, we'll never be reddit.

But it's nowhere near as hostile to certain folks who step outside the status quo anymore. I'd venture to say that's a huge improvement.
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


We already have a perfectly fine word that means "hurrah". That word is not spelled "."

Add me to the list of people who use "." to mean something much closer to "I'm participating in this moment of silence" and not very much at all "you should interpret my silence as saying any particular thing about the deceased." If I wanted to say something, I would.
posted by gauche at 7:51 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


REddit makes my face confused.
posted by mippy at 7:51 AM on April 9, 2013


I've just read the 1,000 odd comments on the orginal post and regardless of any moderation it must be the best obitary thread we've had.
posted by ninebelow at 8:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as you scroll down quickly when corb takes the stage.
posted by ninebelow at 8:09 AM on April 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


But it's nowhere near as hostile to certain folks who step outside the status quo anymore.

Or women. Hopefully.
posted by zarq at 8:13 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is it honestly your contention that people in the thread that exists have been limited in their expression to "niceness"?
Nope. Nor did I say (or even imply) such a thing.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:28 AM on April 9, 2013


Thank god for Corb. I don't agree with her very often, but she's one of the few people who makes some attempt to keep the other posters from sliding into complete groupthink, and is willing to keep making logical arguments when everyone else is just screaming at her. Metafilter would be an infinitely dumber place without her.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


So if you're not interested in talking about the thatcher obit or even obits more broadly, why did you post in this thread instead of making a new thread? I mean who shows up in a narrowly targeted meta thread to drop off a good-ol-days generalized lament?

(it's also a petty complaint, expression here in those good old days was only ever free in so far as it didn't threaten straight white men)
posted by kavasa at 8:38 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "." is a longstanding mefi obit thread tradition and its meaning seems to be subjective to the poster and the reader. I've always read it like putting a stone on the grave or lighting a candle in a church. For me it is a little prayer for the passing of a soul as it passes.
posted by humanfont at 8:39 AM on April 9, 2013


o
O
||
\
\
\.........................../+/

(Interpret as you wish.)
posted by spitbull at 8:42 AM on April 9, 2013


and is willing to keep making logical arguments

You have a very different definition of logical than I am familiar with.
posted by rtha at 8:43 AM on April 9, 2013 [22 favorites]


Spitbull: Quetzalcoatl climbing to heaven?
posted by Leon at 8:44 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


stop comparing them to the kind of crap that thankfully gets deleted on this site every day.
Can't read it, can't tell what any of it's like, and neither can you.


You don't refresh the site enough. I've seen comments that were subsequently deleted, and I've never seen one that I didn't think was crap beforehand.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:47 AM on April 9, 2013


Freedom of expression.

We used to have it here.


The first MeTa I can find about a deletion was from June 24, 2000.

Can you specify a time-frame for "used to"?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:54 AM on April 9, 2013


Thank god for Corb. I don't agree with her very often, but she's one of the few people who makes some attempt to keep the other posters from sliding into complete groupthink, and is willing to keep making logical arguments when everyone else is just screaming at her. Metafilter would be an infinitely dumber place without her.

And the fact that she's completely making stuff up get bent out of shape about, that's part of the logical arguments that' are of such value?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:56 AM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Thank god for Corb ... and is willing to keep making logical arguments

She's always polite, I'll give her that. She's so good at making everyone-for-themselves savagery seem perfectly respectable that I wonder why she wastes her time here. There's real money in a talent like that. As for logic, if you accept her premise that she's entitled to everything and everyone else is entitled to nothing, then her arguments follow, well, at least ... inevitably. In that way she's a lot like Mrs. Thatcher, I suppose.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Didn't a mod say once or twice to shut up about Corb already? Surely if you can MeMail her to discuss her various arguments, you could also MeMail each other to chat about them.
posted by cribcage at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


everyone-for-themselves savagery

No we're calling this 'freedom of expression' now.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:04 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Didn't a mod say once or twice to shut up about Corb already?

I totally did. Knock it off.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:06 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've just read the 1,000 odd comments on the orginal post and regardless of any moderation it must be the best obitary thread we've had.

I'm impressed by the quality of the thread too.

Have read but don't agree with every comment of course; no-one will. But it's been a hell of a lot, so much, better than the online newspaper comments sections, and a couple of forums, I made the mistake of reading over the last 24 hours. Every one truly, grand-canyon-wide, red-sea-parting, DPRK-USA, divisive.

In the MetaFilter post on the other hand, more than a few people made a genuine effort to engage, debate, understand other perspectives. Have learnt a fair bit, and had some memories from the 1980s awoken, myself.
posted by Wordshore at 9:14 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Tell me a contributor has a free pass to write whatever they want and to which I can't respond and I'll respect that. Otherwise, I fail to see why I can't comment—in a polite, non-aggressive way—on the words of someone who's made themselves a topic of conversation.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:17 AM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


I fail to see why I can't comment—in a polite, non-aggressive way—on the words of someone who's made themselves a topic of conversation.

This thread isn't about her and people had specifically stopped talking about her until someone (not corb) brought her up again. Attacking her in the comments after someone else brings her up is uncool, leads to a huge and immediate pile-on, and is not what this thread is for. People can open their own callout MeTa thread if they want, this is not that thread. We have also asked, under the heading of "everyone" for corb to stop talking about her own provocative political stances in places where it is starting to become a focal derail point to threads about something else. corb should probably get her own blog for that sort of thing, other MeFites should get better at flagging and moving on, this thread is not where people take a bunch of potshots at corb after we told them to stop doing that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:25 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I understand the acrimony; I was in England when she came to power, and Thatcherism was genuinely monstrous. She was less like England's Reagan, although the two very closely paralleled each other, and more like England's Nixon, in the amount of genuine anger she generated. We must expect some dancing on her grave. But, this being MetaFilter, we must also expect it to be moderated. And, I guess, this being MetaTalk, we must expect a thread, as it seems a percentage of our user base sees any moderation as oppressive, and a larger percentage will agree when it is their hobby horse that is corralled.

But we don't dance on graves well here. I'm not sure anybody does, but MetaFilter has a really longstanding issue with it, as multiple links have shown. We do have a history of engaged discussion, and I'm interested in that. After all, if we presume democracy to be self-correcting -- and that is one of the presumptions of democracy -- we must also concede that it is occasionally self-breaking. Nixon and Thatcher were both products of democracy when it broke -- so was Cheney, whose obit post will probably likewise be filled with cries of pleasure.

But for my own sake, I mostly interesting why the system broke down in such a way that somebody who could do so much wrong managed to seize power and wield it without constraint and without repercussion. Without knowing that, we set ourselves up for more Thatchers, more Nixons, more Cheneys. And that's a discussion MetaFilter can do well.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:26 AM on April 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


People can open their own callout MeTa thread if they want, this is not that thread.

"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here, this is the war room!"
posted by octobersurprise at 9:31 AM on April 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Gentlemen! You can't fight in here, this is the war room!"

Can you seriously not see what jessamyn is saying?
posted by OmieWise at 9:38 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Gentlemen! You can't fight [Corb] in here, this [thread is not about that]."
posted by jaduncan at 9:39 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


/


that's all I need for someone I never much cared for passing. It observes the moment in a fairly dismissive way.
posted by philip-random at 9:39 AM on April 9, 2013


> The "." is a longstanding mefi obit thread tradition and its meaning seems to be subjective to
> the poster and the reader.

Sometimes the . represents a moment of silence out of respect or affection for the one who died. Sometimes it represents a moment of silent contemplation of the damage the dead person did in life, and of the certain knowledge that there are plenty more where that one came from. Always, the . is an acknowledement that anyone's death is a memento mori. Then, it is Margaret (I hope there's no one here who thinks I mean Margaret Thatcher) it is Margaret I mourn for.
posted by jfuller at 9:48 AM on April 9, 2013


Can you seriously not see what jessamyn is saying?

I'm sure he can. I am also sure you can tell he was making a joke.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:52 AM on April 9, 2013


We have also asked, under the heading of "everyone" for corb to stop talking about her own provocative political stances

Ugh ugh ugh ugh.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:58 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't have moments of silence for people you despise. You only do it for people you don't care about as a result of social pressure.

I would disagree with this. Yes, I have held moments of silence for people I dislike in social situations - when I'm in a public setting and a moment of silence for someone is part of something I am at. That's the choice I make in those moments.

This is a website; there is no social pressure for me to participate in any thread. When I leave a "." in an obit thread, it is a choice - a choice to acknowledge that the person who the obit thread is obit was significant to me in some way, or that I learned something about the person in the obit thread that makes me want to acknowledge the passing. That I'm taking a moment.

If I disliked the person, or don't care, I choose to leave nothing. I may not even enter the thread.

I guess like many other idiosyncrasies of the site, the "." means something different across the userbase...but if you chose to interpret it as a signal of something positive, then by all means feel free to not use it on people you don't care about. No pressure.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:00 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ugh ugh ugh ugh.

In this thread, not in general, though it's one of those things that tends to come up in thread after thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:03 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure he can. I am also sure you can tell he was making a joke.

It was a jokey comment, yes. It's not clear to me, no, that it wasn't a push back against what jessamyn was asking for, since, you know, it suggests that what jessamyn is asking for is ridiculous. I'm not worked up about it, I just want to know if there is really some confusion about why her request is not, in fact, ridiculous.
posted by OmieWise at 10:03 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh ugh ugh ugh.

Dude if you are going to do that and if it implies what I think it implies at least have the decency to quote the whole sentence.

We have also asked, under the heading of "everyone" for corb to stop talking about her own provocative political stances in places where it is starting to become a focal derail point to threads about something else.
posted by edgeways at 10:04 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ugh ugh ugh ugh.

What does it imply?
posted by sweetkid at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2013


I have a general respect for the sanctity of life, so I may post a . for definitely evil folks. Mourning isn't just about losing what someone was, but what they could have been in the future and what they meant to family and friends.

Almost any death can be sad if you direct all your empathy and have faith that people can grow beyond even the worst mistakes.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:06 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a general respect for the sanctity of life, so I may post a . for definitely evil folks.

Agree, I might have posted one for Thatcher. But it would have been interpreted as "sweetkid loves Margaret Thatcher" so I didn't.
posted by sweetkid at 10:07 AM on April 9, 2013


also I don't really post dots ever so there's that.
posted by sweetkid at 10:08 AM on April 9, 2013


but what they could have been in the future and what they meant to family and friends.

Family: an unapologetic racist and her brother who attempted a coup in Equatorial Guinea.
Friends: people like Norman Tebbit.
What she could have been in the future: more of the same, frankly, illness aside.

Still not seeing it, really. The lack of "." in that thread really strongly suggests that people generally use them in an approving fashion, or imagine them to be perceived that way. There's not really the same space for ambiguity as there is with favorites-as-favorites-vs-bookmarks.
posted by bonaldi at 10:14 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


In this thread, not in general, though it's one of those things that tends to come up in thread after thread.

I think that a significant portion of users tend to talk about things through the lens of their own political stances - I think it's very difficult not to do so - and that all of those political stances are provocative to someone, somewhere. Given that the standards for what makes something deraily is often "a large percentage of vocal MeFites find it provocative and want to argue about it loudly", I will say that to that extent it does sometimes make it difficult to be a minority voice (in both senses) on Metafilter.
posted by corb at 10:21 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's totally fine to open up a MeTa thread to talk about corb's politics. We'd appreciate that everyone not do that here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:23 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's totally fine to open up a MeTa thread to talk about corb's politics.

Huh. That sounds kinda weird.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:28 AM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The idea that posting a "." in a thread is somehow a neutral act entailing no value judgement on the deceased is so clearly laughable that it is very difficult to believe that the people making that argument are doing so in good faith.
posted by enn at 10:29 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The idea that posting a "." in a thread is somehow a neutral act entailing no value judgement on the deceased is so clearly laughable that it is very difficult to believe that the people making that argument are acting in good faith.

Uhm? I left a . in the Thatcher thread. I believe I also left one in the thread about Saddam Hussein's being executed. I mentioned above that my doing so is not a value judgement on the deceased, but I'm not sure in what capacity I'd be acting in bad faith-- do I secretly think Thatcher and Hussein are awesome? Are my .s sarcastic or something?

If I'm being dishonest, to what end?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:34 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


shakespeherian: "Huh. That sounds kinda weird."
Doubt it's an endorsement, merely enforcing separation of concerns.
posted by boo_radley at 10:34 AM on April 9, 2013


ON THE POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE FULL STOP
By a member of MetaFilter. Woodcut vignette on titlepage, woodcut initials. Small quarto. 19th-century black morocco, spine gilt. List price: $12,499
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:35 AM on April 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Well, I think at least a great deal of mefites treat a dot as approval, which is why people make the "no dot from me" comments.
posted by jaduncan at 10:36 AM on April 9, 2013


Likewise, from this thread I think it's clear that a number of mefites do not treat a dot as approval ... funny old world, isn't it?
posted by DingoMutt at 10:37 AM on April 9, 2013


I don't really mind if people misinterpret it as an endorsement, I can see where they are coming from.

People deal with death in their own individual ways. It's this amazingly scary thing that is going to happen to all of us, and that we see happening to friends and enemies around us our entire lives.

There was this dude in high school that I absolutely hated. He constantly made fun of me and it was really not cool so I pushed back. We went to the same college and one day he jumped off a nearby hotel to his death after he found out his mother died. My feelings about that remain confusing to this day, but my main feeling is maybe I could have tried to make him a friend instead of pushing back and maybe I could have helped him in the end.

As for famous political figures, I often see a lot of people attacking the Santorum family for how they handled the loss of a child. Now, he is easily my least favorite politician in the world, but that isn't an angle I'm going to take. Grief is personal, and often illogical. It's best to let people express it in their own way.

Another angle on that is people who deal with grief with laughter and black humor. That can be hugely polarizing because some people don't see it as anything but a sign of disrespect, but there is more to it than that. People obviously need to control themselves if they deal with grief with humor and keep it to the right time and place, but I think people should employ more empathy and try and understand where the laughter is coming from.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:38 AM on April 9, 2013


shakespeherian, I don't think you're being dishonest. And I am sure that you are accurately describing your own use of the dot. But I don't think that use is typical and I imagine that you are aware of that.

Looking back at previous obituary threads, beloved people get many dots when they die; despised people get few or none. We can talk all day about how dots might hypothetically be used or how some individuals use them in idiosyncratic ways. But in actually-existing Metafilter, dots are strongly associated with approval of a person's life and work.
posted by enn at 10:39 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


In answer to sweetkid's and edgeway's question (and in the hopes this will not be too deraily, as I think it's relevant to the Thatcher thread): My ugh-ing is in reaction to the idea that someone can/should be silenced because their views are "provocative". After all, "provocative" doesn't really say anything about the speaker's statements, only the reactions of others. It's basically saying "The things you say make assholes act like assholes, so you, rather than those assholes, should be quiet."

In general, my problem with that kind of silencing on Metafilter is not that conservative views don't get a hearing---there's lots of places where conservatives can be heard---but that it makes the leftish community of Metafilter much dumber. People often start getting interesting when they argue with those who disagree with them, so long as there are rules about how disagreements can be conducted. A number of Mefites only start providing cites and making arguments when trying to refute someone. The more mods silence those who are disagreed with by the larger community, the less thoughtful that larger community will become.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:39 AM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, I think at least a great deal of mefites treat a dot as approval, which is why people make the "no dot from me" comments.

Yeah, there is indeed the perspective that a dot is at least somewhat positive in intent, even if it wasn't meant to be thus. There may still be a range in how enthusiastic that positivity is, though - it could still run the gamut from "alas and alack i am completely distraught for this person was a prince amongst men and the very heavens should part and admit his soul selah" to "huh, I remember my mom dug him. Bummer."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on April 9, 2013


we set ourselves up for more Thatchers, more Nixons ...

Speaking of which ...

Secret Tape: McConnell and Aides Weighed Using Judd's Mental Health and Religion as Political Ammo -- "A recording of a private meeting between the Senate GOP leader and campaign aides reveals how far they were willing to go to defeat the actor/activist."
posted by ericb at 10:44 AM on April 9, 2013


Yea, and he went among them, and said he unto them, "Hast thou beans upon thy plate?" And Lo! they answered him, "Yea, verily we have beans upon our plates". And then sayest he to them, "Whyfor then dost thou not eat thereof, that thy hunger may be sated, yea, and then thou may takest up thy plough and till the Earth?" But they mocked him, and shook their heads, and sent him away, saying, "Fool, speak to us not of such things, for we have not finished our contemplation," and a darkness came upon them, and they spoke of many things together, mainly bean-related topics to be perfectly honest.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


The idea that posting a "." in a thread is somehow a neutral act entailing no value judgement on the deceased is so clearly laughable that it is very difficult to believe that the people making that argument are acting in good faith.

I agree with shakespearian. My personal usage of the dot does not convey honor on the dead person. It isn't some trophy I hand out only to the most worthy of those that passed. When I use it I am just noting that the news of the death was significant enough that I stopped an reflected a moment. It does not follow that I've made some value judgement on the death person. I haven't judged the person, only reflected. If I wanted to make my judgement known I'd post a full comment.
posted by humanfont at 10:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


But in actually-existing Metafilter, dots are strongly associated with approval of a person's life and work.

That may be fair, but it isn't how I read your earlier comment, which seemed a lot more blanket-statementy YOU LIE-ish. If that wasn't your intention, I apologize for misreading, but I also hope you will pay careful attention to what you're saying when you start accusing others of lying.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:49 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Looking back at previous obituary threads, beloved people get many dots when they die; despised people get few or none. We can talk all day about how dots might hypothetically be used or how some individuals use them in idiosyncratic ways. But in actually-existing Metafilter, dots are strongly associated with approval of a person's life and work.

Controversial/despised people also elicit a lot more explicit commentary (and sometimes $%^&%$ commentary), which tends to mean fewer dot-only comments. Well-loved folks often get dots because there's not much to say.
posted by immlass at 10:55 AM on April 9, 2013


Likewise, from this thread I think it's clear that a number of mefites do not treat a dot as approval ... funny old world, isn't it?


I think we are missing the important question, which is how many angels can dance on one.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:57 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is this the Thatcher II thread? The other one is a bit long for me to catch up on ...

I'll never understand how the death of someone who did truly destructive, evil things on a massive scale should not be celebrated.

Because the death of an aged politician doesn't mean much.

I think the distaste for the expressions of distaste arise because it's an irrational reaction based on vengeance and retribution, i.e. Thatcher deserves to die for what she did. At 87? That viewpoint makes no logical sense.

I don't see why or how anyone can celebrate Thatcher's death. Thatcherism is as alive and healthy as ever.

Celebrating her death at 87 as "deserved" is ridiculous, and smells a lot like politicians who like to lock up people in prison. Perhaps that's where some of the left-wing backlash comes from--i.e. a blood-lust for justice via punishment.

When I use it I am just noting that the news of the death was significant enough that I stopped an reflected a moment. It does not follow that I've made some value judgement on the death person. I haven't judged the person, only reflected. If I wanted to make my judgement known I'd post a full comment.

Like 99% of the members here, I interpret the "." comment on obituary posts as "rest in peace" or "you will be missed." It's a tribute.

news of the death was significant enough that I stopped an reflected a moment

Sure, let's up all make up our own definitions for common expressions. It's fun. My daughter claims "BLARGH" means "yes, please."
posted by mrgrimm at 10:57 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'll never understand how the death of someone who did truly destructive, evil things on a massive scale should not be celebrated.

Because the death of an aged politician doesn't mean much.

I think the distaste for the expressions of distaste arise because it's an irrational reaction based on vengeance and retribution, i.e. Thatcher deserves to die for what she did. At 87? That viewpoint makes no logical sense.

I don't see why or how anyone can celebrate Thatcher's death. Thatcherism is as alive and healthy as ever.


Agree with all this. Well said.
posted by sweetkid at 11:02 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the distaste for the expressions of distaste arise because it's an irrational reaction based on vengeance and retribution, i.e. Thatcher deserves to die for what she did. At 87? That viewpoint makes no logical sense.

Vengeance and retribution are emotions, and are generally not really tied to logic or rationality. I don't know about every mefite who expressed feelings like this, but at least some of them - and certainly lots of non-mefites in the UK - were very personally and directly affected by Thatcher's policies, and I don't think it's weird that people would be glad she's dead, regardless of her age or lack of power in recent years. Her policies had a very long-lasting impact. People who lived through the dying towns and villages, the fathers and brothers who killed themselves - is it really so strange that they would take pleasure on the occasion of her death?
posted by rtha at 11:15 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure, let's up all make up our own definitions for common expressions. It's fun. My daughter claims "BLARGH" means "yes, please."

It's not like any definition of period as it relates to death is used commonly outside of one obscure website. If you went for the actual common definition, a punctuation mark that signals the end of a sentence, it seems pretty neutral. It notes an ending without a judgement. As I said though, I'm fine with there being multiple understandings of how it is used here.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:21 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I largely use the dot in obit threads for those moments when I'm struck by the loss and am having trouble articulating my emotions, but that warrant a moment of reflection. I have to admit I don't use them in threads where I disliked the dead person - those ones tend to get a more thorough explanation of why I disliked them. So I suppose in a roundabout way they do wind up being a tribute.
posted by Jilder at 11:21 AM on April 9, 2013


I just want to know if there is really some confusion about why her request is not, in fact, ridiculous.

If I must—as another head-of-state liked to say—make myself perfectly clear, then, yes, I do think it's a little silly to start another thread to have the squabble that we're prohibited from having here, in an already 600+ comment long discussion of vague purpose and topic. That said, I realize that the mods believe that there is some utility in doing so and I would be happy to do so if I wanted to.

Also, while I'm making myself perfectly clear, I think the dots are a little silly, because if I am moved by the death of someone I never knew to say something then I want to say why I am moved, for good or bad. Otherwise I just contemplate the words of the Preacher and move on. That said, no dot ever hurt me, so, yeah, smoke 'em if you got 'em. I'm not judging.

It's totally fine to open up a MeTa thread to talk about corb's politics.

Maybe corb should start a metatalk thread to talk about corb's politics and make everyone happy.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:25 AM on April 9, 2013


My ugh-ing is in reaction to the idea that someone can/should be silenced because their views are "provocative".

And that is pretty much what I thought. And I agree. But, I also think it is appropriate to request that in contentious circumstances it be addressed separately rather than having it dominate tangential topics. Which is why I quoted the full sentence. The part you left off was pretty substantial.
I think it is hardly silenced-all-my-life territory. Or even really silenced-in-any-meaningful-way aspect.

There are people throughout MF history with the ability to knock conversations, intentionally or not, off thread, because of various reasons. In private spaces we don't always get to say what we want for as long as we want to say it, there are limits. the limits here are, in general, pretty reasonable.
posted by edgeways at 11:29 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


World leader dies, and you guys spend 300 posts arguing about the semantics of the full stop.

I don't know if that's wonderful or terrible, but it's definitely delightful.
posted by Leon at 11:34 AM on April 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's kind of nuts that someone else might be telling me I'm wrong about what my dot means. I'm telling you how I use a dot: "someone died, I'm recognizing the moment." End of story. You might imagine it means more, but your imagination doesn't make my dot mean more than that.

Just as when we have a moment of silence at a funeral or a ball game or whatever, I don't presume to know what everyone else is thinking by being silent. I'm sure they're all taking the moment to think about whatever thoughts feel most pertinent to them. The dot is the same thing. Don't assume the way you use the dot is the way everyone uses the dot. Those who say it's our "convention" are right: it's a tradition our group has evolved, and on its face has no particular endorsement or detraction intended. However, it leaves room for all that be happening silently behind the symbol of acknowledgment.It says merely "I take notice of this, and am making that notice visible to others."
posted by Miko at 11:34 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


hey... idea.... lets talk about 'favorites' next. That should be "fun".
posted by edgeways at 11:37 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


That might be how you intend it. It may not be how others interpret it.
posted by unSane at 11:37 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vengeance and retribution are emotions, and are generally not really tied to logic or rationality.

But expressions of them, in at least some contexts, ought to be.

is it really so strange that they would take pleasure on the occasion of her death?

No, it isn't. But has anybody expressed bemusement at the sentiment? Speaking for myself, I don't find it strange or hard to understand. I find it debasing.
posted by cribcage at 11:37 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


PS For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?
posted by unSane at 11:38 AM on April 9, 2013


corb never favorites enough of my posts. I hand out favorites hand over fist, this just isn't cool. Now, I'm not saying I'm entitled to all her favorites, they are a limited daily resource, but I think a minimum basic standard of favorites is justified based on the quality of my contributions.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:39 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh.
posted by zarq at 11:43 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was actually just about to post that as a criticism on the Thatcher thread, Drinky Die. MARGARET THATCHER KILLED MY FAVORITES. There are no more left. They have all been eaten by the thread. This is a terrible travesty.
posted by corb at 11:43 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nobody has a right to favorites.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:46 AM on April 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


unSane: "PS For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?"

Forgot to. I don't always remember to add one, even in my own obit posts.

I view the dot as a symbol of acknowledgment. Not a positive endorsement of the person who has died, but a moment of respectful silence for the life that has passed, which says, "This person was with us, and now they are not."

I think some people probably use them when they can't think of anything to say, but still want to be "present" in (or follow) a thread.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on April 9, 2013


It's kind of nuts that someone else might be telling me I'm wrong about what my dot means.

I'm telling you you're wrong if you want to claim that the dot, as it is commonly used, expresses no value judgement. You're wrong if you claim that your use is the sole or typical use.

Symbols in common usage have meanings that cannot just be arbitrarily discarded by their users. It is a empirically observable that dots are more common in obituary threads where the deceased was widely admired. Thus, it is the convention on Metafilter that the dot indicates approbation. That some small minority of users insist on using it in a non-conventional way does not preclude its having a commonly-understood meaning. I can go around saying up means down, and I can use it that way in perfect sincerity, but that doesn't mean that someone who says that up means up is wrong. The broader community of users define a symbol's meaning and it is very clear that most users of the dot in obituary threads on Metafilter use it to convey regret at the death of someone they admired.
posted by enn at 11:53 AM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


PS For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

Isn't it meant as a sign of respect? I suspect that'd be your answer.
posted by Brockles at 11:53 AM on April 9, 2013


PS For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

As a general rule, I tend not to post dots because I hate seeing an obituary post, seeing there are 100 comments, thinking 'Oh, I bet I will learn something interesting about this dead person', click through to the comments and 95 of them are dots with no other comment.

So that's my bias, but no way in hell was I going to leave a dot in the Thatcher thread. I mentioned in the other thread that I was raised to believe Margaret Thatcher was evil and that I'm lacking some of the relevant cultural context. So, yes, my thoughts yesterday morning were kind of hard to articulate. I've been basically taught to wait for this moment for twenty odd years, but at the same time I'm removed from it, so what am I supposed to be thinking? Would a dot have said 'I saw the news and immediately texted my mother and got 'I hope she rots in hell' in reply'? I made a choice not to say that either, but I don't think I'm wrong in presuming that no one would have understood any of the above in a dot.
posted by hoyland at 11:55 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, yes, I assume people read dots as a sign of 'the lowest my opinion of this person could be is neutral'.
posted by hoyland at 11:55 AM on April 9, 2013


corb: "MARGARET THATCHER KILLED MY FAVORITES."

I have been patiently opening comments in new tabs and checking in every few hours or so, awaiting the time when my 24-hour window shifts a little and I get a few more favourites to distribute. The world may be unjust in many other ways, but I will see wit and snark rewarded, dammit.
posted by Phire at 11:56 AM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Barring Hitler or someone, I suppose, but we know people out there like Thatcher.
posted by hoyland at 11:56 AM on April 9, 2013


Is it possible to regift favorites? I must have a ton of them saved away, as seeing I don't use them.
posted by ericb at 12:00 PM on April 9, 2013


unSane: "PS For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?"

Because others deserve the '.', or the large funeral service, more.
posted by Wordshore at 12:00 PM on April 9, 2013


I didn't post a "." in that thread because participating in a moment of silence on MetaFilter was not how I chose to observe the passing of Margaret Thatcher.
posted by gauche at 12:01 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I haven't ever posted a dot because I think it's a dumb convention.
posted by cribcage at 12:02 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:07 PM on April 9, 2013


Using "(o)" to denote "asshole" would be a fun convention.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:12 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was afraid of the blacklist.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:14 PM on April 9, 2013


next up on overthinking the beanplate, a feature on semi-colons.
posted by nadawi at 12:17 PM on April 9, 2013


I just decided to stay the hell away from the Thatcher thread, since I knew it was going to be controversy-filled and I really didn't have anything to add.
posted by jonmc at 12:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


a feature on semi-colons

I don't trust them. Why can't they commit?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:19 PM on April 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Like 99% of the members here, I interpret the "." comment on obituary posts as "rest in peace" or "you will be missed." It's a tribute.

Perhaps you should review your assumption that there is such universal agreement within the community regarding the "." meaning. The comments above suggest that the interpretation is not shared by 99% of the community.
posted by humanfont at 12:23 PM on April 9, 2013


a feature on semi-colons

Half-assed, right?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:24 PM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Humanfont: there's evidence. You can literally count the dots. "Dots do not mean approval" believers are very obviously in a tiny minority.
posted by bonaldi at 12:33 PM on April 9, 2013


To me the dot is sort of like showing up at the funeral. You're going to expend a very small amount of effort to show up, but you're not going to say anything. Just a small sign of acknowledgement and respect. If you despise the person you're probably not going to show up at the funeral, but if you do you're probably not going to be silent. Or sober.
posted by Big_B at 12:35 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first MeTa I can find about a deletion was from June 24, 2000.

Can you specify a time-frame for "used to"?


Pre-2010?

That's a deleted post. Unless they had hate speech or spam, comments would almost never be deleted until a few years ago. My guess is that the MeFi industrial-moderation complex was constructed in 2010.

Perhaps you should review your assumption that there is such universal agreement within the community regarding the "." meaning. The comments above suggest that the interpretation is not shared by 99% of the community.

As linked above, it's in the FAQ. A "dot" equals a moment of silence.

I would say that the vast majority of humans would agree that a moment of silence for a deceased person indicates a measure of respect and commendation for the life lived. I'll back down from 99% to make it 95+%
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


a feature on semi-colons

Well, I'm missing about 25 cm of my colon; where shall I start?
posted by scody at 12:45 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Unless they had hate speech or spam, comments would almost never be deleted until a few years ago.

This is not correct, either on the "almost never be deleted" point or the "until a few years ago" one. Comment deletions are nearly as old as the site, and were part of how Matt strove to help this place be a little bit better than a lot of what else was out there as it grew. I appreciate that there are folks who wish there was less moderation on the site or that we deleted nothing rather than just very little, but I am boggled by this kind of revisionist view of how the site used to be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:49 PM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe people just never complained about comment deletions previously?
posted by corb at 12:54 PM on April 9, 2013


Unless they had hate speech or spam, comments would almost never be deleted until a few years ago. My guess is that the MeFi industrial-moderation complex was constructed in 2010.

Not trying to be fighty about this, but this is not the case. There are a few things that have been happening.

- We got more mods, so the site has been moderated by more than just Matt since about 2005. This became much more noticeable when we had round the clock moderation for the first time ever starting in 2011 which meant that there was no longer any free-for-all times to comment and for open threads that might otherwise have been deleted to just go crazy.
- We got AskMe and the AskMe guidelines around 2005. There have been off-topic comments deleted from AskMe since it started.
- The community has exploded. Some of the things that we could just expect people not to do because everyone sort of knew everyone (including trolling, stuff that looks like trolling, using hate speech for lulz, early threadshitting that dooms posts, doxxing and outing users, digging in and single-handedly destroying threads on controversial topics) is no longer something we can expect.

So I get that it may feel that way to you, but even when it was just Matt running the place he'd delete comments that weren't hate speech or spam. We can run the numbers if people would like us to, but while the guidelines have flexed a little bit towards certain comment deletion situations (pile-ons, take-on-all-comers behavior, early threadshitting) there really isn't a lot of comment deletion going on period, much less a lot more going on in the past few years with the notable exception that now there are 24 hours of moderation a day and not eight to twelve.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:55 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pre-2010?
2006: 1, 2

It seems objections to deletion are almost as old as the site itself.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:56 PM on April 9, 2013


... but if you do you're probably not going to be silent. Or sober.

Just ask Don Draper.
posted by ericb at 12:56 PM on April 9, 2013


Maybe people just never complained about comment deletions previously?

Oh good lord no. The Metatalk archives go all the way back, for anyone who has a spare year to read through them. Complaints about specific comment deletions, and about the very idea of comments even being deleted at all, are in their teens on Mefi just like the site itself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:57 PM on April 9, 2013


Volume plays a part too I imagine. We've got a lot more traffic these days.

Frankly, I think the mods by and large do a fantastic job in keeping this place a notch above the rest of the Web. This is the only place I'll willingly read the comments - fuck, sometimes the comments are better than the content.
posted by Jilder at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2013


It is a empirically observable that dots are more common in obituary threads where the deceased was widely admired. Thus, it is the convention on Metafilter that the dot indicates approbation.

and

You can literally count the dots. "Dots do not mean approval" believers are very obviously in a tiny minority.

This doesn't follow. All you can learn by counting the dots is that fewer commenters want to express whatever they intend to express by dots when someone who is widely disliked dies. It could be approbation; obviously there are relatively few people here who want to express approbation for Margaret Thatcher compared to the average obit. Or it could be a sense of tragedy at the impermanence and suffering in life; obviously there are fewer people than average here who felt that as a result of Ms. Thatcher's passing as well.

The truth is you can't know, because it's deliberately chosen not to communicate anything other than presence. The commenter is stating unambiguously that they are deliberately present in this community at this time. If you attribute any other specific meaning to it, you are certain to be wrong a reasonable portion of the time.
posted by jhc at 1:00 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


And just to be really specific, here are some older MeTa threads on the subject. 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008. You can cruise through here and peek at them yourself. As long as there has been MetaFilter, there have been people complaining about MetaFilter, here and elsewhere.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:01 PM on April 9, 2013


Someone in the thread - maybe more than one - spoke of the visceral hatred in their community. I think the viscera absolutely had to speak, but I regret that the neocortex wasn't able to chip in a bit more - props to Abiezer and others I've overlooked. One of the reasons Thatcher succeeded back then was the tendency of many to go into ranty overdrive every time the puppet was waved, and she evidently still works on a Pavlovian level, even when dead. People back then never realised they were missing the real target and at the same time alienating a certain significant but taciturn electoral group; hey, all the alternative comedians are with us!

Analysis is always a better friend to progress than invective.
posted by Segundus at 1:09 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


The truth is you can't know, because it's deliberately chosen not to communicate anything other than presence.

Still wrong. Unless you think there are fewer people present in obits of the disliked, which is also probably wrong. The fact that dots count correlate with "good"ness, is related to their intended meanings. You can argue over that meaning, but you can't reduce it away to mere presence because the correlations disagree.
posted by bonaldi at 1:09 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man. From jessamyn's 2004 link: It takes hours to go through all those goddamn threads. says the OP of that meTa. The other threads they have linked to as examples....the longest one tops out at 224 comments. Times they do change. So does the number of comments it takes us to contemplate our beans, apparently.
posted by rtha at 1:12 PM on April 9, 2013


MetaFilter: As long as there has been MetaFilter, there have been people complaining about MetaFilter, here and elsewhere.
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?
Because not celebrating Margaret Thatcher's death is insensitive to her victims, and because a moment of silence implies some amount of respect.
posted by Sternmeyer at 1:20 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


rtha: " It takes hours to go through all those goddamn threads. says the OP of that meTa. The other threads they have linked to as examples....the longest one tops out at 224 comments."

Introducing a special six-week course: SPEED READING FOR MEFITES! From the super-secret cabal that brought you MINYA'S BIONIC HAND DESIGN! Dazzle your contacts! Amaze the mods! Impress your friends! Read longboat threads at top speed and plate those beans FASTER than EVER BEFORE!

There's a distinct possibility I have had too much coffee.
posted by zarq at 1:21 PM on April 9, 2013


I am complained about, therefore I am.
posted by angrycat at 1:30 PM on April 9, 2013




For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

I've always thought of the . as a way for people to mark a place to also keep track of a thread in their recent activity. I didn't leave a dot because 1) I tend not to do that 2) I had commented in the thread so could follow it anyhow. I think there are two issues here which is what they generally are seen as meaning here and what any one specific person meant by the presence or absence of their dot. Similar to favorites, you can get closer to an answer but there's no actual truth value to it, just how various people interpret the symbol. I'm not a religious person as many of you know, but this longstanding debate on what the symbols mean and what the tradition dictates has always been one of my favorite parts of Judaism where it's totally okay to just have some things really be not-known but rather open for a constant low level argument and that being okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:31 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "I've always thought of the . as a way for people to mark a place to also keep track of a thread in their recent activity. "

If we do that in active non-obit threads, would y'all delete 'em?

Because it would be nice to have a way to read posts in recent activity without having to come up with something pithy to say in a thread.
posted by zarq at 1:46 PM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

If a public figure's demise compels me to spend a moment in silence, what's the point in telling everyone about it?

(Also didn't want to read a shitstorm and didn't have anything to say about it, like jonmc said)
posted by furiousthought at 1:49 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Before the FAQ went up, I used to think the "." was the digital equivalent of leaving a stone at the gravesite.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If we are polling, I personally interpret the dot as a moment of silence, and therefore to me it implies an above-baseline level of respect for the person being memorialized. I would not take part in a moment of silence for someone I considered evil. Not saying I'm right but it's how I view it.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:50 PM on April 9, 2013


For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

There were other things I wanted to say instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:53 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

I reserve dots for those who I regret the passing of, but not enough to really have anything to say about it. So when one of my favorite artists dies, I'll post remembrances and stories. When that one guy from that one film I liked and I enjoyed his scene dies you get a dot.

Dots are a lazy way for me to say, "This is a sad thing," without having to go into what the person meant, since honestly, if all they get is a dot it wasn't like I was coffee pals with the person.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:16 PM on April 9, 2013


Still wrong. Unless you think there are fewer people present in obits of the disliked, which is also probably wrong. The fact that dots count correlate with "good"ness, is related to their intended meanings. You can argue over that meaning, but you can't reduce it away to mere presence because the correlations disagree.

You are "correlating" known and observable activity to something which by definition cannot be known (i.e., what do any of the ten thousand members of this site mean by leaving, or failing to leave, a "." in a particular obit thread.)

You are presuming that a) there exists some thing called "MetaFilter" which is capable of liking and disliking individual public figures; b) the set of individuals about which it can be said "MetaFilter likes [or dislikes] this person" is something which can be identified with some reliability; c) you, in particular, are able to identify the set described in b), above, and d) that your list correlates with those threads which have a lot of "."s.

Might it be the case that there are a lot more "."s in threads in which the (prose) comments are generally positive about the deceased? Sure. But that still doesn't tell you what the "."s mean: it could mean that people are moved to express the semantic content of "." in those threads; it could mean that people feel more like participating in a moment of silence when it's not shouty and mean; it could mean that there are some people who do use "." as a sign of some kind of approval and all of those people are making the difference. But the mere fact of that notional correlation is really limited in what it can tell you about the meaning. Your confidence in your conclusion is unwarranted.

More to the point, you are doing all of the above in the service of putting words into my mouth (and the mouths of others) even after many of us have already told you what we specifically meant or didn't mean by the speech act in question. And in the context of a conversation that seems, more and more, to be about telling people on this site how they should and should not respond to the death of another human being.

It feels a little rude to me and I would like it if you stopped.
posted by gauche at 2:21 PM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


More to the point, you are doing all of the above in the service of putting words into my mouth (and the mouths of others) even after many of us have already told you what we specifically meant or didn't mean by the speech act in question. And in the context of a conversation that seems, more and more, to be about telling people on this site how they should and should not respond to the death of another human being.

I don't see him saying that.

He is saying you are in a minority. That might be wrong or it might be right but it isn't putting words into your mouth.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:32 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because it would be nice to have a way to read posts in recent activity without having to come up with something pithy to say in a thread.

A favorite on a post should put it in recent activity. It's extremely bizarre you have to comment to put it there, and has led to me making many pointless junk comments.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:42 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?"

Because while I've dropped a few dots (not just microdots), even for people I didn't like, there was a hell of a lot of long-planned ruckus poised to erupt on Maggie's last milk-snatch. Her death was too little, too late, but that's not going to stop me from enjoying a little Crass.
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on April 9, 2013


I guess we should title this thread 'the hunting of the disposable snark'.
posted by unSane at 2:44 PM on April 9, 2013


For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

I didn't in this case because by the time I found the thread I'd also found this one and felt vaguely threatened by the idea that I would be perceived to be a bad person for putting one in. Also because I only use them in cases where I feel like I understand some of the issues at stake, and I don't have a good conception of Thatcher's influence.

I use dots and other things for two reasons.

First, for me a dot ritually mark the end of one era of reference and the beginning of another. It says "This thing that was is over. Now we're off to somewhere else." ← You see that dot between those two sentences? That's it.

Second, it's also a moment of existential compassion, a recognition that nobody asks to be born regardless of what they do with their life. And in cases like this a recognition that Othering people who do terrible things is a great way to lose access to the tools you need to prevent the same mistake being made in the future. So putting a dot in is a way of saying "we're all humans", which is meaningful and appropriate whether the subject is beloved or horrible.
posted by tychotesla at 2:44 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


That might be how you intend it. It may not be how others interpret it.

Others are responsible for their interpretations; where they cross the line is in asserting that their interpretation is the same as my intent.

Despite the cute arguments that try to draw a correlation, no one owns this symbol. Many people do want to take notice to widely admired figures. More famous people get more notice. Many people take notice of anyone's death, including bin Laden's, as one example. I have taken notice of the death of some lousy people, because I want to think about what their lives stood for and how they intersected with mine and the people I know and care about.

All the arguments that assert "but it DOES mean approval" eventually have to come to request on my exact point, which is that we are all using the symbol to mean something personal, and you can't accurately predict, with no other evidence, what the . means to any other individual. Saying that they can only signify approval is just flat wrong.

I didn't in this case because by the time I found the thread I'd also found this one and felt vaguely threatened by the idea that I would be perceived to be a bad person for putting one in.

Same for me. Came here first, haven't been to that thread at all, and think my time is better spent here talking about issues relevant to our community's values than participating in whatever's happening over there, legitimate as it may be.
posted by Miko at 2:45 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


there was a hell of a lot of long-planned ruckus poised to erupt on Maggie's last milk-snatch.

Am I reading slang wrong, or is this suppposed to evoke genitalia references?
posted by corb at 2:45 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're doing it again.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:46 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't see him saying that.

He is saying you are in a minority. That might be wrong or it might be right but it isn't putting words into your mouth.


I don't especially feel like engaging this subject much further, but I see bonaldi up above saying that there doesn't seem to be room for ambiguity WRT what "." means (viz. the favorites-as-bookmarks vs. favorites-as-likes theory), and then later saying that the statement "The truth is you can't know, because it's deliberately chosen not to communicate anything other than presence." is "Still wrong."

These statements seem to me to be a positive claim that "." has a specific meaning which excludes the meaning many in this thread claim to intend. I am not sure how else these statements can be read but am certainly happy to have it explained to me.
posted by gauche at 2:46 PM on April 9, 2013


"For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?"

Because I felt nothing. No regret at all. And due to her dementia, I was long reconciled to the fact that she was gone from the conversation. I give a '.' when I feel like it. I didn't with Maggie.

Like I said already ... / seems more appropriate.
posted by philip-random at 2:47 PM on April 9, 2013


From the beginning the dots had reminded me of leaving a stone at a grave too. Now they also make me think of a moment of silence, or when something happens and you think that there doesn't exist any appropriate word to say other than "I am here too".

I don't reflexively leave them in obit threads, but I do if I think "that too bad", or "what a loss". Thatcher's death didn't make me think that, so I didn't leave a dot.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:47 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I reading slang wrong, or is this suppposed to evoke genitalia references?


There's a long and a short answer. The short answer is "no". The long answer is basically this.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:47 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]



Like I said already ... / seems more appropriate.


or perhaps \ ... if you think she's gone to hell.
posted by philip-random at 2:48 PM on April 9, 2013


These statements seem to me to be a positive claim that "." has a specific meaning which excludes the meaning many in this thread claim to intend. I am not sure how else these statements can be read but am certainly happy to have it explained to me.
posted by gauche at 10:46 PM on April 9 [+] [!]


He explained himself in the comments referenced so I'm not going to try to do it using different words.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:52 PM on April 9, 2013


Because it would be nice to have a way to read posts in recent activity without having to come up with something pithy to say in a thread.

I've taken to saying "Thanks.", or "Interesting, thanks". There don't seem to be so many doing the same that it clutters up threads, and why not say thanks to the person who created a post interesting enough that I want to follow it?

Also, I get the feeling that if enough people did it to the point where it did clutter up threads, it'd make inventing a mechanism more worth while.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:53 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry for people for whom the only conceivable public response to a death is whether the deceased seems to be getting an upvote or not.

The ambiguity of . is quite an important thing to defend, because in it lives the recognition of a very human complexity of thought and emotion.

If by some sudden consensus we all agreed it only meant "approve" I'd promptly stop using it any case at all - because it's beyond my powers to "approve" or "disapprove" of someone's entire life as an existence on earth, especially since most people are neither angels nor demons, no matter what they may have done. Usually my feelings on anyone's death are bit more complicated than a Facebook "like."

The dead are certainly not exempt from critique, but they also exist in the same complicated moral space that most of us exist in as well.
posted by Miko at 2:57 PM on April 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


Am I reading slang wrong, or is this suppposed to evoke genitalia references?

No, it's supposed to evoke free magical unicorn juice.
posted by scody at 2:58 PM on April 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


corb: " Am I reading slang wrong, or is this suppposed to evoke genitalia references?"

The phrase refers to a much-loathed cost-cutting policy of Thatcher's which affected milk being given to children. Specifically, she removed free milk from primary schools for children over seven years, which had until then been supplied to make sure the kids were taking in enough calcium. She was nicknamed "milk-snatcher Thatcher" -- a rhyming phrase which dogged her for the rest of her career.

I don't believe it has a sexist element, but I could be wrong.
posted by zarq at 2:58 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Am I reading slang wrong, or is this suppposed to evoke genitalia references?

References to "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead," "Milk Snatcher," etc. have been misinterpreted in the original FPP and in this thread by those not familiar with such being part of British culture during Thatcher's time in office and after.

Hence, the (IMHO unnecessary) trigger finger moderation when the one line post "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead" was deleted and the misguided understanding that 'snatch' has a sexual reference in this context.
posted by ericb at 2:59 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, is posting "/" a reference to her having a stroke? If it is, it is kind of cruel, and pretty clever.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:59 PM on April 9, 2013


benito.strauss: "I've taken to saying "Thanks.", or "Interesting, thanks"."

I do that already. I'd like to have an option for when a post sucks, too. ;)
posted by zarq at 3:00 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google News (6,570 results): Ding Dong The Witch (Thatcher) is Dead.
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on April 9, 2013


I didn't in this case because by the time I found the thread I'd also found this one and felt vaguely threatened by the idea that I would be perceived to be a bad person for putting one in.

TBH that's generally an encouragement for me.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:07 PM on April 9, 2013


Google News (3,270 results): Thatcher, Milk Snatcher.
posted by ericb at 3:08 PM on April 9, 2013


I'd be interesting in revisiting this topic when George W. Bush dies.

We will get 150,000 people posting "Surely this..." in unison and then there will be silence.
posted by mazola at 3:10 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm claiming "Mission Accomplished" here and now.
posted by Big_B at 3:13 PM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


A favorite on a post should put it in recent activity. It's extremely bizarre you have to comment to put it there, and has led to me making many pointless junk comments.

But it does put the post into recent activity, just under the second tab on the page.

Of course, then there's a problem with posts I'd like to follow but don't like to think of as a favorite, but I got over it fairly quickly.
posted by rewil at 3:15 PM on April 9, 2013


Come to think of it, the three (or however many) of you who left dots in the Thatcher thread, why'd you do it? What were you trying to tell us and why was a dot preferable to words to accomplish that?

(That sounds way more argumentative than I mean it. Honestly. Like I said earlier, I'm in the no dot camp to begin with. I was going to reply to Miko's comment and then I realised I had absolutely no idea what you were saying with it. Which, er, is an argument against dots in the first place. There's no point if it's incomprehensible!)
posted by hoyland at 3:19 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have examined the data. The frequency of dots correlates strongly with the notability of the subject's death and not with their infamy. Consider Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il and Ed Koch. When we look at the frequency to of dots to total posts we can see for example that Koch's obit contained 21 dot comments of 53 total posts. Chavez's obit thread also received a large number of dots. Thread sentiment for Chavez and Kocj represented a mixed to negative view while KJI was very negative. Yet we see dots occurring in all instances. The data would seem to support a use of the dot (.) as a indicator of notability and reflection as its primary meaning rather than praise for the subject.
posted by humanfont at 3:20 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Come to think of it, the three (or however many) of you who left dots in the Thatcher thread, why'd you do it? What were you trying to tell us and why was a dot preferable to words to accomplish that?

Like I talked about above, I added a dot out of respect for the lost life, the lost opportunity for future redemption for her mistakes, and the sadness of her friends and family and supporters.

I didn't go into detail on this one with a real comment because I am definitely one of the Americans who is ignorant of who she really was.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:27 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I said above, I left a dot because she, too, is human, as am I, and her passing is a reminder of that.

I didn't say anything more because, as can be seen in both threads, even suggesting that sometimes criticism of Thatcher could take sexist forms is reacted to strongly by some as apologetics; I had no desire to start a big argument about whether she was an actual monster incapable of humanity or redemption or anything. I've had too many of those conversations here already.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:31 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Employing this logic, do you leave a dot in every obituary thread you read/enter/notice? (There's some minimal standard, obviously--you have to have noticed the post exists to comment in it. Are you requiring some minimal level of prominence/interestingness/importance that you can articulate?)
posted by hoyland at 3:42 PM on April 9, 2013


I leave a dot in every obituary thread I read where I have not felt personally engaged by a need to comment in the course of reading it.
posted by corb at 3:47 PM on April 9, 2013


I leave a dot in every obituary thread I open unless I forget to do so, which is probably frequent, especially if I've made some other comment.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:48 PM on April 9, 2013


For me it's basically happenstance. First, you have to see it. Second, it's competing with other posts that might or might be more interesting than an obit. Third, you have to be at least interested in the personality I think, whether or not you think they were awesome. Fourth, you have to not be burned out on them as a topic of conversation. For instance, there is a Les Blank obit posted. He was a great and important filmmaker for whom I have admiration. But I belong to a folklore message board that has been lighting up with memoria to him for two days now, and that's been plenty of conversation for me so I didn't contribute anything there.
posted by Miko at 3:49 PM on April 9, 2013


There's no point if it's incomprehensible!

It really is intriguing to me how much trouble people have with the idea of a ritual that, while collective, may mean different things to different people.
posted by Miko at 3:51 PM on April 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


It really is intriguing to me how much trouble people have with the idea of a ritual that, while collective, may mean different things to different people.
posted by Miko at 11:51 PM on April 9 [1 favorite +] [!]


I don't understand why people feel a need to leave dots in obits.

Surely the point of the comments section is communication of some sort. If someone is leaving a comment that literally nobody but themselves can decipher then there seems to be little point in it.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:58 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


All speech is narcissism.

But, no, I'm pretty sure that . is fairly easily read as a moment of silence within the context of a Metafilter obit thread. And, as I believe Miko said above, a moment of silence in the real world is just as ambiguous in what it communicates. I'm not trying to communicate ambiguity, but I am trying to observe something; observing it publicly is not useless.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:03 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


These statements seem to me to be a positive claim that "." has a specific meaning which excludes the meaning many in this thread claim to intend. I am not sure how else these statements can be read but am certainly happy to have it explained to me.

Easy: those making that claim are mistaken in the meaning they think they are conveying. Meaning is driven by usage and context, and neither the written definition (in the wiki) and the common usage of the "." support it as a neutral gesture.

I'm saying nothing about your intent. I take you at your word that you mean to convey a different meaning. I am telling you that you are failing to communicate that meaning, almost as if you were using "au revoir" when you meant "bonjour".

You are arguing that you mean "hello" when you say "au revoir" and not goodbye, and that it is rude to tell you otherwise. Even though there are very many people around you saying "bonjour" when they meet, and hardly any when they take their leave of one another.

The ambiguity of . is quite an important thing to defend, because in it lives the recognition of a very human complexity of thought and emotion.

I agree with defending its ambiguity, within reason. As Jessamyn says, there's a noble tradition of that. Also of sounds and gestures that definitely leave space for ambiguity, from grunts to nods. What I think is indefensible is this notion that the dot is absolutely meaningless; that no meaning can be ascribed to it other than "the poster is present".

If it conveys no meaning, if it is without point other than to say "poster is here", it would not be deployed as it is, in the way that is. That's an unsupportable view.

It really is intriguing to me how much trouble people have with the idea of a ritual that, while collective, may mean different things to different people.

It may mean different things to different people. But it means something. And we can ascertain an approximation of that meaning by examining its usage, or at least ascertain how wide the range of ambiguity is.

And going by the posts so far, there's not really room for ambiguity wide enough to encompass every meaning claimed for it here. Some people are mistaken in what they think they're communicating. People are misunderstanding them.
posted by bonaldi at 4:06 PM on April 9, 2013


I don't understand why people feel a need to leave dots in obits.

Is this possibly a mystery you could just leave an unresolved question in your own head? Because others have explained why they personally do, and if it still doesn't make sense for you to want to do so yourself, maybe this is just something you may wanna just chalk up to "I don't get it, but if it makes them happy then eh".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


And, as I believe Miko said above, a moment of silence in the real world is just as ambiguous in what it communicates.

Not really that ambiguous.

It has a range, sure, but holding a moment of silence for, say, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would be taken as a very definite gesture carrying a very specific meaning. People would take offence at it, they wouldn't say "oh well, a moment of silence is so ambiguous as to be meaningless, doesn't matter so long as it makes them happy".
posted by bonaldi at 4:09 PM on April 9, 2013


I leave dots in some obit threads and not others. I leave dots in some without otherwise commenting; sometimes I comment and then dot, other times, I dot then comment.

It seems to be generally understood by most people as a moment of silence; this is how I mean it, too. If sometimes other people read something else into it, I can't really do anything about that. In future, if you ever want to know why I in particular have left a dot in a thread, my memail is open.
posted by rtha at 4:09 PM on April 9, 2013


Is this possibly a mystery you could just leave an unresolved question in your own head?

Is this a comment you really needed to make?

Nope. Yet you made it anyway.

If you don't want to discuss it then don't.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:10 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


....................................

That's a LOT of DOTS.

Discuss!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:13 PM on April 9, 2013


What I think is indefensible is this notion that the dot is absolutely meaningless; that no meaning can be ascribed to it other than "the poster is present".

But I think that is, in fact, the only generalizable meaning that you can put into words which will be true for all its possible users and uses.

The individual meanings vary widely, but you don't have access to those individual meanings. You simply have the knowledge that thay have chosen to announce that they, in some internal way, are joining with members of the community in taking notice.

holding a moment of silence for, say, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would be taken as a very definite gesture carrying a very specific meaning

It's a hypothetical but not out of the realm of possibility. I'm sure many people have mourned, in some way or other, that their spirits were so profoundly twisted. I suspect their families and officiants probably observed moments of silence at their burials. It's really hard to say that "people" would take offense at it as a given. It entirely depends on the context in which that migt have taken place.
posted by Miko at 4:23 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm another one for whom "." does not mean something positive. It's orthogonal to positive or negative. I've left dots on obits about people I admired, people I disliked, people that puzzled me, people who had an impact on me that I'd not realized before the obit, etc. A moment of silence in real life is neither a sign of respect nor disrespect. There was a moment of silence when I was married. There was a moment of silence when a friend's abuser died.
posted by introp at 4:26 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


It really is intriguing to me how much trouble people have with the idea of a ritual that, while collective, may mean different things to different people.

Do you have an example of a ritual where the people engaging in it don't have a clear idea of how others understand their participation? I mean, conveying things to others is why we have ritual. It has been argued repeatedly that dots are textual equivalents to moments of silence. When you're in public and someone calls for a moment of silence, is their intent ambiguous? You may not be interested in commemorating whatever, but you know that's what they're doing and you know that's how your silence will be understood. But that social pressure to remain silent doesn't exist to the same degree on Metafilter.

>What I think is indefensible is this notion that the dot is absolutely meaningless; that no meaning can be ascribed to it other than "the poster is present".

But I think that is, in fact, the only generalizable meaning that you can put into words which will be true for all its possible users and uses.


But if you genuinely believe it conveys no particular meaning whatsoever, it's pointless. If we have no way of coming close to divining what one particular person's dot meant, all they've done is waste half an inch of everyone's screen with their comment.
posted by hoyland at 4:28 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


> When you're in public and someone calls for a moment of silence, is their intent ambiguous?

What? This happens in religious and therapy settings all the time. To think about your sins/errors, etc., to mark their significance (and sometimes in preparation for addressing them).
posted by introp at 4:31 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


What? This happens in religious and therapy settings all the time. To think about your sins/errors, etc., to mark their significance (and sometimes in preparation for addressing them).

To my mind, this is an example of intent being clear.
posted by hoyland at 4:32 PM on April 9, 2013


The individual meanings vary widely, but you don't have access to those individual meanings. You simply have the knowledge that thay have chosen to announce that they, in some internal way, are joining with members of the community in taking notice

No, the meanings are not private. Meanings of communications are shared. What I don't have access to is the individual intentions. Too many people here are saying their intentions should be taken as the meaning because they want it to be. It doesn't work like that.
posted by bonaldi at 4:32 PM on April 9, 2013


If I have to memail you to ask you what your comment means, IMO, you should probably just put it into your comment instead.

I really, really wish the . in obit threads would go away. It completely destroys the flow of the thread. Yes everyone knows its sad when someone dies.
posted by empath at 4:33 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Less briefly, if you're in a religious setting and someone calls for a moment of silence, are you thinking "I wonder what they intend for me to think about in the next 30 seconds?"
posted by hoyland at 4:33 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is like asking why people would choose to have a moment of silence. I'm content not questioning the dot, or other people's intentions behind choosing to have that moment. If you replace "silence" with "reflection," I think it becomes more apparent that it's an appropriately private moment, regardless of the circumstance or intention (which is quite close to being no one else's business, by the way).
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:34 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which is different than asking if we should have dots in threads, by the way. I meant the act of question of moment of silence, in general.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:36 PM on April 9, 2013


I'm content not questioning the dot, or other people's intentions behind choosing to have that moment.

They are, however, having that moment in public, which is the point. If you're deeply reflective after an obituary post and don't want to tell us the details, don't. Or say "This post really made me think, thanks." (which takes up as many lines as a . and is perfectly clear).
posted by hoyland at 4:36 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Easy: those making that claim are mistaken in the meaning they think they are conveying. Meaning is driven by usage and context, and neither the written definition (in the wiki) and the common usage of the "." support it as a neutral gesture.

Insofar as we are arguing about the common usage (and insofar as it seems to me the overwhelming number of people in this thread are using "." in a way that includes the meaning I'm arguing in favor of), I don't think it's quite fair of you to assume that the evidence of usage lies in your favor.

So I looked, also, the wiki entry about the "." and the text there, too, seems to me pretty congruent with the use of "." to mean "moment of silence, however others may understand or fail to understand that."

You are arguing that you mean "hello" when you say "au revoir" and not goodbye, and that it is rude to tell you otherwise. Even though there are very many people around you saying "bonjour" when they meet, and hardly any when they take their leave of one another.

Except I'm not talking about intent. I'm talking about usage. You have not, in fact, shown that the usage excludes my position, which you liken to being as wrong as someone who mistakes "bonjour" for "au revoir". As far as I can see, the only person in-thread who is looking at usage is humanfont, and I think it fair to say that their conclusion does not support your position.

But it is a lovely summer evening here, and I am late to some outdoor beer-drinking with friends, so I will here bow out and wish you all a good evening.
posted by gauche at 4:40 PM on April 9, 2013


Is this a comment you really needed to make? Nope. Yet you made it anyway.

Well, if we're going to talk about points that needed to be made, then - you said you "didn't understand why people left dots," after a staggering array of people left a staggering array of explanations answering this very question. And yet you still, after all that, said that you didn't understand.

If you don't want to discuss it then don't.

....Sometimes a young child keeps asking "why" even after the parents have already explained something to death. That is the point at which parents frequently just give up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:47 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


They are, however, having that moment in public, which is the point. If you're deeply reflective after an obituary post and don't want to tell us the details, don't.

It seems that the "public" thing bugs you, and I'm curious to know why. Many people have moments of silence with other people, and the community nature of that private act is part of the point, also.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:48 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please don't have the Thatcher thread ruin the "." for other obit threads. Sometimes, that long, long row scrolling down my page is the comfort I'm looking for when someone beloved (Mr. Rogers) passes. They're like tears falling. As for me, I place a dot when I cannot find the words but I have something to express, even if it's just regret.



Normally, I'm a "don't speak ill of the dead" person. I didn't like myself for the thoughts that popped into my mind when I heard of M. Thatcher's death. I am even surprised by the vitriol that stirred up within me. I generally try to live my life without feeling any hate at all. I'm a natural-born American citizen; I didn't suffer as others did under her policies so why do I have so much contempt?

Yet, I cannot express the hatefulness I feel in regards to that person. It cannot be solely because I was a punk rawk teen in the 80s. Reagan's death didn't bring it out and I'm sure George Jr's won't either. (I expect Cheney's will.) Just a few months ago, I watched a Pro-Thatcher documentary about her time as PM and I -still- couldn't find a place to agree with her (very unlike the changes of opinion I experienced when I watched a Reagan documentary). Reading that obit thread certainly reminded me of enough reasons for my disdain of her and her policies.

I expect, like myself, many commentors -did- reign back on the nastiness. I couldn't use words because I couldn't find any; so I modified the "." tradition by using a few more (and an exclamation point and a comma.)
posted by _paegan_ at 4:50 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


holding a moment of silence for, say, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would be taken as a very definite gesture carrying a very specific meaning

I agree, but I think that's an entirely different circumstance: When I post a . I'm not inviting others to do so as well, or saying aloud 'Let's all bow our heads and have a moment of silence for these two.' Bowing one's own head or contemplating reality/existence/whatever or any other form of observed and individualized silence upon learning of a death is pretty standard usage (not to say ubiquitous).
posted by shakespeherian at 4:53 PM on April 9, 2013


It seems that the "public" thing bugs you, and I'm curious to know why. Many people have moments of silence with other people, and the community nature of that private act is part of the point, also.

There are two separate issues here for me. One is that dots take up a huge amount of space and don't add anything to the discussion. But the discussion is a big part of what makes Metafilter interesting. I don't need Metafilter to tell me Thatcher (or whoever) is dead, so there's an argument to be made the discussion is a more significant part of an obituary post than it is of your standard post, which can much more easily be a good post without any discussion.

The other issue is that people seem to be insisting that we can't take any meaning from the dots, but because they're public actions, they have to have some meaning. If they convey no meaning, my dot and your dot aren't making our individual private acts a communal experience because we can't derive any meaning from the other person's dot.
posted by hoyland at 4:55 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A moment of silence seems to me to be, very intentionally, a moment of non-communication. It's meant to be a moment of private individual contemplation.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:57 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd like to register my agreement with what hoyland's saying, and I am using words to do so instead of an ambiguous non-alphanumeric character so that no one misinterprets me. It's really the least I can do.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 5:03 PM on April 9, 2013


Metafilter can take a "." and make it into a mountain, then die on that mountain. Then we can have another obit thread with yet more "."'s and make a MeTa about all those "."'s until we have a plate of "." beans.
posted by humanfont at 5:06 PM on April 9, 2013


> Sellic from the Huddleboard is a good shout, he bans people for Lent and looking in his general direction.

Actually, I was thinking of Len. Len for Mod! Has a ring to it, doesn't it?
posted by languagehat at 5:07 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you have an example of a ritual where the people engaging in it don't have a clear idea of how others understand their participation?

The pledge of allegiance. Graffiti. Eating a particular kind of food. Feeding the homeless. Spitting in public. Growing plants. Taking pictures. A daily walk, jog or bus route. Clothes. And so on. If I understand your question right there are scads of examples.
posted by tychotesla at 5:11 PM on April 9, 2013


More dots! More dots!
posted by Broseph at 5:12 PM on April 9, 2013


I miss old school WoW raiding.


.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:16 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I just use the dot to keep the thread in my Recent Activity. It's purely selfish, but I like to see what people add especially when the recently deceased is an artist and there are interesting links to works and appreciations.

Didn't bother for old Maggie. She's who Sarah Palin wanted to be.
posted by readery at 5:16 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gauche: You have not, in fact, shown that the usage excludes my position

I don't want to! I read dots as a moment of silence too. It's jhc's position -- that they are meaningless signifiers of presence -- that I say usage excludes, and that you rode to the defence of.

Drinky Die: A moment of silence seems to me to be, very intentionally, a moment of non-communication. It's meant to be a moment of private individual contemplation.

So if it's so private and individual why are you recording it in public? You don't post prayers in threads, right? Or list your charitable donations?

shakespeherian: When I post a . I'm not inviting others to do so as well, or saying aloud 'Let's all bow our heads and have a moment of silence for these two.'

But you are effectively saying "here I am, holding a moment of silence for these two". And that alone would attract comment, at best.

.
posted by bonaldi at 5:34 PM on April 9, 2013


.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:40 PM on April 9, 2013


If I have to memail you to ask you what your comment means, IMO, you should probably just put it into your comment instead.

You don't have to do anything. You are welcome to memail me if you don't understand something I've put here.

If it makes anyone feel any better - not that it will - think of the dot as a bean. On a plate. Which I am contemplating.
posted by rtha at 5:40 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


But you are effectively saying "here I am, holding a moment of silence for these two".

Who says it's for them? I am, at the hearing of this news, observing a moment of silence.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:51 PM on April 9, 2013


So if it's so private and individual why are you recording it in public?

Because it's a ritual to do so, I don't see it much deeper than that.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:56 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


> there was a hell of a lot of long-planned ruckus poised to erupt on Maggie's last milk-snatch.

Her milk-snatch brought all the boys to the yard.
posted by jfuller at 5:56 PM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


PS For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?

my keyboard was privatized and i dont have a voucher to re-enable it

in other news my shift key was impounded

but that is another story
posted by lampshade at 6:01 PM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


There are two separate issues here for me. One is that dots take up a huge amount of space and don't add anything to the discussion. But the discussion is a big part of what makes Metafilter interesting. I don't need Metafilter to tell me Thatcher (or whoever) is dead, so there's an argument to be made the discussion is a more significant part of an obituary post than it is of your standard post, which can much more easily be a good post without any discussion.

That's fair enough. I just wonder if we don't always need to be overthinking economy of space, though, when it comes to community rituals. But if that kind of thing bugs you, I won't argue with that.

The other issue is that people seem to be insisting that we can't take any meaning from the dots, but because they're public actions, they have to have some meaning. If they convey no meaning, my dot and your dot aren't making our individual private acts a communal experience because we can't derive any meaning from the other person's dot.

I don't think that people are arguing that there's no meaning to be taken from the dot, but that it's internally private, although publicly practiced and subject to variable meaning. I don't see that being an resolvable tension. I'm wondering if people who are bothered more by your first point also assume a particular use of the dot for your second point. Namely, people are dong something specific with that dot, we've figured it out, and we don't like it.

Hopefully that isn't an unfair reading. I do find that it's harder to get upset about the wasted space argument (especially since it's a rare sort of thing) if I don't assume that people are being preachy with it. If it seems to be preachy, it does rankle a bit more.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:19 PM on April 9, 2013


You know what bugs me? When someone writes something and leaves a dot in the same comment.

I mean... make up your mind!

That really sticks in my craw.
posted by mazola at 6:23 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Isn't there a grease monkey script that can purge dot posts for those so inclined?
posted by humanfont at 7:13 PM on April 9, 2013


I don't think that people are arguing that there's no meaning to be taken from the dot, but that it's internally private, although publicly practiced and subject to variable meaning.

"Use your words" has been a central tenet of site communication for a long time now. I don't know why there is a sole exception for a dot, when any similarly contentless comment would be deleted from any other thread.
posted by empath at 7:15 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what bugs me? When someone writes something and leaves a dot in the same comment. I mean... make up your mind!

Or three dots even!
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:34 PM on April 9, 2013


Do you have an example of a ritual where the people engaging in it don't have a clear idea of how others understand their participation?

Well, of course. Don't you?

I have spent a lot of time studying folklore, and that includes ritual. Ritual has a function beyond communicating a specific statement or meaning. By participating in a ritual, we are saying "I consider myself a member of this community and I am sharing in an experience this community is having." It is possible to have unlimited personal interpretations of any ritual, be it a moment of silence, a bris, a set of marriage vows, a funeral oration, a birthday song, the laying of a wreath, listening to a gun salute, singing a Christmas carol, whatever. I have watched people say marriage vows to each other where I reflected that it was not likely to last, felt simple jubilation, felt irritation or longing that things had happened differently, felt satisfaction - and understood that others watching right next to me were probably using their moment of witness to think something completely different. It's not an unusual thing. It is not as though all human actions are intended to deliver a statement, intended to create a conformity of emotion. They are simply ways for us to mark and deal with emotions that arise in the moment. There are a lot of different ways to do that, and they vary culture by culture. I just learned this weekend of a wonderful ritual in India where the groom's and bride's families have a party several nights before the wedding, during which they haze the spouse-to-be and make up funny songs about all the deficits of the intended - songs which may or may not reflect their real feelings about the intended, and which certainly won't be uttered during the ceremony that unites them in marriage. Rituals are funny. They don't need to abide by legalistic requirements that all expression must perfectly match intent. I have sung religious songs and carols with people I know with certainty are hadrcore athiests, who oppose the entire tradition from which the songs result. Their participation in the singing of the song does not signal their endorsement of the content of the song, but it does signal their willingness to create a moment of interpersonal connection which allows them to share a sense of community and to create afresh a new, personal interpretation and orientation to that song. I don't think I'm unusual in having these experiences, and I suspect that most of us can cite instances in which someone's participation in a ritual was not an endorsement of ideas some uninformed and uninquiring outside viewer might place upon their participation in the ritual.

On the written-word internet of Metafilter, we unfortunately don't have the equivalent of standing together physically in silence, each creating space for the other to think our own thoughts, but valuing our togetherness. That's what the . does.

When you're in public and someone calls for a moment of silence, is their intent ambiguous? You may not be interested in commemorating whatever, but you know that's what they're doing and you know that's how your silence will be understood. But that social pressure to remain silent doesn't exist to the same degree on Metafilter.

I'm not sure what you mean by "is their intent ambiguous?" SOmetimes it is. I've stood through far too many moments of silence on the Vietnam War on Memorial Days and Veterans Days, because my dad is a vet. The intent is to have a moment of silence, to think about the lives and effort sacrificed. The intent is both clear - reflect on sacrifice - and ambiguous - in that I might be reflecting on the poor decisions our country made to pursue the war, the senselessness of the conduct, pride in my dad's impulse to serve, gratefulness that he survived, condemnation of the views of the warhawks standing right next to me, etc. I am sure their thoughts varied as much as my own. The intent, then, was to say "here's a space for thought on this topic; please use the space in any way pertinent to you." And we were all able to do that, without our thoughts representing any conformity.

But if you genuinely believe it conveys no particular meaning whatsoever, it's pointless.

Only if you think the statement "I am part of this community" and "I am taking notice of this moment with you" are pointless. I don't think those things are pointless. I think they're very meaningful. We don't always agree on how to interpret events, but I do agree, often, to spend time with others here and to join them in a moment of reflection on events that have affected us, no matter which way that reflection individually leads us. It is a convention which cements our bonds to each other and to the place we know we can, if we choose, explore those varying viewpoints.
posted by Miko at 7:39 PM on April 9, 2013 [31 favorites]


"Use your words" has been a central tenet of site communication for a long time now. I don't know why there is a sole exception for a dot, when any similarly contentless comment would be deleted from any other thread.

It seems just to be because it is Mefi traditional and ritual to allow people to express silence in obit threads. It's a unique quirk and I like it, but I would not at all be angry if mods put a stop to it.

Maybe expressing a moment of silence in that way should not be allowed, but if it is the period is a pretty good way to do it, it can be quite a challenge to use your words to express silence.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:40 PM on April 9, 2013


I would not at all be angry if mods put a stop to it.

Just to be clear, that's not an open question to our mind. We are not in any way going to tell people to stop using periods on obit threads. People who mind them to some large degree can use Greasemonkey scripts if they want to. This is not anything we're considering as a mod issue.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:49 PM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


Only if you think the statement "I am part of this community" and "I am taking notice of this moment with you" are pointless. I don't think those things are pointless. I think they're very meaningful. We don't always agree on how to interpret events, but I do agree, often, to spend time with others here and to join them in a moment of reflection on events that have affected us, no matter which way that reflection individually leads us. It is a convention which cements our bonds to each other and to the place we know we can, if we choose, explore those varying viewpoints.

I like the idea of community rituals that express that there's at least one thing we can agree on: the moment is worthy of reflection, and we want to reflect with others we choose to spend time with, even if that's all we can say about it with collectively certainty. Silence seems to strip pride from the moment and the need to hash things out to the nth degree. It also allows for a second-order of reflection that is less about ideological winning and more about what unifies people, even if we can't quite put our finger on what our common denominator is all the time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:02 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]




> "You know what bugs me? When someone writes something and leaves a dot in the same comment"

I do this all the time; sorry for the angst. But it's not really that hard: first you have a moment of silence and then you get on with your day.
posted by Mitheral at 8:11 PM on April 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Miko's thoughtful and insightful comment just upthread is the kind of thing that makes Mefi such a worthwhile place to hang around, and I'd like to interrupt this age-old discussion about dots just long enough to give Miko a shout out. I love Miko!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:18 PM on April 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


Deleted at Metafilter! A runaway hit in England!

'Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead' could reach number one following Margaret Thatcher's death
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:30 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have spent a lot of time studying folklore, and that includes ritual.

Is it not ridiculously condescending to link to the Wikipedia article on ritual? Particularly when it says what I have been saying. I mean, there's a reason I mentioned the word ritual in the first place.

I also completely disagree with you on the issue of military commemoration. It's generally all about creating a narrative where the war was worthwhile.* It doesn't matter what you're thinking during that moment of silence, because you know how it will be reported on the news. Unless Veterans for Peace are there, you'll be reported as commemorating the war in a completely uncritical manner. (And if Veterans for Peace are there, they're probably just not shown.)

When I was a kid, I thought the Pledge of Allegiance was a binding oath and that I was swearing to fight against my mother in some hypothetical war. I solved this problem, as all second graders would, by saying it with my fingers crossed. But it's not an ambiguous ritual. It's a ritual that's about performing Americanness, designed to assimiliate the children of immigrants. My distress stemmed from the fact that I understood this act was meant to assimilate me. When you say it, you're demonstrating your patriotism or some such garbage, as you find out when you get abuse from other students for refusing to say it.

*I can think of an exception, which is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. There's a reason it was so controversial.
posted by hoyland at 8:38 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mention how it will be reported on the news because the general public are then the audience to which you're enacting this ritual. When you go to a public Veterans Day event, you know that you're performing this ritual to the general public. If you're doing it in your backyard, then I suppose you can devise as ambiguous a moment of silence as you are able and no one will quibble with you about it.

(Coincidentally, I had to go to a Veterans Day parade as part of a folklore project once. I was obliged to talk to random spectators. Let's just say the idea that someone could have mixed feelings about war or military service hadn't entered their minds. The assumptions people made about me and what I thought about war and politics were kind of mind-blowing.)
posted by hoyland at 8:45 PM on April 9, 2013


I stopped using "use your words" when people pointed out to me that they felt it sounded like I was talking to them like children.

That kind of thing is a bit of blind spot around here, see the "five year old" conversation above or euphemistically referring to temporary bans as a "time out." It's just generally not a good idea to compare an adult who is acting on emotion to a child, because it can just make them more angry and belittles adults who are passionate people.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:46 PM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mention how it will be reported on the news because the general public are then the audience to which you're enacting this ritual. When you go to a public Veterans Day event, you know that you're performing this ritual to the general public. If you're doing it in your backyard, then I suppose you can devise as ambiguous a moment of silence as you are able and no one will quibble with you about it.

hoyland, your ideas of what public rituals need to mean seem very restricting. It strikes me as a bit ironic, in light of how much you disliked being constrained by the perceived meaning of the rituals of your childhood.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:50 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you go to a public Veterans Day event, you know that you're performing this ritual to the general public. If you're doing it in your backyard, then I suppose you can devise as ambiguous a moment of silence as you are able and no one will quibble with you about it.

Maybe the issue here is that I think of Metafilter as my backyard, and not a televised performative event.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:08 PM on April 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


It strikes me as a bit ironic, in light of how much you disliked being constrained by the perceived meaning of the rituals of your childhood.

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If anything, my little Pledge of Allegiance anecdote suggests what's going on in your head doesn't subvert the ritual a whole lot.
posted by hoyland at 9:09 PM on April 9, 2013


OK but I think we can all agree that Dippin' Dots are kinda weird
posted by chinston at 9:12 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dot's the way
uh-huh uh-huh
I like it
uh-huh uh-huh
dot's the way
uh-huh uh-huh
I like it
uh-huh uh-huh
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


not your best
posted by shakespeherian at 9:17 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe the issue here is that I think of Metafilter as my backyard, and not a televised performative event.

I suppose that is the crux of the disagreement. I don't see how the Metafilter-as-backyard perspective makes sense. In your backyard, you have a fairly decent idea of who all the people are (or at least a decent idea that someone you know invited them), which doesn't really resemble Metafilter.
posted by hoyland at 9:20 PM on April 9, 2013


I'm comforted that I'm not the only one who thinks comment-links to Wikipedia are poor form.
posted by nacho fries at 9:55 PM on April 9, 2013


If someone is leaving a comment that literally nobody but themselves can decipher then there seems to be little point in it.

Indeed, the dot is a little point.

IMO, dots are the e-cards of MeFi: ideal for those occasions where you care to make the least possible effort. One keystroke, one click. It is literally impossible to use less energy and imagination when posting to MetaFilter.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:21 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


We mark people's eclipses with communal ellipses and
(speaking of axes) a period of reflection
because we know sure as death or taxes
the constant decimation of our lives will be brought
to a stop
with a final drop.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:45 PM on April 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I suppose that is the crux of the disagreement. I don't see how the Metafilter-as-backyard perspective makes sense. In your backyard, you have a fairly decent idea of who all the people are (or at least a decent idea that someone you know invited them), which doesn't really resemble Metafilter.

Doesn't it? I feel like I certainly have a sense of a lot of the more prolific commentators. Metafilter feels less like your own background barbecue and more like a company picnic, but it's still people you (mostly) know a bit about.

Also, your idea that everyone commemorating a moment of silence at a Veteran's Day event is uncritically supporting the war is so mindblowingly wrong that it boggles. Do you know any veterans in real life? Have you talked to them about this? A moment of silence there is simply to commemorate those who have died, whether for good or ill.
posted by corb at 10:45 PM on April 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


IMO, long comments are the ecards of mefi, no crushing down to divine who is bad and wrong in a situation, and why, in a single sentence. But we all fail to meet the high standards of others sometimes.
Maybe it isn't your backyard, but it isn't a televised memorial in a stadium!
And I would say no, it isn't 'your' backyard in that metaphor, it is someone else's, we are all just here allowed to meet many other text based life-forms (and so it should be, the rules welcome all here, so long as we aren't breaking all the chairs, or drawing people into our fire cults, and how do I know that some usurper would allow everyone?).

I don't know about a wiki being an offensive link (I hope I am not the only one who thinks that it is pretty dangerous, and feels more communally silencing/regulatory if people are judged 'offensive" for linking to a page on wikipedia [I don't see it as "saying" what either of you "said"] I would love to read a better link, but is it really "offensive"). Miko made a point that stood with or without the wiki link, the wiki link was for others. Maybe it was read as "here read this, then we can talk", but it did not seem like that at all to me. Seems like a mis-comm.

It was a link for people who might not know about ritual, which is a word that is tossed off often, but is pretty complicated, and has many aspects, and is studied by many fields, in many ways, so, yeah, even people who study ritual speak several languages about it; I dunno, but I think Miko was totally right to link it, when using ritual in the context which she used it, wherein she defined her usage, and made clear how it was being used (within the comment).

I would like to learn what folks believe can subvert ritual during a ritual (what? grabbing the mic? nope, that 'converts' no one, maybe gets some "right on's from the chorus', "killing the person in charge of the ceremony?" meh, that never stopped most ritual behaviour... so... what? A sit in? Placards?). What stops ritual, honest question, because it has been on the minds of people through the ages (frequently by people looking to have "their" favorite pet ritual honoured and practiced centrally)... I guess it rests on if you follow PunkEek, or Phyletic Gradualism... and what your view is on that as pertains to the evolution of memetic organisms.

I'd propose that the idea of "conversion" is misguided, the idea of "stopping a ritual during the ritual" is not like going door to door later on, talking face to face, when your opposition to ritual_X has been solidified by the horrors seen during the ritual; what is needed is 'slow cooking', 'subverting' ritual 'violently' during a ritual 99% of the time pisses people off (or it is done by the same sort of "NOW I RULE" type A who was ruling in the first place, just with a new flavour of ideology). Look at WBC. Now, we all know that EVERY one who opposes militarism ( I know they aren't against militarism) does not face the opprobrium that most people place on WBC. No, because they go... "my friend", come close, now we will talk, together as friends... XYZ, militarism is costing us, it is not a way forward, and is unsustainable. Whoever wins we all lose. That can convert people. It has converted people. Just like the opposite of the WBC (there are actually a lot more people as hateful as that bunch, they just don't get so much opposition because they are spreading their view behind the scenes, or below the radar).
people trying to get equal rights for all people. People aren't "converted" to see value in fellow people by someone going into a "conservative" church and calling them mean and bad, or ignorant... but people alter their views as they meet, and interact with those people they were trained to hate or find 'gross' and learn that they both love and live feel and hurt and mourn the same.

But ritual really has two roles... internal, and external.
External is the accretion of people around a circle, or a fire, or a flag, or a feast, sometimes a 'leader'... but internal is what we each take from it, what it inspires in us. After that ritual I was sick of it all, and so decided to accrete my friends to our own fire ceremony!!

Put it this way, you went to talk about an oath... can you see how different an active oath, which is demanded, is from some people choosing, with their freedom to express a moment of reflection?
The other issue is that people seem to be insisting that we can't take any meaning from the dots, but because they're public actions, they have to have some meaning. If they convey no meaning, my dot and your dot aren't making our individual private acts a communal experience because we can't derive any meaning from the other person's dot.
A moment of reflection. Fleeting, so yeah, we speak after, or before, because death is creeping upon us all, and lest we stay silent too long we will be gone already also, but remembering that death is final, and there is no rewriting legacies, or learning to be more accommodating, or to take some action, when it is too late.

A moment of silence is precisely that absence of speech which punctuates all of the rhetoric surrounding the issue of a particular ritual. "takes up space"? Does the silence truly bother people more than the ROARING rhetoric that precedes, and comes after the silence? I always found the silence a beautiful respite from the rhetoric at such events... they brought me the words of the dead, without being twisted by the living standing at the podiums telling me what the dead "meant". The dead speak as silence. Rhetoric and speech makers speak before and after. After WWI, when people came back they infrequently talked about their experiences, yet those back home all "wanted to hear the glory stories", and since the vets were rare to talk of it, the home-stayers just filled in their own stories, of heroes and glories, and blood spilled, victories... where many returning home saw none but the victory of mechanized war on a mass scale.

As miko noted, observing a silence where "the dominant narrative" is "Go Our Team!", does not necessitate that internal thought being what one has, rather, she described it bringing in a flood of thoughts... which are then navigated, and the person having them is stronger, and more able to know their own self more clearly. If a moment of silence converts a person from opposing war to being a hawk, their convictions were not strong to begin.

In fact, being in the silence of a room with a 'majority' feeling differently from oneself can be the impetus to strive harder in future. But hey, read the thread, and all the other ones, no one is being killed on our altar because they 'dared' to subvert a thing. People post dots next to long comments, people post dots on threads about deaths caused by militarism. People post exhortations of figures. People post excoriations of figures... what is being restricted by giving people the freedom to post a dot, some people observing quiet reflection, and sharing that? Anger, pain, loss and all other reactions are to be found alongside those, so, what is wanted?

I don't know if you are saying that people 'need' to break ritual silences simply to break norms, when the dancers are in a trance of ecstacy is not when people will be most likely to listen to demands to sit still, when the addict is partying and having a great time is not a time when they will hear words about moderation, yes, ritual is "primarily" about reproducing a belief, or a system; but in the punctuations of ritual, when it fails, or the party crashes, are the points when rituals change (and they do [I haven't read that wiki, but I also know a little about ritual, and they certainly evolve, sometimes in wildly divergent ways from their former ways]) I mean, yeah, a person can try to use a memorial in general, and a moment of silence in specific to shout out that war sucks (or "belonging is weak", or whatever message at all during a memorial, where many families have folks who died doing service against serious threats, but also driven by absurd leaders, vets who are elderly, and have who knows how long to live, normal people; those who are alive carrying those who are not on their back on their hearts and in their memories... but I feel that doing it at that time is more about "self", assuaging one's own personal need to be the speaker at the front (lest this be misread, in 'my world' we all have a right and duty to speak at the front, to take the power of speech and grab it, if only till our view is refuted; this comment is about dealing with practicalities of dominance and of scale, and entrenched, written juridico-legal powers).

Miko (I believe) was saying that they (moments of silence) allow (her) to navigate what that dominant narrative means to her in that minute of contextual time.

There are days and days after to convince those beside her to see her thoughts...
After the silence, it sounds as though she is better able to understand what it means to her.

Which allows her to strengthen her argument for when that issue is actually to be addressed and people are listening.

And no. Most people who leave or join religious life aren't 'converted' by someone interrupting their church or yelling at them on the bus or a street-corner (that will likely draw the 'congregated' group tighter, the opposite effect from intended) it happens when they are at home, or work, or school. You are unlikely break someone's belief in militarism in a crowd of a thousand people at a memorial where people are experiencing a ritual time of remembrance, and are on television, people are almost never 'changed' like a light switch (much as we all might wish it were possible at sometime)... what changes people is a series of conversations... and metafilter is a series of conversations, quiet ones, where the small shifts that add up to real change happen. Not a televised pretentious symbolic moment. Placards are weak delegates for debate or dialogue between interlocutors. I can't agree that a moment of silence is forcing a narrative on any one person, nor taking up more space than, say, this waste of space comment; and in fact, silence and reflection are a more powerful tool in learning who I am (which I will now take, and use:).
posted by infinite intimation at 10:58 PM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]




....Sometimes a young child keeps asking "why" even after the parents have already explained something to death. That is the point at which parents frequently just give up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:47 AM on April 10 [+] [!]


Now I am a child?

OK. Please do continue to make positive contributions such as this while telling me what I should or shouldn't say.

(Was I allowed to say that?)
posted by Reggie Knoble at 11:24 PM on April 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ritual has a function beyond communicating a specific statement or meaning. By participating in a ritual, we are saying "I consider myself a member of this community and I am sharing in an experience this community is having."

They are simply ways for us to mark and deal with emotions that arise in the moment.

Rituals are not as empty as this; can't be reduced to as little as this. This definition is so open that their significance has fallen out.

If you are seen to cross your fingers during your wedding ceremony, it means something. You can't later deal with the backlash by angrily saying "my intention was just to hope everything is all right for my marriage how dare you ascribe meaning to me so rude" because people will have read your meaning otherwise, and the fault is not with them.

Likewise with silences. Sure, no-one knows what goes on in your mind when you stand in silence for the Vietnam war, but that doesn't make your participation as meaningless as "I was a member of this community during a silence for x". Your silence will never be read as utterly condemning the war, or celebrating the deaths of the victims, or lauding the memory of an amazing pizza you once had.

Whatever your interiority, the communal gesture has a meaning, and certain intents are simply not within scope. Moments of silence are not used by communities to commemorate the evil or the wicked. If attempted without contextual clarification, those silences would be broken. People will not stand in silence for the evil. They speak out against it.

And this is exactly how it played out on in the near dot-free Thatcher thread. Now if you want your Metafilter dot to stand for something else, or for something meaningless, you can of course do that -- just like if you want to cross your fingers at your wedding. But you have to make your non-scope intent plain.

If you don't, you are not even attempting to communicate and are wasting everyone's time and space. We generally require more of our members than that.
posted by bonaldi at 3:01 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would like to learn what folks believe can subvert ritual during a ritual (what? grabbing the mic? nope, that 'converts' no one, maybe gets some "right on's from the chorus', "killing the person in charge of the ceremony?" meh, that never stopped most ritual behaviour... so... what? A sit in? Placards?).

Etymology insert - as we know, blasphemy is the act of impious utterance. Which comes from Ancient Greek - literally, "harming speech" ("blaptō"- I harm, phēmi - I speak).

Another English verb derived from a similar root is "euphemism" - literally, "speaking well". That has come to mean finding a nice way to say something less than nice. However, its root verb - "euphēmeo", means, brilliantly, not only to "use words of good omen" - to praise a person or future event, ro to cry out in triumph - but also to avoid words of bad omen - and, by extension, to be quiet. Because a ritual could be disrupted by the wrong person saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or indeed anything other than the right person saying the right thing at the right time. And then you'd have to start all over again.

So, the imperative "euphēmeite!" means "for God(s)'s sake, shut up!". Ancient Greek has a commendable economy of usage - even the Romans could only boil that down to "favete verbis!" (be favorable with your words - i.e. avoid words of ill omen by being silent).

The people calling for no disrespectful speech in the immediate aftermath of her death - for no words of ill-omen - are, whether knowingly or not, calling for the correct observances during a ritual of mourning for a holy figure*. Which, anthropologically, is sort of interesting.

*At least in the chapels of the Chicago School. Gloria Britannica, Chileae defensor, sinistromastix, quae de Keynesianis triumphum egit.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:13 AM on April 10, 2013 [21 favorites]


ROSF, this is the second time in two days I've been cheered by a piece of useful knowledge you've put on Metafilter. Thank you for sharing this kind of thing with us!
posted by corb at 4:25 AM on April 10, 2013


If only MeFi allowed the emoji unicode characters. We could leave x1f4a9; or x2698; instead of dots.
posted by humanfont at 4:47 AM on April 10, 2013


Do you know any veterans in real life?

Do you really think I don't? Come on.

You also think that things people tell you (without prompting) about how they perceive your presence at a Veterans Day event might not vaguely reflect how your presence is being perceived?
posted by hoyland at 6:11 AM on April 10, 2013


"Dinner is ready, dear. I made your favorite!"

"Sorry honey, I'm going to be a while. I'm on the Internet arguing about dots."
posted by BobbyVan at 6:19 AM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


"takes up space"? Does the silence truly bother people more than the ROARING rhetoric that precedes, and comes after the silence?

I'm talking about comments consisting only of dots taking up space, not actual moments of silence. And sure, I'll not complain about a single person taking up half an inch of my screen with their dot, but when there are a hundred of the damn things, that's a lot of scrolling, particularly for something people are arguing conveys no meaning. You can't simultaneously say 'Dots are worthwhile, positive contributions to the thread' and 'Dots convey no meaning'. If they're contributing, they have to mean something discernable.

what changes people is a series of conversations... and metafilter is a series of conversations, quiet ones, where the small shifts that add up to real change happen.

Sticking a dot in a thread is explicitly not having such a conversation!

That's the point. We got on moments of silence via the argument that a dot represented a moment of silence, which then turned into whether moments of silence reinforce the dominant narrative, as, if they do, dots cannot possibly be without meaning, as people claim.
posted by hoyland at 6:19 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rituals are not as empty as this; can't be reduced to as little as this.

What about what I'm saying makes you think they are empty?

Likewise with silences. Sure, no-one knows what goes on in your mind when you stand in silence for the Vietnam war, but that doesn't make your participation as meaningless as "I was a member of this community during a silence for x". Your silence will never be read as utterly condemning the war, or celebrating the deaths of the victims, or lauding the memory of an amazing pizza you once had. Whatever your interiority, the communal gesture has a meaning,

The only meaning we can all say with certainty that it has is that, for our own reasons, we have all decided to gather together and share in an observation of a significant event. That's just the truth. Because I do know a bit about the inner thoughts of other vets and their spouses, parents, and children in those scenarios, I know that this is the truth. An outside observer may construct their own meaning for it. The VFW committee who put it on may construct their own meanings for it. But all of us in the crowd are also constructing our own meanings. All that can be said about what we are communicating together is "something significant happened and it affected us in some way. Here we are devoting a moment to mutually thinking about that."

It doesn't matter what you're thinking during that moment of silence, because you know how it will be reported on the news. Unless Veterans for Peace are there, you'll be reported as commemorating the war in a completely uncritical manner. (And if Veterans for Peace are there, they're probably just not shown.)

Your world is so simple and clean!

It doesn't matter much to me how it will be reported on the news, because it's a personal ritual I am doing with my family, and I don't give a shit what the news says about it. The news misrepresents thousands of things. There are also pretty much always Veterans for Peace there, though sometimes they aren't choosing that moment to make a protest.

When I was a kid, I thought the Pledge of Allegiance was a binding oath and that I was swearing to fight against my mother in some hypothetical war.

It's possible you may be a very literal person who has trouble seeing the multiple meanings any ritual can contain, and who conflates action with thought. We aren't all like that.

Forgive me if I assert that my life experience growing up with a combat veteran from Vietnam and observing a few decades' worth of rituals and political action and PTSD treatment makes me a little more informed about what people might be thinking than an interview assignment at one parade. I think it's odd, though, that anyone who claims to understand or have studied ritual, especially in a folklore context, could think that participating in a ritual means that one completely endorses all the values and beliefs surrounding that ritual. What if you make your marriage vows without visibly crossing your fingers, but mentally crossing your fingers, like a hell of a lot of people do? If you're saying internally to yourself "Geez, I hope this works out, I'm completely not confident in this decision and am going to need a lot of luck, is it too late to get out of this?" while you say outwardly "I promise to love, honor and cherish you til death do us part," which reflects an emotional truth? The thoughts or the outward signs? Or both?

whether moments of silence reinforce the dominant narrative

This claim is just without merit.
posted by Miko at 6:19 AM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


If they're contributing, they have to mean something discernable.

Why
posted by shakespeherian at 6:32 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


What about what I'm saying makes you think they are empty?

Er ... the bit I quoted? "Simply ways to mark and deal with emotions" is so reductive as to effectively empty them out, yes.

The only meaning we can all say with certainty that it has is that, for our own reasons, we have all decided to gather together and share in an observation of a significant event.

With certainty, yes. But we're also talking about with ambiguity. And we can give a very broader range there -- but even then still not wide enough to encompass, say, "I am here to devote some time to my love of pizza and 80s pop". And once you've conceded that some meanings are exempted, you have the ability to define what meanings it is possible to include.
posted by bonaldi at 6:32 AM on April 10, 2013


Why

Is 1232ajalfsdjoiu903124jlkamla09ca0ds98ah234 contributing to the thread?
posted by hoyland at 6:34 AM on April 10, 2013


So I mean I guess: I get why some people don't like them, and why some people find them to be useless and space-wasting, but isn't it rather evident that some people do not, that some people find value in them, and a sense of community, both when they themselves post the things and when they see others post them? So unless you're aiming to convince me that I actually don't get anything out of this ritual when I think I do, I'm not sure what the argument is here.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:35 AM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


This claim is just without merit.

Gee, thanks, I'll just bow down to you superior wisdom, shall I?
posted by hoyland at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2013


I don't concede that any meanings are exempted, bonaldi. That's the point. Your thoughts are free. Meaning does not reside in that air, objectively, as a molecule. Humans make it. Each of us makes any meaning to be found in an experience.

It occurred to me that one of the very reasons we have evolved ritual, especially (as is so often the case) around difficult or extremely significant moments in life (birth, death, grief, tragedy, rites of passage) is that as most people move through those events they don't know what to think. These events are so multivalent and so complicated that they bring up a wide and even conflicting range of emotion. Sometimes the emotion is so overwhelming as to make it nearly impossible to articulate anything sensible. Anyone who has gone through a sudden, tragic grief knows about this. Or a first birth. This is the exact reason we construct the rituals of marriage, death, grief, coming of age - so no one has to think, no one has to plumb the depths of already exhausted emotion and find a way to frame their ideas in a cogent form. That's too much to ask, often, when we're a jumble of experience yet to be sorted and analyzed.

Moments of silence and ritualistic language are prescriptive in that way: they free you from having to know what to say, from having to say anything at all. They acknowledge that the complicated, multifarious feelings people are enduring are not easily expressed in language.

Gee, thanks, I'll just bow down to you superior wisdom, shall I?

Unless you have a new argument, I guess. You don't say what the "dominant narrative" on MetaFilter is or show how . reinforces it; there's no evidence yet, and it's a stretch, so I'm saying it's without merit.
posted by Miko at 6:38 AM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


This claim is just without merit.

Well, I'm convinced!
posted by enn at 6:39 AM on April 10, 2013


Metafilter feels less like your own background barbecue and more like a company picnic, but it's still people you (mostly) know a bit about.

This may be true for you, Corb. From reading this thread, it's apparent that you're known to other users. Especially if you express political-minority opinions on MetaFilter—and I don't know whether you do, but some folks have indicated that you have—then you can become known around MetaFilter pretty quickly. My guess is, this may color your experience.

I don't think that's an accurate description of my experience on MetaFilter, though.
posted by cribcage at 6:41 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


So unless you're aiming to convince me that I actually don't get anything out of this ritual when I think I do, I'm not sure what the argument is here.

I'm pretty much saying that if, in fact, dots and moments of silence are totally ambiguous and convey no meaning, as some people in this thread would have you believe, dots probably shouldn't be used, as they then take up space for no reason. But... many people feel quite strongly that dots should be used, which means they have to be conveying some sort of meaning. But no one seems to know what that meaning is, as the 'it's a moment of silence' camp seem to believe moments of silence don't convey anything.
posted by hoyland at 6:44 AM on April 10, 2013


I think a practice can engender a sense of community without its having an easily explicable translation into prose.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:47 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here is an example of a moment of silence definitely not supporting the narrative which power wanted to impose.

As well, bonaldi, it is possible that I have misconstrued your point and will have to consider that.
posted by gauche at 6:49 AM on April 10, 2013


Here is an example of a moment of silence definitely not supporting the narrative which power wanted to impose.

But it supports the narrative of the people who called the moment of silence, which is the point. Maybe 'dominant' was a poor choice of word, I don't know. In any case, it's sure as hell unambiguous.
posted by hoyland at 6:52 AM on April 10, 2013


hoyland: " I'm pretty much saying that if, in fact, dots and moments of silence are totally ambiguous and convey no meaning, as some people in this thread would have you believe, dots probably shouldn't be used, as they then take up space for no reason. But... many people feel quite strongly that dots should be used, which means they have to be conveying some sort of meaning. But no one seems to know what that meaning is, as the 'it's a moment of silence' camp seem to believe moments of silence don't convey anything."

I think moments of silence can symbolize many things, but don't think they have to mean the same thing for everyone who takes them. Each of us comes from a different background, and probably addresses death in different ways. And too, our relationship with the person who has died in such instances probably matters too. We might react differently to the death of a childhood hero than we would to someone we didn't know.

I'm the last person who fleshed out the mefi wiki page on the period. You'll notice that the page does not define what the ritual means to all mefites under all circumstances. That's deliberate. In my opinion, it's presumptuous to assume that we know unambiguously what the ritual means to each person who does it.
posted by zarq at 6:57 AM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Unless you have a new argument, I guess. You don't say what the "dominant narrative" on MetaFilter is or show how . reinforces it; there's no evidence yet, and it's a stretch, so I'm saying it's without merit.

You do realise I was summarising the argument thus far? Given that we were arguing about Veterans Day events (which you are apparently so much more qualified to talk about that I'm not allowed to express an opinion) and whether by turning up to them with the knowledge of how they're presented to the public, you're endorsing a specific attitude towards war, 'whether moments of silence reinforce the dominant narrative' sounds like a fairly decent summary. To get to dots, you run through the steps of that sentence backwards. If you insist dots are moments of silence and moments of silence convey meaning, dots must convey meaning, which you have argued they don't.
posted by hoyland at 6:59 AM on April 10, 2013


I'm pretty much saying that if, in fact, dots and moments of silence are totally ambiguous and convey no meaning, as some people in this thread would have you believe, dots probably shouldn't be used, as they then take up space for no reason. But... many people feel quite strongly that dots should be used, which means they have to be conveying some sort of meaning. But no one seems to know what that meaning is, as the 'it's a moment of silence' camp seem to believe moments of silence don't convey anything.

Hoyland, what you seem to have trouble understanding is that I think many people who use dots do think they convey a meaning, but that meaning is "I am here with all of you and I am taking notice." The meaning is "I am a member of this community and somebody significant died and I am having thoughts about that." These aren't sentences devoid of meaning - they just aren't meaning that you seem to want to recognize as valuable and useful. However, as someone who has studied and understands the role of ritual in community formation, I should think that you would be able to see the value of that sort of expression and demonstration.

Personally, I find a thread full of dots more comfortable and easy to scan than a thread full of "someone has died and I'm here with you taking notice," both because the latter is more likely to vary as a sentence, meaning I'd have to read each and every one to ensure that there is no other commentary there that I might not want to miss, and because it is visually less cluttered than 100 sentences saying that. However, if we didn't have the dot, and we instead had 100 sentences saying essentially that, I would similarly recognize the value to the community of saying those things. It just so happens that I'd rather see the dot, representing in my mind the silent figure of another observer standing beside me, than 100 awkwardly constructed sentences. But that's purely aesthetic.

The meaning, however, that we are, as members of a community, taking a moment to devote thought (which might vary) to the same event, is real and valuable.

it supports the narrative of the people who called the moment of silence

I disagree with this. The people who called a moment of silence may have their own ends and aims, but they don't have to be mine. The last time I participated in a lot of moments of silence, often followed by difficult conversation, was in the aftermath of 9/11. The conversation that followed those moments definitely showed that there was not a dominant narrative being accepted. Also, on MetaFilter, do people really generally think that you would only leave a . if you agree with the narrative of the person who posted the obit - the person who "called" the moment of silence? Or is it agreeing with the narrative in the obituary content? Or agreeing with the narrative of the person's life? As told by whom?

The very idea of a moment of silence is meant to actually overcome differences in narrative, recognizing common participation even when there may be profound disagreement:
Since silence contains no statements or assumptions concerning beliefs and requires no understanding of language to interpret, it is more easily accepted and used than a spoken prayer or observance when persons of different religious and cultural backgrounds participate together. In the colonial period Pennsylvania Quakers and Lenape Native Americans worshiped silently together on several occasions, yet neither group thought that this implied that they had altered their traditional belief system in doing so. Over time, the effectiveness of Quaker-style silence for non-sectarian and non-controversial public observances has led to its almost universal use in the English-speaking world as well as other plural societies. This is also the case within many institutions where diverse groups are expected to participate but not necessarily share beliefs such as in government, schools, businesses and the military.
posted by Miko at 7:00 AM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm talking about comments consisting only of dots taking up space, not actual moments of silence. And sure, I'll not complain about a single person taking up half an inch of my screen with their dot, but when there are a hundred of the damn things, that's a lot of scrolling, particularly for something people are arguing conveys no meaning. You can't simultaneously say 'Dots are worthwhile, positive contributions to the thread' and 'Dots convey no meaning'. If they're contributing, they have to mean something discernable.

hoyland, a more fundamental problem with this perspective, that I see, is that anyone who adopts a perspective like this make them such that other people are less likely want to participate in a moment of silence with them in the first place. You wouldn't be invited to my moment of silence if I thought you had such a critical eye of everything going on. It makes it a pretty self-conscious event as to be self-defeating, to make sure that its public nature is always discernible to your eye. By its nature, it's supposed to be a bit more removed from public scrutiny (although it can include a public meaning to it, for sure). The public dot, though, does not automatically make it about you in a way that is more important (or even as important) than to the inscriber of the dot. But it seems that you think that it does on a level that is not appropriate. It's not your dot, man.

It strikes me as a bit ironic, in light of how much you disliked being constrained by the perceived meaning of the rituals of your childhood.

I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. If anything, my little Pledge of Allegiance anecdote suggests what's going on in your head doesn't subvert the ritual a whole lot.
posted by hoyland at 9:09 PM on April 9 [+] [!]


What it means is that as much as you are insisting what dots "have to mean" (direct quote above) it seems to be the very thing you despised in the Pledge of Allegiance. You didn't like being constrained by a perceived meaning (and injected your own in a private way). Let other people have the same freedom.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:01 AM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


dots must convey meaning, which you have argued they don't.

I've never argued they don't convey meaning. I have argued the meaning they do convey is different from the ones you seem to insist are the only valid ones.
posted by Miko at 7:02 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is 1232ajalfsdjoiu903124jlkamla09ca0ds98ah234 contributing to the thread?

Depends on the thread. In this case it's fairly clearly communicating intentional opacity or nonsense; in a thread about cryptograms it might have meaning either as obfuscated info or prankish non-info; if it was a username, it'd indicate reference.

The distinction between a string of nonce alphanumeric line noise and a specific short mark that gets deployed by lots of different people and usually in particular contexts should be sort of clear, though; arguing that random typing has the same communicative payload as a site tradition, even one with complicated and uncertain meaning depending on the user and the context, doesn't make a lot of sense.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:04 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


1232ajalfsdjoiu903124jlkamla09ca0ds98ah234

Is also trying to make a point about the lack of meaning, which in itself is meaningful.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:16 AM on April 10, 2013


I thought everyone knew that 1232ajalfsdjoiu903124jlkamla09ca0ds98ah234 is shorthand for "I am banging my head against the keyboard now in response to this thread."
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've just had an odd thought.

Okay - the issue at play is that we are currently debating whether or not there is any particular meaning to making this mark
.
in a given context, yes? And people are asking to what purpose attaching meaning to that one symbol entails, and whether meaning can be attached to that one mark, and etc.

I can't help but think - I bet that a couple millennia ago, there were guys in Sumeria looking skeptically at other guys etching cuneiform into clay tablets and asking "but why would you make those marks? What does that mean?"

....you know? If you think about it, it's somewhat arbitrary that this mark
a
is universally understood to represent one specific sound, or that this group of marks
beans
is universally understood to symbolically represent these things. And yet, actually, there's room for variance - because that same group of marks can also symbolically represent these, or these, or even this kid.

So while the specific meaning inherant in a given mark may be up for debate, the idea of symbolically representing a concept with a given mark is actually nothing new.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly I have no idea how the mods manage to do this, day after day.
posted by notyou at 7:21 AM on April 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


And yes, I am aware that these marks
beans
have that given meaning only in one part of the world, and in other parts of the world other different sets of markings are used instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:23 AM on April 10, 2013


EmpressCallipygos: "...you know? If you think about it, it's somewhat arbitrary that this mark

a

is universally understood to represent one specific sound,
"

Correction: Set of six different sounds. In English. And several meanings.
posted by zarq at 7:26 AM on April 10, 2013


I was kind of struck by a thought earlier that MetaFilter is a kind of commons. If we all did what we wanted with no thought for anyone else, it would devolve rapidly into 4chan or reddit. The same way if we all brought all of our sheep to the town commons, it would get overgrazed and be ruined. I mean, maybe it's not a perfect analogy.

But anyway, the mods are our town elders, who generally stay out of the way but make sure the place isn't taken advantage of by one person or group to their specific advantage. And of course the people they have to guide aren't thrilled about being guided. Who really likes being given the hairy eyeball by the cops, even when it's well intentioned. And especially when the rules aren't always written down exactly.

So it's interesting that a comparatively light-handed, fairly elastic guidance barrier is nevertheless very effective in maintaining the commons in a useful state for almost everyone. I mean if maybe 0.05% of user interactions on MetaFilter require a mod's hand, then that's pretty amazing considering what effect it has on the site tenor, and how different things would be if there were no mods.

I also have a feeling that this kind of very light-handed, elastic guidance is something our species needs at a planetary level. Some vastly superior alien intelligence to come along and say [[no you leave that rest of that carbon shit in the ground]] which would make a few people very angry but would basically save us from ourselves. But that's another topic.

MetaFilter: just the right number of sheep.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:26 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Correction: Set of six different sounds. In English. And several meanings.

...Assuming you're catching up to my "yes I know that different languages are different" disclaimer....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:28 AM on April 10, 2013


>it supports the narrative of the people who called the moment of silence

I disagree with this. The people who called a moment of silence may have their own ends and aims, but they don't have to be mine.


Did you watch the video? It's of the UC Davis chancellor leaving her office (or residence, don't remember) and being greeted by rows of silent students. It's entirely possible that there's a student thinking 'I really should have brought a sandwich' and another thinking 'I wonder why all these people are being quiet? I'm glad the UCPD got out the pepper spray.'* But that is most certainly not what you think when you see the video. It's totally unambiguous what the silence means, even if an individual was thinking the exact opposite.

*If you've ever seen the Berkeley in the 60s documentary, there's a guy who keeps talking about how he was going about his business and just happened to get mixed up in [significant event X]. He goes on about how he needed to go to Sproul for some reason and, oops, got stuck in a sit in. He's roughly the fourth most memorable thing about the documentary, with the top three all being police or military violence. He's also totally unbelievable, which is why he's memorable.
posted by hoyland at 7:34 AM on April 10, 2013


If you still have to explain yourself after 28 comments in a thread I am going to assume that your communication skills are essentially useless.
posted by Wolof at 7:35 AM on April 10, 2013


Gosh, that could be directed at anybody!

*sharp intake of air*
posted by Wolof at 7:39 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you still have to explain yourself after 28 comments in a thread I am going to assume that your communication skills are essentially useless.

And yet you care enough to count someone's (mine, I think) comments.
posted by hoyland at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2013


So anyone got big plans this weekend?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:42 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: " ...Assuming you're catching up to my "yes I know that different languages are different" disclaimer...."

No, I saw it before I posted. Your comment doesn't address my point, which I admit I should have explained better. So I'll do that now:

You said that " 'a' is universally understood to represent one specific sound." It's not. Not in English and not in this part of the world.

Even for a letter/vowel/word as simple as "a," what it means and how it's used is wholly dependent on context and circumstances, but it can still mean multiple things to multiple people under the same circumstances and not connote a universal meaning. In this part of the world. In this language. It could be an indefinite article modifier, a noun, preposition or a verb. A suffix or prefix. "A" could mean any number of things. We use six distinct sounds to express that one letter.

To extrapolate from this: We are discussing whether the use of the period on mefi has one or multiple meanings, and whether it might not mean anything at all in a particular context. I think the answer is probably "yes." All of those things. At least one of those things, to each person.
posted by zarq at 7:43 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And yet you care enough to count someone's (mine, I think) comments.

Care's got nothing to do with it, it's pretty easy if the Navigator script is installed. You're at 29 now, EC & corb are 28.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:45 AM on April 10, 2013


Hoyland, what you seem to have trouble understanding is that I think many people who use dots do think they convey a meaning, but that meaning is "I am here with all of you and I am taking notice."

It's entirely possible we've spent however many comments talking past each other. This is not what I understood your position to be.
posted by hoyland at 7:49 AM on April 10, 2013


I'm pretty sympathetic to the notion that '.' can denote different things to different people. But I think it's pretty common usage -here- to mean a moment of silence to denote a certain measure of respect for the individual who passed away. (which frankly can have a lot of meaning to unpack in of itself). So using a '.' for a different meaning is fine, but you are going to be read under the normative definition for '.' by the vast majority of readers. Which, if alternate users are kosher with, all is fine, as long as they know what they mean and what they are saying may be two different things.
To me it would make my communication even less precise then it already is. Individual variation of interpretation of well defined words is bad enough. And idiosyncratic words/definitions only really work well within subgroup, and this is even a idiosyncratic definition to start with, so adding another idiosyncratic layer for each individual sounds like nothing short of gibberish.

If I write 'fuck you', but mean 'I love you' people are still going to get pissed off and offended no matter how much I explain "no no no what I meant was".
posted by edgeways at 7:49 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Poor word choice then, zarq. I was actually more addressing the notion that a mark could mean something in the first place.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:49 AM on April 10, 2013


Ah! OK, I see. :)
posted by zarq at 7:55 AM on April 10, 2013


Who would have bet a punctuation mark would be the most divisive issue about a Thatcher obit thread?
posted by Abiezer at 8:04 AM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


And yet you care enough to count someone's (mine, I think) comments.
posted by hoyland at 7:40 AM on April 10 [+] [!] Other [29/30]: «≡»


There's a script for that.
posted by rtha at 8:05 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's entirely possible we've spent however many comments talking past each other.

I'm pretty sure I've understood you all along. Your first several comments insist that the dots cannot contain no meaning, while I said early on that they contain a least common valid meaning: "I am present." You seemed to want to contest that they can only mean "I am present" and must imply some further meaning/endorsement.
posted by Miko at 8:34 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


What if there's a a single dot in a title, but someone has titles turned off, what does it mean then?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 AM on April 10, 2013


It means someone has literally missed the point.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:03 AM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't concede that any meanings are exempted, bonaldi. That's the point. Your thoughts are free.

That's the category error between meanings and intentions again.

They acknowledge that the complicated, multifarious feelings people are enduring are not easily expressed in language.

Rituals do indeed do some of this. But they don't utterly absolve their participants of everything. Even to be a spectator in an audience is to have a role in the ritual, and that role codifies some meaning.

In the audience of a wedding you are generally invited to "celebrate the marriage", as a rough example, and it is consider rude to play that role if you are known to hope the partnership will be a failure. That's why there's always sensitivity around the invitation of, eg, ex-partners. Why asked why they're at the wedding, the scowling jealous ex cannot just say "oh, I don't mean anything by my presence in this building at this time, I am merely present". Doesn't wash.

So unless you're aiming to convince me that I actually don't get anything out of this ritual when I think I do, I'm not sure what the argument is here.

The argument is this: If one gets value out of them but doesn't intend to convey any meaning - for us to understand anything from it - it's masturbation and they should stop doing it all over us. If they do intend to convey meaning, they should discuss what that meaning is, as they may have misunderstood what they are conveying.

Hoyland, what you seem to have trouble understanding is that I think many people who use dots do think they convey a meaning, but that meaning is "I am here with all of you and I am taking notice."

Which is a hair-breadth away from no meaning at all; it's conveying even less meaning than "me too". It is basically like posting "me". You might as well all favourite the post or the first ".". It's very hard to see how it's supportable to argue they mean as little as that, even if some people intend to convey only that.

The usage and codification both suggest the dot means a little something more, that it means a moment of silence. That's more than presence. Silence as group performance is not a neutral gesture whether it is deployed as chastisement, as rebellion, as memorial, or as support. It's always more than just "hullo, we are here, breathing".
posted by bonaldi at 9:08 AM on April 10, 2013


It means someone has literally missed the point.

A dot is not a point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on April 10, 2013


The usage and codification both suggest the dot means a little something more, than it means a moment of silence.

With respect, this is not a foregone conclusion and your continuing to assert it is doesn't make it so. That there may be one or a few dominant interpretations doesn't mean that other people's uses are invalid and particularly that they should stop doing it if they have different backstories to their particular usage.

People have chimed in with various interpretations about what they mean, your interpretation is one of many. The fact that you feel it more strongly doesn't make you correct. There is no correct here. People feel what hey feel. Similar to your other examples (I know many people who invite exes to weddings) this just may be a situation where you have a very specific interpretation which is fine, but it's less fine to imply that other people with differing interpretations are doing anything like masturbating all over others. It's not the case, it's not a helpful metaphor and it's not really forwarding this discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:20 AM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


.
posted by klangklangston at 9:24 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


With respect, this is not a foregone conclusion and your continuing to assert it is doesn't make it so.

Sure, this is true, and I should phrase it better to be clear that I'm not saying necessarily that my exact interpretation is a foregone conclusion -- but I am saying it's necessary that the dot carries some meaning.

That this must be true is backed up by lots of things: the wiki offers a couple of definitions of their meaning, and patterns are discernible in how they appear: they are used not in random ways but in broadly identifiable situations and for broadly identifiable roles. The dot is used in a meaningful way, even if that meaning is not clear or precise.

It's simply not possible with all that going on to assert that they mean nothing (or very, very close to nothing), even if people intend them to.

The masturbation metaphor discusses a separate argument, the one which says "I personally get something out of this activity but I don't intend for you to get anything or understand anything by it". Which is a a masturbatory activity, to my mind. If someone wants to say that's what the dot is, they should be able to defend why they should be allowed to indulge in such activity here.
posted by bonaldi at 9:33 AM on April 10, 2013


Who has said that they mean nothing? No one has said that, that I can tell.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:36 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Self-indulgent" would work just as well if the point is not specifically to make people think about someone with their hand down their pants, which, in a discussion not actually literally about masturbation, isn't really the best direction to go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


languagehat: Actually, I was thinking of Len. Len for Mod! Has a ring to it, doesn't it?

Election season starts here! It's me or the quidnunc kid, and really, how could you trust a mere kid with a funny name with a job as important as this one? Vote Len #1!
posted by Len at 9:38 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a masturbatory activity, to my mind.
posted by zarq at 9:41 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's simply not possible with all that going on to assert that they mean nothing (or very, very close to nothing), even if people intend them to.

You know what the difference is between "nothing" and "very, very close to nothing"?

Something.
posted by gauche at 9:43 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


What if there's a a single dot in a title, but someone has titles turned off, what does it mean then?

If a dot finishes a title, but no one sees it there, does it still take up space?
posted by misha at 9:44 AM on April 10, 2013


Who has said that they mean nothing? No one has said that, that I can tell.

I understand the 'no meaning can be discerned' positon to be equivalent to 'it means nothing'.
posted by hoyland at 9:46 AM on April 10, 2013


Then perhaps your skills with putting words in other folks' mouths can fill in the gap as to what precisely they mean in every situation, in which case: PROBLEM SOLVED

Now who wants lunch
posted by shakespeherian at 9:48 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one has said the dot contains no meaning.

I have simply been saying that without additional evidence, an external observer cannot determine for any given individual what that individual means by using the dot, other than their indication that they are present and a member of the community who is having some kind of reaction to this event.

I understand the 'no meaning can be discerned' positon to be equivalent to 'it means nothing'.

Those mean two different things.

I would also say no meaning can be discerned with certainty, not no meaning can be discerned at all. Unless someone explains their meaning directly to you - which we'd have to take to be an accurate representation of their actual meaning - you can't presume you know about an individual's internal experience by observing them doing a ritual.
posted by Miko at 9:48 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now who wants lunch

Oh, are you grilling?! I'll take a kitten.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:52 AM on April 10, 2013


Then why are they doing the damn ritual the first place? Why are people leaving comments if not to convey something? Are they really conveying 'I have thought about the contents of this post, wish you to know that, but don't wish to discuss the post. And, oh, yes, my dot means something specific, but I'm ensuring you don't have a hope in hell of figuring out what it means'?
posted by hoyland at 9:52 AM on April 10, 2013


Why are people leaving comments if not to convey something?

How many different ways can I say they are trying to convey something? They are trying to convey "I am part of MetaFilter and I'm having a reaction to this event, which is posted on MetaFilter. I'm here and for whatever reason I am also interested in taking note this event with others."

Why is this not a valid statement to you?
posted by Miko at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


Then perhaps your skills with putting words in other folks' mouths can fill in the gap as to what precisely they mean in every situation, in which case: PROBLEM SOLVED

So, the part where I said 'I understand...' was where I was attempting to be polite and carry on a discussion. But apparently you're not interested.
posted by hoyland at 9:54 AM on April 10, 2013


So, the part where I said 'I understand...' was where I was attempting to be polite and carry on a discussion.

I guess we didn't get your meaning. Therefore your comment means nothing.

(hint: I am being snarky here).
posted by Miko at 9:57 AM on April 10, 2013


Respectfully, and politely as I can: what you understand is not the case; 'no meaning can be discerned' is in no way synonymous with 'it means nothing'; one has a meaning, but is hidden to interlocutors, and the other has no meaning at all.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:57 AM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


you can't presume you know about an individual's internal experience by observing them doing a ritual

That. The anniversary of my mom's death is coming up. I don't know exactly yet what I'm going to do, but there's a chance that you could find me at Grace Cathedral here in San Francisco, maybe sitting in a chapel, maybe kneeling in a pew. It wouldn't be crazy for you to think I'm praying, and specifically praying in a Christian kind of way.

It wouldn't be crazy, but it would be wrong. There's no way for an external observer who doesn't know me to know that what's really happening is I'm remembering all the (mostly Gothic) cathedrals my mom dragged me to when I was a kid and we were living in France; I'm remembering her talking to me about the architecture, about how people figured out flying buttresses and stained glass and keystones; I'm remembering looking at stone carvings of dead knights or bishops while my mom sat nearby.

What you see is not necessarily what I am trying to convey.. That does not mean I am conveying nothing.
posted by rtha at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


I apologize, but I think I got tired of trying to have a polite conversation after the 85th time I was told that what I'm saying means something else that you'd prefer I say because it makes your argument neater.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who has said that they mean nothing? No one has said that, that I can tell.

Plenty of people, starting with jhc and including Miko, have argued that they are presence signifiers and nothing more can be read into them, not even that they represent a moment of silence. In fact, here's gauche. I'd better rephrase for him:

It's simply not possible with the evidence of their usage here and their codification to assert that dots mean as little as "am here in this thread".

in a discussion not actually literally about masturbation, isn't really the best direction to go.

Well if you want to invoke the negative connotations of masturbatory activity in a public place, viz that's it's unacceptable and unappealing in most contexts and a defence has to be made for it then you need more than just "self-indulgence". Self-indulgent dots should be even less welcome than "me too", as a community-hostile act.

Unless someone explains their meaning directly to you - which we'd have to take to be an accurate representation of their actual meaning - you can't presume you know about an individual's internal experience by observing them doing a ritual.

You continue to conflate meaning with intention. Symbols have a meaning beyond the intent of those who use them. And there's plenty of external evidence as to what is generally meant by things here, from "please hope me" to "." and beyond. Once a meaning, however fuzzy, is sensed, users will therefore be correct or incorrect in conveying a meaning by their usage of the symbol.

And if they don't intend to convey anything, then they're being self-indulgent and that's problematic.

Why is this not a valid statement to you?

For the same reason posting "me" in every thread would not be a valid statement. It doesn't mean enough to be worth wasting the time and space of hundreds of thousands of people on.
posted by bonaldi at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2013


How many different ways can I say they are trying to convey something? They are trying to convey "I am part of MetaFilter and I'm having a reaction to this event, which is posted on MetaFilter. I'm here and for whatever reason I am also interested in taking note this event with others."

Why is this not a valid statement to you?


You started there and then argued that dots were inherently ambiguous. (Or perhaps you were arguing specifically about moments of silence and others understood that as an argument about dots by proxy. I certainly did.) These are two different things. If you want to define a dot to mean 'I feel the need to make my presence known in this thread', fine. I don't care. I think dots are dumb, but I'm not going to win that argument. However, that is not ambiguity, that is defining what the damn dots mean.
posted by hoyland at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2013


What you see is not necessarily what I am trying to convey.. That does not mean I am conveying nothing.

There's no way for an external observer to know you're intending to convey you are hungry when you say "I am very tired" either, but it does mean you did not convey what you were trying to convey.
posted by bonaldi at 10:04 AM on April 10, 2013


I don't care

Evidence suggests otherwise.
posted by rtha at 10:06 AM on April 10, 2013


bonaldi: "Plenty of people, starting with jhc and including Miko, have argued that they are presence signifiers"

A presence signifier has a meaning. It means, "I am here."

and nothing more can be read into them, not even that they represent a moment of silence.

Since the dots clearly can mean different things to different people, a single dot is too limited a data set to make an accurate assumption.
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's no way for an external observer to know you're intending to convey you are hungry when you say "I am very tired" either

Sometimes tiredness means you have low blood sugar, and should eat something. But a lot of times, I've found, it's actually thirst, because it's easy to forget to keep hydrated! Make sure you're drinking plenty of water.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:07 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who has said that they mean nothing? No one has said that, that I can tell.

Plenty of people, starting with jhc and including Miko, have argued that they are presence signifiers and nothing more can be read into them, not even that they represent a moment of silence. In fact, here's gauche. I'd better rephrase for him:


You keep ignoring the fact that "means nothing" and "means I am present and thinking my own thoughts about this thing" are not semantically the same. I have never said the dot "means nothing." I have said you can't tell with any certainty what it means for an individual, as rtha's comment above movingly illustrates.

You continue to conflate meaning with intention.

No, I'm not "conflating"the two; they are just not as different as you think they are. Intention is a more conscious process than meaning making, but they are similar.

Where you might be confused is that you are assuming meaning is something objectively real, with an existence outside of individual people. It is not. Meaning is constructed by each individual observing events.

In some cases, many individuals construct a semantically similar understanding of a given trope. That does not mean they are able to perceive an objective meaning while others are not. It simply means that they are in agreement, perhaps encouraged by context, personal experience, and/or prejudice as well as observation and questioning. Meaning making is part a personal, and part a social, process. I agree with you insofar is that.

However, where evidence contradicts such an agreement, there is (or should be) cognitive dissonance in an individual capable of apprehending evidence. For instnace, if a person has constructed the idea that a moment of silence means "approval," but is then confronted with 10 people saying "it may mean approval to some, but for me it does not necessarily mean approval," then it's time to revise or modify one's idea of what is meant, because it no longer accurately describes the world.

Some people don't revise their ideas even when faced with evidence. Usually those people come in for a drubbing on MetaFilter.
posted by Miko at 10:09 AM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Plenty of people, starting with jhc and including Miko, have argued that they are presence signifiers and nothing more can be read into them, not even that they represent a moment of silence.

But that is still different from "they mean nothing." That doesn't mean "the dot means nothing." What it does mean is, "it means something, but what that meaning actually is is not necessarily known to you."

Because I've already got my language metaphor in my brain: you and the guy from Canada are going to disagree on the exact pronunciation of the name of this mark:
z
but you are both still going to recognize it as a letter. What people are saying to you isn't the equivalent of "that isn't a letter," what they're saying is the equivalent of "don't assume everyone pronounces it zee".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:09 AM on April 10, 2013


bonaldi: "but it does mean you did not convey what you were trying to convey."

So? On Metafilter, the period is a symbol that can have multiple meanings. What if someone's intent was to deliberately express themselves in an ambiguous manner?
posted by zarq at 10:12 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


You keep ignoring the fact that "means nothing" and "means I am present and thinking my own thoughts about this thing" are not semantically the same. I have never said the dot "means nothing." I have said you can't tell with any certainty what it means for an individual, as rtha's comment above movingly illustrates.

Oh, look. To me, 'means nothing' covers 'does not convey meaning'. Funnily enough 'you can't tell with any certainty what it means for an individual' usually falls under the heading of 'does not convey meaning'.

That's true. I'm not snarking. But, by your standards, this makes my position unassailable. I'm merely understanding 'means nothing' to mean something other than what you understand it to.
posted by hoyland at 10:12 AM on April 10, 2013


It's simply not possible with the evidence of their usage here and their codification to assert that dots mean as little as "am here in this thread".

Actually, I think you'd have to agree, on reflection, that that is the only unambiguous meaning they can all have, given that any other meanings which the speaker may intend or the audience may infer may not necessarily overlap. "am here in this thread" is the one meaning which is true of every single ".".

That's not the exclusive meaning of the ".", though, as this controversy itself shows.
posted by gauche at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


So you can either decide nothing means anything because we're not telepathic, or you can conclude that meaning can be conveyed without knowing precisely what someone else is thinking.
posted by hoyland at 10:13 AM on April 10, 2013


If you want to define a dot to mean 'I feel the need to make my presence known in this thread', fine. I don't care. I think dots are dumb, but I'm not going to win that argument. However, that is not ambiguity, that is defining what the damn dots mean.

I've never argued that the dots are limited in meaning to "I am here." I argue only that in our social context, "I am here" is about the only true, valid thing you can say about any individual's use of a dot. It may mean more than "I am here" for any given individual, but those meanings will be more idiosyncratic, and I can't make any valid conjecture about them just by seeing the dot. At a minimum, though, it does mean "I am here and visibly taking notice, in a shared ritual," for everyone who uses it.

And I do think dots are essentially the functional equivalent of moments of silence, but I am less concerned with that point. One ritual doesn't have to map exactly onto another, though there are many similarities, including their nonverbal nature.

There's no way for an external observer to know you're intending to convey you are hungry when you say "I am very tired" either, but it does mean you did not convey what you were trying to convey.

So...? I don't see how this relates to the question of the dot, which doesn't have as widely agreed upon a meaning as the statement "I am hungry" or "I am tired."
posted by Miko at 10:14 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The other day I saw a guy eating a sandwich and he said, aloud, 'I love this.' The sun was shining, there was perhaps the first warm breeze of the season blowing in a nice aroma from a bakery a block over. Next to him sat a young woman, a few flyaway hairs pinned to her forehead for a brief instant.

I beat him to to death with a shovel because who knows what he was referring to.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:15 AM on April 10, 2013 [29 favorites]


Funnily enough 'you can't tell with any certainty what it means for an individual' usually falls under the heading of 'does not convey meaning'.

Well, one thing to note - for you and bonaldi - is that conveying meaning and having meaning are two different things. I think you are both pretty caught up in conveying meaning, whereas the dot has a fairly limited meaning it can reliably convey in our context: (ie, I am here etc). Meanwhile, it may also signify that the event has meaning for someone, though we can't know the content of that meaning with any certainty.
posted by Miko at 10:16 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you can either decide nothing means anything because we're not telepathic, or you can conclude that meaning can be conveyed without knowing precisely what someone else is thinking.

Obviously I conclude the latter, as we manage to convey a fair amount of our meanings to others (though not all, by a long shot) but it is an imperfect and nuanced human process that doesn't boil down to simple black-and-white, binary code expressible in logical terms. Communication is a lot more sophisticated than that.
posted by Miko at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can we try this on for size?

What if one possible meaning of the "." is not as communicative speech but as a performative speech act? It accomplishes something by its occasion, which is to include the utterer in the notional moment of silence going on in the thread.

And because it is, at least in part, performative, and the act that it is performative of is one of silence and not of speech, it is difficult to articulate and pin down and agree upon the semantic content which may also be being conveyed by ".". But that is not the same thing as "." having no meaning.
posted by gauche at 10:19 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


What if one possible meaning of the "." is not as communicative speech but as a performative speech act?

It absolutely is.
posted by Miko at 10:20 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's no way for an external observer to know you're intending to convey you are hungry when you say "I am very tired" either...

Actually, this sounds like something a child might say and that an adult who knows them would figure out. Hell, it works for adults too. How often has one half of couple snapped "i'm tired" only to have the other ask "when did you last eat?"

So yeah, ".".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:21 AM on April 10, 2013


The Meta T: This model goes from Thatcher's legacy to disputes over the possibility of a private language in only 900 comments.
posted by airing nerdy laundry at 10:22 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, one thing to note - for you and bonaldi - is that conveying meaning and having meaning are two different things. I think you are both pretty caught up in conveying meaning, whereas the dot has a fairly limited meaning it can reliably convey. eg, I am here etc. Meanwhile, it may also signify that the event has meaning for someone, though we can't know the content of that meaning with any certainty.

But what is the point of commenting if not to convey something? I mean, commenting by its very nature conveys something. If I define my dot to mean something silly, like 'I like cheese', that's totally irrelevant if it completely fails to convey that to anyone else. My dot is saying 'I like cheese' and you see my dot and think 'Hoyland wants us to know he read the post' (I think people read more into dots than this, but lest I get accused of putting words in someone's mouth, the generic you is going to understand dots very narrowly). I know you won't understand it to mean that I like cheese, so I know that's not the meaning I'm conveying, even if that's the meaning my dot has.
posted by hoyland at 10:23 AM on April 10, 2013


At a minimum, though, it does mean "I am here and visibly taking notice, in a shared ritual," for everyone who uses it.

But this is so trite as to be itself meaningless. It's true of every single post here, regardless of what characters they are composed of. But if they're composed of the characters "I love you, fantastic post", there will be an additional meaning, the intention of which an observer will be able to approximate.

Communication is a lot more sophisticated than that.
It's not necessary to be patronising. No-one is arguing that the dots have an unambiguous meaning, clear to all. As zarq says, I think plenty of people use them precisely because they have ambiguity.

But they're not so ambiguous as to carry no meaning beyond presence.

If someone started a thread here saying they had a life-threatening disease and were scared and I posted a "." I think it would be justified if someone challenged me as to explain just what I meant by that. Because it would jibe with a commonly accepted meaning and usage.

However, I'm no longer at all sure what you're fighting against, Miko. When you say And I do think dots are essentially the functional equivalent of moments of silence,, then we seem to agree. Moments of silence have a meaning, an ambiguous one, but a discussable meaning nonetheless.

An individual can partake in a moment of silence for a host of reasons, but within a range of ambiguity. Taking part in a silence is not an utterably unknowable act that no-one can make assumptions about.
posted by bonaldi at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2013


Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-lagunga.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:26 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


How often has one half of couple snapped "i'm tired" only to have the other ask "when did you last eat?"

That's basically every night at my house.
posted by gauche at 10:27 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Respectfully, and politely as I can: what you understand is not the case; 'no meaning can be discerned' is in no way synonymous with 'it means nothing'; one has a meaning, but is hidden to interlocutors, and the other has no meaning at all.
"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know."

—United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld | February 2002.

posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


But what is the point of commenting if not to convey something?

One more time, with feeling: As we have said...it does convey something. It conveys "I am a member of this community and I am having a reaction to someone's death."

There may be more meaning that the person is experiencing, but they are choosing not to convey.

But this is so trite as to be itself meaningless.


Only if you consider your relationship with this community meaningless.

I think plenty of people use them precisely because they have ambiguity.

Yes, exactly. That is what I have been saying.

If someone started a thread here saying they had a life-threatening disease and were scared and I posted a "." I think it would be justified if someone challenged me as to explain just what I meant by that.

Sure, why not? Somebody might do that. Others might be struggling with the thought "yeah, ugh, that's terrible and scary, it's bad news, I have no words" inside, and use a "." to say that.

Taking part in a silence is not an utterably unknowable act that no-one can make assumptions about.

I am going to have to disagree with you there, because it's just not supportable. Anything can be going on in your head during silence. It is truly unknowable what is inside someone else's head, unless they provide you some clues. I have experienced it myself and have heard others give their account of doing this, as well, as I'm sure you have: Having a sexual fantasy during church. Thinking about your vacation during the time you're waiting for a meeting to start. Obsessing on how you said that nasty thing to your grandma a few years ago, even as they're burying her. Thinking about how itchy your stockings are and how much you can't wait to get out of these heels, even as they lower her coffin down. Thinking about how you just showed up to support your uncle. Revenge thoughts. Bitter feelings about the person you're watching get married. And so on.

No one outside of you can make a valid assumption about what you are thinking when you are silent, or even why you are choosing to participate in the silence.
posted by Miko at 10:32 AM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


But what is the point of commenting if not to convey something?

It does convey something! It might convey "I like cheese"! That is not the same as conveying nothing!

(My use of exclamation points are an inexact attempt to convey a meaning that is really best conveyed by seeing me and hearing me.)

That you cannot discern the precise meaning does not mean there isn't one.

Do you all remember that fpp from a while back where it was a link to something that made everyone in the thread type in some kind of glyph font? (I am explaining this badly, but I bet one of you knows what I mean; I think it started with a Z.) I couldn't get that linked page to load. People typing in glyph-things were all over the site for a few days, in threads that were not the original fpp. Because I couldn't get the page to load, I had no way of knowing what people were typing, but I knew they were conveying some meaning - it was just opaque to me.
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on April 10, 2013


Oh, are you grilling?! I'll take a kitten.

I'm sure 'kittens for breakfast' won't mind. He's had his for breakfast (obviously).
posted by ericb at 10:35 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


hoyland: "But what is the point of commenting if not to convey something?"

I've commented in threads solely to add them to my Recent Activity, so I can follow along. I do try to say something that adds to the thread, but don't always. If you see me say something like, "Huh", "Interesting", "Fascinating" or "Thanks for posting this" with no further content, then that's the most likely reason. I just made a joke in the Firefly thread because I had nothing to add to the discussion, but wanted to read the thread in recent activity.

I've added periods to obit threads in the past for similar reasons. Or to say "I too, am in this thread." Or to simply show a brief measure of respect or acknowledgement that someone has passed.
posted by zarq at 10:36 AM on April 10, 2013


Doesn't it? I feel like I certainly have a sense of a lot of the more prolific commentators. Metafilter feels less like your own background barbecue and more like a company picnic, but it's still people you (mostly) know a bit about.

Ehh, everyone kind of picks the version of the site they want. I bet there are folks who only hang out in, for example, music/art/cat pics threads (hi!) who are pretty 'prolific' in that subset of posts. Or people who experience the place mainly through Ask. Or people who dig into the inside baseball stuff on MeTa. I feel like I notice a great comment from someone at least once a week and look at their profile page only to find that they've been here for years.
posted by mintcake! at 10:37 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's like some of you have never taken a literary criticism course in your life. Or a symbolic logic curse. Or a philosophy course.

Hint: Miko has.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:43 AM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am going to have to disagree with you there, because it's just not supportable. Anything can be going on in your head during silence.

Ah, wait, I think we are talking past one another. I am not concerned with the certainty of what's going on in the mind of every individual participant of a silence. You can be thinking about beetles and boxes for all I care.

What is discernible is what the community means by holding the silence (within a given window of ambiguity). One community uses it to scold their leader, another community uses it to honour their dead, another to share a religious experience. You can much more readily establish that level of meaning simply by examining usage.

Metafilter's usage of silence is really not massively ambiguous. Its crowds are extremely large on silences held for those you can expect to be beloved of Mefites, they are rather smaller on those you can expect to be disliked by them. In this, its silences fit very well to the model of a standard Western communal silence.

And so, anyone partaking in such a silence should be (and I am fairly sure is) aware of that larger meaning, even if they go into it with their own private intentions.

They can choose whether or not to reveal their own private intention in joining the silence, but it seems awkward to absolutely deny that they know they are adding their performance to part of a larger meaning-carrying whole.
posted by bonaldi at 10:45 AM on April 10, 2013


Every expression in formal logic has a unique meaning, or is rejected as "not well formed". Human language is not formal logic.

Statements in human language can be usefully modeled (to my not-a-linguist way of thinking) as a spectrum of meanings; a single expression can mean different thing in different place, times, and groups. So does that mean they are all meaningless? No. Like lots of human creations they seem to follow an 80/20 type rule: 20% of the meanings cover 80% of the times an expression is used, and the other 20% of the times are distributed over the other 80% of the possible meanings.

The numbers 80 and 20 aren't rigorously true. (I'd guess it's more like 90/10 for language). But the overall trend still holds good: a few cases covering the vast majority of incidents, and a whole bunch of cases that occur rarely. It's not a single meaning for a given expression, but it's not utter arbitrary chaos either. [Side note: If you had a good stats class, your prof should have driven home the point that even if something is "random", that's not the end of the game. There are distinctly different types of random, and you can still make meaningful statements about random things.]

I, as a young nerdling, spent a lot of time and energy being irritated at how badly human language fit into formal logic. Now I just enjoy the contrast.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:49 AM on April 10, 2013


This is a crazy ass "conversation."
posted by OmieWise at 10:49 AM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


big plans? How bout a Backyard BarB-Q, ritual dance, mournful vigil, celebration? Funerals can be ritual mournful, ritual celebratory, and many aspects in between or merging the two (and people attending who related to the deceased will comprehend them differentially).

hoyland, you seem to be wanting to transpose events as easily interchangeable in a way I would not agree with; people moving their bodies to a space, and sitting there is a unique context (someone sitting still and silent in the middle of a protest didn't just teleport there, and if it is accidental that they ended up there, then they can explain after), as would be moving one's body to a remembrance event (don't want to be silent, don't go, on can stand outside and protest, or be inside and cement feelings against the ritual, which you can take as a power of self-knowledge as you go forth in the world, and use at times when the raw emotion of fresh death has worn off, and people are ready to talk, to think about what it all meant), which is different from a demand for an oath at a legally demanded/forced event like attending school... which again is different from the 100% voluntary participation on a text based medium.

But what is the point of commenting if not to convey something?
I honestly don't understand what you and bonaldi are "after". yet I wouldn't tell you that you are communicating nothing. I mean, it is frustrating not know what you want out of this discussion, but you are using full words, and I understand the messages of your comments, but their point is not clear, suggesting to me that use of words is no guarantee of communicative discourse. We know it is about cheese now though... and if "cheese" were a thing, then we would have more context.
Moments of silence have a meaning, an ambiguous one, but a discussable meaning nonetheless.
I think there is some mixup on this; I don't think that the dots signify the "same" as a western standard MoS. Moments of Silence, and moments of silence are not the same. A person (or hundreds of separate people, as in H.S. Thompson thread) expressing a moment of silence is not the same as a figure at a podium hammering a gavel and announcing: The Sixty SECONDS of silence stahts… Neoaw!

Context of silence, or communication of ritual is key.

...moments of silence are totally ambiguous and convey no meaning, as some people in this thread would have you believe…

Those two are not the same, they are almost the opposite of each other. I don't think people are making that case. I said what I believe they are. So did others. Multi-factoral meanings does not mean meaningless, nor empty meaning.

Are you talking about ALL threads, folks seeming to be really passionately anti-dot? Or just this "Very Special Thread"? Because that thread will be over soon enough, I really don't care about it in particular, as I said before above, the death of an elderly person who was irrelevant aside from "figure" status, or as memory for the past 20 years, is little to get comfort from when her terrifically destructive, anti-social policies are still running the country, and alive and well in people who can keep her policies alive with their own actions and words, and it is still a propaganda war between that ideology and people who see "society" as a real thing, and her ideas are huge in the US as well, regardless of her status as relates to life, but this community will need to grieve, and need to process things that are far more ambiguous again.

The dot is great, as Zarq said, we have people of all sorts of backgrounds here; imagine how boring and terrible posts surrounding death could get if a post about the life a person were about the spirituality, or beliefs of some random person. It is a nice way of shucking off our own backgrounds and just taking a far less loaded signifier of "consideration" (do other people not reflect quietly on what mass murderers, Hitler, Stalin, Western leaders holding up unequal rights, or figures of the colonial powers "meant" both as individuals, as comments on humanity, as the impetus to change the current world, and as the force driving people to stand up and oppose them?). Do other people not feel on learning of death many thoughts, from direct and specific "missing", to indefinable "loss", to "consideration of mortality"... to "what have I done", to "what have I not done"? And yet those aren't really things to "Share" every-time any-person dies. Are people arguing that a contemplatory dot is never appropriate communication of the vastness of the issues at play? The difficulty at finding the words to say, or worry at finding the wrong words? I doubt anyone has the "wisdom" to never doubt their words are encapsulating the enormity of an issue.

I (if I remember right) don't post them but rarely (and if I did I 'spoke' before, so, yeah, I think I read someone hates that; breaking norms on one hand, and forcing hegemony on the other), but when I see them, in a thread about someone who has contributed something to our world; it elicits a feeling in me that could not be had by those comments like "FUCK" or "Fuck Cancer", or whatever frankly they stick out at me, and are ambiguous; yet I see that some people have that specific reaction, so hey, that is how they reacted, and nothing I say will change that nor should I.

I am talking about "normal" times, not on demanding to see them on a post about someone who broke a town or country. And there is no demand that people post them in the big threads of them (say the one for H.S. Thompson), no one was standing at the door asking for dots, or passing around the dot collection plate, or beating up people who said more words... it just... happened; and it was moving to see. What happens here has almost no relation to Moments of Silence at military affairs. I can be moved by MUSIC, with no words, or the simplicity and abstraction+complexity and reality of some equations is beautiful, sign language can signify love, eye contact can speak volumes, holding a hand has a hundred meanings, and the meaning taken by the participants is different from "viewers" (some might "hate" PDA, some might lament lost love, some might miss their new love, some might...) so the idea that things need words to make sense, or that the 'sense' must be the same to all viewers seems to be disposable on that grounds alone.

The people calling for no disrespectful speech in the immediate aftermath of her death

ROSF, thank you for that, I greatly appreciate your posts and knowledge of the roots of our language; I may have been unclear, I was aware of the idea of blasphemy, and the value of it (but again, never stop sharing with us what you know, because it is awesome), I was asking, practically, when amongst a same-thinking/worshiping, ritual practicing demos, what will make oppositional change in our world of media and spin (where the words of the young man were ignored and "don't taze me bro" became a catchphrase that media figures all found hilarious and appropriate to cackle over; it was more a "practicalities" question than philosophical. I think there is maybe one (maybe a few more, but hey, you can't control crowds beliefs) person here saying that in the strong form (and frankly, so what, why does that seem to bother so many people; that is what they think, so whatever, but most people accept that criticisms of the deceased will happen). Otherwise it is in the media that you see this.

To say plainly (I said it before, but there are lots of comments); I do not believe people need to be respectful towards Margaret Thatcher now that she has died.

Everyone else is looking at other stuff. I am talking about the "hate" of dots (or people posturing to frame them as unacceptable/disruptive). Which, yeah, I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding; most people don't want to see dots of mourning for PM Thatcher; but I wouldn't want to see them unavailable in future for the billions of people who will die every-other day. This is a weird event, not the norm (and now that the thread has played out; is it clear that anyone can speak ill of the dead, anyone can make political statements, anyone can hate her [and yeah, looks like some people liked her, or respected her, go figure! Freedom YAY.]), what made me speak here is the turn the thread took to the thought that it seems some are trying to say that a moment of reflection could be reinforcing hegemonic powers when posted in a thread on the life and death of Roger Ebert? I think that community would be a circular firing squad (luckily that is not what this community is). Ironically, it is the "Mass news" that has made this "never speak ill of the dead" thing. As the thread showed; people can and will speak ill of the dead. It should be noted that the post linked at least half a dozen times was the one that was the opposite of a "ding dong" comment, talking about "speaking ill of the dead", it was a long, complex, and considered comment on speaking ill of the dead.
posted by infinite intimation at 10:50 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It does convey something! It might convey "I like cheese"! That is not the same as conveying nothing!

The point is that it won't convey 'I like cheese'. That's so far afield from anything anyone has understood a dot to be used for that it's pretty darn likely no one will come up with that meaning. I'll agree that it's conveying something, but that's my point. I'm not actually arguing dots are meaningless. (I think I've been clear on this.) I don't think they are. I'm saying dots convey meaning and, moreover, we have a good idea of what meaning we're conveying when we leave a comment consisting of a dot. I see this as counter to Miko's position that dots are ambiguous and that one leaves a dot without a good idea of how it will be understood.

(And before someone jumps on me, when I've talked about dots being meaningless, I've not said I think dots are meaningless. I've said things like 'If we accept dots are so ambiguous as to convey no meaning, they are pointless.')
posted by hoyland at 10:53 AM on April 10, 2013


"Oh, look. To me, 'means nothing' covers 'does not convey meaning'. Funnily enough 'you can't tell with any certainty what it means for an individual' usually falls under the heading of 'does not convey meaning'."

You're making an untenable leap there — you're arguing that something conveying ambiguous meaning is equivalent to not conveying meaning.

That's true. I'm not snarking. But, by your standards, this makes my position unassailable. I'm merely understanding 'means nothing' to mean something other than what you understand it to.

Look, the fact of the dot is that it's reasonable to assume the general context — moment of respectful silence — but it's impossible and wrong to conclude that it necessarily means a moment of respectful silence.

So, no, your position is not unassailable — you make an unsupported inference that because something is ambiguous it contains no meaning, and that's wrong. Retreating to a private definition of meaning is not an answer to that problem.
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


it is precisely meaningless to mean something yet convey nothing
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:54 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


^ That's the kind of aphorism that shows you can break the language of "meaning" pretty easily.
posted by klangklangston at 10:56 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


this conversation is so...I mean what even is this
posted by sweetkid at 10:57 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and if that's not Miko's position, I did suggest like two hours ago that we were talking past each other and was soundly rejected.
posted by hoyland at 10:57 AM on April 10, 2013


Hoyland I think once you accept that snurgles are not mistrangrohic the meaning if the dots will be clear.
posted by humanfont at 11:05 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's no way for an external observer to know you're intending to convey you are hungry when you say "I am very tired" either, but it does mean you did not convey what you were trying to convey.

Should one post a period for Schrödinger's cat?
posted by Drinky Die at 11:09 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know what would really piss me off? If every obituary thread was full of meaningless sentences saying some variant of "Rest in peace". Because then I'd have to read every single sentence seeing the same tedious thing.

I mean, it means a lot to the writer to be able to have a little pause to say some nice wishes to the deceased, but all they really wanted to do was mark the moment when they thought about what it means for someone to die. So given that there is a human need to make an outward acknowledgement of an emotional state and a need to see that other people are sharing that shared moment, it's probably best to do it in a way that's tangibly visible but without the large mental effort of having to read a whole sentence.

Banning "." would massively reduce the signal to noise ratio of obituary threads, for all that the detractors complain that they're just noise.
posted by ambrosen at 11:12 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Should one post a period for Schrödinger's cat?

Well, yes and no.
posted by gauche at 11:12 AM on April 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


That's what the blink tag was made for.
posted by klangklangston at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


For the record, it's possible to be a Dot Detractor™ without actually wanting them banned. I think it's a dumb convention and I choose not to participate, but I never said anybody else shouldn't. Heck, plenty of people think the same thing about neckties and I like 'em.
posted by cribcage at 11:19 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Neckties: .
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:24 AM on April 10, 2013


; surely.
posted by Drastic at 11:30 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Straighten that tie!

¡
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:35 AM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Should one post a period for Schrödinger's cat?

That depends on how you feel about the cat's political views.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:36 AM on April 10, 2013


That's what the blink tag was made for.

Now you see it, now you don't?
posted by Pudhoho at 11:39 AM on April 10, 2013


I think cats are libertarians.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2013


They are certainly not disciplined enough to be Marxists.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:43 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lipurrtarians or Democats.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:43 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Manxists, maybe.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:44 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Crypto-something-or-other.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:44 AM on April 10, 2013


counter to Miko's position that dots are ambiguous and that one leaves a dot without a good idea of how it will be understood.

I've never taken that position; I believe dots are ambiguous, but, if anything, I give people credit for understanding the dot in different and individual ways, even though a plurality of people may understand it in the same way or similar ways to one another, and some of that is predictable.

I did suggest like two hours ago that we were talking past each other and was soundly rejected.

What I rejected is the characterization of your continuing to not engage my central point as "talking past each other." You may have been talking past me, but I think I have undertsood and addressed your arguments.
posted by Miko at 11:45 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dot's all folks.
posted by Splunge at 12:08 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't leave a dot for you. I leave it for me. Sometimes, as in an obituary thread about some obscure actor or comedian or someone about whom I know next to nothing but there are some interesting anecdotes or insights I will leave a dot as a bookmark. Sometimes I leave a dot as mark of respect showing I thought either slightly or a lot about that person. If I think strongly enough about a person either way I will comment.
As to why people did not leave a dot in the Thatcher thread , I think you either admired her or hated her and there are few people who are in between, especially Brits whose lives she has very directly or indirectly affected and normally not for thye good. Her legacy is poison.
So if anyone tells me what I should be using my dot for, I will politely, in this case, tell them to shove it.
posted by adamvasco at 12:10 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like to think of dots as a soccer balls that abidingly stay in the air while everyone moves the goal posts around so a constant state of Calvinball is achieved. The ball constantly maintains equal states of scoring and non-scoring, thereby creating a paradoxical game. You win by playing and not playing, asserting meaning and meaninglessness at the same time. I'm writing a paper on it, anybody have a snappy name for this experiment so I can get the attention of the snazzy scientifical journals to notice it? I have appended "neuro-" in key places and included a picture of a CAT Scan. People like cats, so I think I got a good shot at this!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:25 PM on April 10, 2013


From now on I'll just leave a link to this.
posted by Miko at 12:26 PM on April 10, 2013


I don't think the mods have been unambiguous here. It may be time to make peace with the dots or install a script that removes them. Likewise, it may be time to make peace with the idea that drive-by snark has never been welcome on this site and is likely to be removed, regardless of whether it is in the obit thread of a public figure that we dislike so much we feel she has earned drive-by snark.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:27 PM on April 10, 2013


I used to know a girl who called herself Dot. She was exceptionally attractive but we resisted the urge to call her "Hot Dot."
posted by jonmc at 12:29 PM on April 10, 2013


I think cats are libertarians.

I thought they were aristocats.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:29 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Miko, I really appreciate your well-expressed views on this subject - in particular around the communal nature of presence and ritual.
posted by corb at 12:30 PM on April 10, 2013


The dots are more fun if you think of them as titles.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:32 PM on April 10, 2013


The dots are taking over ...
posted by octobersurprise at 12:34 PM on April 10, 2013


The dots are more fun if you think of them as titles.

What?! Oh, wait, never mind.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:35 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only time that I leave a dot/period/full stop is when I want to end a sentence. That way everyone knows what I mean.
posted by Len at 12:40 PM on April 10, 2013


What I rejected is the characterization of your continuing to not engage my central point as "talking past each other." You may have been talking past me, but I think I have undertsood and addressed your arguments.

I'm saying it has become increasingly apparent that our central points are perhaps not in such opposition to each other. But if you want to continue arguing, have fun, I guess.

I was under the impression I was using the idiom 'talking past each other' correctly. But perhaps I'm wrong. However, I'd prefer it if you came out and said that instead of passive aggressively linking to Wikipedia.
posted by hoyland at 12:40 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, yeah, blame me for not accepting what was an attempt at an olive branch.
posted by hoyland at 12:43 PM on April 10, 2013


The other day I saw a guy eating a sandwich and he said, aloud, 'I love this.' The sun was shining, there was perhaps the first warm breeze of the season blowing in a nice aroma from a bakery a block over. Next to him sat a young woman, a few flyaway hairs pinned to her forehead for a brief instant.

I beat him to to death with a shovel because who knows what he was referring to.


I really, really enjoyed reading this.

Also, I favorited it. And it seemed to me that telling people how dots are used is also like telling the community how they do - or should - use favorites. Favorites have variable usage potential and have an external and public expression (if one chooses to use them, which some don't). The meaning is ultimately determined by a private understanding, but the public expression is, "I give this instance significance in some way." You might be able to take a good shot at how you think a person is using it, but to claim that it is epistemically certain gets a pretty quick slap-down.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:46 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think once you accept that snurgles are not mistrangrohic the meaning if the dots will be clear.

Well, now you're just being cromulent.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:57 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


One Silence Like a Clap of Thunder
posted by jfuller at 1:26 PM on April 10, 2013


But, yeah, blame me for not accepting what was an attempt at an olive branch.

Hoyland, I'm truly sorry we've had such an unpleasant interaction and will be thrilled when it comes to a complete end. I'm not trying to be an asshole. To explain my apparent disinterest in accepting what you considered an "olive branch," the thing is that I don't accept the applicability of the idea that we were "talking past each other" in this instance. That phrase implies that two people are not listening, two people are misunderstanding, and both are so focused on their own understanding or topic that they are unable to take in what the other said.

But I've said a few times that I'm fairly sure I understand your point, and it is you who has taken a while to understand mine. You may have been talking past me, but I endeavored the whole time to talk to you, and to address your point directly, while you still kept missing distinctions I was working hard to make. I didn't like that by using this phrase, which implies that both parties are failing at communication, you were seeking to implicate me in a communications failure which I honestly don't think I contributed to.

In other words, I think "I misunderstood" would be a more appropriate olive branch than "we misunderstood each other." I didn't misunderstand you - I disagreed with you.
posted by Miko at 1:48 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or, "Don't worry about it. We're cool."

Sometimes it's easier to take the high ground.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:57 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Much of my workday has been taken up with reading/proofing things about TB, so of course I'm reading all about DOTs.
posted by rtha at 1:57 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


On that note, I will take cjorgensen's cue: don't worry about it, we're cool. I'm sorry it got so ugly.
posted by Miko at 1:59 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I'm sorry it got so ugly.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:05 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Seeking to implicate me in a communications failure
posted by bonaldi at 2:06 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


This has been a deeply, deeply fascinating turn of events and I would like to publicly thank everyone involved for engaging in it.

Completely serious.
posted by aramaic at 2:15 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, now you're just being cromulent.

Did anyone else notice that this usage of "cromulent" is really very different from its usual meaning?
posted by benito.strauss at 2:35 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


This has been a deeply, deeply fascinating turn of events and I would like to publicly thank everyone involved for engaging in it.

Yeah, I spent hours reading about fucking dots and thinking, "He's not getting it!" (a lot).

I've never been a big fan of the '.'

I never figured everyone meant the same thing by them.

I never figured everyone knew what I meant when I threw one out there.

I did figure there was a broad enough consensus that no one would think better or much worse of my for its use.

I have decided I no longer like them and probably won't use them as a signifier of anything other than the end of a sentence.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:36 PM on April 10, 2013


I use them at the end of a sentence, but only when I really liked the sentence and am sorry to see it end

.
posted by DingoMutt at 2:43 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


cjorgensen: " I have decided I no longer like them and probably won't use them as a signifier of anything other than the end of a sentence."

.
posted by zarq at 2:44 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, while we're at it: what is the true/real pronunciation for MeFi: may-fee [mefi] or mee-fie [mifaɪ]?

What about Mefite: mee-fight or may-fight?
posted by ericb at 2:44 PM on April 10, 2013


Oh, ericb. everyone proper knows it's Meh-feet. *runs and ducks for cover*
posted by Len at 2:50 PM on April 10, 2013


Meh-feets, don't fail me now!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:52 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


What about Mefite: mee-fight or may-fight?

Something-something-fight, for sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:58 PM on April 10, 2013

zarq: "A presence signifier has a meaning. It means, "I am here.""
A thousand times this. The dot conveys some meaning; this is basically what it conveys that you can be sure of. I posted this. / I was here. / I am here. / I participated in this. Peoples' presences are important.
posted by introp at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2013


Mee-fy don't bother me,
because I belong to somebody.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:04 PM on April 10, 2013


ericb: "So, while we're at it: what is the true/real pronunciation for MeFi: may-fee [mefi] or mee-fie [mifaɪ]? "

Somewhere, a mod is crying.
posted by zarq at 3:14 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Aardvark."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:25 PM on April 10, 2013


Judging by the 2012 site survey, the preferred pronunciation of MeFi was "me-fie", so I'm guessing the preferred pronunciation of MeFite would be "me-fight," which is somewhat appropriate.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:29 PM on April 10, 2013


"So, while we're at it: what is the true/real pronunciation for MeFi: may-fee [mefi] or mee-fie [mifaɪ]? "

Meh.





Fee.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:37 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If someone could write a quick 10,000-word summary of this post I would be grateful.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:40 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


A thousand times this. The dot conveys some meaning; this is basically what it conveys that you can be sure of. I posted this. / I was here. / I am here. / I participated in this. Peoples' presences are important.

So does "first post!"
posted by empath at 3:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm going to pop some tags
Only got five dollars for a new sock puppet
I-I'm a hunting, looking for a favorite
This is fucking awesome

Nah, see an obit post like, "What up, I got a put a dot!"
I'm so pumped about some shit from the front page

Rest writes itself...
posted by humanfont at 3:43 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reading the last 300 comments in this thread was the equivalent of sitting through a freshman seminar discussion of Mythologies. I mean that in a (sort of) good way.

In other words:

The fact that we cannot manage to achieve more than an unstable grasp of reality doubtless gives the measure of our present alienation: we constantly drift between the object and its demystification, powerless to render its wholeness. For if we penetrate the object, we liberate it but we destroy it; and if we acknowledge its full weight, we respect it, but we restore it to a state which is still mystified. It would seem that we are condemned for some time yet always to speak excessively about reality. This is probably because ideologism and its opposite are types of behaviour which are still magical, terrorized, blinded and fascinated by the split in the social world. And yet, this is what we must seek: a reconsiliation between reality and men, between description and explanation, between object and knowledge.
posted by murfed13 at 4:33 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


If someone could write a quick 10,000-word summary of this post I would be grateful.


Leaving a "." = Shaka, when the walls fell.
posted by misha at 5:24 PM on April 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


If someone could write a quick 10,000-word summary of this post I would be grateful.

=IF((COMMENT=".", INSERT("MEH"), ELSE ("."+1))*10000))

posted by lampshade at 5:31 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't you make fun of Mickey Mouse!
posted by cjorgensen at 5:53 PM on April 10, 2013


read all this and im never using punctuation again
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:09 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


=IF((COMMENT=".", INSERT("MEH"), ELSE ("."+1))*10000))

I'm confused "=" an assignment operator or a relational operator.
posted by humanfont at 6:58 PM on April 10, 2013


Leaving a "." = Shaka, when the walls fell.

Temba, his range of plausible semantic intent wide.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:21 PM on April 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm confused "=" an assignment operator or a relational operator.

The closest I can get is an Excel spreadsheet formula, with its three-part IF(condition, true-value, false-value) function, but the ELSE and the parentheses aren't quite right. It's driving me crazy.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:34 PM on April 10, 2013


I'm confused "=" an assignment operator or a relational operator.

its a seldom used and generally unknown process in the spririt of irrationally related operands

and as a point of order, when you inquire as to its validity you are supposed to frame the query with the phrase "please hope me understand...."

(sheesh, did you not watch your ABC Afterschool Specials?)
posted by lampshade at 8:09 PM on April 10, 2013


\0/
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:21 PM on April 10, 2013




My favorite after school special was the one where Joey cheated on a unit test and Jessica caught exception. Eventually they learn their lessons.
posted by humanfont at 9:04 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


dot dash dot dash dot dash
think fast, think fast, think fast

dot dash dot dash dot dash
don't crash, don't crash, don't crash
think fast, think fast, think fast

dot dash dot dash dot dash
don't crash, don't crash. don't crash...

DOT DASH!!!!!




. - . - .-


That is all.
posted by Skygazer at 11:02 PM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm starting to understand why we're seeing a slow exodus of our brightess and greatess. No matter what topping you put on it Thatcher was a disaster for the UK. Frankly, she was a bitch. If she was a man, she'd be a fuckhead. She lacked the ability to feel empathy for those less fortunate than herself.

This place is circling the drain with it insistence of fairness, or whatever. She was a stone cold monster, who didn't care if Children in Manchester or Liverpool, or any area in the north went hungry.

Because she had a fucking point to make. Because that's economics(tm)

A lot of us disagree.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:39 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


This place is circling the drain with it insistence of fairness, or whatever. She was a stone cold monster, who didn't care if Children in Manchester or Liverpool, or any area in the north went hungry.

Er, a lot of people are saying that in the thread itself. Not sure where your complaint is stemming from.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:49 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lot of frustration.

My apologies.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:55 AM on April 11, 2013


I had quite a few friends that emigrated to Australia from the North of England, along with friends from the Balkans for that matter.

Desperation is something at times, as a child, you can smell.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:00 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm starting to understand why we're seeing a slow exodus of our brightess and greatess.

When I read this sentence I was convinced the rest of your comment would be about MetaFilter.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:01 AM on April 11, 2013


When I read this sentence I was convinced the rest of your comment would be about MetaFilter.

...Wait, it wasn't about Metafilter?

Oh, damn, DavidMcGahan, I'm sorry - that's what I was basing my comment on. I totally misunderstood you, my apologies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on April 11, 2013


If she was a man, she'd be a fuckhead.

Lost me here. Plenty of women are fuckheads. This is not something men have a lock on.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:29 AM on April 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


she was a bitch. If she was a man, she'd be a fuckhead

Yeah, for those who were talking about how there's a sexist dimension to certain language of critique, this is an example.

I'm happy to see her referred to as a fuckhead.
posted by Miko at 10:59 AM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sooo, we should censor dots and ding dong witches, riiight?
posted by SteelDancin at 11:33 AM on April 11, 2013


6d 61 72 67 61 72 65 74 20 74 68 61 74 63 68 65 72 2c 20 77 68 61 74 20 61 20 66 75 63 6b 68 65 61 64


ok....thats enough.
posted by lampshade at 11:36 AM on April 11, 2013


Hello, I'm David McGahan's comment made me very, very thoughtful. Because, to me, it showed that the system's programming can sometimes invade even the best of us.

Nothing I'm about to write is intended to crap on Hello, I'm David McGahan, because I like and respect him as a Mefite. Which is why I'm writing this.

I mean, my impression of Hello, I'm David McGahan is of a generally thoughtful, conscious and careful commenter. And in his comments he noted that he was angry.

I don't think it's entirely coincidental that his language got away from him a bit.

My point being this: any time I think I'm immune to or above the influence of pervasive institutionalized patterns, I'm going to think about what happened here.

What I find myself thinking is, fuck, if it can happen to him, then I'm pretty sure it can happen to me too.
posted by scrump at 11:52 AM on April 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it's striking how our programming shows up in our choice of insult. I still have a hard time calling a woman an asshole. Why should that be?
posted by philip-random at 12:05 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still have a hard time calling a woman an asshole.

Or a prick, or a dickhead, or a total cock, or a wanker, or a knob...
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:29 PM on April 11, 2013


Maybe the solution is to skip gender-based insults altogether and get to the heart of the complaint.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:34 PM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


I still have a hard time calling a woman an asshole.

Or a prick, or a dickhead, or a total cock, or a wanker, or a knob...


But women don't have these things, so such makes sense. But they do have assholes. Anyway, that's just my issue.

One thing I am delighted to see is that men can now be bitches. Does this mean women can be bastards? I certainly know a few.
posted by philip-random at 1:57 PM on April 11, 2013


Sweary insults are weird because the signifier can be so separated from the signified-- who cares these days if someone is a bastard? But it's an insult I've used. I've also called women a sonuvabitch, which would probably take me all day to unpack.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:02 PM on April 11, 2013


Not really different from any other insult, like "jackass," which doesn't literally mean a male donkey, despite what some 6th graders would ask you to believe. Thing is, most gendered insults aren't really separated from gender prejudices.

I don't mean to call out a particular person here. It is pretty deeply ingrained to go right to the gendered-insult toolbox when somebody pisses you off. It's fair to notice it, even though most folks who have raised it earlier have decided not to open that up as a major conversation right here right now, which is a good idea.
posted by Miko at 2:11 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gay men can be bitches.

"Did ya' hear what she was wearing last night? Oh, lordy, lordy. Girlfriend, you need some styling."

Modern Gay Bitches.
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on April 11, 2013


I've also called women a sonuvabitch, which would probably take me all day to unpack.

Hey I called my son that once when he had really pushed me too far. That put the kabosh on anything useful I may have needed to impart. And the thing of it is, he was being a complete asshole and needed to be called on it. He still thinks it was funny.
posted by readery at 2:22 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm happy to see her referred to as a fuckhead.

Yes, sorry. I should have been a bit more careful in my choice of insults. I should know better given that I spend too many hours a week trying to get undergrads to understand the persuasiveness of gendered language. T'was supposed to be a clever but failed obviously.

E.g. Yesterday, a member of the state parliament of New South Wales referred to the Lord Mayor of Sydney as 'This Woman....', which was pretty wrong, and annoyed me no end.

Thatcher was a fuckhead though. And a shit heel.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 2:33 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thing is, most gendered insults aren't really separated from gender prejudices.

Oh yeah, definitely, which is why I stay pretty far afield from 'bitch' or 'cunt' [US version] or the like. Male-gendered insults don't worry me nearly as much, and I deploy them without prejudice, although it's possible this practice is ill-considered.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:49 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


In her defense the north of England is a bleak place under the best of circumstances.
posted by humanfont at 3:01 PM on April 11, 2013


"For those folks who didn't post a '.' on the Thatcher thread, why not?"

I tend to dot when I go in, know of the person, and feel that moment of pause I feel sometimes when I hear someone has died.

My response to Thatcher dying was, "Meh."

I am seriously considering dotting in there to get on the anti-dot blacklist, though.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:33 PM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Maybe the solution is to skip gender-based insults altogether and get to the heart of the complaint."

I actually decided a few years back to try to remove all slurs from my language while still maintaining a dedication to insulting people visciously when I felt like it. It's a whole lot harder than it sounds. I end up using a lot of puns, a lot of references to feces and mold, and while I can keep the xenonic and infuriating slurs from leaving my mouth, they echo in my head loudly. I don't think it can be overstated how central slurs are to our habits of conveying insult and disdain.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:05 PM on April 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


Maybe the solution is to skip gender-based insults altogether and get to the heart of the complaint.

I agree with this in spirit, however, if it's gonna mean we can't link to "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" in a Maggie Thatcher obit post, that's where I'd make an exception.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:09 PM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think a good case has been made that there's additional context there.
posted by Miko at 6:46 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's terrible the way the wizarchy oppresses witches.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2013


I always prefer "fuckface" to "fuckhead." "Fuckhead" just seems like a kid morphing "shithead," but "fuckface," that has alliteration.
posted by klangklangston at 9:48 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


but "fuckface," that has alliteration.

Absolutely. And alliteration almost always allows an asymmetrical adversary applicable advantages.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:57 PM on April 11, 2013


MetaFilter, and the words of Mr Cortex, get a shout-out in this related article on medium dot com.
posted by Wordshore at 11:59 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


He prefers King of the West, Lord Commander Cortex.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:03 AM on April 12, 2013


ah I just realized why Pam's freshman insults on Archer crack me up. They are a tiny bit inventive, like 'fuckface.' Of course with Pam, it's shitsnacks (alliteration) and dicknuts (not alliteration I don't know if there's any poetic device there, but it cracks me up)
posted by angrycat at 5:13 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh. I'm not sure I'd call it a shoutout precisely, though its always kind of interesting (in a bit of an oh god what now sort of way) when Mefi business gets noticed externally.

And alliteration almost always allows an asymmetrical adversary applicable advantages.

I prefer consonance for its consonants.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:10 AM on April 12, 2013


It's all just dissonance for you discontents.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:40 AM on April 12, 2013


WORST DELETION EVER!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:59 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except "fuckface" is also a gendered insult. It's a face, that you fuck. Who fucks it? Men. Who is fucked? Women and homosexual men. Why is it an insult? Because to have a face that is fucked, to be a woman or a homosexual man, is an insult.
posted by corb at 8:13 AM on April 12, 2013


(not that I believe it is an insult, but the kind of people that create these words do.)
posted by corb at 8:14 AM on April 12, 2013


Who fucks it? Men.

Is the thrust of the penis the only definition, then, of "fuck"? And therefore is the act of fucking something that only men do? Men "fuck", and women (or *passive* homosexual partners) "get fucked"?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:18 AM on April 12, 2013


It's a face, that you fuck.

Is it? I always thought 'fuckface' was a non sequitur along the lines of 'jerkface,' just a mean word applied to a person's face, making it comical-sounding.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:25 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do believe that, yes, as corb asserts, when people use the term as an insult, they are, indeed, referring to the act of being penetrated, by a man, usually with some violence. Fuckface is misogynistic or homophobic, and probably both.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:25 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm, shakespeherian makes a good point--I refer to my neighbor as "stinkface," and it doesn't refer to any particular smell or facial expression.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2013


Except "fuckface" is also a gendered insult. It's a face, that you fuck. Who fucks it? Men.

Um...without getting too much into detail, I would disagree that men are the only gender capable of fucking a face.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:31 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: You, and others, are right, and I did not mean to imply that they were. What I'm saying, though, is that the people who use and create those insults are the type of people who do not believe that other genders can fuck a face.

Sex-positive people generally don't use sex-related insults - or try not to.
posted by corb at 8:37 AM on April 12, 2013


Actually, whether or not it is a gendered insult seems to be up for some debate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on April 12, 2013


I honestly never even thought of it as a sex-related insult, any more than saying 'It's hot as fuck in here' is sex-related.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:43 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying, though, is that the people who use and create those insults are the type of people who do not believe that other genders can fuck a face.

I have used fuckface as a swear word and I certainly believe that many genders can fuck a face. Ditto fuckhead. And fucking asshole. And so on.
posted by rtha at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]



Except "fuckface" is also a gendered insult. It's a face, that you fuck. Who fucks it? Men. Who is fucked? Women and homosexual men. Why is it an insult? Because to have a face that is fucked, to be a woman or a homosexual man, is an insult.


No, I don't see that at all.
posted by sweetkid at 8:54 AM on April 12, 2013


The term that comes to mind right now is "Oh, for fuck's sake" ...
posted by DingoMutt at 8:57 AM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fuckface is misogynistic or homophobic, and probably both.

This is too wide of a net.

Depends on the recipient, the context, the intent, the perceived intent, etc. Pretty much what everyone has been saying about the dot.

I'm not a fan of gendered or racial slurs and insults, but one thing that often gets looked over is that profanity in general is meant to dip into these areas of language to add power to the statements. I'm inured to some forms of swearing. I swear a lot. Personally and professionally. It's a character flaw if you like, but I throw shit and fuck out there like punctuation. I generally mean about as much with it.

If I used the term fuckface it would be because I was flipping shit to a friend or I was so pissed off at someone that I didn't really give a shit whether they were going to unpack the statement to decide if I was being misogynistic or homophobic. To me to classify something as one of these things I would have to be disinclined to use it for a specific gender. Where I would classify bitch as such a term, since I can't imagine many people calling most males this. Fackface on the other hand I doesn't seem confined to any one group. I also think it's being taken literally when most people who use the term aren't meaning it that way.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:22 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except "fuckface" is also a gendered insult. It's a face, that you fuck.

Is "duckface" a face that you duck, then? Is "moonface" a face that you moon? Is "pieface" a face that you pie?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:35 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


octobersurprise: Is "duckface" a face that you duck, then?

Well, yeah. And "duckwalk" is a walk that you duck. Chuck Berry's been doing it for years.
posted by Len at 9:43 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Um, no. I am a feminist lesbian badass extraordinaire, and I do not find fuckface gendered or misogynistic at all. A fuckface is a face that is full of fuckery, where fuckery is "ridiculous, idiotic, incompetent, the-hell-is-wrong-with-you-ness".

I am willing to entertain that other people may have other readings, but I would strongly disagree that the dominant or agreed-upon connotation of that word is one of misogyny.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:54 AM on April 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


the people who use and create those insults are the type of people who do not believe that other genders can fuck a face.

citation needed. you can look at the most misogynistic, mainstream, bang bus style porn and you'll find women fucking faces of their male partners.

i'm with others who have always understood fuckface to be in the same league as jerkface.
posted by nadawi at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2013


Whoever would have thought that the art of insult was so fraught with risk. Heavens to murgatroyd, one wouldn't wish to upset anyone!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think it's more complicated, a la what cjorgensen is saying. First, there's a good case that the phrase rarely has a literal meaning of any kind. Using "-face" as an insult suffix has a long history: dogface, buttface, jerkface, etc. Similarly, using "fuck" to mean everything and anything up to and including "have sexual intercourse with" has that background as well. Combining the two was overdetermined, linguistically. I'm not sure how common a reading signifying "fellatio" it really has.
posted by Miko at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2013


good god what are ya'll doing in here
posted by nathancaswell at 11:03 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


we're fucking dots on Margaret Thatcher's grave. I think.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:07 AM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


They're overfucking a plate of beans.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:07 AM on April 12, 2013


This thread's got everything -- from debating the meaning of dots to quibbling about the definition of fuckface! Gotta love it!
posted by ericb at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't know what the rest of y'all are doing, but I'm here to put the "dick" in "pedantdick."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:10 AM on April 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


To me, a Fuckface has a two meanings.

One being the insult (equally applicable to both to makes and females and denoting a phony face full of smug fuckwit fuckery), and the other meaning has positive connotation, and spoken with affection for one's fellow fanatical fans, of the unstoppable Manchester band fronted by Mark E. Smith, in all it's many ongoing incarnations: The Fall. And the term is pulled out of lyrics for the song, The Classical from their seminal early 80s masterpiece Hex Enduction Hour.

Have any Mefite Fuckfaces, especially over in the UK, seen heard anything of Mark E. Smith's take?? All we have (so far) is this excerpt (via a Twitter parody).

(Although I believe MES did actually say something very similar about Thatcher under an entirely different context of course, back in the 80s or 90s, or so...)

posted by Skygazer at 11:27 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, so to summarize all that we‘ve learned from this thread so far;

1. Even though she was evil, we should show some respect to Margaret Thatcher.

2. No, we shouldn‘t, she was evil. Fuck her.

3. Dots mean many things to many people.

4. The word fuckface is an insult.

Did I miss anything?
posted by Jughead at 11:29 AM on April 12, 2013


5. In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrast.
posted by sweetkid at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ya beat me to it, sweetkid.

I'm still trying to figure out where the PROFIT!!! comes in.
posted by Miko at 11:32 AM on April 12, 2013


I'm just here for the free magical unicorn juice.
posted by zarq at 11:33 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


6. Bats = Bugs.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:33 AM on April 12, 2013


For what shall it PROFIT!!! a man, if he shall insult the whole world, and lose his own underpants?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:38 AM on April 12, 2013


Look, who's giving the report? You chowderheads... or me?!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:39 AM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


well i guess i know what kim is going to work on next
posted by iamabot at 11:42 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


7. Mark E. Smith
posted by Skygazer at 11:44 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


you don't win friends with chowder

oh wait yes you do
posted by sweetkid at 11:44 AM on April 12, 2013


7. Mark E. Smith

8. Substitute and ear for an extra useless eye.
posted by Len at 11:45 AM on April 12, 2013




You chowderheads... or me?!

Which is superior? New England Clam Chowder? Or, Manhattan Clam Chowder? Discuss.
posted by ericb at 12:12 PM on April 12, 2013


9. After inventing ringworm, Rutherford B. Hayes died. His last words were, "I have only one life to live, fuckface, let me live it as a blonde!"
posted by octobersurprise at 12:13 PM on April 12, 2013


Both soups are perfectly fine soups. It's just that "Manhattan style" is not chowder.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:14 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


And ... speaking about Boston Creme Pie. Is it a pie, or a cake?
posted by ericb at 12:15 PM on April 12, 2013


rtha: "I have used fuckface as a swear word and I certainly believe that many genders can fuck a face."

"My name's rtha, and I approve this message."

Paid for by Citizens For Equal Fucking in partnership with RTHA 2016
posted by scrump at 12:16 PM on April 12, 2013


EmpressCallipygos: Both soups are perfectly fine soups. It's just that "Manhattan style" is not chowder.

Aaaaand ... with that, Metatalk finally descends into recipe fights, as is right and proper.
posted by Len at 12:16 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


nathancaswell: "good god what are ya'll doing in here"

Overanalyzing a plate of beans fucks.
posted by scrump at 12:17 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ericb: "Which is superior? New England Clam Chowder? Or, Manhattan Clam Chowder? Discuss."

BEER CHEESE SOUP

some of us are allergic to clams
posted by zarq at 12:18 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ericb: "Which is superior? New England Clam Chowder? Or, Manhattan Clam Chowder? Discuss."

Why are you saying things like this it's like I don't even know you any more
posted by scrump at 12:19 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Both soups are perfectly fine soups. It's just that "Manhattan style" is not chowder.

You forgot the /mic drop.
posted by sweetkid at 12:19 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Price of Unicorn Juice Per Gallon Is Too Damn High These Days.

Thankfully Unicorn Farts are still quite affordable.
posted by homunculus at 12:20 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boston Creme Pie. Is it a pie, or a cake?

Manwich: a man-sized sandwich or a sandwich-sized man?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:23 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Beer cheese soup is awesome and since I am not allergic to clams I will just add some to my portion. Win!

Also. One of my co-workers brought a loaf of banana rhubarb bread that she'd made to work this morning and it was fantastic. Another co-worker had never had rhubarb and we all stared at him when he said this, then gave him a big slice of the bread, which he like a lot.
posted by rtha at 12:23 PM on April 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


oh he like a lot?
posted by sweetkid at 12:26 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


You forgot the /mic drop.

I've got too much Bostonian breeding in my background to do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:35 PM on April 12, 2013


uh, ok, that's great.
posted by sweetkid at 12:39 PM on April 12, 2013


He did like a lot, yes!
posted by rtha at 12:49 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am sure I would also like a lot! Banana rhubarb mmmmm
posted by sweetkid at 12:50 PM on April 12, 2013


I fucking love you all.

/mic drop
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:52 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


uh, ok, that's great.

Oh, gosh, I just realized how that sounded - no, I didn't mean that like "that's beneath me" more like "I'm way too uptight and I'm afraid I'd look stupid".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:56 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ha, no worries, I was a bit surprised!
posted by sweetkid at 12:58 PM on April 12, 2013


I fucking love you all.

That sentence is extremely sensitive to changes in word order.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:02 PM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


That sounds delicious. I wonder if I could make it to the farmer's market in Union Square before they close at 6 to buy some rhubarb....
posted by zarq at 1:02 PM on April 12, 2013


Thankfully Unicorn Farts are still quite affordable.

And thank the heavens, so are the Girl Squirrel Underpants.


Which coincidentally is also the name of my next ebook mystery!
posted by Skygazer at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2013


Um...without getting too much into detail, I would disagree that men are the only gender capable of fucking a face.

I don't see, can someone explain?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 PM on April 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Let's not get into how jerkface is offensive. That discussion would involve a lot of fapping, a term that itself is only slightly less offensive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:17 PM on April 12, 2013


Go on, get into it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on April 12, 2013


Just the faps, ma'am, just the faps.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


benito.strauss: "That sentence is extremely sensitive to changes in word order."

Indeed. There are no less than 120 variations, and that's before you start adding punctuation. If you discard options that wouldn't make sense even with punctuation, there's still a rich mine:

I fucking love you all.
I fucking love all you.
I fucking you love all.
I fucking you all love.
I fucking all love you.
I fucking all you love.

I love fucking all you.
I love fucking you all.
I love you all fucking.
I love you fucking all.
I love all you fucking.
I love all fucking you.

I you all fucking love.
I you all love fucking.

I all fucking love you.
I all love you fucking.
I all love fucking you.
I all you love fucking.
I all you fucking love.

Fucking I love all you.
Fucking I love you all.
Fucking you all I love.

Love I all fucking you.
Love I fucking you all.
Love I fucking all you.

You I fucking all love.
You I all love fucking.

You all I love fucking.
You all I fucking love.

All you I fucking love.
All you I love fucking.
posted by scrump at 5:22 PM on April 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


My mom tricked me into eating rhubarb by making strawberry rhubarb pie and telling me that it was strawberry pie. She was quite surprised when I spit out my bite of pie and ran to the toilet to vomit.

Rhubarb tastes like poison. Why would anyone do such a horrible thing to what could have been a delightful pie? Why?
posted by double block and bleed at 5:52 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


"You all, I love fucking."
"Fucking you, all I love."


I think those two mark off the ends of the spectrum. The first is something Matthew McConaughey would drawl smugly in a Judd Apatow flick; the second would quietly creak out of Harry Dean Stanton in a Wim Wenders film.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:37 PM on April 12, 2013


Oh, and it the second one, "fucking" is an adjective, not a gerund. It's an important difference.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:40 PM on April 12, 2013


I'll eat your pie.
posted by Miko at 6:43 PM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not my pie. Rhubarb is not allowed in my home.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:26 PM on April 12, 2013


Rhubarb tastes like poison.

Rhubarb stalks. OK.

Rhubarb leaves. Not so much.
"Rhubarb leaves contain poisonous substances, including oxalic acid which is a nephrotoxic and corrosive acid that is present in many plants."
posted by ericb at 7:58 PM on April 12, 2013


Rhubarb tastes like poison.

Oh man. See, this is like Napoleon Dynamite. Very few people are "eh" about that movie. It's a love or hate thing.

It's also hard to be neutral about rhubarb.

I love it so much.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:20 PM on April 12, 2013


Very few people are "eh" about that movie.

::slowly raises hand::

I ... have no opinion? It was okay, I guess?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:29 PM on April 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rhubarb tastes like poison.

Poison me all day. Strawberries in jams and most pies are yuck. You take a perfectly good berry and make it all soft and gooey? Yuck! I do exempt the pies where the strawberry is still all firm and tasty, but just covered in glop. I like those.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:48 AM on April 13, 2013


Cherry pie is my favorite. I used to love strawberry pie but I haven't had it since the Attempted Rhubarb Poisoning Episode of 1978.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:37 AM on April 13, 2013


Cherry pie: One Pie to rule them all.
posted by Splunge at 10:39 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me, rhubarb has some aspects of hot sauce, not in that it's hot, but that it's a very nice accent but one doesn't make a meal out of it. S/R pie is very nice and has a delightful zing that is a big improvement over the mawkishness of a straight up strawberry pie. Full on rhubarb pie is too much for me, though I have been known on occasion to tolerate a nibble.

By way of contrast, I live with someone who will cut up fresh rhubarb, toss it in a sauce pan all by itself, cover and simmer for a couple hours, let it cool, then spoon it into her mouth.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:46 AM on April 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was in my 20s when I found out that my mom had been making pecan pie with walnuts all along. I actually prefer it with walnuts now because it's a comfort food that I grew up with.

She thought that I didn't know that she was sneaking wheat bran into my oatmeal. I like wheat bran but I'll be damned if I'll ever tell her.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:35 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have never ever had rhubarb. I am a rhubarb virgin.
posted by misha at 6:37 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have never ever had rhubarb. I am a rhubarb virgin.

When I was younger (and to some extent, now), I really, really liked sour things. We'd go to my grandmother's back yard and pick it where it was growing wild by the garage. If you ever ate it raw, it would make your entire face pucker up and make that place behind your earlobe hurt. So, we'd dip it in sugar and it would make it very edible. It was like candy.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:45 PM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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