Help me understand this. April 30, 2013 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Can someone explain for me why it seems like whenever there is good news (with political aspects) announced on the Blue, there always seems to be a compulsion to bring forth what The Other Side Says? I'm thinking of things like this and this, for recent examples, but it used to be quotes from Little Green Footballs or whoever was the MetaFilter bete noire of the day. (This is not a callout and I'm not asking anyone to stop--I just don't understand why people would intentionally seek out opinions they find repugnant.)

I know MetaFilter is a left-leaning site. I'm left-leaning too, and it's gratifying to see things I agree with being stated in a way much more eloquent than I would be able to, or being exposed to considerations that wouldn't even have occurred to me. I'm also happy that this is a home for people who don't subscribe to the prevailing opinion schemata, since I often learn something from civil arguments and disagreements. But when someone digs up a turd of an opinion just to say, "Hey, this is out there too," it straight-up puzzles me. Insights?
posted by psoas to Etiquette/Policy at 11:36 AM (268 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Wallowing in the shit is good for the skin. Keeps you hydrated.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:40 AM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Reality is constantly happening all around us, but not a single perspective on it is the same. Being aware of the 'other' perspective is a great way to help a person evaluate and understand their own way of seeing things. Through the contrasts you can figure out what makes your view unique to you, and whatever seems the same can be used to relate to those around you.

That's, like, the ideal reasoning behind opinion-turding. The other thing that can help you see better is throwing another log on the fire.
posted by carsonb at 11:42 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's just natural curiosity, and there's nothing really wrong with it per se. Lots of times when I hear good news and I'm surrounded by people that are echoing that, I'll often wonder "huh, what does the other side think?" and often that means either go check out the local newspaper's wacky comment section or watch The Daily Show tonight to see what Fox News quips they'll play.

I don't post them to MeFi threads often, but I can see the desire to share what other people think about a thing (same desire could be seen in people sharing those weird tumblr blogs of girls that think the Boston bomber didn't do it, etc).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Shapiro quote was spreading around a lot, it wasn't just dug up, it became part of the story. I'm not so happy to read random newspaper comments but I do like to hear the conservative perspective on things, even if it's dumb. It gives you a bigger picture of the topic.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:43 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because the compulsion to other is strong, even among those who ostensibly hate othering.
posted by Mooski at 11:44 AM on April 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Otherers are the worst.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2013 [34 favorites]


Never ask a question related to the collective mind of Mefi. Nothing good can come from asking. You're average Mefight has a sick mind, and this place, here, is the abyss NietszhcgeislavojZezik was talking about before you ruined it!!
posted by a shrill fucking shitstripe at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2013


I think it may in part just be a natural outcome of how people use threads as a sort of interactive discovery process; of the folks reading any given thread, some are starting and ending with the thread itself (the links in the post, the discussion that follows) while others are coming to the thread having already been following a story, or digging into the story because of the thread. And those latter folks are the ones who end up bringing in additional links, which is a really normal and pretty much value neutral part of how threads here develop.

So the narrower restatement from there is, why are "here's an outrageous/contraposed comment/opinion/essay" variants on that part of the mix? Why are those among the things people choose to bring into the thread?

Which, "why wouldn't they be" is one obvious response, but I think that's sort of what it comes down to: there are reasons one could argue that those things aren't great additions—they're more likely than anything else to start fights or to sour the mood or derail conversation about x to be instead about shitty thing y that somebody said regarding x—but then not everyone agrees with that argument.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:47 AM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know why people hate and fear The Others, it's a perfectly fine haunted house movie.
posted by The Whelk at 11:49 AM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just don't understand why people would intentionally seek out opinions they find repugnant

Not repugnant, per se, but I regularly read sites whose editorial decisions I think are bad (not wrong, big difference) in order to counteract my own filter bubble. Sometimes I even post them, if they operate on a new perspective or raise a new issue or answer a question in a different, not-stupid way.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:50 AM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know why people hate and fear The Others, it's a perfectly fine haunted house movie.

Nicole Kidman's vampire bat nose.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:55 AM on April 30, 2013


I think that because Metafilter is so radicalized towards liberalism, it is sometimes useful to point out examples of the most hateful extremism of the conservative movement. By holding up this extremism as an example of the "average" conservative, liberal activists can simultaneously dehumanize their opponents and validate their own cause. After all, if reasonable and intelligent conservatives were commonplace, it would make some liberals wonder if there might be some valid points to the other side's ideology, so it is in any petty demogogue's best interest to demonize the opposition as completely as possible.

Conservatives do this too, of course. Just watch Fox News for an example of the conservative analogue to Metafilter and you will see an equal amount of "straw man" mischaracterization of the liberal viewpoint going on there, as well as stories deliberately seeking things that rile up their conservative followers.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:56 AM on April 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't like to live in an echo chamber.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah wolfdreams01, that's a nice theory, but it's basically conspiracy thinking.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:59 AM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


I don't like to live in an echo chamber.

Well, sure, but I didn't mean that I can't stand to see conservative or contrary viewpoints, period; it's the spectacle of vitriol without much apparent content that seems off.
posted by psoas at 12:02 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


MetaFilter: I don't like to live in an echo chamber

echo chamber

echo chamber

echo chamber

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:02 PM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Metafilter is so radicalized towards liberalism...

Metafilter is on the whole a pretty mainstream, free-market neoliberal, if anything. More Bill Clinton than Bill Ayers. But then, you know that.
posted by muddgirl at 12:03 PM on April 30, 2013 [25 favorites]


Yeah wolfdreams01, that's a nice theory, but it's basically conspiracy thinking.

Not at all - it's normal human interaction. You can see examples of this behavior even in twelve year olds playing in the schoolyard - in order to assert leadership over a group, it helps to have an "other" that is disliked or excluded. It serves to emphasize the group's own uniqueness and unites them. If even children subconsciously understand this, it seems odd that you don't recognize it. Perhaps it's more difficult to see when it's coming from your own side, but that's why I gave you a conservative example to counterbalance it.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:03 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Deco chamber.
posted by The White Hat at 12:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I grew up in a place where people think and say shitty things like what you linked above, and for me, things like this are cathartic.

There are people I know, some of them family members, who respond to those bigoted things by saying "hear hear!" and generally praising the asshattery. And if I say, "um, what that guy just said is some right asshatted bigotry," I'll get shot down and laughed at while people snicker lolbama around me.

It's nice to have a place where I can say, "hey, look at this asshatted bigotry," and other people will say, "I know, isn't it just awful?"
posted by phunniemee at 12:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think that because Metafilter is so radicalized towards liberalism...

We call it reality.

Anyway, people do this because we've been conditioned to be at war with the other. Part of being at war is knowing what your enemy is doing. Combine that with the sensitivity to the 24/7 news cycle, where truth isn't the most important aspect, but rather who spins better and there you go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't like to live in an echo chamber.

Well sure and that's a good part of why I read Metafilter (since for me it's not one), but the examples linked in the thread aren't really there for viewpoint diversity.
posted by Jahaza at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


But when someone digs up a turd of an opinion just to say, "Hey, this is out there too," it straight-up puzzles me. Insights?

Every man is a king, so long as he has someone to look down on. But to be fair to ourselves, these are pretty shitty people whose turds we're linking to: The dregs of humanity, tap-dancing on the plank for our amusement.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


wolfdreams01: "I think that because Metafilter is so radicalized towards liberalism,"

wolfdreams01: "...in order to assert leadership over a group, it helps to have an "other" that is disliked or excluded."

Fascinating.
posted by zarq at 12:18 PM on April 30, 2013 [38 favorites]


So now liberalism is a subset of radicalization or a byproduct of it or whatever the relationship is that makes you want to put both words in the same sentence? I just thought it was a set of personal values.

Gee, lookee me, the radical....who da thunk it?
posted by lampshade at 12:18 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


We call it reality.

Yes, I have noticed that the homeopathy aisle at Whole Foods is devoid of liberal types.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:20 PM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know MetaFilter is a left-leaning site.

Tell this to Will Shetterly.

Seriously, MetaFilter is made up of a lot of people. Many that do indeed lean left. This does not mean the site is left-leaning. I would also posit that even on this site you probably self-select for threads that reinforce the view that MetaFilter has a particular bent.

I can probably list the "out" Conservatives, but that doesn't mean there aren't more. Saying MetaFilter is a liberal site is like saying it is an atheist site, or a feminist site, or...it's people.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:22 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have noticed that the homeopathy aisle at Whole Foods is devoid of liberal types

We were on sale. Don't worry - they'll restock us.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:23 PM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think people would like to think that this is mostly motivated by "let me broaden my perspective so I'm aware of what others are saying," but I also think that there is a large "look what this asshole said" component to it, and the more inflammatory the linked statement, the more likely it's motivated by the "look at this asshole" dynamic.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:25 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that because Metafilter is so radicalized towards liberalism

Oh bless your heart. MeFi politics played in many other parts of the world that are not the US make us look like a bunch of centrist pro-business free marketeer empathy failures. People who think MeFi is really liberal may not know what really liberal looks like in places that are not the US.

I think that a lot of our members do tend to be naturally on the "Well actually..." part of the spectrum and see a post on a topic as being some sort of an advocacy position on a topic. And so there is a tendency to nitpick and oftentimes nitpicking and doomsaying and other sorts of "You're not thinking this through" sorts of talk are natural ways for nerds to deal with topics. It's the same way we get totally out of place "Go vegan!" comments in BBQ threads and "I like bacon" comments in threads about vegan recipes. Just some odd tendency towards irreverency.

Also I think there are some rigididy of thought issues too where people have a hard time getting their heads around thought processes of people who think differently (sometimes substantially so) from the way they think. Because MeFites often tend towards the analytic side of things, this can lead to the occasional belief-interrogation or thought policing angle because folks have a hard time understanding why people believe things that are, to their mind, totally wrong and illogical.

But people, myself included, have a lot of blind spots around these things and it's nice to be in a place where you can hopefully see many sides to many issues so you can help understand your own beliefs and those of the people who you share your online and offline communities with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:27 PM on April 30, 2013 [55 favorites]


This whole "is Metafilter liberal?" thing is a complete derail that isn't helpful, frankly. It doesn't really matter what side you're on; this is a bad thing.

The thing about these kinds of comments – comments that drag up a really obnoxious and stupid arch-conservative tweet or something – is that, at best, they're only indulging everyone's craving for having something to be outraged about. Which does nothing to help this site or its users at all.

If some dude somewhere wants to say that Jason Collins isn't brave for being the first professional men's basketball player to come out of the closet, you know what? Don't give him a platform to say that shit. Don't link it around, don't point to it and say "check out this asshole!" and for heaven's sake don't stick his tweet up on Metafilter.
posted by koeselitz at 12:29 PM on April 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


For the record, I flagged that first linked comment as noise or derail or something. And then cortex was kind enough to pipe in a little later (although, not using his mod voice) to slightly derail that derail.
posted by jillithd at 12:31 PM on April 30, 2013


Oh, and btw, the word "radicalization" is sooooo last week.

"Red Line" is this week's meaningless shock word to repeat 300 times a day like a cable news host.
posted by lampshade at 12:32 PM on April 30, 2013


I am a rose colored glasses sort. Over the years, I have gotten a lot of pushback for my rainbows and unicorns fluttery remarks. I think a lot of people do that to me because they aren't in a safe place themselves and they feel like my remarks deny the very real danger they live with. I think there are very valid reasons to remind people that the world isn't all nicey-nice when commenting on public forums. When people start getting too comfortable that other Mefites (or whomever) are all theirs Fwends and no one here would ever hurt me, they start developing bad habits in terms of information security and it eventually seems to consistently lead to genuinely bad things happening if it goes on long enough (I am reasonably sure one person I knew had to change their name over it -- and I don't mean their forum handle).

So I suspect that part of the impetus is to say something like "Yo, this is a public forum and there are still assholes in the world who might be reading stuff here as we speak, so don't get too comfy and blurt out secrets you might regret." There might be a nicer way to remind people of that but, then again, nicer might be less effective. It might be for the best to do it not nicely so people really Get It.
posted by Michele in California at 12:38 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I generally do not participate in political threads here but I read them very intently throughout the day, and a lot of the issues affect (and upset) me personally. I also listen to conservative talk radio every day on the way to and from work, and as a result of this combination I usually get home on the verge of frothing, sputtering, futile outrage. Then I open the front door, and the most affectionate dog in the universe leaps into my arms and squeals like an angry piglet, offended that I would pay attention to anything other than him, out of his mind with excited nuzzling and tail wagging. I hope MeFi never stops helping to facilitate this part of my daily routine. However, I would gladly give it up due to a worldwide shortage of examples of horrifying bigotry and hatred, if such a shortage were to occur.
posted by jake at 12:38 PM on April 30, 2013


I don't like to live in an echo chamber

Dental Plan!

echo chamber

Dental Plan!

echo chamber

Dental Plan!

echo chamber

Dental Plan!
posted by gauche at 12:38 PM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Does the good news/bad news dichotomy really follow a liberal/conservative split?

don't answer, that was rhetorical
posted by shakespeherian at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


US news reporting has a bias. Doesn't matter what the bias is, there's always a bias.

I think it's good to see the other side of the bias, so I tend to look for contrary views to the news media I'm viewing at the time.

What I don't do is express my opinions or drag those contrary views into discussions where they might derail conversation.
posted by disclaimer at 12:44 PM on April 30, 2013


Quoting conservatives is now mischaracterizing them and making a straw man?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:52 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


This whole "is Metafilter liberal?" thing is a complete derail that isn't helpful, frankly.

That's right. Psoas, I don't think you're asking a complicated question. Look at the comments you linked ("the oh-so-brave right-wing media," "the bigots' line of attack"). This doesn't really have anything to do with right versus left; that's just scenery. Those comments are about moral superiority. It feels good to be better than other people, for some, and that's relatively easy to achieve—or at least, to feel like you have—on the Internet.

MetaFilter is indeed a liberal site, but if MetaFilter were a conservative site this same thing would happen ("the ivory-tower liberal media," "the moonbats' line of attack"). It's about cheap self-righteousness, not politics.
posted by cribcage at 12:53 PM on April 30, 2013 [20 favorites]


I need someone to heap my contumely on. What do you want me to do, harbour it?
posted by Segundus at 1:01 PM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like to see a few terrible remarks tossed into otherwise positive thread, because I don't have any racist/ homophobic/ bigoted people in my life, and I like to see what others think. It cracks my happy bubble of "everyone is pretty awesome" and hands me a bit of sour reality. Otherwise, I might have to seek that stuff out and then I'd really get down, after seeing a torrent of misery and anger, instead of a few drops.

But that's just me.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


But when someone digs up a turd of an opinion just to say, "Hey, this is out there too," it straight-up puzzles me. Insights?

I personally find it to be kind of grounding, in a lot of ways. When I see news about same-sex marriage being legalized somewhere, or a basketball player feeling comfortable coming out to the world at large, sure that makes me happy and I am sometimes even fooled - if only for a moment - into allowing my optimism to become satisfaction.

So it helps me, to be reminded that among victories and a world which is in some ways slowly inching towards betterment, there is still a lot to do; there are bigots out there who take it as a personal affront that somewhere out there, there is someone who might feel healthy adult love in a way that the bigot does not, and the bigot has an audience, and people in that audience might have children. It reminds me that the work isn't done.

In my case at least, this isn't a question of othering conservatives (the fact that I don't identify as liberal notwithstanding). I'm perfectly willing to believe that there exist any number of people who skew more to the right than I do, and who have entirely sane opinions on the subject of LGBT rights and all the other things I care about. I'm not concerned about them; they're not noteworthy. When some crazy God-botherer can't stop himself or herself from vomiting up their latest dipshit ideas about, I don't know, how The Gay Agenda is putting gay alligators into the sewers so they will pop up into the toilet and give your child such an incredibly accomplished reptilian rimjob that your kid will become gay on the spot, I don't feel the need to qualify my opinion by pointing out that there are a lot of perfectly reasonable Christians and/or right-leaning people (even though there are) before I deliver whatever thoughts I might have on that. As far as other people's take on it, I can't really say.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:06 PM on April 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's mostly snarkbait, honestly. It tends to be both dumb and disagreeable, so it's like the paper dummy for ripostes, and it's also stuff that a lot of members here see on their social networks (mine mostly from elderspam). So it's also an inoculation against getting all pissy toward Great Aunt Asbestosia or whomever when you see shit like that crop up on facebook.

("I think that because Metafilter is so radicalized towards liberalism"

Aww, bless your heart for tryin', son, but mostly this shows you don't know what liberalism or radicalized means.)
posted by klangklangston at 1:12 PM on April 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


The world is dark and full of terrors.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:14 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's only dark at night, silly!
posted by Mister_A at 1:16 PM on April 30, 2013


mine mostly from elderspam
alter kocker takes on a whole new meaning.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2013


It's always night somewhere.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:18 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


the second linked comment isn't holding up the worst of the anti-gay* response - it accurately portrays what can be seen in every comment section, among my mormon family, and in more conservative (but not batshit insane) areas yesterday (and after every public "i'm gay" sort of announcement). once the "it's a sin on par with murder and child rape" line stopped working so well outside of ever shrinking bubbles, a new rallying cry had to be picked. i've been watching the "why do they gotta parade it about?!" argument grow in intensity for the entire time i've been studying and fighting for gay rights (so, since the mid 90s, which makes me a baby in the movement compared to many others). the good news is that living honestly and out of the closet works really well which is probably why the anti-gay side is so quick to dismiss it.

i find it super useful to discuss how the news is playing in areas that i don't spend a lot of time in - what's being said on talk radio? on fox news? by conservative commentators on cnn? on right-leaning blogs, in the comments on left leaning blogs? it helps me understand my conservative friends and family more, it helps me see where the hearts and minds part of the gay rights movement might be failing (although, seriously, in the last 5-10 years we've come leaps and bounds on that point), it gives perspective. sure, sometimes it can just be flogging the idiots, but that's certainly not all of it.


*is that less inflammatory than bigot? more inflammatory?
posted by nadawi at 1:19 PM on April 30, 2013


BUT there's also always someone holding a bunch of cute kittens somewhere!
posted by Mister_A at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2013


Fear is the thirstquencher.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those comments are about moral superiority. It feels good to be better than other people, for some, and that's relatively easy to achieve—or at least, to feel like you have—on the Internet.

Sorry, I do feel in fact feel pretty dang comfy feeling morally superior to Ben Shapiro.
posted by kmz at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've sort of remarked on this practice before. I think it really sucks when commenters decide to pick out the worst of the comments at the source material or somewhere else and dump it into MetaFilter. Our comments have a higher bar and that's one of the biggest reasons why I love this place more than any other.

I get that we all like to have a foil to duel against, and if porting in some banal awfulness is actually used as a devil's advocate thing to sharpen ones own argument, then okay I guess. The random "hah gross look at what these people said about this topic that is awful" crap just seems like noise to me, and I think we'd be better off without it.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:26 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well there is definitely a bit of 'look at these assholes' when the most malicious and bone-headed Michelle Malkin-ish stuff is posted, but at the same time there is value in presenting the thoughts of others who are not inclined as I am with regard to gay rights. It's all about balance and tone, and thoughtfulness, and kittens.
posted by Mister_A at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


FAMOUS MONSTER: "The Gay Agenda is putting gay alligators into the sewers so they will pop up into the toilet and give your child such an incredibly accomplished reptilian rimjob that your kid will become gay on the spot"

Hilarious. :D
posted by zarq at 1:27 PM on April 30, 2013


I agree, people should just keep this shit to themselves. Why do they always have to flaunt it, sending me wedding invitations, and talking about their wives and kids. I mean, this is America, they can do what they want, but why do they always have to be so your face about it. I mean I already know you're straight bro, why do you have to tell me about some chick you hooked up with.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:30 PM on April 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


kmz: “Sorry, I do feel in fact feel pretty dang comfy feeling morally superior to Ben Shapiro.”

Well then, here's his web site. Also, you can follow him on Twitter, and here are his columns on Breitbart.com.

Those are just three of the many ways one can exercise one's keen interest in feeling superior to the obnoxious Ben Shapiro without polluting Metafilter by linking to him here.
posted by koeselitz at 1:44 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The winter of our discontent is coming.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:50 PM on April 30, 2013


I think it really sucks when commenters decide to pick out the worst of the comments at the source material or somewhere else and dump it into MetaFilter.

Agreed. When we see people doing that often we'll ask them to stop. I understand at some level why people like to do that sort of thing but it's generally pretty distasteful and toxic for discussion here. Linking works and people can link to stuff without repeating verbatim awfulness over here. People have differences of opinion about how much "But we need to understand exactly how terrible the opposition is!" and I'm actually not so sure that's true. Or, rather, I think the opposition is actually a lot more complex and nuanced than the attention-grabbers who make hateful comments in newspaper comment sections and button-pushing talk radio and I think we do ourselves a disservice when we act like responding to stupid angry YouTube comments is at all the same as responding to reasonable people who happen to have differing views from ours.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:51 PM on April 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think jessamyn raises a critical point regarding those who might say something along the lines of "but we need to say what the other side is saying so this place doesn't become an echo chamber." If what's brought into the discussion are just the links to the most ridiculous things that people on the other side (whatever that means) have to say about it, the echo chamber problem gets worse, not better.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:55 PM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


The thing is, with the examples given here, where it's all about LGBT people coming out and getting/fighting for the same rights as the rest of us, there really isn't all that much interesting about what the other side says, as it will be the usual mix of fear and bigotry, so all you can do is point and laugh.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:59 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


And you should feel free to do exactly that on Twitter, Ben Shapiro's website, or your very own blog.
posted by cribcage at 2:04 PM on April 30, 2013


jessamyn: Oh bless your heart.

Jess West keeping it real with the OBYHbomb!
posted by Aizkolari at 2:08 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Basically, we want to snark on the "losers." Heck, I spent some time reading through the comments of a conservative blog post on election night and snickered at the reactions as the night unfolded as the commenters beat their breasts and rended their clothing. It was also interesting to see the reactions of "the other side."

There's sort of a perverse pleasure in looking at a positive event and wondering, "who could possibly be upset about this?" and then finding someone who is actually upset about this.
posted by deanc at 2:09 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know that thing that's happening right now that you think is pretty cool? Well, I think that it's pretty cool too.

Here's some opposing opinions about it. Use them to prepare for locking horns with your racist uncle this weekend.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:17 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


cortex: "... "here's an outrageous/contraposed comment/opinion/essay" variants on that part of the mix? Why are those among the things people choose to bring into the thread?
Which, "why wouldn't they be" is one obvious response, ...
"

While I don't think MeFi does it particularly well, being pretty good at automatically writing off the views of anyone that doesn't agree with the prevailing opinion as simply wrong and not worthy of consideration, if you only look at views that agree with you, any discussion becomes somewhat masturbatory and kind of pointless. In order to truly understand any situation, it's important to consider opposing points of view. Just because they are different to yours, doesn't automatically make them any less wrong than your own views (or any less right).

MartinWisse: "The thing is, with the examples given here, where it's all about LGBT people coming out and getting/fighting for the same rights as the rest of us, there really isn't all that much interesting about what the other side says, as it will be the usual mix of fear and bigotry, so all you can do is point and laugh."

I don't think that pointing and laughing at opposing views is particularly useful, though (no matter how much fun it may be). Understanding the opposing viewpoint and how it came to be is, surely, an important step in shining a light on what is wrong about that view and working towards changing perceptions. Pointing and laughing at someone's opinion is the quickest and easiest way to entrench that opinion.
posted by dg at 2:48 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pointing and laughing at someone's opinion is the quickest and easiest way to entrench that opinion.

Do we have any psychological/sociological evidence that this is the case? If pointing and laughing didn't work as a means of enforcing conformity to a "prevailing" view, then it wouldn't be such a common reaction.

But in any case, it serves in these MeFi threads as a form of benign entertainment. There's an element of schadenfreude involved when posting them.
posted by deanc at 2:52 PM on April 30, 2013


It's a kind of group bonding. You identify an outsider, and everyone joins together in sneering at him and collectively hating him, and then you feel closer and more united.

This exercise was given the name "Two Minutes Hate" by George Orwell, but as a practice it predates him. (By a long, long way; it goes back to the earliest recorded history.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:53 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


dg: While I don't think MeFi does it particularly well, being pretty good at automatically writing off the views of anyone that doesn't agree with the prevailing opinion as simply wrong and not worthy of consideration, if you only look at views that agree with you, any discussion becomes somewhat masturbatory and kind of pointless. In order to truly understand any situation, it's important to consider opposing points of view. Just because they are different to yours, doesn't automatically make them any less wrong than your own views (or any less right).

There are certain times when the framework of "this is an issue and there are multiple valid points of view" is workable. Monetary and fiscal policy. How to structure a representative democracy. When and how much to intervene in Syria. How much gun control the United States ought to have. The existence and lives and rights of LGBT people isn't one of those times, because it's not an "issue" with two sides. The fact that some people believe some really unfortunate things about LGBT people and their existence and lives and rights isn't enough to turn reality into a question on which there are multiple worthwhile takes, just like the fact that some people believe some really bizarre things about how old the earth is doesn't mean that the rest of us need to think critically about young earth creationism.


Also, it's not like people had to go searching for "the worst" of conservative thought to bring back on a platter - anyone watching ESPN, a channel exclusively about sports, was exposed to this absolute drivel, an internally inconsistent rant about who is an who isn't a Christian according to Chris Broussard.
posted by Corinth at 3:25 PM on April 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think if politics are involved in this phenomenon, they are incidental. Human beings are fascinating creatures. Take even the most harmless and uncontroversial subjects and, if you look hard enough - or hell, Google for like 10 seconds - you can find someone who has a truly fringe outlier opinion on that subject.

This is sometimes entertaining, or funny, or outrageous, or confusing, or just straight-up mind-blowing. Either way, it is never dull, and can breathe some life into a thread where folks are otherwise sitting around nodding to each other at the Obviousness of the Thing We Believe.

Sometimes, these outlier takes on a subject are political in nature. But not always.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:32 PM on April 30, 2013


I think a lot of people--conservative and liberal alike--really enjoy getting mad about things the other side is doing and finding new ways to be outraged and feel better for being the better/more moral/what have you side. I'm sure a lot of us have those friends on Facebook constantly sharing "Do you believe THEY did THIS?!" articles/posts/whatever and living in a constant state of high dudgeon regarding the other side of whatever the particular topic is.

There's a scene in Howard Stern's movie Private Parts where it's revealed that people who hate him actually listen to him for longer than people who love him because they want to see what he'll say next (and presumably be outraged by it). I assume it's the same general principle at work.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:39 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Echo chambers are fun for a minute or two but then they get predictable and dull.

Know thine enemy.
posted by Decani at 3:40 PM on April 30, 2013


If what's brought into the discussion are just the links to the most ridiculous things that people on the other side (whatever that means) have to say about it, the echo chamber problem gets worse, not better.

I don't know that I agree with that. There is a certain maturity you can expect in the audience -- specifically that they know that what they're seeing is from the far edge. Too many of us pretend that somehow we are the only ones who are sophisticated enough to know that.

But gross exaggerations are just that -- exaggerations. They represent the extremes of some very real views held by many less hysterical people. The average conservative may feel that changing the definition of marriage is a bit dodgy, but they likely don't care enough to express their views. The only way I'll find out is through the histrionics of some would be demagogue.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:41 PM on April 30, 2013


I am the Dudgeon Master
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:44 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, actually, it's know thy enemy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:49 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's about cheap self-righteousness.

I'll have you know I only consume organic locally sourced self-righteousness.
posted by arcticseal at 3:52 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I only drink small-batch, artisanal Haterade. But I drink deeply.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't even know what Ben Shapiro's been thinking lately and I still feel superior to him.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:26 PM on April 30, 2013


Personally speaking I have a visceral fear of one day finding out that I was wrong about something simply because I hadn't considered all the angles. So I always look at all the angles. Even when they suck.
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:42 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think that because Metafilter is so radicalized towards liberalism

I think others have done a fine enough job pointing out the problems with this, so I'll just point out that you're doing a wonderful illustration of how far the Overton Window's been pulled. The fact that Eisenhower's labor policies, Nixon's environmental policies, Reagan's tax policies, Bush's foreign policies, and the Heritage Foundation's health care policies are all currently lumped under "facist socialism" makes any accusations of Mefites' radical liberalism rather meaningless.

it is sometimes useful to point out examples of the most hateful extremism of the conservative movement. By holding up this extremism as an example of the "average" conservative, liberal activists can simultaneously dehumanize their opponents and validate their own cause.

The thing is, this really isn't "the most hateful extremism of the conservative movement," at least not in terms of who holds power. Shapiro's views on GLBT people can be a good example of the average conservative,, even moreso when applied to elected officials outside of enclaves like Rhode Island. So when I posted that, it wasn't so much "look at this asshole" as it was, "look at what we have to deal with." We're talking a year where over half of the GOP refused to vote for the VAWA expanding domestic violence coverage just because gays might have a chance to be covered by it. They were successful in holding up the legislation for two years just on that alone, so it's a pretty good guess as to where they would stand on significant expansions of GLBT civil rights. Even Rob Portman couldn't get more than a couple people on the right side of the chamber to agree with him. That doesn't mean that anyone is dehumanizing them, it means that there's a problem that really needs to be pointed out to those within the conservative sphere that are afraid that they're being pulled off a cliff by people they presumably don't agree with.

After all, if reasonable and intelligent conservatives were commonplace, it would make some liberals wonder if there might be some valid points to the other side's ideology, so it is in any petty demogogue's best interest to demonize the opposition as completely as possible.

It would be nice if reasonable and intelligent conservatives were given enough of a voice to be commonplace, but they're not. Do liberals and/or Mefites believe that every conservative is the Phelps family? No, but we do believe and worry that those that aren't are barely speaking up. Perhaps I'm being optimistic, but I have to feel like, at some point, conservatives will stop letting people that say shitty things all the time speak for them in public and vote for them in Congress. I can see cracks letting the David Frums and Rob Portmans through ever so slightly, but the Ben Shapiros and Louie Gohmerts are still the people calling the shots. So when you call them out, maybe reasonable and intelligent conservatives will start telling them to shut the fuck up. If not, or if it's just easier to say LOLIBERALS and leave it at that, well then maybe those conservatives aren't being as intelligent or reasonable as they imagine themselves to be.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:45 PM on April 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


Well there is definitely a bit of 'look at these assholes' when the most malicious and bone-headed Michelle Malkin-ish stuff is posted, but at the same time there is value in presenting the thoughts of others who are not inclined as I am with regard to gay rights.

I agree, and I think the second half of this is related to the rhetoric we're taught from kindergarten about "first we look at this point of view, and then we look at that point of view"/"on the one hand this; on the other hand that." We feel like we've been lazy until we've put ourselves through that process on each and every topic of discussion. I used to hear conservatives mocking that as a typical fallacy of liberal humanism-- but also mocking liberals when they stopped doing it. I don't know know if they're still doing it; I try not to listen to them any more.
posted by BibiRose at 5:09 PM on April 30, 2013


[Comment removed. wolfdreams01, your "and THIS is why I think trans people are hateful bigots!" comments don't get removed because mefi's intended to be a "safe space"—it's not, in the sense that that term of art is actually used, for trans issues or basically anything else—but because it's a weird fucking hobbyhorse that you keep insisting on bringing up and that's bizarre and not okay. Cut it out, period.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:15 PM on April 30, 2013 [24 favorites]


Oh bless your heart. MeFi politics played in many other parts of the world that are not the US make us look like a bunch of centrist pro-business free marketeer empathy failures. People who think MeFi is really liberal may not know what really liberal looks like in places that are not the US.

While I know it is a common chestnut among North American liberal that the US is so conservative, man, I think that the grass is not in fact greener. What does "really liberal" look like in China, India, or Indonesia? (the three most populous non-US countries, which comprise 40% of the world's population) To get to over 50% of the world population, let's throw in Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Russia. To me, these places are not my idea of "really liberal", but I confess that I am not as well-traveled as most. Maybe Pakistan just legalized gay marriage?

By "many other parts of the world", did you perhaps mean "western Europe"? Even in that instance, you may wish to take a look at general trends in immigration law and abortion law, to pick two hot-button topics of US political discourse.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:27 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Re-refreshing the page was pretty interesting for a few minutes there.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:31 PM on April 30, 2013


While I know it is a common chestnut among North American liberal that the US is so conservative, man, I think that the grass is not in fact greener.

Actually, the North American Chestnut is far from common, thanks to chestnut blight. And thanks to rising temperatures, most grasses are now brown.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:33 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not that that has anything to do with anything.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:34 PM on April 30, 2013


"While I know it is a common chestnut among North American liberal that the US is so conservative, man, I think that the grass is not in fact greener. What does "really liberal" look like in China, India, or Indonesia? (the three most populous non-US countries, which comprise 40% of the world's population) To get to over 50% of the world population, let's throw in Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Russia. To me, these places are not my idea of "really liberal", but I confess that I am not as well-traveled as most. Maybe Pakistan just legalized gay marriage?

By "many other parts of the world", did you perhaps mean "western Europe"? Even in that instance, you may wish to take a look at general trends in immigration law and abortion law, to pick two hot-button topics of US political discourse.
"

Western democracies are pretty much the best comparison point on discussing liberalism, and doing a weird gotcha on population sizes is like, o_0 to poli-sci, not least because developing nations tend to have colonial baggage that gives their democracies different roots. But I can say that e.g. Lula in Brazil would be wildly economically to the left of the center here in the US (Canada and Mexico are distinct enough to not lump them into a North American liberalism consensus, especially Mexico). I mean, if you really wanted to, I'm sure you could discern "liberal" from "radical" from "leftist" from "socialist" from "social democrat" and draw a fairly decent inference about what was meant.

Instead, it looked like you were trying to score a sneery point, it just read as stupid, honestly. WELL HOW ABOUT ALBANIAN PANTS THEN NOT SO LIBERAL NOW!
posted by klangklangston at 5:34 PM on April 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Do these pants make me look Albanian?
posted by zombieflanders at 5:37 PM on April 30, 2013


Thank you, cortex.
posted by zarq at 5:43 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Nazi's were said to fear the Albanians -- and was this connected in any way to the fact that cannibalism was not outlawed in Albania until 1912? -- so, in short, maybe it'd be a good thing if they do, zombieflanders.

Also, your 6:45 p.m. post was motherfucking exemplary, sir (or ma'am), and I've flagged it as such.
posted by mr. digits at 5:44 PM on April 30, 2013


Albanian pants are cheap. Mine always rip at the borders.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:51 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Listen Flo - Stop with the Darkness and Embrace the Great Kittening.
posted by Mister_A at 5:58 PM on April 30, 2013


Wallowing in the shit is good for the skin. Keeps you hydrated.

Remember one of the key rules of politics, viz., don't do it, because the pigs like it when you join them. And even more when you become one of them. And even if you don't you wind up smelling like shit.
posted by spitbull at 6:04 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


While I know it is a common chestnut among North American liberal that the US is so conservative, man, I think that the grass is not in fact greener.

The US is still arguing over whether gun control and universal healthcare are even possible, let alone trying to implement them. Meanwhile, plenty of other countries did those things years ago, and consider them a no brainer.

For example, comprehensive, effective gun control (close to a straight-out ban) in Australia was implemented by the conservative party.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:27 PM on April 30, 2013


Meanwhile, plenty of other countries did those things years ago, and consider them a no brainer.

The death penalty, similarly, is just not a thing people think is a two-sided issue in almost every other country in the world. And I was actually surprised when I lived in Eastern Europe, how much there wasn't really an abortion debate, even in a fairly religious country like Romania, because the Ceaușescus had illegalized not only abortion but also birth control and forced people to have babies and now abortion there is considered to be a thing people and their doctors can decide on.

But yeah I was mostly talking about other Western democracies, compared to them the US doesn't look that liberal.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:34 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Quoting conservatives is now mischaracterizing them and making a straw man?

YES! And it's self inflicted.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 6:58 PM on April 30, 2013


>Yes, I have noticed that the homeopathy aisle at Whole Foods is devoid of liberal types.

Hey troll.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:10 PM on April 30, 2013


*shrug* I would tend to think that homeopathy use is more correlated with stupidity than a conservative/liberal divide, but that's my inherent bias talking.
posted by gaspode at 7:19 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


MeFi politics played in many other parts of the world that are not the US make us look like a bunch of centrist pro-business free marketeer empathy failures.

Oh bless your heart.
posted by John Cohen at 7:23 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


A tincture of ignorance protects against superstition.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:24 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a lot of heart blessing going on here.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:31 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like looking for criticisms of pretty much everything I read that seems potentially too awesome to be true. If the only criticisms of something are patently ridiculous, then: yes, awesome.
posted by capricorn at 7:32 PM on April 30, 2013


This has got to be some kind of record. Not even 100 comments, and we've got Nazis, trans issues, abortion, the death penalty, homeopathy, Whole Foods, pro sports, 1984, the American political binary, and Lord of the Flies.
posted by Miko at 7:33 PM on April 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts:
"For example, comprehensive, effective gun control (close to a straight-out ban) in Australia was implemented by the conservative party.
"

Well, Australia's 'conservative party' (really a coalition of the National and Liberal Parties) would probably sit very close to the US Democrats on a scale of liberal -> conservative. The closest thing to a true conservative party would be Katter's Australian Party, which I don't think would be considered nearly as conservative as the US Republicans.
posted by dg at 7:34 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I forgot gun control.
posted by Miko at 7:35 PM on April 30, 2013


dg, that was essentially the point of pointing it out.
posted by Corinth at 7:39 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


we've got Nazis, trans issues, abortion, the death penalty, homeopathy, Whole Foods, pro sports, 1984, the American political binary, and Lord of the Flies.

oh god it's my 8th grade birthday party all over again
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:42 PM on April 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


This has got to be some kind of record. Not even 100 comments, and we've got Nazis, trans issues, abortion, the death penalty, homeopathy, Whole Foods, pro sports, 1984, the American political binary, and Lord of the Flies.

And the funny thing is, I only reluctantly made the generic reference to "politics" and my sympathies in the first place because I felt my question would have been derided as too-vague/mystery meat otherwise. Still, this is a fascinating discussion and I'm glad people--for the most part--approached it so gamely. Thanks, everyone.
posted by psoas at 7:43 PM on April 30, 2013


There's a big difference between nutpicking newspaper comments and quoting someone like Ben Shapiro, who is a well-known mainstream conservative who speaks for a sizable portion of the American right. I agree that the former is a waste of time and generally just grist for the GRAR mill, but in the latter case, I think it would be disappointing if, e.g., the Shapiro comments didn't find their way to the Jason Collins thread at some point.

Of course it's nice to bask in the moment for a bit first, but once everyone's chimed in on the good news, it seems totally appropriate to contextualize the event by linking to prominent figures with opposing points of view. After all, it's precisely because of retrograde opinions like Shapiro's that it's taken this long for an active big four sports athlete to come out. Leaving that context out just because it creates a bit of angst seems like a bad idea to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:43 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not even 100 comments, and we've got Nazis, trans issues, abortion, the death penalty, homeopathy, Whole Foods, pro sports, 1984, the American political binary, and Lord of the Flies.

Sound great, can you get me a treatment by next Monday? Production starts this Saturday.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 PM on April 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I understand why it's a fascinating discussion? It seems like many people are just treating it like yet another chance to put a nice fine edge back on their axes, somewhat dulled from recent use. Most of the content that is not of that sort has been gone over a lot, but perhaps not especially recently.

If I were to treat the question itself seriously, I'd want to make a distinction between the lulzy approach ("look what these idiots said!") and the idea that it's possible to discuss something without considering only one's own point of view. Taking the step back to talk about not only how we as single individuals might view an event, but how various sectors and subgroups and factions and individuals across the culture might view the same event, and how those various discourses are interacting in the world of current events, is part of what makes the site interesting reading.
posted by Miko at 7:47 PM on April 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Corinth: "dg, that was essentially the point of pointing it out."

I know - was just adding additional information in support.

yes, I'm sticking to that story
posted by dg at 7:50 PM on April 30, 2013


To get to over 50% of the world population, let's throw in Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Russia. To me, these places are not my idea of "really liberal", but I confess that I am not as well-traveled as most. Maybe Pakistan just legalized gay marriage?

Brazil legalized civil unions in 2004, FWIW.
posted by naoko at 7:55 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


we've got Nazis, trans issues, abortion, the death penalty, homeopathy, Whole Foods, pro sports, 1984, the American political binary, and Lord of the Flies.

Finally, someone explains the plot of Lost to me in a way that makes sense. Thanks, Miko!
posted by MoonOrb at 7:56 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


What about Poland?
posted by Mister_A at 7:57 PM on April 30, 2013


I mean, the kitten situation in Poland. Is it good?
posted by Mister_A at 7:57 PM on April 30, 2013


I'm not sure I understand why it's a fascinating discussion?

My apologies if this is something that's been done to death in the past, but it was illuminating for me to see the various ways people justify their ax-grinding interspersed with some comments that made an effort to take a step back and present varying good-faith arguments.
posted by psoas at 8:00 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


That kinda sums up most MeTas in my mind, psoas.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:02 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


we've got Nazis, trans issues, abortion, the death penalty, homeopathy, Whole Foods, pro sports, 1984, the American political binary, and Lord of the Flies."

JFK BLOWN AWAY WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY
posted by klangklangston at 8:09 PM on April 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Seeking out opinions I find repugnant is pretty important to me, in one case and one case only: when they have some bearing on what actually happens in the mainstream culture. I don't seek out opinions I find repugnant if I'm pretty sure they are irrelevant to the majority of people, as most of them really are. Because there are a lot of repugnant opinions, and most of them don't really have enough adherents to make much of a difference. But there are those which have some significance for impacting the general public opinion on a topic, which in turn impacts the conditions that affect people's lives. I don't like to go directly to the nests where the "repugnant" opinions originate too much, but I do like to get them secondarily, by listening to "idea" shows on the radio which bring in a variety of takes on a topic, read in-depth pieces, and understand the discussion from a broad point of view which includes the range of ideas being proposed by some not-insignificant number of people.

I think of MetaFilter this way, as a place that is not always having a "you're wrong/no you're wrong" discussion most of the time (ideally), but a place that can process the larger significance of events, against the backdrop of a bigger picture of relevant histories, and that means taking in a range of responses even when they aren't your own.
posted by Miko at 8:09 PM on April 30, 2013


The closest thing to a true conservative party would be Katter's Australian Party, which I don't think would be considered nearly as conservative as the US Republicans.

No, because Katter's party is a tiny fringe party. They are out and out ignorant, racist, anti-science, homophobic nutjobs. Almost no one takes them seriously. Bob Katter is the only one with a seat, and he's a national joke.

There's just as much of a two party divide in Australia as there is in the US - Coalition/Labor; Republicans/Democrats.

The Coalition are definitely the conservative side of that divide (small government, business are the wealth creators...etc). And they define themselves as conservatives.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:45 PM on April 30, 2013


Personally, I hold my judgment on the true value of something labeled "Good News" until I see at least a couple of the Widely Distributed Asshole Commentators reacting to it badly (that's a category that is dominated by but not exclusive to "Conservatives").
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:48 PM on April 30, 2013


His thoughts were red thoughts: They are out and out ignorant, racist, anti-science, homophobic nutjobs. Almost no one takes them seriously.

What's the distinction, again?

Sorry, sorry.
posted by Corinth at 8:51 PM on April 30, 2013


What's the distinction, again?

Hats?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:53 PM on April 30, 2013


MetaFilter's political stances strike me as moving perpetually in the logical direction for an inclusive community, one in which people of all sorts tell their stories to all other sorts. It's hard to think that it's a dog-eat-dog world, or that people of certain ethnicities/sexualities/belief systems are any different from any other kind of person, when you have a bunch of people in one place who are all human and brilliant and weirdly easy to find yourself caring about.

I have become a lot more "liberal" in the three years I've used this web site, because every once in a while I open my mouth and say something that offends somebody else, and then I try to defend myself because I cling stubbornly to the things I think I know, and then I realize I'm an idiot and grow the hell up. So now I think that broken systems should be fixed, people should be more tolerant, and "patriarchy" makes actual sense as a word once you have enough context. I also grow increasingly tolerant of MetaFilter's contrary voices, not because I agree with them any more but because it's clear that they are still decent human beings despite holding views which I find abhorrent on any number of levels. None of this seems like a conspiracy to me. It's a boring progression towards people giving shits about other people.

I've noticed that the people who feel least welcome on MetaFilter are the ones who least think it's their responsibility to be welcoming towards others. That's not just a conservative thing. A number of outspoken jackass liberals have quit, some quite recently, because they were offended that their TOTALLY OBJECTIVE GRASP OF REALITY didn't give them permission to be dicks to other people on the web site. And this place is better off without them. I've quit MetaFilter quite a few times, and each time the site was (temporarily) better for that before I chose to come back and make things worse again.

On any given subject we have users for whom it is Very Important that everybody agree that not only is a thing real, it is also the worst possible thing imaginable and it is the only thing that matters. Then you have people who think that that thing is truly bad but that there's still important nuance to be found. Finally you have people who think that thing is not bad at all. If you're in Group A, then people in Groups B and C annoy the hell out of you. If you're in Group C, you can't see why the hell A and B are so worked up over everything. And if you're in Group B, you're frustrated that A is seeing things in such black-and-white terms, whereas C is seemingly incapable of seeing white altogether.

We're all As, Bs, and Cs for different things, and none of us can agree on when it's okay to be whichever. I try to keep myself in the reasonable middle, but there are times when I just can't see what the hell A is so worked up over. And other times we have users who are squarely in C territory, like the gentle caresser Wolfdreams01, who push everybody's buttons on a particular subject all at the same time. I've noticed that the latter sort of user tends to either flame out or mellow out after a couple of years; either that problem makes the site/other users intolerable to them, or they figure out how to work in the community despite that frustrating restriction. Some of my favorite users fall into that category. Some of my least favorites, too. Extremes are nice.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:55 PM on April 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


psychological projection ?
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:41 PM on April 30, 2013


His thoughts were red thoughts: "No, because Katter's party is a tiny fringe party. They are out and out ignorant, racist, anti-science, homophobic nutjobs. Almost no one takes them seriously. Bob Katter is the only one with a seat, and he's a national joke.

There's just as much of a two party divide in Australia as there is in the US - Coalition/Labor; Republicans/Democrats.

The Coalition are definitely the conservative side of that divide (small government, business are the wealth creators...etc). And they define themselves as conservatives.
"

Bob Katter is the only federal seat - they also have three in Queensland. Not that that means much to you southerners ;-)

I'm not denying that they are all of the things that you say they are (and probably worse - I was furious when Katter was shown on national TV blatantly breaching firearms legislation and nobody had the guts to take him on). My perception, though, is that they are all those things to a lesser extent than the US Republicans are. To me, that puts Australian politics way further over on the liberal side of the bench than US politics.

There is definitely a divide between the coalition and Labor, but I don't see them as being such polar opposites as the Democrats and Republicans are portrayed. On most sitting days, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference except that every third sentence any of them utter is to do with slagging the other side. By reminding us who the other side is, we can keep track of which party they are from. I doubt that most people would be able to pick which party they were from most of the time if they couldn't see them.
posted by dg at 10:48 PM on April 30, 2013


My perception, though, is that they are all those things to a lesser extent than the US Republicans are. To me, that puts Australian politics way further over on the liberal side of the bench than US politics.

Indeed. In my estimation, Katter and Co. are probably on par with the far right of the US Republicans.

However, the US Republications are a major party, wheras Katter's bunch are tiny and clearly fringe. That their idiotic positions don't win them much support in Australia, but recieve not only widespread but often (in some electorate) majority support in the US, is a clear indicator that the US political environment leans much more to the right than in Oz.

There is definitely a divide between the coalition and Labor, but I don't see them as being such polar opposites as the Democrats and Republicans are portrayed. On most sitting days, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference except that every third sentence any of them utter is to do with slagging the other side.

Well put.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:35 PM on April 30, 2013


Thine enemy. Thy nenemy. An orange. A norange. It's not rocket science.
posted by perhapsolutely at 1:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can probably list the "out" Conservatives, but that doesn't mean there aren't more

I am so goddamned weary of having this discussion, especially on top of the last MeTa, but will cheerily shoulder to the wheel anyway.

The fact that you used the term "out" to refer to Conservatives on Metafilter is a really telling reveal of how welcomed they are in the community. "Out" is usually used to refer to things that, while fine in themselves, are for whatever reason not generally welcome in the larger society, and it exposes some personal risk to show them to others.

That said: yes, people love being LOLCONSERVATIVES (just as, yes, on other sites, people like being LOLLIBERALS) and it is really shitty and frustrating and is completely full of strawmen. Look, if you want other opinions or what actual conservatives think on things? We do have them here, eventually someone may be along in the thread to bring you some reasonable opinions. There's no need to point and laugh.
posted by corb at 2:19 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


The fact that you used the term "out" to refer to Conservatives on Metafilter is a really telling reveal of how welcomed they are in the community.

I'm pretty sure I know of more trans* MeFites than I know of conservative MeFites.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:26 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Western democracies are pretty much the best comparison point on discussing liberalism, and doing a weird gotcha on population sizes is like, o_0 to poli-sci, not least because developing nations tend to have colonial baggage that gives their democracies different roots.

This is not even very good internet lawyering.

The original comment to which I responded stated, "many other parts of the world". In what sense can that only mean "the western democracies"? Places that are not western democracies are just as much "places in the world". Are they just not smart enough to know what it is like to be liberal? (I hope these questions are not more "gotchas")

But, I will bite. Here are some countries that have never been colonized and thus, should have no "colonial baggage" to impede their natural evolution to liberalism. Maybe you can tell me which ones are the "really liberal ones"?

Thailand
Nepal
Liberia
Bhutan
Saudi Arabia

(I left off Ethiopia because I expected hay to be made about the Italian occupation during WWII and did not want a derail about what is occupation as opposed to colonization)
posted by Tanizaki at 4:47 AM on May 1, 2013


Look, if you want other opinions or what actual conservatives think on things?

Speaking for myself, and I suspect most of Metafilter, we'd really just like coherent conservative opinions that deal with reality and logic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:21 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well put.
Well, thanks.

Yeah, Katter's party has the same nutjob vibe that One Nation did and will no doubt have a similar trajectory. It's a shame that he and his flock will distract attention from the real issues come September. As will Clive Palmer's latest ego trip. When are these people going to realise that Australians are never going to let any party that diverges too far from centre get any real power?
posted by dg at 5:41 AM on May 1, 2013


Look, if you want other opinions or what actual conservatives think on things?

Then we have you to happily jump into every Meta thread to cry about how persecuted Metafilter conservatives are. You say you're weary? Consider for a moment that maybe if you dropped this defensive stance on your opinions there might actually be a two-way dialogue going on. Most of the time, I think, you do manage to cogently present a conservative neolibertarian POV on a particular topic, but all too often you lead with this "oh I know you guys hate us conservatives, but ..." and it just immediately sets people on edge.

Believe it or not, most of us know actual and real conservatives. We're aware of where they're coming from. You're welcome to present your particular take on conservatism, quote other conservatives you consider reasonable, just as others are welcome to either defend them or find holes in their ideas. But this tiresome, repetitive boogeymanism isn't helping, sorry.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


'I'm sorry that I took your seat, but you can sit in many other places in the theater.'

'That's not true! More than half of the seats are taken! THEREFORE I CANNOT MOVE'
posted by shakespeherian at 5:56 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Marisa:

I lead with it because, quite honestly, I don't know how to respond to the really shitty levels of hate speech against conservatives that is directed our way and permitted to stay on the site, and that is my way of acknowledging it and pointing out in the hope that eventually, people will realize it's not a great idea. I flag it, it is almost never removed. You say that it puts people on edge when I start off with "I know you hate conservatives"? Can you try imagining how much it might put you on edge if people were starting out accusing you of basically being immoral because you have different beliefs than them? That's not to mention people actively stating their wish that people like you would die or suffer in egregious ways. When people like you are always referred to by cursing.

I know that Metafilter is better than this. I know that it would be tolerated about no other group, and I am consistently puzzled on why it is tolerated on conservatives. I have come to the conclusion that people simply don't recognize it as bigotry or hateful, which is why I /do/ talk about it so much, in hopes that we can all come to a place where we are just discussing or finding holes in each other's ideas, civilly.
posted by corb at 6:00 AM on May 1, 2013


Isn't it possible to describe certain beliefs as immoral?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:05 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is not even very good internet lawyering. The original comment to which I responded stated, "many other parts of the world".

Why do you leave out the part that said "tend to be"? There was no absolutist claim made, but somehow in your twisted little head you turned it into one. Why did you do that?

the really shitty levels of hate speech against conservatives that is directed our way and permitted to stay on the site

Do you have any examples of this that you could point us towards? I'm not saying that is doesn't happen, but I would just like to see some examples of what you consider "hate speech." I am not patronizing you, this is a serious question. I think that if you are able to provide some examples that would go a long way towards changing peoples minds and/or getting the mod team to respond to your concerns about double standards. Alternatively, if you can't provide any concrete examples then that goes a long way towards giving people the impression that you aren't participating in good faith.

Isn't it possible to describe certain beliefs as immoral?

Apparently only conservatives get to do this.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:07 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I lead with it because, quite honestly, I don't know how to respond to the really shitty levels of hate speech against conservatives that is directed our way and permitted to stay on the site...

Poor conservatives, perpetual victims. How do you, as a people, survive in that cold and hard world?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 AM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Thanks for elevating the discussion, Brandon.
posted by cribcage at 6:16 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you try imagining how much it might put you on edge if people were starting out accusing you of basically being immoral because you have different beliefs than them?

There's a lot of issues where there can be different points of view that should be discussed, different opinions which should be respected even if not agreed with.

But fundamental civil rights? NOPE. The mainstream U.S. conservative stance on LGBT rights is no better, no more defensible than Jim Crow laws.
posted by kmz at 6:35 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for elevating the discussion, Brandon.

You too buddy, you too.

1. Corb has history of bringing up these discussions in MeTa and other places where they aren't topical. She's been asked, by the mods to knock it off. She doesn't. So there's basic lack of understanding, respect or tunnel vision about her views.

2. Corb has a history of confusing reality and comments made by other Mefites, to the point where a discussion can't be had, as arguments about meaning of this that word/phrase are debated or defined.

3. Corb has a history of pulling this "poor us, conservatives are such victims on this site" schtick, which as a black man, is incredibly infuriating. She wants to pull the "hate speech" card and expect to be taken seriously. Please, talk to me about the Jim Crow laws Liberals implemented against Conservatives for decades or some such.

Anytime corb or any other conservative wants to discuss differences in political and philosophical thought, I'm all for it. But the points that she repeatedly tries to bring up are not well thought out and have zero understanding of the other side and bone deep belief her view is the correct one. One would think that she would learned something by now, but frankly it seems to be the same thing from over, over and over. I see no point in taking her views seriously until she demonstrates a stronger understanding of why people choose liberal views and respites them for doing so.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:38 AM on May 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Isn't it possible to describe certain beliefs as immoral?

Well, quite seriously, there are two answers to that.

The first is that I think we just got through a couple monster MeTas where it was really clear that we don't allow people to describe things as immoral on Metafilter - this came up most recently on LGBT issues but I feel it has come up on other issues before around abortion and polyamory? (These are not things I think are immoral, but I feel like these are just things the community has come to consensus that it's not okay to talk about them being immoral)

The second is that I find it stunningly unproductive. What is the point of calling someone immoral - or to get back to the original topic, pointing out people with extreme beliefs to laugh at and feel morally superior to? It's not as though simply saying "you're immoral" will make someone change their mind. It serves no purpose in debate or discussion other than to make one person feel morally superior, and to try to make someone else feel inferior. Are either of those things we really need here on Metafilter?

Do you have any examples of this that you could point us towards? I'm not saying that is doesn't happen, but I would just like to see some examples of what you consider "hate speech." I am not patronizing you, this is a serious question. I think that if you are able to provide some examples that would go a long way towards changing peoples minds and/or getting the mod team to respond to your concerns about double standards. Alternatively, if you can't provide any concrete examples then that goes a long way towards giving people the impression that you aren't participating in good faith.

This is actually something I'm trying to figure out how to do. We don't get to keep a list of "things we have flagged", and obviously I don't want to favorite them. I suppose I could start bookmarking "awful things said on Metafilter", but that would also then be tough to put into a list. By the time the question is raised, all that's left is vague memories of, "I think maybe it happened in such and such thread?" And so I definitely can't provide examples of "Things I Have Flagged". I am going to try to sit down and look over the most contentious threads and try to find pieces that apply, but it may take me a few hours - it's hard to sort for it.

Corb has history of bringing up these discussions in MeTa and other places where they aren't topical. She's been asked, by the mods to knock it off.

No, what tends to happen is that I say something and people dogpile, and then it becomes a derail, and the mods ask /everyone/ to knock it off. If memory serves, you've also been involved in one or two of those dogpiles.
posted by corb at 6:41 AM on May 1, 2013


Can you try imagining how much it might put you on edge if people were starting out accusing you of basically being immoral because you have different beliefs than them? That's not to mention people actively stating their wish that people like you would die or suffer in egregious ways. When people like you are always referred to by cursing.

I'll respond to these three different issues, as they're not the same thing:

1. When discussing socio-economico-political beliefs, yeah, get used to it. Ideas can be called "immoral", and often are. The idea that people are not entitled to shelter and food, for example, is a position many people would call "immoral". My positions on a number of issues have been called "immoral" by folks from the more conservative end of the spectrum. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with calling ideas immoral and, if you purport such ideas as strong parts of your belief system, that this is a reflection of your own morality.

2. Wishing death and suffering on others is not cool, but I also have never seen the mods here tacitly nor actively agree to such sentiments.

3. Cursing you? Depending on how you look at it, you should be either flattered or only mildly annoyed by this.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:43 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the time the question is raised, all that's left is vague memories of, "I think maybe it happened in such and such thread?" And so I definitely can't provide examples of "Things I Have Flagged".

Then I'd recommend just not throwing this accusation around. Without being able to point to examples, it can more easily make you look paranoid and up on some persecution complex.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:45 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suppose I could start bookmarking "awful things said on Metafilter"

If you right click on the time stamp of a comment and open it in its own tab you can then copy the url which will take you specifically to that comment in the thread.

but that would also then be tough to put into a list.

Why?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:49 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Corb has history of... Corb has a history of... Corb has a history of...

Maybe those are true. But we as a website also now have a reasonably thorough history of moderators needing to tell people who aren't Corb to stop making threads about Corb. So this strikes me as a rather tone-deaf pivot from a snarky crack about conservatives in general.

As for taking her views seriously? We had this conversation once already in this thread and I swear, it's as if some people feel like there's a gun to their head forcing them to post comments. "I just cannot respond to this respectfully...whattodo, whattodo. I guess I'll just have to post something snotty?"
posted by cribcage at 6:50 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or you could just use favorites. A lot of people use favorites as bookmarks.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:51 AM on May 1, 2013


The first is that I think we just got through a couple monster MeTas where it was really clear that we don't allow people to describe things as immoral on Metafilter

Okay, so now I'm confused. You started off complaining that the norm is people on Metafilter calling you immoral for having 'different' beliefs, but then you say that Metafilter consensus is that no one describes things as immoral. Without turning this into an argument about any specific notions or political stances, might it be possible to read these data in a different light, one which makes sense of the both of them?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:51 AM on May 1, 2013


corb-buck up, it's the internet.

"I am not an atomic playboy"

(the ultimate 20th century denial-denial)
posted by clavdivs at 6:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


the really shitty levels of hate speech against conservatives

My most charitable read of this is that corb, who is probably a perfectly fine person IRL, has a very deeply held, very idiosyncratic, vision of the kind of world she'd like to live in. When others point out that, if actualized, her world probably would be cruel, violent, tribal, and oppressive, she takes offense and starts to complain of hate speech. To which one can only respond, No, corb, we don't hate you, we only hate your fantasies.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:54 AM on May 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


corb,

How is Ben Shaprio, a professional conversative writer, speaker, and pundit, not an "actual conservative"? How does quoting him, verbatim, in context, make him "completely full of strawmen"?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:59 AM on May 1, 2013


it was really clear that we don't allow people to describe things as immoral on Metafilter

Wait, what? That was not my takeaway at all and I don't think it's a reasonable conclusion based on the threads or the moderation in the threads. I don't see how you can possibly read those threads and come away thinking "we're not allowed to describe anything as immoral." That is just made up. It reflects a misunderstanding.

Perhaps it's misunderstandings like this - really not getting the idea of the platform we're on - that contribute to the sense of persecution people sometimes say they feel. If you thought it was not all right to describe anything as immoral, and yet found your views being described as lacking in moral value, you would feel wronged. However, we have no stipulation that it's not all right to say things are immoral.
posted by Miko at 6:59 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tanizaki,

While Saudi Arabia was never formally colonized, it was colonized in all but name by the US for a good portion of the 20th century, and US influence in Saudia retarded many attempts to move toward democracy. For further reading, please consult the brilliant account by Bob Vitalis in, America's Kingdom.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:02 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe those are true. But we as a website also now have a reasonably thorough history of moderators needing to tell people who aren't Corb to stop making threads about Corb. So this strikes me as a rather tone-deaf pivot from a snarky crack about conservatives in general.

Your point was about elevating the discussion or lack thereof. My point was that it is damn near impossible to do so because of this one particular person.

As for taking her views seriously? We had this conversation once already in this thread and I swear, it's as if some people feel like there's a gun to their head forcing them to post comments. "I just cannot respond to this respectfully...whattodo, whattodo. I guess I'll just have to post something snotty?"

Nah, just snarky and factual.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's misunderstandings like this - really not getting the idea of the platform we're on - that contribute to the sense of persecution people sometimes say they feel. If you thought it was not all right to describe anything as immoral, and yet found your views being described as lacking in moral substance, you would feel wronged. However, we have no stipulation that it's not all right to say things are immoral.

Would you say that it would be okay on Metafilter to describe LGBT people as immoral? People who get abortions? People who have multiple partners? People who are on welfare? I admit, my take was that the community had decided we didn't do those things, but if I'm wrong, I do appreciate the clarification. I mean, it won't affect my own behavior, because I try really hard not to call people immoral, but it's still a useful clarification.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with calling ideas immoral and, if you purport such ideas as strong parts of your belief system, that this is a reflection of your own morality.

The thing is, the word "immoral" is in fact an offensive insult - and generally not really used correctly. To be immoral is to consistently violate the bare bottom of traditionally held morals - not to violate the specific morals of one person. And the bare bottom commonly held morals are actually a pretty low bar - not to murder, for example, or rape, or beat someone to death. To be immoral is to be thoroughly and completely bad, not just wrong. It's fighting words. Personally, I think it's less offensive to be called the c-bomb.

In a charitable read, I'll say that maybe people mean it differently - maybe they mean it as, as octobersurprise says, "I think that idea will lead to suffering." But that's not what they're actually saying. What they're saying is, "I think you're a bad human being with no redeeming values." Which is kind of a shitty thing to say to someone. And, as previously said, completely unnecessary. What is really the point or necessity in saying that to someone? Do you need to insult people to have a conversation?

corb-buck up, it's the internet.

Sure, but it's a corner of the internet that is supposed to be dedicated to civil discussion of interesting and cool stuff. It would be nice if it could actually be that way.
posted by corb at 7:06 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Also, I'll note since I forgot to disclaim above: I don't actually think many people here are immoral. In terms of understanding why people get to the views they do, I think I can absolutely understand them, and understand why their moral compass leads them to the beliefs they choose and things they do. I think most people here are actually probably good people, particularly by their own lights - I just think some of them also can act like jerks.)
posted by corb at 7:08 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe the disconnect is a confusion between 'moral' in the like platonic sense as a responsibility to some external power versus the way that most people use the term to mean a responsibility to others. LGBTQ people may be immoral, but not because they're LGBTQ-- that's an aspect of who they are, and involves their own personal life. Whereas a rich person who hordes wealth while people around her starve can be accurately described as immoral because she is impacting others.

So, sure, it might be accurate to say that consensus on Metafilter is that we don't describe people as sinful. But that's not morality.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:12 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


if I'm wrong, I do appreciate the clarification

You have perhaps overgeneralized a general "Don't be assholes to other people that you are having discussions with/about" guideline and conflated it with your own personal feelings about when it's okay to call out human behaviors as problematic to human society. And I think you confuse people discussing your beliefs in a "this will lead to suffering" way, with people saying you are bad/immoral or whatever. It's problematic because it makes these threads immediately about you as opposed to the set of beliefs you and many others hold in a more general sense, and it doesn't have to be that way.

That said, we all have the chance to not make this thread one of those threads.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:12 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


My most charitable read of this is that corb...

Is that really as charitable as you can get? Maybe it would help if you stuck to the general topic she brought up, "hate speech against conservatives", rather making it an utterly personal we-vs-you thing.
posted by 0 at 7:14 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is, the word "immoral" is in fact an offensive insult - and generally not really used correctly. To be immoral is to consistently violate the bare bottom of traditionally held morals - not to violate the specific morals of one person.

I think that's assuming an awful lot. I agree that without specific qualification, the notion of something's morality is going to implicitly be argued in terms of something broader than a single person's idiosyncratic moral preferences, but there's a lot of daylight between the idea of working in one or another general moral/philosophical model of the world and the idea that people referring to morality mean only one single, universal, reductionist murder-and-rape model.

That people don't agree on general models, that there is conflict between large groups on what does and does not fall in the buckets of Moral and Immoral, seems like a pretty basic part of where historical ideological conflicts come from.

So if someone tells me that e.g. sex out of wedlock is immoral, I may very well understand them to be talking about what they see through the moral model of e.g. Christianity; I'd say it's plenty moral, or if anything neutrally amoral, in my model of the world. Neither of us is appealing to the reductive bottom of the barrel, and assuming we did not start this conversation as complete strangers at a bus stop with no preface we'll probably have at least a little bit of an idea of what contexts we're coming at it from respectively.

I think that if you genuinely believe that people use "moral" and "immoral" to refer only to the narrowest possible and the broadest possible rubrics, you are missing an awful lot of the details and meat of discussions about morality and moral models and ditching a ton of context that would help make it clearer what people are actually talking about when they talk about how discussions of morality go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:17 AM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


To be immoral is to consistently violate the bare bottom of traditionally held morals...To be immoral is to be thoroughly and completely bad, not just wrong. It's fighting words.

That's an idiosyncratic interpretation. I don't accept that definition of "immoral." To be "immoral" in the dictionary sense is to fall short of some specific moral standard. It's perfectly fine for people to say that an opinion falls short of a particular moral standard which they are implicitly or explicitly referencing. I think your difficulty may be arising over what standard is relevant in this context.

maybe they mean it as, as octobersurprise says, "I think that idea will lead to suffering." But that's not what they're actually saying. What they're saying is, "I think you're a bad human being with no redeeming values."

There's an enormous leap of assumption here. It may help you to make a distinction between the words you're reading there, and the reaction in your head, which, again, is something you are responsible for. I do think there is a fuzzy boundary for you here. If you think that by someone saying "Your proposal may reasonably be called immoral because it will lead to suffering [and I am referencing a moral standard which assumes suffering should be relieved]" they are saying "You're a bad human being," your mind has added a significant amount of content that is not present in the initial statement.
posted by Miko at 7:23 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


To be immoral is to consistently violate the bare bottom of traditionally held morals - not to violate the specific morals of one person.

That's kinda the point, though. You're right: If you comment that opposing gay marriage is immoral, your comment will get favorites; if you comment that gay marriage itself is immoral, the mods will probably delete it. "It's wrong to oppose a woman's right to choose" will be popular, and "It's wrong to have an abortion" has a decent chance of being deleted. Now, there's a subtle shift there between supporting/opposing something versus actually doing something—which shift makes the comment more or less personal, which is relevant to whether it should be tolerated discourse. Still, I take your point and you're right. There is inconsistency, a double standard, whatever.

But that inconsistency is reflective of MetaFilter's "traditionally held" morals. You're right that morals exist in a community sense apart from the specific morals of just one person. And like it or not, that's the community we have. Several people above have used gay marriage as an example, and it's a good one: On MetaFilter, there really aren't two sides to gay marriage. The issue is framed in a particular way here, and to step outside that does indeed violate the community's morals.
posted by cribcage at 7:24 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


if you comment that gay marriage itself is immoral, the mods will probably delete it.

Unlikely. In fact, so unlikely, that I can point to a recent comment making just that argument which wasn't deleted.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


"It's wrong to have an abortion" has a decent chance of being deleted

I wonder if you can produce any evidence of this, since I've been in threads, even this year, in which people voiced that viewpoint and their comments still stand.

The issue is framed in a particular way here, and to step outside that does indeed violate the community's morals.

I still disagree with this. There are indeed people who can and do say that they oppose gay marriage. They get a lot of objection, but they can say it. Others may say that they find that to be an immoral stance [based again on some implicit or explicit moral standard], but that doesn't negate their ability to still say it. Saying it does not "violate the community's morals." What does violate the community's morals, and what the mods have been pretty clear on, are statements that directly malign individuals and seek to condemn, exclude, or quiet them as people (rather than as moral thnkers). That's the "don't be an asshole" standard jessamyn referenced above. There are standards of discourse here, moral standards of civil participation if you will, that also seek to limit and exclude speech that is pointedly hostile to individuals so that they can continue to participate here.

One thing that I know can upset some people is that this is not codified, not spelled out anywhere in a MetaFilter Code of Conduct. Repeated requests for "tell me the ruuuules" go unfulfilled. This is because the general principles supporting wide participation but discouraging attempts to condemn or exclude need to be worked out on a case by case basis, and factors other than "but this is legitimately my viewpoint" are always at play. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate viewpoint alone, as a purely moral proposition, from user habits, history, behaviors, and idiosyncrasies which may also affect their ability to participate positively.
posted by Miko at 7:45 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unlikely. In fact, so unlikely, that I can point to a recent comment making just that argument which wasn't deleted.

Octobersurprise, please link to it so that we can put this idiotic assumption to rest once and for all.

Maybe the disconnect is a confusion between 'moral' in the like platonic sense as a responsibility to some external power versus the way that most people use the term to mean a responsibility to others. LGBTQ people may be immoral, but not because they're LGBTQ-- that's an aspect of who they are, and involves their own personal life. Whereas a rich person who hordes wealth while people around her starve can be accurately described as immoral because she is impacting others.

So, sure, it might be accurate to say that consensus on Metafilter is that we don't describe people as sinful. But that's not morality.


Quoted for the mother fucking truth.

Maybe this is a derail, but I'm curious what exactly would be immoral about someone being gay? I also, find it curious that this is being used as an example of how conservatives are persecuted on metafilter. IRL i happen to have several gay friends who identify themselves as conservative...in fact one of them actually voted for Romney...I know wtf. So this idea that somehow gay and conservative are mutually exclusive seems to be a bit of a canard. Now I think what is actually happening is that there is a subset of conservatives, that would be the evangelical moral majority zombie subset, who seem to think that they speak for the conservative movement. In fact that is one of the reasons the republican party has been having such troubles lately is because they hitched their wagon to the crazy train and now they are reaping the consequences.

For me personally there are many conservative ideas I can agree with, but not the ones that are find their authority in the context of iron age moral codes.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:47 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


"It's wrong to oppose a woman's right to choose" will be popular, and "It's wrong to have an abortion" has a decent chance of being deleted

Not as far as I've seen, especially since being pro-choice and anti-abortion (which is what you're illustrating) aren't mutually exclusive, nor does your hypothetical address degrees such as rape/incest cases. Just ask the millions of pro-choice women who have chosen to bring their pregnancies to term.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:50 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't call them "zombies" but it's a fair point that conservatism is not monolithic, and there are varieties of conservative viewpoint, just as there are varieties of more liberal viewpoint. I kind of hate the "continuum" model of political thought anyway, and think that when you get a scatterplot construction you get closer to a nuanced, three-dimensional model of people's views, but even that's faulty.

For me personally there are many conservative ideas I can agree with

Setting aside the difference between rhetoric and practice, me too. I think that categorizing people as "liberal" or "conservative" - or even MeFi as "liberal" or "conservative" tends to flatten discussion and send people scurrying to their tents behind the lines of battle, which leads to pretty unproductive and dull discussion of a sort that can be had anywhere. I wish we could resist it here.
posted by Miko at 7:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


"It's wrong to have an abortion" has a decent chance of being deleted

In an askme about how to navigate the options for terminating a pregnancy, for sure. In a discussion on the blue about the ethics of abortion, not as such. It's certainly possible to make a deleteable comment of which that is the thesis, but that's going to have more to do with the framing and context of the comment than whether or not a plurality of likely respondents approve of or agree with the sentiment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:59 AM on May 1, 2013


" "It's wrong to have an abortion""

...comments are generally allowed to stand as long as they're not in response to an AskMe question, where they would be considered unhelpful. However, if the comment is coupled with misogyny, it would likely be axed immediately. With good reason. There's a difference between saying "abortion is wrong" and "women who seek abortions are X." One condemns the act. The other indiscriminately condemns anyone who gets an abortion, without regard for their circumstances.

Back in 2011, a member here went on a rant in a Mefi thread saying women should take responsibility for their own bodies and keep their legs closed. As opposed to "feminist wailing about your bodies and reproductive rights." The comment is still there and has not been deleted.

What does this tell us? Not much. In Meta, the mods said they would have deleted it if they had gotten to it sooner.

The reason I mention this is you can't necessarily judge Metafilter's sensibilities by what has and has not been deleted. It's probably wise not to overgeneralize too much.
posted by zarq at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is that really as charitable as you can get?

I actually agree with that reading. Libertarianism has developed an idiosyncratic view of "the use of force" which has come down to, "disagreeing with libertarianism." Obviously libertarians themselves are perfectly nice people who are enjoyable to be around in real life (even online), which is why many of us count libertarians among our friends. But the belief system itself is at best historically naive and at worst hateful and disgusting. Pointing out that statements of libertarian belief are disgusting, not to mention personally offensive and threatening to one's way of life, and that people would do everything in their power to prevent them from being put into force is pretty much the worst thing a libertarian can here and raises up that, "help, help, I'm being repressed!" instinct from them.

It is what it is. We (the west) have a democratic system that was designed and built not to be libertarian. Obviously, chiming in with, "I want to destroy it [even more] and everything that allows you to live as you do" is obviously going to get pushback. Libertarian interpret that pushback as as "hate speech" because in their mind, their preaching is considered to be "just a reasonable, moral opinion."

Basically, libertarian "opinions" appearing in many threads are no different than a discussion of mental illness in the blue having a person chime in with "THE TRUE HEALING COMES THROUGH THE LOVE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST" except with an added, "you deserve to die, be sick, or otherwise humiliated for freedom." Replying with, "fuck that shit, I wouldn't want to live in a disgusting place like that" is interpreted by the libertarian as "use of force."
posted by deanc at 8:13 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gotta say that "hate speech" being used to describe harsh criticism of conservative and/or neo-libertarian ideas is inaccurate at best, and insulting to the civil rights struggle at worst.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:17 AM on May 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


On MetaFilter, there really aren't two sides to gay marriage

We're also pretty one-sided on slavery, women's suffrage (unlike some other mainstream sites I could mention), and Young Earth Creationism. I consider these features, not bugs.
posted by kmz at 8:30 AM on May 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


But that inconsistency is reflective of MetaFilter's "traditionally held" morals. You're right that morals exist in a community sense apart from the specific morals of just one person. And like it or not, that's the community we have. Several people above have used gay marriage as an example, and it's a good one: On MetaFilter, there really aren't two sides to gay marriage. The issue is framed in a particular way here, and to step outside that does indeed violate the community's morals.

Those may be the community standards, but most healthy communities have their standards evolve as the community demographic changes. What MetaFilter does is inappropriate because you have the mods deleting viewpoints that go against the "community standards," thus ensuring that the community standards will never change - effectively creating a self-perpetuating cycle. Essentially Metafilter's group of early adopters has achieved legislative capture and is abusing it to make sure that the community can never achieve greater diversity, because that might change the community into something they're uncomfortable with.

And hey, if that's what you want, it's fine. You're perfectly entitled to have your own little bubble where you don't have to deal with any viewpoints that make you uncomfortable. But if that's the goal, it would be fair to advertise this fact more openly on your FAQ so that prospective new Mefites understand that their opinions will always carry less weight than that of the early Mefites "community consensus" and can look for other alternatives rather than wasting their time attempting to participate here.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:31 AM on May 1, 2013


wolfdreams01,

"because that might change the community into something they're uncomfortable with."

Yes, I don't want this communtiy to be one where trans* people are told that there is something mentally wrong with them and that their identity is invalid. I don't know where the hell your idea of 'abuse' comes from, or who is abusing who, but as kmz says, that is a feature, not a bug. Tolerance of intolerance is not the kind of tolerance I want.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just because you're loud and by your own admission aggressive and contrarian doesn't mean that the community demographic has changed. In fact, I'm wondering how someone who's been a member for a whole year even would even have access to Metafilter's demographic data, even if it exists.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:38 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


But the belief system itself is at best historically naive and at worst hateful and disgusting.

Like most political movements, libertarianism has some good parts and bad parts. Economically its a disaster movie in slow motion. As far as foreign policy and stances on our individual rights as human beings they are pretty good, in my opinion. In fact there are many intersections between liberals and libertarians; such as respect for individual choice, suspicion of foreign interventions, gay rights, and the women's right to choose. That being said there are also many points of serious disagreement, i.e. fiscal policy, the role of government in society, and primacy of the individual.

It is also helpful to differentiate popular conservatism and liberalism from the dominant ideology of the ruling class(both democrats and republicans), which is neoliberalism. In fact I would argue that it is specifically this disconnect, between the rulers and the ruled in terms of ideology, that leads directly to the situation we currently find ourselves in. That being the situation of endless war and the dismantling of the bill of rights. Many so called "liberal values" are fairly hateful and disgusting in our current day and age; such as the idea that governments have the right to assassinate citizens of other countries, or the idea of "humanitarian" interventions.

I'm saying all this to point out that popular conceptions of what ideologies consist of has little bearing on what policies are actually carried out by the ruling class.

On preview: you have the mods deleting viewpoints that go against the "community standards

As a counterpoint I am fairly conservative when it comes to gun control issues, and I've never had a single comment deleted when commenting in gun control threads. And if you haven't noticed metafilter is decidedly pro gun control. So I think you are full of shit on this one.

Actually that's not true, I did have a comment deleted, but that was because it was quoting a comment that had been deleted. Lobstermitten was kind enough to send me my original comment back so that I could excise the part where I was quoting the deleted comment. I think that if instead of being an antagonistic asshole to the mods you tried to privately talk to them about your concerns you might have a better experience here. They are, despite your protestations to the contrary, immensely patient and reasonable people.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:40 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Essentially Metafilter's group of early adopters has achieved legislative capture

That's not an unfair characterization, but I don't follow that this should be noted prominently or in the FAQ. All communities have bents. Some of them, like BlueMassGroup in my local political circle, are kind enough to note up front what they're about, but I don't think that's the norm for communities that aren't primarily about politics, which MetaFilter isn't.

And I think that's key to remember. Most people do not join MetaFilter for political reasons. They join because it's fun to talk about TV shows or game theory or cetacea or whatever happens to be on the front page. Yes, MetaFilter is liberal and conservative voices are crowded out, and if our primary mission were to discuss politics, that would be simpler to analyze and then either accept or fix. It's more complex than that.
posted by cribcage at 8:47 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I don't want this communtiy to be one where trans* people are told that there is something mentally wrong with them and that their identity is invalid.

That's handwavey fear-mongering. Nobody here is saying that there's anything wrong with trans people. I can't recall a single comment anybody has made here that said trans people are bad people simply for existing, or invalidated their right to live as they want. Nobody has ever advocated slurs or hatred on MetaFilter. However, any comment that is even mildly critical of the trans community - not for their existence, but for specific behaviors - is almost instantly deleted, regardless of how polite it is or how much it cites factual examples. You may not be aware of the frequency of these deletions because you've never criticized the trans community, but I assure you that it happens. It's possible that when one special interest group is immune to criticism, people outside that group might have a problem with that.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:49 AM on May 1, 2013


You yourself have refused to refer to trans* people by the appropriate pronoun, which helps invalidates their right to live as they want.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:52 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


but for specific behaviors

Such as?

I am also curious as to why you are fixating on the transgender issue. Is it because the mods deleted one of your hateful comments relating to this issue? If I was you I would thank the mods for doing you a favor.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:58 AM on May 1, 2013


However, any comment that is even mildly critical of the trans community - not for their existence, but for specific behaviors - is almost instantly deleted, regardless of how polite it is or how much it cites factual examples.

Actually, it's you, specifically, repeatedly returning to the "some trans people are hateful bigots!" well for some reason, that we're just straight-up deleting at this point. Your inability to get some distance on this or to let the damn thing drop is getting your comments deleted; your inability to recognize that there's been legitimately contentious and difficult discussions about trans issues in which lots of people disagree with lots of stuff pretty much underscores the ridiculousness of your assessment of the actual problem.

You do not get to play some sort of "i was citing examples and trying to be polite!" defense to prevent yourself from having recurring crappy interactions on the site deleted. You, very specifically, do a bad job a lot of the time at interacting on Metafilter in a very basic mechanical way. It's not a trans issues thing, it's a you thing. And we have expended a tremendous amount of energy trying to help you figure this out and seemingly gotten nowhere. You are not entitled to an endless, disproportionate supply of mod resources, and we've very much gotten to a figure-this-out-or-be-elsewhere point with you. Cut it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:59 AM on May 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


wolfdreams01: " Essentially Metafilter's group of early adopters has achieved legislative capture and is abusing it to make sure that the community can never achieve greater diversity, because that might change the community into something they're uncomfortable with."

This isn't true.

One example: complaints about the tone of certain types of comments were raised way back in 2007, in the first BoyZone thread. They resulted in policy changes. We have since discussed gender stereotypes, sexism and 'boyzone" attitudes repeatedly in Meta. Some threads have been more productive than others.

Some "early adopters" have closed their accounts or simply left in protest over policy changes that have been enacted over time. Complaints about moderation, nostalgia for the "good old days" of loose moderation, and the changing tone of the site are all a symptom of this.

On preview:

wolfdreams01: "Nobody here is saying that there's anything wrong with trans people. I can't recall a single comment anybody has made here that said trans people are bad people simply for existing, or invalidated their right to live as they want. Nobody has ever advocated slurs or hatred on MetaFilter. However, any comment that is even mildly critical of the trans community - not for their existence, but for specific behaviors - is almost instantly deleted, regardless of how polite it is or how much it cites factual examples."

Having seen a deleted comment of yours in another thread on this topic, may I make the suggestion -- truly intended to be helpful -- that this is really, really, really not a hill you want to die on. The comment I saw inappropriately attacked an entire group of people as bigots based on a set of wrongheaded assumptions about a social community they may or may not belong to, and beliefs they may or may not hold. You gave a personal litmus test for transgender people that included some rather... stunningly lacking.... assumptions about folks who are transgender as well as their purported sexual preferences.

If it had stayed, you'd have gotten your ass handed to you. And I would have been one of the people doing so.
posted by zarq at 9:00 AM on May 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


You yourself have refused to refer to trans* people by the appropriate pronoun, which helps invalidates their right to live as they want.

That's a massive distortion of what happened in the Coy debacle. I refused to refer to a child by the appropriate pronoun because the article in question didn't show any evidence of her truly being transgender other than "liking to wear dresses" or "behaving in a feminine way." There was zero evidence in the article that the child had gone through therapy or had been classified as transgender by a licensed medical professional, and as soon as somebody posted a link demonstrating that this had in fact happened, I switched to the correct pronoun. If you want to blame anybody for that, blame the person who posted the FPP for making it a bunch of emotional touchy-feely crap without any substantive data that would give it the proper background or context.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:04 AM on May 1, 2013


"This is not even very good internet lawyering."

Thank you for giving me that disclaimer to your comment up front. I don't think anyone thought you were doing particularly good internet lawyering, but since it's so tied up with your identity, I think we were all a little too polite to mention what a dog's breakfast your comment was. But since you agree, no problems.

"The original comment to which I responded stated, "many other parts of the world". In what sense can that only mean "the western democracies"? Places that are not western democracies are just as much "places in the world". Are they just not smart enough to know what it is like to be liberal? (I hope these questions are not more "gotchas")"

Is that all it stated? "Many parts of the world"? Or did it maybe have a qualifier on the sentence that you're ignoring in order to pose more disingenuous questions? Are you just not smart enough to parse the actual comments without having them explained in detail? (Might "many" mean "more than few"?)

"But, I will bite. Here are some countries that have never been colonized and thus, should have no "colonial baggage" to impede their natural evolution to liberalism. Maybe you can tell me which ones are the "really liberal ones"?

Thailand
Nepal
Liberia
Bhutan
Saudi Arabia
"

Actually, all of those states have colonial baggage. Saudi Arabia is the silliest of those examples, as the state was essentially created as part of English conflicts with the Ottomans.

But more to the point, and something you ignored prior, is that one of the main reasons why Western Democracies would be more liberal is that liberalism emerged with Western Democracies. I'm not even going to get into the distinctions that I made in the comment you're replying to about proper terminology, since you've either ignored it on purpose or found it beyond your ken.

(As an aside, most classical liberals, notably Adam Smith, opposed colonialism. THE MORE YOU KNOW!)
posted by klangklangston at 9:04 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the last time I will ever try and engage with you, wolfdreams01, because (aside from your views) you do not engage in good faith.

You said:

I refused to refer to a child by the appropriate pronoun because the article in question didn't show any evidence of her truly being transgender other than "liking to wear dresses" or "behaving in a feminine way."

The child in question identified as a female since the time she could express herself, and her state-issued identification and passport list her as a female.

Please, stop lying.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:13 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's a massive distortion of what happened in the Coy debacle. I refused to refer to...

I wish you'd drop this crap. It's already difficult enough to have a conversation about political diversity around here with the peanut gallery's stick-poking. It worsens the dynamic exponentially when instead of ignoring them you respond, "Why yes, that is my pet issue and let's talk about it some more!"
posted by cribcage at 9:14 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Octobersurprise, please link to it

St. Alia contributed a link to Rod Dreher's piece "Sex After Christianity" during a recent discussion. Dreher's argument, one I think St. Alia endorses (though she can correct me if she wishes), is that "Gay marriage signifies the final triumph of the Sexual Revolution and the dethroning of Christianity ..." Now that's a ridiculous claim by a ridiculous man, but it wasn't deleted, nor should it have been. But it's exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to be deleted if metafilter really was as hostile to anti-gay viewpoints as has been claimed.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


and as soon as somebody posted a link demonstrating that this had in fact happened,
Because you are absolutely incapable of doing any sort of "looking for new information" on your own.
Like tossing a dog a bone.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2013


I refused to refer to a child by the appropriate pronoun because...

Stop this or be stopped at this point. We have given you several chances to get off of this soapbox. We have emailed you and explained what was going on and what needed to change. We have deleted your comments instead of giving you time off for continuing to make them and been very clear what the problem was. We need you at this point to move past this and stop playing the "This must be proved to my satisfaction" or "What I said was okay because of $REASONS even if people disagree" game with the community. We suggest that everyone else move past this as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:23 AM on May 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


You're perfectly entitled to have your own little bubble where you don't have to deal with any viewpoints that make you uncomfortable.

I think this is where we end up talking past each other. Alternative viewpoints - in particular, conservative ones - are not unilaterally deleted. The political spectrum of someone's viewpoints has exactly zero bearing on whether or not mod action is taken against a user's participation on this site. None. What does have bearing, regardless of political affiliation, are some pretty common-sense guidelines regarding threadshitting, shoehorning hobby horses, derailing and so forth.

Having a minority viewpoint might make you feel already outnumbered, and therefore defensive, and I can understand a degree of thin-skinned-ness where that's concerned. However, criticism of your point of view is not the same as hate speech, censorship, are comment-pruning to adhere to some perceived Metafilter Political Platform. It's about basic posting behavior; not posting the "right" ideas.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


When discussing socio-economico-political beliefs, yeah, get used to it. Ideas can be called "immoral", and often are.

It seems to me corb, herself, must have commented on the immorality of taxes and other "liberal" ideas many times.

I do think corb is more respectful than many people who disagree with her, though it seems to me she can be very clever at saying outrageous things without being directly offensive which tends not to lead to good discussions. I guess for good internet discussion it is best to be as genuine and friendly as possible and give others the benefit of the doubt - something I think metafilter often fails at, even if it is better than anything else out there. It would be great to have better discussions on libertarian, Keynesian, socialist, neoliberal, pacifist, etc. approaches to particular problems. But morality is necessarily a huge part of these discussions because morality often determines the desired outcome, which makes it difficult to progress when there is a large moral disparity.
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


But it's exactly the kind of thing you'd expect to be deleted if metafilter really was as hostile to anti-gay viewpoints as has been claimed.

I'm not sure whose claims you're referring to. But you responded to something I wrote earlier, so just to be clear, I am not at all surprised that a bare link to a relatively mainstream website, unremarked upon, wasn't deleted.
posted by cribcage at 9:34 AM on May 1, 2013


I do think corb is more respectful than many people who disagree with her, though it seems to me she can be very clever at saying outrageous things without being directly offensive which tends not to lead to good discussions.

Yes, this is a good point: we can argue about any number of ideas and positions here, often vehemently. There are a number of conservatives here - or, should I say, conservative ideas that have been posted here - which stand because they are made in good faith and with respectful interaction with other users. You can believe that having a minority viewpoint is going to leave you outnumbered in a discussion over a particular issue, but this isn't the same as being bullied or censored. It's when posting behavior regardless of political stance steps into the territory of breaking basic posting guidelines that we see comments getting deleted.

It would be great to have better discussions on libertarian, Keynesian, socialist, neoliberal, pacifist, etc. approaches to particular problems.

I totally agree, and I think this requires a grassroots effort from all of us to make that happen. Most of us do well with this most of the time, I'd say.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:44 AM on May 1, 2013


"Those may be the community standards, but most healthy communities have their standards evolve as the community demographic changes.

Right, and we have.

What MetaFilter does is inappropriate because you have the mods deleting viewpoints that go against the "community standards," thus ensuring that the community standards will never change - effectively creating a self-perpetuating cycle."

Except that standards have changed. I know personally. I used to be much more of a dick here. I don't agree with every call that the mods make, but the community standards have changed, in part through massive member discussions.

Essentially Metafilter's group of early adopters has achieved legislative capture and is abusing it to make sure that the community can never achieve greater diversity, because that might change the community into something they're uncomfortable with.

Damn that Jonmc, always getting the MeFi he wants! But this relies on making a whole lot of bad assumptions about the way that MeFi functions, the definitions of "diversity" and "comfortable," and "abuse."

And hey, if that's what you want, it's fine. You're perfectly entitled to have your own little bubble where you don't have to deal with any viewpoints that make you uncomfortable. But if that's the goal, it would be fair to advertise this fact more openly on your FAQ so that prospective new Mefites understand that their opinions will always carry less weight than that of the early Mefites "community consensus" and can look for other alternatives rather than wasting their time attempting to participate here.

I deal with viewpoints that make me uncomfortable here all the time. Sometimes they change my mind, sometimes they don't. A notable example for me would be whether it's correct to consider America "fascist," where I have disagreed with Aelfwine several times and come out better for it. I've gotten in arguments about faith that were deeply uncomfortable here. And there's still more than a little misogyny, homophobia and transphobia. That's uncomfortable too.

I will say that there can be a general problem here, like when Tanazaki got shirty about the idea that there are many more liberal places than MeFi/America — he just doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about, and it makes him come across as an idiot to people who do. You see that pretty frequently on MeFi — a lot of people are experts, or at least skilled amateurs, in their fields, and so when someone drops a strident, idiotic comment, they get treated like a strident idiot, and that gets confused for some sort of political persecution.
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


One other thing to think about: This community's standards have evolved for conversations. There used to be a lot more latitude to, say, drop some transphobic bullshit in a thread, at which point there was more latitude to just all-caps some FUCK YOU YOU FUCKING FUCK and just straight-up HATE. Now both get pruned, but as the apoplexy is reactive, you tend to see the mods saying fuck it, and cutting out the root, leaving the thread shitter to feel silenced all their life and obviating the response that would have also gotten axed.

(There's also been plenty of liberal/lefties who have gotten booted/left over wanting to condemn their ideological enemies in the strongest terms possible — Optimus Chyme would be the one off the top of my head, though there are more. Hell, I remember when Davy got the axe, and he wasn't conservative by any stretch of the imagination. So there's a fair amount of confirmation bias in the reckonings here.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damn that Jonmc, always getting the MeFi he wants!

It does kinda suck that we can't have a single political thread that doesn't immediately devolve into whether Cheap Trick's studio albums are better than Live at Budokan. The same old talking points each time, about live energy versus shallow surface-level appreciation of what should rightly be seen as a fairly nuanced band. But the mods have stated their pro-Budokan views pretty clearly, and it's obviously not gonna change now.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:06 AM on May 1, 2013 [24 favorites]


"The same old talking points each time, about live energy versus shallow surface-level appreciation of what should rightly be seen as a fairly nuanced band. But the mods have stated their pro-Budokan views pretty clearly, and it's obviously not gonna change now."

This is just a fundamental misstatement of the argument. The reason why Budokan is better is because it's all killer, no filler. While 'Trick were a more diverse, nuanced band than they're often given credit for, and Southern Girls is the apotheosis of power pop, songs like "Taxman, Mr. Thief" are kinda derivative clunkers in retrospect. Budokan distills all of that, while still leaving plenty of undiscovered gems for the album listener.
posted by klangklangston at 10:13 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


What th-- Did my comment about Cheap Trick being a stupid band get deleted? We can all agree that this is censorship. Mods, I'm calling you out on this one (with the exception of one mod, you know who you are) and I demand satisfaction.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:19 AM on May 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


I don't often agree with callouts of the mods, but I have to agree with shakespeherian: the united mod front against Cheap Trick can't be ignored any longer. I'm not even a Cheap Trick fan, but come on.
posted by languagehat at 10:21 AM on May 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


a lot of people are experts, or at least skilled amateurs, in their fields, and so when someone drops a strident, idiotic comment, they get treated like a strident idiot, and that gets confused for some sort of political persecution.

Sometimes I think we would all be better off if, as soon as an account was created, the account-holder got a MeMail saying "Welcome to Metafilter! You are not the smartest person in the room."
posted by KathrynT at 10:24 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I pretty much always agree with languagehat, and this case is no different.
posted by rtha at 10:25 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's be fair, if you want to win over ideological opponents of Cheap Trick, you're gonna have to want them to want you first.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:25 AM on May 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm sure you guys are all right, but you seem a little weird.
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh boy, here we go again. Another wailing of lamentations from the Cheap Trick Brigade. No one put a gun to that band's collective head and forced them to do a bland, spandex-metalesque cover of "Don't Be Cruel". That ship sailed in 1988. I think the mods have made it very clear where they stand on this matter, and I can't say I blame them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:34 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


shakes, that is funniest use of boldface I've ever seen. Well done.
posted by gauche at 10:40 AM on May 1, 2013


Only because the majority of the comments he is mocking via that style have been deleted.
posted by elizardbits at 10:43 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cheap Trick's She's Tight is absolutely disgusting. I literally shake with rage and sometimes cry whenever it plays on my iPod. I only play it to remind myself how disgusting it is. Seriously, don't listen to it, it is disgusting. We shouldn't be linking to any band that produces such filth, they are like the reddit of bands.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:47 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I sometimes see a tendency to mistake the opinion as the problem instead of framing and context. Which is fair - it's hard to step outside one's own head and know how one is coming off - but it also leads to situations where someone drops a political opinion (which isn't the problem) in a way that's really really likely to cause a thread to devolve into boiled shit (which is), and walk away from it thinking it was some sort of political decision.

Which it's not, and while I don't disagree that the site probably skews liberal on the whole, it's nevertheless possible to express a left-leaning opinion in an odious way and get it deleted. Weird axe-grindy anti-LGBT stuff gets deleted, sure, but so would comments from someone whose contributions consist of "DIE CIS SCUM," over and over again. As klang mentions, there are a lot of users who've parted company with the site over the years because, while their politics were indeed on the liberal end of things, they were basically not able to express them in a way that didn't start massive shit-fights.

I also feel like it's not useful to try to compare what gets deleted to what doesn't, because unless I'm talking about my own comments, or comments I noticed in a thread before they got the axe, and no one starts a MetaTalk thread to complain about their own deletions, I have no idea what's actually been deleted, and can't compare it to what wasn't.

I don't know. Again, I don't doubt that this is a site where, speaking in massive generalizations, more people are probably towards the left than to the right (though how far along that continuum will vary a whole hell of a lot), but I don't really agree that it affects moderation as much as is occasionally asserted.

I will say that I've seen threads where people on either side of an issue seem to believe that the thread is a pile-on from people who are on whatever the other side is. I've seen people say that a thread is a depressing, gross boyzone, and people saying that a thread is a hand-wringing feminist echo chamber, and they're talking about the same damn thread. Bias is a hard thing to overcome.

Especially in the sense of how one comes across, either in specific interactions or in terms of one's overall history. Folks like to make hay of the tone argument, but it's not really crazy to suggest that a person tends to benefit from self-awareness and an ability to read the room a little bit. That's the cost of doing business when you're interacting with other people. If you want a book of hard-and-fast rules of things that are always okay or never okay and in which situations irrespective of presentation, then I don't know, go program some chatbots and talk to them instead.

Overall I think the site is a lot more welcoming to diversity of opinion than it sometimes gets credit for. Even opinions which go sharply against the norm. If the site really were an echo chamber, if it really didn't have diversity of opinion on it and we all agreed with each other, I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be quite so many huge contentious threads.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:49 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have disagreed with Aelfwine several times and come out better for it.

Ditto on my side as well.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:59 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the site really were an echo chamber, if it really didn't have diversity of opinion on it and we all agreed with each other, I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be quite so many huge contentious threads.

I'm not so sure. I think even a relatively homogeneous group of people will eventually focus on what makes them different rather than what makes them the same. I don't know if this is a culture thing or a human thing, but it's definitely a real thing.
posted by Mooski at 11:03 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


NO IT ISN'T!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:03 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Splitter.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:04 AM on May 1, 2013


Weird axe-grindy anti-LGBT stuff gets deleted, sure, but so would comments from someone whose contributions consist of "DIE CIS SCUM," over and over again.

I agree, but that's not the whole story. The former would get deleted fast, and in the meantime it would get "self-policed" with ten or twenty pitchforks. By contrast, I'll give an example from just this morning: Somebody posted that Christian Scientists are "idiot motherfucks." Yes, it was deleted, but not exactly fast and in the meantime it got a bunch of favorites.

[I know policy is not to disclose number of flags, but I'd be curious whether that comment attracted more favorites or flags.]
posted by cribcage at 11:04 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the mods were just courteously giving God a chance to delete the comment, first.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:09 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


cribcage, that would just seem to indicate that whatever ideological majorities exist on Metafilter continue to have the proportionate share of assholes that come with any sufficiently sizable demographic. The point is that that stuff gets deleted, not that assholes exist. Assholes exist in any community-- but they aren't indulged here, even if other assholes give them a high five.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:13 AM on May 1, 2013


Down low.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:17 AM on May 1, 2013


Somebody posted that Christian Scientists are "idiot motherfucks." Yes, it was deleted, but not exactly fast and in the meantime it got a bunch of favorites.

And the portions are so small!
posted by octobersurprise at 11:17 AM on May 1, 2013


Clearly the mods need to work on their deletion efficiency for liberal leaning comments.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:20 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are we really now complaining that mods don't delete comments fast enough?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:26 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Too slow.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe this is a derail, but I'm curious what exactly would be immoral about someone being gay? I also, find it curious that this is being used as an example of how conservatives are persecuted on metafilter.

I'm sorry if I haven't been clear. I absolutely don't think anything is immoral about someone being gay, and have actually marched for gay rights, etc - but I feel like people have said it on Metafilter before. I was trying to think of an example of something that had been commented on Metafilter about immorality and came up with that. Nor do I think that if someone said gay people are immoral and then had their comment deleted, that it would be persecution - I would flag that comment myself. I don't want more people slinging insults, I want less.

I hope that clears things up.
posted by corb at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2013


Its true. There really are a wide range of opinions and points of view on MetaFilter. Some people think Amanda Palmer is just a bad musician and some people think she is truly evil. That was a great discussion and I learned a lot from it.

Clearly I am kidding but the heated discussions are really on the fringes of the debate. I got into some kind of shouting match because said I thought that it might be dangerous for 12 year olds to have access to the morning after pill. I just have very little faith in the crazy sex ed we have in this country, god knows what 12 year olds are taught, they may think they need it after holding hands. Anyway, we are mostly all on the same side here.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


they may think they need it after holding hands

Depends on whether they were wearing gloves.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:32 AM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are we really now complaining that mods don't delete comments fast enough?

REAL MEFITES, who understand that we're fighting to take back our country, are doing so. What are you doing to help defeat the errorists?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:33 AM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I read somewhere the christian right is trying to gut the budget for free gloves.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:34 AM on May 1, 2013


What does "really liberal" look like in China, India, or Indonesia? (the three most populous non-US countries, which comprise 40% of the world's population) To get to over 50% of the world population, let's throw in Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Russia.

I know this was from a while ago, but this comment strikes me as so lazy. Do you not believe there are people whose views you consider to be "really liberal" in those countries? The way it's posed is almost to say you're as likely to find a liberal Indonesian as a unicorn in a rainforest or something.

My grandparents were pretty liberal Indian people. Do you want to know what that looked like? You probably don't. There are also other people on Metafilter being liberals in all/most of those other countries right in the now.
posted by sweetkid at 11:40 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


What are you doing to help defeat the errorists?

I'm teaching people to use the strike through tag! And I'm passing out #2 pencils.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:43 AM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Neither of us is appealing to the reductive bottom of the barrel, and assuming we did not start this conversation as complete strangers at a bus stop with no preface we'll probably have at least a little bit of an idea of what contexts we're coming at it from respectively.

Cortex, I did really find this comment helpful, but I think this piece illustrates the problem I see. On Metafilter, we essentially /are/ coming at things as strangers in a bus stop - so if we want to talk about things, I think we do need to come from a common understanding - otherwise we're completely talking past each other. Few people pause to explain the personal moral standpoint they are working from, much less their conception of what general moral standards for everyone ought to be. So it becomes "This is the objectively right morality for everyone, and you're violating it" rather than, "My moral compass doesn't allow for it. I think it's not morally okay to do XYZ." The formal is a value judgment, the latter is a philosophical discussion about what the true Nature of Morality is.

Does that make sense?

There are standards of discourse here, moral standards of civil participation if you will, that also seek to limit and exclude speech that is pointedly hostile to individuals so that they can continue to participate here.

Miko, I think you generally think things out really well and very eloquently. The above statement is definitely one I would agree with, but I think we mean different things by that. I, for example, would think that speech saying someone is hateful or disgusting for believing a certain thing would fall into the category of hostile. Can you explain where you see the differences as lying?
posted by corb at 12:06 PM on May 1, 2013


The difference is that some beliefs are themselves, in their expression, hostile to individuals and discourage their participation. If you hold almost any beliefs about things (guns, money, tanks in the Middle East), there's a discussion to be had. If you hold certain beliefs about people you might be talking to (women, GSM folks, disabled people), there may not be. It makes sense to me that we ought to talk about things out there differently than people in here, which is the social conservatism (harder to voice in a way consistent with fostering participation) versus other conservatism (easier to voice in a way consistent with fostering participation) thing I mentioned upthread. When deciding whether or not to voice the directions provided by your moral compass, you should try to meet a higher bar when disagreeing with who people are than you do for what positions people hold.
posted by Corinth at 12:32 PM on May 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


To be immoral is to consistently violate the bare bottom of traditionally held morals - not to violate the specific morals of one person.

corb, I like you, and think you're valuable, not least for your willingness to effectively articulate disparaging words seldom heard on Metafilter, but please reassure me that this is not a wretched double entendre.
posted by jamjam at 12:59 PM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


OH GOD.

*dies laughing*

Um, certainly not intentionally one, anyway. It is pretty wretched.
posted by corb at 1:14 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]



Essentially Metafilter's group of early adopters has achieved legislative capture


Maybe you need to check out the initial ethos the internet etc was built on (i'll leave out darpa) - a woodstock of 1's and 0's. Getting all Lewbowskian - mefi is still pretty true to that ethos, you see Matt riding a humvee ? you see cortex playing death metal chords on a flying v ?

No, you don't.

Anyway, yes its true that mefites don't look too radical elsewhere on most things - I miss the heady days of the scottish socialist party, who took cuts on their parliamentary salaries to match the average wage, then completely imploded and pretty much don't get on anymore.

Iceland is pretty much where the radicals are at just now so I guess Kattullus is the main man.

something something polish kittens


Yes, the Polish kitten situation is very good indeed - my relatives farm has about 4 that wander about and the oldest is going to produce some kittens very soon apparently - the dog situations pretty good as well, with many small yappy wee things guarding farmsteads everywhere.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:20 PM on May 1, 2013


Thank you, corb.
posted by jamjam at 1:23 PM on May 1, 2013


you see cortex playing death metal chords on a flying v ?

I'd like to.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:25 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


They always seemed so pointy. I'm a clumsy dude, I'd put my eye out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:30 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Turds are instructive. You examine the scat to determine the health of the critter you are tracking, get an insight into its last couple of meals, and also you can tell how long ago it shat right where you are now standing.

That's if you bother to notice, or are even interested.

Okay, wait. See, you can sort through turds and pick out all those little undigested kernals of corn. Ah...never mind that one.

I don't think I'm alone in resisting change on fundamental issues. My paradigms are ensconced, and although I'm not thrilled by the entirety of my inner architecture, I'm satisfied that it covers my existential cravings well enough to get me to heaven's gate intact. I'll deal with the difference if, or when, I get on the other side. But now and then I'm pleasantly surprised or horrifically outraged if I have to change the furniture around. It's always small things, but they lead up to larger things when they keep happening. Most times it's on the scale of dropping a friend because I realize that his cute eccentricities actually amount to bone-gnawing assholery. That's a lot of grief to process, because friends are hard to come by.

But now and then I have to step back and deal with my own assholery, and that's harder than moving a few end-tables around--it amounts to, say, installing a window, or redoing the entire drip system in my back yard.

This is because pure tones don't often exist at my level of perception. My friends have eccentricities. For one example: Except for the deal with robbing banks, my uncle was pretty much an okay guy. My own little quirks are exposed only by painful effort: just because you call me an asshole doesn't mean I'm going to take it to heart. It takes better exposure over a long time, or else substantial effort, for me to change my point of view. I must be motivated to turn over the rocks before I'm willing to undertake the task of stomping on all the little demons that come crawling out from under them.

I will state right out front that I take criticism well, even though I understand that this is a boldfaced pile of corn-encrusted crap. Mostly I am impressed by the opinion that's gently thought and offered with courtesy, which shows my unbalanced and coarse remark for the product of assholery that it really is, instead of the witty insight that I believed I was offering. And then I need a little time to move the furniture around. Or wipe the egg off my face. Or just sit down and weep with shame: I'm an ex smoker, and I really didn't care about you non-smokers, but I'm not like that anymore.

One guy's turd is another guys trail sign. Did I already say that?
posted by mule98J at 1:32 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


My son REALLY wants me to get a star shaped bass, like Bootsy. I haven't had the heart to tell him that I'm not that funky.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:34 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a poor funksman that exculpates his tools.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:41 PM on May 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


torn between groaning and favoriting, so... both!
posted by small_ruminant at 1:46 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guitars are always dangerous, cortex. Did I ever tell you about the time I saw Pete Townshend get viciously attacked by his guitar? He was just minding his own business, windmilling away, and then... whammo! Suddenly Daltrey has to do the encore. Guitars, man. Never trust them.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:47 PM on May 1, 2013


Cheap Trick? Isn't that the song Zappa did on his doo-wop album?

I mean, the posthumous compilation album is decent, but the original was a hilarious deconstruction of pop music from earlier decades that managed to simultaneously savage youth culture and squares at the same time! It was more than a song, it was a movement towards something realer and stranger than existed beforehand. I have to say studio cut, all the way.

Original 1968 version, though. Not the crappy remaster where Zappa decided to add 80s drums to anything.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:50 PM on May 1, 2013


I think that categorizing people as "liberal" or "conservative" - or even MeFi as "liberal" or "conservative" tends to flatten discussion and send people scurrying to their tents behind the lines of battle, which leads to pretty unproductive and dull discussion of a sort that can be had anywhere. I wish we could resist it here.

Me too. I still don't understand why people (it seems like it's predominantly people from the US but I could be wrong on that) feel the need to label themselves as either liberal or conservative in the first place. It constantly reinforces the 'us vs them' binary and starts every single discussion off with an in-built handicap. 'Well of course you would say that, you're a conservative' is a terrible and lazy lens to view someone's comments through, but it seems to be the default starting point for a lot of people. I think that people here have sufficiently nuanced views that we should be able to dispense with labeling everyone with a particular political stance at all and just take their comments at face value.

Ooh, look, a flying pig!
posted by dg at 1:56 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I still don't understand why people (it seems like it's predominantly people from the US but I could be wrong on that) feel the need to label themselves as either liberal or conservative in the first place.

It's so we know who's backs to defend when things get stabby.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:59 PM on May 1, 2013


Yeah, which is part of the problem.
posted by dg at 2:17 PM on May 1, 2013


The blue is more of an echo chamber than the green, unless the answer is DTMFA. The grey is somewhere in between.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:19 PM on May 1, 2013


Well of course you would say that, you're a conservative' is a terrible and lazy lens to view someone's comments through

Right, but I think that for all sides of the political spectrum the "you're a $_THING" is often polite-ish shorthand for "you believe shitty wrong things with which I disagree and therefore I am predisposed to hate everything you say".
posted by elizardbits at 2:39 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


cribcage: "MetaFilter is liberal and conservative voices are crowded out"

Let me push back on this a bit. Yes, someone who's advancing the minority position while discussing a contentious topic is going to have harder go of it than someone "me too"ing the quite possibly left-leaning consensus, but this asymmetry cuts both ways, because it also allows the representative of the minority viewpoint to be opportunistic in which counter-arguments they respond to. In the "fog of war" that ensues after a particularly provocative claim, pinning down the person making the claim and trying to squeeze evidence out of them can be challenging, and when they clearly don't have the goods, they can always pound the table and say that MeFi is too liberal to understand them.

Lightly-paraphrased examples of such provocative claims I can remember off the top of my head are:

"Presidents never raise taxes or cut spending when the economy is good"
"Obama is trying to round up all of our guns"
"The U.S. could have avoided the Civil War if slave owners had been compensated for their lost income"

There have been plenty of others, of course -- these are just discussions I observed myself and got involved in. Rarely are the extraordinary claims accompanied with any sort of evidence, so of course the instant reaction is often a dozen people saying, in essence, "WTF? Prove it." In some cases, evidence for the minority viewpoint is then presented, and often found lacking. This cycle might repeat once or twice, but at some point, the conservative will generally either (a) complain about how hard it is to represent the minority viewpoint (when they're the ones who made the extraordinary and unsubstantiated claim in the first place) or (b) disappear from the thread, only to show up in the next one on the same topic with the same claims, showing they aren't actually there to debate the issue and learn from others, but are simply there to push their agenda.

I understand the desire to work the refs, but at some point, it gets tiresome seeing conservatives consistently use "MeFi is liberal" as an all-purpose escape hatch to avoid accountability for their outrageous and baseless claims. Of course you'll have to overcome some bias in the audience, so you better be sure you have something resembling a persuasive case from the beginning. Otherwise, you're just trolling.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:51 PM on May 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I, for example, would think that speech saying someone is hateful or disgusting for believing a certain thing would fall into the category of hostile. Can you explain where you see the differences as lying?

I think I did a pretty good job on both these points above and would maybe just ask you to reread. But to elaborate, first, I wonder how often anyone is actually directly called "hateful" or "disgusting" as people because of their beliefs. It is a fairly rare thing to the extent that it may happen, and I think typically draws deletion.

Again, I think you may be making a leap between people saying "that view disgusts me" or "this idea is hateful" and actually being directly called "hateful" or "disgusting" as a person.

But to be quite specific about the differences, speech that falls into the category of hostile, aside from personal attacks, would be what I described above as "statements that directly malign individuals and seek to condemn, exclude, or quiet them as people (rather than as moral thinkers)."

In other words, telling someone who identifies as transgender that they are not and cannot possibly be this thing, or that this thing is wrong to be. Telling someone who has had an abortion that they are a sinner scheduled to suffer in Hell. Telling someone that, as a woman, they are making too much of a specific issue and should be quiet.

How clear is that?
posted by Miko at 3:14 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


In a way I think I overly limited that, too. Because it's not just "telling" those people those things directly that violates a community standard, as I described it above, it's condemning, maligning, or excluding people as people even when they are not named as direct recipients, or even when you don't realize they are there. In other words, it's not great to condemn, say, gay people as people even when none are around - or you don't realize they're around.

It actually has to be fairly extreme on MetaFilter to even get noticed, to be honest. We are also knowledgeable enough about the fallibility of class categorization not to distinguish much between membership in a class by choice or by inclination (again, another reason why we don't have The Ruuuules!), but I do think most of us are pretty decent, most of the time, at distinguishing between arguing against someone's views and arguing against the validity and dignity of their very personhood. Some people do seem to have trouble understanding that principle.
posted by Miko at 3:41 PM on May 1, 2013


"they may think they need it after holding hands

Depends on whether they were wearing gloves.
"

NO GLOVE NO LOVE
posted by klangklangston at 4:47 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right, but I think that for all sides of the political spectrum the "you're a $_THING" is often polite-ish shorthand for "you believe shitty wrong things with which I disagree and therefore I am predisposed to hate everything you say".
So because someone believes {shitty wrong thing}, everything else they believe is wrong as well? I probably didn't express this well, but the thing I'm most puzzled and frustrated by is the insistence that every person be put into a box based on their political leanings. I don't buy the premise that someone who votes on a particular side of the ballot is, by definition, a person who believes {shitty wrong thing}. It's not difficult to simply take people at face value, surely? If someone consistently articulates hatred or moral judgement of a person or group of people because of a single characteristic then, sure, it eventually comes to light that they are a hateful person. But this is irrelevant to political leanings, although there may be some correlation generally and no doubt on specific issues. There are plenty of people who identify as 'liberal' who are awful human beings - it's not as if 'conservatives' hold the franchise on being an arsehole.

I don't think it's 'polite-ish' at all to put people in a box in this way - it's lazy and it's insulting to anyone who holds a belief or beliefs that don't exactly coincide with the published doctrine of the political movement they are being aligned to.

However, I may also be reading the room wrong and, as the membership here includes people from the US as a significant majority, it's probably too much to expect that people would act in a way so far outside their day-to-day lives.
posted by dg at 4:53 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm, re-reading that, I have a feeling it's vaguely insulting lots of people and that wasn't my intent - just trying to understand.
posted by dg at 4:55 PM on May 1, 2013


So because someone believes {shitty wrong thing}, everything else they believe is wrong as well? I probably didn't express this well, but the thing I'm most puzzled and frustrated by is the insistence that every person be put into a box based on their political leanings. I don't buy the premise that someone who votes on a particular side of the ballot is, by definition, a person who believes {shitty wrong thing}.

I didn't present any of these ideas as concrete and factual information so I am sorry I cannot give you the arguconversation you appear to be looking for. I'm saying that I feel like people often make these generalizations in that particular phrasing to AVOID being overtly obnoxious in a more detailed manner to one another. I don't know how to put this more plainly.
posted by elizardbits at 5:19 PM on May 1, 2013


I dunno, dg. The US political binary does tend to conflate political philosophy with personal morality, social theory, and also individual identity in particularly pernicious and irritating ways. I do think that affiliation as "liberal" or "conservative," in the US, does, in the popular mind, take in a bit more than just views on one's relationship to issues like equality, property, liberty, constitutionality, etc. So while it's completely true that any individual is probably at variance at least some of the time with the general set of proposals expected of their political affiliations, there are also some very strong correlations that can be used in a predictive way, even if such utility is limited and non-specific.

Taken to an extreme, though, this becomes the inflexible caricature of others (or personal straitjacket for oneself) that is doing our discourse a hell of a lot of damage. So while it's not unreasonable to guess that someone who identifies as "conservative" is economically neoliberal, opposes gay marriage, is anti-abortion rights, and wants to reduce government influence, that doesn't make it any less lazy to assume that they do, especially because there do exist contingents of conservative-spectrum people who are socially liberal or at least socially apolitical, as well as contingents of liberal-spectrum people who are fiscally conservative and efficiency-minded etc. As well as left, far-left and far-right flavors of the general spectrum, who don't like to be conflated with the largely right-centrist rest of the gang. But because of our system and the entrenched involvement of monied powers in it, there are few major issues not defined in terms of a binary, and there's honestly not a tremendous amount of mixing'n'matching going on.

In short, it's better if we take each person/each view as they come, though the 80/20 rule is pretty much reliable here. Over time, though, when it's clear that someone has a party line and constantly and unvaryingly toes it, I think it's fair to take into account that's where they're coming from.
posted by Miko at 5:19 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: "...I feel like people often make these generalizations in that particular phrasing to AVOID being overtly obnoxious in a more detailed manner to one another. I don't know how to put this more plainly."

Definitely not looking for an argument - sorry if I came off that way. I have trouble getting my head around the idea that it's more polite to generalise about people in this way than to take their comments as they come, but I'm sure that's due to my on-going inability to understand human beings and certainly no fault of yours.

Miko, that's kind of sad. It must be difficult for people to develop their own views about important issues when they are driven to identify with a specific perspective about such a broad range of things that are often completely unrelated.
posted by dg at 5:53 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my experience, people who are that nuanced of thought tend to be less likely to self-identify in stereotypical binaries in the first place. If you can sum up your philosophy in a slogan, it's simpler for everyone to do so. Not better - just simpler.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:58 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not difficult to simply take people at face value, surely

Well, but we really don't do this in other areas of life most or any of the time, do we? Or maybe it's just me? I mean, when someone I know (in meatspace as well as online), I evaluate it in the context I have for them, which necessarily includes past statements and actions I have witnessed, participated in, or otherwise been affected by. We're social animals, and I think this goes along with it.
posted by rtha at 6:00 PM on May 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it is for many people, but not at all for others. However, the interaction with the two-party system really amplifies that need for alignment. Even if you have heterogenous or nuanced views, if you want to affect policy through direct representation you become involved in this problem that territories on most major issues are quite clearly staked out between the parties.

I know AU essentially has a two-party system because of a longstanding coalition. Would you not say that the general public aligns itself along major affinities, to a large degree? And would it not be true that their political choices were in some way predictive of other views or lifestyle choices?
posted by Miko at 6:00 PM on May 1, 2013


rtha: "It's not difficult to simply take people at face value, surely
Well, but we really don't do this in other areas of life most or any of the time, do we?
"
Well, I can only speak for myself, but (and this is my observation generally as well), while I do take people's previous actions/words into account in interacting with them, I certainly don't ever apply any sort of political label to them and filter my perceptions through that label, which was my point.


Miko: "Would you not say that the general public aligns itself along major affinities, to a large degree? And would it not be true that their political choices were in some way predictive of other views or lifestyle choices?"
Not political affinities, no. Generally, how people vote here is considered a private matter and, in most circumstances, asking someone who they voted for would be considered somewhat rude unless between close friends (although I get the sense that this is changing). I'm not even sure that you can make an accurate prediction on how someone would or did vote based on their lifestyle (or vice versa), generally, although you could no doubt make some reasonable guesses like mega-rich business types are more likely to vote conservative and people in 'working class' neighbourhoods are more likely to vote Labor, but I wouldn't like to put any money on any of those guesses.

The other thing to remember is that both the Liberal Party of Australia/The Nationals coalition and the Australian Labor Party, while respectively being 'conservative' and 'liberal', are far closer together in ideology these days than what appears to be a complete black & white situation between the US Democrats and Republicans. This means that there's no way to define a person who votes for either side as fitting into one box or the other, because the lines are so blurred. There are certainly exceptions to that and there are electorates that are considered 'safe seats' by one party or another because the demographics mean that the population in that area is skewed one way or the other. As I mentioned earlier, if you listen to sittings of parliament (without being able to see them), the only clear indication of which party a politician comes from is which party they are blaming for everything that is wrong (ie the other one, of course).
posted by dg at 8:56 PM on May 1, 2013


And the Coalition has done a good job of capturing the socially-conservative working class, since Labor has more or less forgotten how to get their attention since the days of the Accord. Meanwhile some of the small-business owners are starting to realise that the Coalition hangs them out to dry while making sure that big corporations get the red carpet treatment. Which further blurs the lines between lifestyle and politics. And the ability to vote for one of the minor parties without wasting your vote means that people here are happier to live without a label.

I do tend to think that in MeFite terms, that political x-y axis which sometimes gets linked is more useful than a simple left-right dichotomy. Capitalist/communist doesn't really cut it anymore, but the addition of a individual/group axis to the state/market axis helps split it up a bit without getting into special snowflake territory.
posted by harriet vane at 1:06 AM on May 2, 2013


To be immoral is to consistently violate the bare bottom of traditionally held morals - not to violate the specific morals of one person.

FYI, googling "violate the bare bottom" produces nothing pertinent to this discussion.
posted by homunculus at 1:29 AM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nice of you to take one for the team, homunculus.
posted by Corinth at 2:00 AM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Generally, how people vote here is considered a private matter and, in most circumstances, asking someone who they voted for would be considered somewhat rude unless between close friends

Yes, things are very very different here.
posted by Miko at 4:09 PM on May 2, 2013


"I do think that affiliation as "liberal" or "conservative," in the US, does, in the popular mind, take in a bit more than just views on one's relationship to issues like equality, property, liberty, constitutionality, etc."

That's in part, at least in the states (where I'm most familiar, though I don't doubt that it happens elsewhere), because the words that we have to describe the couple of major political positions are pretty rickety contraptions that are generally ill-used.

"Liberal" is a great example, more so than "conservative," because "conservative" doesn't actually have as much of a coherent root (as a label, no judgment currently implied over philosophy). So, while "liberal" implies, say, a redistributionist political outlook right now, it's something that's an association from a lot of people who are liberal on some things (free speech, for one) happening to generally share the redistributionist ethos.

It ends up being really frustrating to anyone who's had to (at least) write a political science/political philosophy term paper, where words have to mean things and definitions have to be clear, concise and applicable.

If I ever went to grad school for political philosophy, I feel like the American discourse could benefit from some better terms and taxonomies of political thought, and a cladistic map of different affinities would be really helpful at clarifying the multidimensional political identity that most people (well, at least most people who have ever formed a coherent political identity) have.

But yeah, a lot of the distinction here comes between "necessarily implies" and "is reasonable to infer." Being Republican doesn't necessarily imply being e.g. anti-choice, neither does Democrat necessarily imply pro-choice. However, in both cases, it's reasonable to infer that position, especially if the contrary isn't clearly stated.
posted by klangklangston at 4:44 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


harriet vane: "I do tend to think that in MeFite terms, that political x-y axis which sometimes gets linked is more useful than a simple left-right dichotomy."

I think this is the one that's most commonly linked and, while it's far better than a simple two-sided label, I don't think it's actually nuanced enough to truly capture the breadth of how people really are. Plus, a lot of the questions are badly-worded and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets a lot of puzzled people when they look at their result because they didn't read the questions carefully enough. When I saw my result (Economic Left/Right: -5.25, Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.74), I thought it was a mistake, but repeating the test and taking more care in my answers didn't change anything, though. I would have thought I was more economically 'conservative' than that, but, *shrug*.

Along the lines of what klangklangston is saying, I think you need to plot an individual's attitude to a range of categorised issues and consider the area that the results cover, rather than a single point that necessarily squashes a whole lot of discrete issues together. That would avoid a lot of the requirement to infer what people might think or feel.
posted by dg at 7:12 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

The fact that you used the term "out" to refer to Conservatives on Metafilter is a really telling reveal of how welcomed they are in the community. "Out" is usually used to refer to things that, while fine in themselves, are for whatever reason not generally welcome in the larger society, and it exposes some personal risk to show them to others.

That said: yes, people love being LOLCONSERVATIVES (just as, yes, on other sites, people like being LOLLIBERALS) and it is really shitty and frustrating and is completely full of strawmen. Look, if you want other opinions or what actual conservatives think on things? We do have them here, eventually someone may be along in the thread to bring you some reasonable opinions. There's no need to point and laugh.
I hope you weren't saying I was pointing and laughing? And I guess I should have said "known to identify as Conservative," but that sounds McCarthyistic. This is the internet. What I meant by "out" is that no one knows who you are unless you tell them, put it in your profile, or the information somehow otherwise gets exposed. I can say the same about metafilter's black population. Or people from China. Or woodworkers. My point was the opposite or what you're making it. That many of the people you interact with on this site might be Conservative, but they are off posting shit in projects or discussing their favorite metal band or commenting on cute puppy pictures.

Politics generally only comes up in political threads and a lot of people avoid these.

I also really suck at remember usernames, so you really have to make an impression for it to stick. Your run of the mill Conservative comment isn't going to make me label you as such. You're going to either have to take an extreme position, have a personal hobby horse issue that you bring up at inappropriate times, or make sure you tell people at every chances.

I'm probably a bit more liberal than the next guy, but I generally don't care what a person's political orientation is. In this manner I think "out" is a great way to look at it. You and I seem to have conflicting views on what being out means as well. To me being out is to be someone that has decided they are comfortable with their own identity, and if not celebrating it, at least doesn't give a shit who knows. For years I was a closeted atheist. Now I am out. But unless I make an issue of it I don't see why it matters when it comes to talking about 90% of the stuff on this site. I guess that's how I feel about Conservatives too. I don't care as long as what's being said sense.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:31 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


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