Was my comment deleted? May 16, 2013 9:22 PM   Subscribe

This evening, I posted a comment in the FPP about Red Letter Christians.

The gist of it was:

"I guess that being nice while believing in mythical nonsense is better than being a dick while believing in mythical nonsense. On that level, I applaud this movement.

However, I've never understood why people can't just be nice while not believing in mythical nonsense. Seems like the best of both worlds, doesn't it?"

I no longer see that comment in the thread. Was it deleted?

If so, what exactly was my offense? All I've really done is to refer to Christianity as "mythical nonsense", which is what I believe it to be.

I realize that the sentiment won't be loved by everyone, but I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to say. If I referred to the cult of Zeus (or any other deity who no longer claims many adherents) as "mythical nonsense", I doubt that my comment would be deleted. What is the difference?

In short: what is the MeFi policy or guideline that I overstepped here? Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?
posted by escape from the potato planet to Etiquette/Policy at 9:22 PM (274 comments total)

Referring to religion and all followers of religion as "mystical nonsense" is pretty obviously a huge chunk of flamebait in an otherwise thoughtful thread about religion. It was a molotov cocktail thrown into a thread, was flagged, and removed.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [64 favorites]


'Invisible sky wizard' type comments are frowned upon as they sometimes lead to noisy ax-grindy derails. It's possible your comment was taken as such.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a complete derail. What'd you expect? More to the point, what do you expect to get here that mailing the mods wouldn't have gotten you?
posted by tyllwin at 9:29 PM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


question
answer
close thread
becauseleavingitopenitsn'tgoingtoresultinanythingpositive
posted by HuronBob at 9:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Seconding HuronBob.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


doesn't seem any worse to post on metafilter than Woody Allan Jesus. Or, is the deletion because it was saying religion is ridiculous in a post that assumes religion is legitimate?
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:35 PM on May 16, 2013


cupcake1337, yep, pretty much. Also if there was a huge thread of dozens of people happily discussing baseball seriously and someone pops in and posts "omg, don't tell me anyone here cares about millionaires swinging sticks and trying to swat rawhide balls out of the air?!" it'd be deleted as noise and a derail.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [40 favorites]


unfortunately, since i can't see the original comment, word for word, i don't know how accurate that analogy is.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:39 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's pretty close to the gist of what was posted above, no one else in the thread was mocking religion.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:40 PM on May 16, 2013


That was a religion thread that went really well. It was thoughtful and polite and that comment could have thrown the whole thing off. Next time if you really feel the comment is necessary, try leaving out the snide bits:

"I guess that being nice while believing in Jesus is better than being a dick while believing in Jesus. On that level, I applaud this movement.

However, I've never understood why people can't just be nice while not believing in Jesus."
posted by elsietheeel at 9:41 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


But really, what was the point of the comment? Lots of us are nice without believing in mythical nonsense.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:43 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thread closing is not determined by user vote.
posted by Mitheral at 9:45 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had a comment where I was acting like a jackass deleted today; if everyone's game, we could repurpose this MeTa to be about that.

Mods, why do you hate freedom? And jackassery, but also mostly freedom?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2013 [19 favorites]


i think deleting a comment because of "tone" (my quotations, removing the "snide" part) when an otherwise similar comment, with the same meaning, could stand is not good policy. it may be more convenient to moderators, but not good for a diverse online community.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:49 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's because you meant to post in the behavioral economics thread.
posted by michaelh at 9:52 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


cupcake1337, that sounds great and idealistic but a bunch of people happily having a conversation with one person acting like a bit of a jerk mocking them isn't a "diverse community". I'm perfectly fine removing a bombastic derail.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:53 PM on May 16, 2013 [51 favorites]


I'm always somewhat amazed/amused/disappointed that mathowie's tag says "staff" and not "god".
posted by HuronBob at 9:56 PM on May 16, 2013


In short: what is the MeFi policy or guideline that I overstepped here? Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?

People express negative sentiment all the time about religion here.
posted by empath at 9:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


cupcake1337: “i think deleting a comment because of 'tone' (my quotations, removing the 'snide' part) when an otherwise similar comment, with the same meaning, could stand is not good policy.”

Tone arguments are a tough area, and I feel like there's a lot of concern over them these days. But the trouble is – we can't entirely jettison any conversation about tone altogether. We can't pretend that bringing up the tone people are using is always a terrible thing – else we're basically saying that tone should never be a part of our equation in how we treat each other. And obviously that really doesn't work. Tone is important.

People have pointed to this article on "tone arguments" before, and I think it's a good place to start. The trouble with tone arguments isn't simply their being tone arguments; it is possible to have discussions about tone that don't descend into silencing behavior and shutting down of weaker conversants. As that article points out, this is very much about judging the context and situation and checking privilege and power relationships before deciding that a tone argument is oppressive or silencing behavior.

Personally I think that where mathowie is coming from is a fair position, and I think it's pretty clear that he's not engaged in silencing. I say that because there are many, many conversations on this site about this very subject, and it doesn't seem to be a forbidden thing. People are not disallowed from saying that they disagree with religion or even that they think it's nonsense.

Really, this seemed to be less a deletion because of tone and more a deletion because it was a derail. The "is religion nonsense?" discussion is an okay one, but it didn't really fit in that thread at all, and bringing it up in the way that escape from the potato planet brought it up was pretty much a guarantee that the conversation would veer off in that trajectory.
posted by koeselitz at 10:10 PM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


That was a religion thread that went really well.

Yeah, I peeked into that thread on a break from the Bataan Death March that was the cellphone thread, and when I saw everyone being calm and polite to one another I backed out, slowly and in extreme terror.
posted by elizardbits at 10:13 PM on May 16, 2013 [40 favorites]


what do you expect to get here that mailing the mods wouldn't have gotten you?

About that, as long as this meta is here, I used the contact form to submit a report to the mods at approx 1039pm EDT 05-16-13, checked the box that says, "Send a copy to my verified email address [email address on my page] and have not received an email. Yes I checked my Spam folder.

So, did you receive my communication?
posted by mlis at 10:15 PM on May 16, 2013


mlis, we haven't gotten any email from you tonight, no. Usually we answer in less than 5 minutes. Can you try again?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:21 PM on May 16, 2013


ok, thx!
posted by mlis at 10:24 PM on May 16, 2013


Is it Friday already?
posted by mazola at 10:40 PM on May 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


a bunch of people happily having a conversation with one person acting like a bit of a jerk mocking them isn't a "diverse community". I'm perfectly fine removing a bombastic derail.

one person flirting at the edge of deviant thought is something i would expect in a "diverse community." i'm not arguing that you wouldn't be fine deleting that kind of comment. from the perspective of a moderator it makes sense: it's very convenient. nipping it in the bud means less work for you, and most people are none the wiser. but that's not necessarily good for the website.

having read through the thread so far, this comment, this comment, and this comment also seem to undermine the assumptions of the OP in that the OP assumes there is legitimacy in what the bible says Jesus said because he is (claimed) to be the son of god. I really don't see how calling the bible "nonsense" is materially different from saying people just interpret it in whatever way benefits them the most.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:42 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?"
It might be instructive to think about what exactly your comment is communicating, because I'm not reading anything more than a bland yet still insulting recitation of how you feel about religion along with some pretty aggressively condescending stuff about people who might seem to superficially agree with you. It’s like, absent any real analysis or original perspective or substantial criticism, the only purpose of the comment is to openly display your doctrinal hostility to other users, which, in addition to not being very interesting of you, is not very flattering to you. Being blandly shitty about someone else’s favorite band or whatever is also grounds for deletion, but anyone treating 2.1 billion people with such broad strokes unlikely to be saying anything valuable anyway.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:48 PM on May 16, 2013 [25 favorites]


anyone treating 2.1 billion people with such broad strokes unlikely to be saying anything valuable anyway

pot kettle etc lol
posted by elizardbits at 10:55 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

"If I referred to the cult of Zeus (or any other deity who no longer claims many adherents) as "mythical nonsense", I doubt that my comment would be deleted. What is the difference?"
Such a comment probably would have a lower chance of being deleted, if only because I imagine that it would occur to fewer people to flag and wouldn't be meaninglessly shitty at other users, but it wouldn't be any less noise.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:57 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also, us Zeus followers are pretty confident that when you dis Zeus, there's no need for us to give you a hard time about it (but you very well may want to stay indoors and out of range of thunderbolts for the rest of your life).
posted by el io at 10:59 PM on May 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


The problem with insulting Zeus worshipers is that any random person off the street has a good chance of secretly being an illegitimate child of Zeus. You badmouth their daddy once, and then years later they come into your city disguised as a beggar, slaughter all of you male descendants, steal your wife and usurp your kingdom.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:04 PM on May 16, 2013 [66 favorites]


Metafilter: a bunch of people happily having a conversation with one person acting like a bit of a jerk mocking them

really don't see how calling the bible "nonsense" is materially different from saying people just interpret it in whatever way benefits them the most.

If English is your first language, and I don't know that it is, then surely you can figure out what is different about that.
posted by Miko at 11:11 PM on May 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


All I've really done is to refer to Christianity as "mythical nonsense", which is what I believe it to be.

This is not a sentiment I disagree with even a little. However—and I was slow at learning this one too—I've found that vocalizing that sentiment makes people feel like shit, and nothing good comes of it. Same as I feel when someone comes at me with a Bible in their hand. Heh, it's just not good.

What your comment did was tell a bunch of people you hang with regularly that they're suckers. It didn't really do anything else. You didn't prove that there's no Jesus, so it wasn't exactly persuasive. All it really accomplished was letting people know you think their religion is hooey.

However, I've never understood why people can't just be nice while not believing in mythical nonsense.

You don't believe in mythical nonsense, and you were not nice. Where does that leave anyone, really, in terms of conversation? I'm guessing a nasty back-and-forth because you probably didn't intend to call everyone a bunch of suckers, eh.

That being said, I have no opinion on the deletion. Deletions are sticky little boogers of contention.
posted by heyho at 11:14 PM on May 16, 2013 [39 favorites]


I'm generally down with most comment deletion rationale these days, but this actually makes me a wee bit cranky. I don't think the comment in question was particularly worth saving, but I think a line is being crossed when comments critical of religion and religious belief are deleted from threads dealing with religion merely because they are critical.

I may not be reading this right, but if I am: that's not good. This concerns me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:21 PM on May 16, 2013


one person flirting at the edge of deviant thought

This wasn't one person flirting at the edge of deviant thought, this was one person purposefully and gratuitously insulting a bunch of other people.

Being an asshole is not protected speech.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:22 PM on May 16, 2013 [24 favorites]


when comments critical of religion and religious belief are deleted from threads dealing with religion merely because they are critical.

That doesn't seem like it was the case because there are still other comments that are critical of religion in that thread. They just aren't fight-picking sorts or baiting sorts of comments.
posted by Miko at 11:24 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The REAL problem with this thread is that mathowie - Chief CEO Officer of Metafilter - has had to do all the admin-work. Where are his expensive team of mods? Drunk on meths, no doubt, and laughing at us all!

In that context, isn't it time mathowie replaced the mod team with a NEW trusted deputy, with authority scarcely less than his own? I therefore call on mathowie to vote #2 quidnunc kid as his new #2, and I will assist him with an iron fist and do all my typing with iron fingers.

I hope to loyally serve mathowie as #2 and, eventually, be considered for promotion to #1.5. So vote #1.5 quidnunc kid, and send mathowie a message that his lack of appreciation for my long years of service is NOT acceptable. In fact, probably best for mathowie and his harsh management style to be thrown out and the shareholders of MetaFilter to vote #1 quidnunc kid right away. Thanks.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:36 PM on May 16, 2013 [48 favorites]


stavros, were you reading that thread? The FPP didn't deal with "religion, yes or no?" but with "here's an increasingly popular relationship to the bible that some christians are proposing". The validity of religious belief and its relation to ethical behavior (which the deleted comment was about) really doesn't seem to have much relation to the subject.

I read the comment when it was post and it didn't bother me then, but mathowie's reasons sound spot-on to me.

Also, very nicely put hey-ho.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:37 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think the comment in question was particularly worth saving, but I think a line is being crossed when comments critical of religion and religious belief are deleted from threads dealing with religion merely because they are critical.

Nahh. If it's about religion's effects on policy, the public sphere, or some other subject then yeah, people should be able to voice their dissatisfaction with what religion is doing and be critical of the whole enterprise, sure. But a post that's about a religion should be able to generate a substantive discussion about a religion without devolving into the same "ha ha ha invisible sky god" crap, just as... well, what Fearless Leader said upthread. It is better not to dive into the same boring arguments over and over again.

Also that was a very good comment thread there.
posted by furiousthought at 11:39 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


phew, when I started reading that comment I thought the quidnunc kid had been ground down so far that he was ready to settle for #2. Glad to see THE MAN hasn't crushed his dreams yet!
posted by jacalata at 12:07 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Chief CEO Officer of Metafilter"

Would you have him make a withdrawal at the ATM machine? Or would he need to take that to the department of redundancy department?
posted by disclaimer at 12:15 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


^ I'm always somewhat amazed/amused/disappointed that mathowie's tag says "staff" and not "god".
BOSS as some believe ''God'' is taken.
posted by adamvasco at 1:09 AM on May 17, 2013


Only the best is good enough for mathowie. He may make his withdrawals at the automatic ATM machine, none of this manual nonsense for him!
posted by daisyk at 1:14 AM on May 17, 2013


I don't think the comment in question was particularly worth saving, but I think a line is being crossed when comments critical of religion and religious belief are deleted from threads dealing with religion merely because they are critical.

The comment was basically the religious equivalent of "Your favorite band sucks."
posted by empath at 1:22 AM on May 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm always somewhat amazed/amused/disappointed that mathowie's tag says "staff" and not "god"...some believe ''God'' is taken.

It is. God is user 7586, a mefite since 2001.

God has been an infrequent commenter, but we can learn something about God from God's posting history. God is pleased to see great works of art enter the public domain. God refuses to help you interpret the Bible. Answers can be found on IMDB.

God's only question for humanity: God wants to know how pastries can be delivered to God's friend who lives in Phoenix.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:25 AM on May 17, 2013 [45 favorites]


And apparently God was banned from metafilter.
posted by empath at 1:42 AM on May 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?

No.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:42 AM on May 17, 2013


Would you have him make a withdrawal at the ATM machine? Or would he need to take that to the department of redundancy department?

disclaimer, I like your "moxie" - ! But, at the risk of dissecting the frog, I wonder if I can offer just a personal thought here, because I feel you run the risk of being too subtle.

I think better could be " ... the automatic ATM machine ...", because the redundancy balances on either side; and "department of redundancy department" is (I worry) a bit clichéd and doesn't balance at all. Perhaps one might suggest "personal PIN number" - ? Of course, none have the benefit of the "triple absurdity" that arises from also using a formal title (CEO) for someone we don't feel has quite such an "official" relationship with ourselves or MeFi.

On that basis I wonder if you might have considered something like this:

Sure, we'll vote for you so you can trick us all into revealing our "personal PIN numbers" and take all our money from an "automatic ATM machine" - ! You have a low "intellectual IQ quotient."

I only offer that because I cannot go on forever and eventually we will have to get this Vote #1 disclaimer campaign off the ground.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:47 AM on May 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


God's final hour was amusing.
posted by adamvasco at 1:51 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.
posted by DU at 1:56 AM on May 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


stavros, were you reading that thread?

Nope. I have a firm policy of never actually reading the threads that Metatalk posts are about. I don't know why that policy exists, nor do I understand why I am so dedicated to its preservation, but such is the way of it. It is a burden I must bear. Heh.

a post that's about a religion should be able to generate a substantive discussion about a religion without devolving into the same "ha ha ha invisible sky god" crap

Agreed. But I believe it's important not to confuse informed criticism with kneejerk mockery, and encourage the former even if we're going to try to eschew the latter. Note that I am not talking about this comment that got deleted. It may have been dumb and needlessly inflammatory, I don't know. But it's worth taking care not to let that "ha ha ha invisible sky god" comment-valuation brush broaden to the point where it's also being used to paint as dismissible commentary that is actually worthwhile.

I'm happy to be assured that such is not the case, of course. Contra mathowie, though I do understand what he's saying from a community-management perspective, I think the stakes are a heck of a lot higher when the subject is religion than when it's baseball.

Also, for what it's worth, I admit that I am a big fan of mockery when it's ideas and beliefs and organizations and the powerful that are being mocked, not individuals. Sometimes that's a fine line to walk -- am I mocking you or what you believe and is there a difference there anyway? -- but.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.

Yes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"God's final hour was amusing."

Oh my God, that thread is amazing!
posted by Blasdelb at 2:57 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is not a sentiment I disagree with even a little. However—and I was slow at learning this one too—I've found that vocalizing that sentiment makes people feel like shit, and nothing good comes of it. Same as I feel when someone comes at me with a Bible in their hand. Heh, it's just not good.

What your comment did was tell a bunch of people you hang with regularly that they're suckers. It didn't really do anything else. You didn't prove that there's no Jesus, so it wasn't exactly persuasive. All it really accomplished was letting people know you think their religion is hooey.


This is spot on. EFTPP, let me guess that you often hang out with other atheists online and perhaps in real life. And if we were on the Friendly atheist, then such a comment wouldn't be out of line. Its a comment you make to the in crowd. But in mixed company it does no good. Its not a line that will convince anyone of faith, and it may well alienate and anger them, leading to a very unproductive argument. Your point isn't without merit, but it could easily be made in a manner which didn't put off many of the people who might be reading it.

Tone matters, and it certainly matters here, I think. The goal isn't actually to make the best argument here, its to have a good discussion, and tone really really matters for that.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:04 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I agree with the deletion. Why did you even bring this to meta? Are you really that committed to having "lol ur religion is dumb you know that rite?" preserved for the ages?

Sorry, you're new so I'll cut you some slack.

Yes, your comment was deleted. We do that here. I prefer to think of it as the mods curating the information that's broadcasted on the site. Some people tend to think of it as a set of imperial overlords who want to silence their every thought. Feel free to take a side.

Normally when comments are deleted, it's encouraged that, if you must know why/get confirmation, you use the contact form and talk to the mods directly. The purpose of Metatalk is not really to ask "What did I do wrong?". It's purpose is when a discussion/debate is needed by the community on how etiquette should be formed, or for feedback from the community to proposed site features, etc. In this case, in my opinion, you don't really need our feedback, you just need a refresher on how the site works. And that is what the mods are for.

So, to answer your question "what is the MeFi policy or guideline that I overstepped here? Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?"

And here's an answer directly from the guidelines :
Follow the golden rule, treat others' opinions with the same respect that you would like to be afforded.

So, yeah. In my opinion you treated others' beliefs with zero respect. Not cool. And it's totally permissible to express negative opinions of religion here. It happens all the time. But there's a difference between expressing negative opinions, and just swooping into a thread and adding a not-so-pithy one liner that shat on people's beliefs when the discussion was going pretty good so far.

Also, if that answer isn't good enough for you- the mods' job is to not only clean up messes after flame-outs happen, but to try and prevent them in the first place. As someone upthread said, the discussion of whether or not christianity is real doesn't really pertain to the the story about how people are choosing to express their beliefs. So opening up that vein of discussion pretty much was guaranteed to just steer the thread over the cliff of "nuh uh" "yuh huh" back and forth bullshit that religion threads frequently derail into.

I, for one, am glad that same discussion was not rehashed. I feel like a discussion on the actual subject is a hell of a lot more interesting.
posted by FirstMateKate at 3:29 AM on May 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


If I referred to the cult of Zeus (or any other deity who no longer claims many adherents) as "mythical nonsense", I doubt that my comment would be deleted. What is the difference?

The Church of Zeus is not a cult. It is a religion, and one that is very protective of its tax-exempt status. Tread carefully.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:01 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I referred to the cult of Zeus (or any other deity who no longer claims many adherents) as "mythical nonsense", I doubt that my comment would be deleted. What is the difference?

Posts and comments are deleted as a matter of practicality. If what you write is likely to start one of the usual blowups or otherwise impede the ongoing (or expected) discussion, it will be deleted.
posted by pracowity at 4:07 AM on May 17, 2013



It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.

Yes.


This. And it's different from before.

Somehow having more mods has made it imperative that we not make too much work for them. What used to be be an "argument" is now a "derail."

DU put it very precisely, and it's new, or rather has emerged as a culture of hyper-moderation.
posted by spitbull at 4:12 AM on May 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


You know, I thought the anti-cabal theory about organized posting of contentious MeTa threads was just a tin-foil hat thing, but I'm starting to consider wearing a handmade metal beanie myself, these days.
posted by winna at 4:31 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I referred to the cult of Zeus (or any other deity who no longer claims many adherents) as "mythical nonsense", I doubt that my comment would be deleted. What is the difference?

Well obviously the difference is the amount of damage it's likely to do the thread. I'd get in trouble for posting racist comments, but my Scythian jokes would probably go undeleted. Your comments about the cult of Zeus would be off-topic and pointless, just like the comment that go deleted here, but they'd be allowed to stand because people would ignore them.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 4:39 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.

Yes.


Really not my experience.
posted by rtha at 4:54 AM on May 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


Some people just seem to be generally disgruntled nowadays. Whatever the MetaTalk complaint, they are in here agreeing, and not even acknowledging the mods posts.
posted by smackfu at 5:09 AM on May 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Scythians: early adopters of the hotbox smoking method; brutal military presence. Be sure to mock them when they're involved in the former, not in the latter.
posted by mr. digits at 5:15 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd get in trouble for posting racist comments, but my Scythian jokes would probably go undeleted.

Did you hear the one about the Scythian? He was so stupid...

(How stupid?)

Soooo stupid that he swapped his two mules for one donkey!

(it's funny in Ancient Greek. Well, funnier.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:21 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's not even mention how the Scythians milked their mares.
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"...rather has emerged as a culture of hyper-moderation."

Call it what you will, that moderation enabled a sustained, thoughtful, nuanced discussion on a topic that would have otherwise devolved into a competition to create the wittiest lolSkyGod comment.
posted by klarck at 5:24 AM on May 17, 2013 [34 favorites]


Okay, with the caveat I've drifted in and out of that thread, is it actually a good post? Certainly some people are making thoughtful, substantive comments, so in that sense it's a good post. But, if a couple of users were on vacation this week and not commenting, would the FPP itself actually be any good? Or is its point just the point of this deleted comment? For example, it doesn't attempt to place these Red Letter people in any sort of theological context. It doesn't actually explain the connection to Christian Socialism or Social Gospel. (Calling Christian Socialism an antecedent seems particularly flimsy unless we're just sorting Christians into 'good' and 'bad'. (Okay the RL website quoted George Bernard Shaw, but that's it.))
posted by hoyland at 5:24 AM on May 17, 2013



The problem with leaving comments is up that they're forever, while in real life they linger and then disappear, except for the memory of the listeners. If someone said something grating in real life they can be addressed or more importantly ignored. Then the comment effectively vanishes except for later that night when people are telling friends or significant others about it and wondering what the hell.

Not so with written conversations on Metatalk or any online site. A comment at the start of thread is there for everyone to read, from the time it was published to forever. Worse, it can be one of the first comments a person sees in a thread, which they then choose to respond angrily to. Never mind if the conversation further in the thread has righted itself or even if the person who originally wrote the inflammatory comment has later apologized and even acknowledged their original comment was wrong. It's still there, as the initial point of contention, forever set in the past and guiding the future.

It would be easy to argue that people should read a thread completely before posting a new comment. Or that people should ignore bombastic online comments. But people are people and will respond in all sorts of ways they shouldn't. Real life is messy with its lack of Undo, spelling checks or easy editing. In a way we’re all living in the past or eternally dealing with acts we can’t click and rearrange.

So it becomes a question of do you leave the comment and keep rehashing arguments or remove it and hope to steer the conversation away from inflammatory comment that is now consuming all the oxygen? What is more important, the individual or the group? It is easier to shut down the outliers, the misfits, minorities (meant in a general sense) or conversation we don’t want online. This isn’t always bad, but it’s rarely universally right. It’s just as messy as real life, but in different ways.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somehow having more mods has made it imperative that we not make too much work for them.

Look, the moderation philosophy may be different than you remember, but why assume bad faith or laziness? Surely bad faith on their part would have resulted in you being silenced, and laziness would have resulted in no deletion at all?
posted by Mooski at 5:47 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


It is vital that we have the exact same discussion we had in the last 47 deleted comment threads.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:09 AM on May 17, 2013 [40 favorites]


Somehow having more mods has made it imperative that we not make too much work for them.

Having more mods means the life guards have time to get the net out and scoop floaters out of the swimming pool before everyone's swim is ruined, but that doesn't mean people should feel encouraged to drop their swimming suits and launch more floaters into the water.
posted by pracowity at 6:11 AM on May 17, 2013 [12 favorites]




I'm always somewhat amazed/amused/disappointed that mathowie's tag says "staff" and not "god".

I guess that being nice while believing in mathowie is better than being a dick while believing in mathowie. On that level, I applaud this movement.

However, I've never understood why people can't just be nice while not believing in mathowie.
posted by StephenF at 6:14 AM on May 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


More evidence that we no longer have moderators, but editors. There's still too much good stuff here for me to just quit, but this is a very discouraging trend.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:14 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?

No.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:42 on May 17 [+] [!]


Look up VikingSword's post/comment history sometime for a thorough refutation of this deeply silly idea.
posted by Jpfed at 6:19 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


For those playing along at home.

Priviledge, n, a part of a castle wall where the nobles would sit to evacuate their bowels, unaware of the commoners below.
posted by fleacircus at 6:20 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.

Apart from AskMe - where it is explicitly stated policy - I do not think this is true.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:22 AM on May 17, 2013


More evidence that we no longer have moderators, but editors.

I am an editor; I do not just play one on TV. I don't play one on TV at all.

If mods were really editors, there would be far fewer typos, no grocer's apostrophes, zero instances of incorrect usage of it's/its, and we could have many, many more meTas about the Oxford comma, which would be much more entertaining than yet another Mods Are Oppressing People discussion.
posted by rtha at 6:25 AM on May 17, 2013 [34 favorites]


This was a good and completely standard deletion.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:40 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've had a couple of "invisible sky papa" comments deleted (and had a couple stand, as well) and while it is always offputting to have one's words erased, there were situational differences that made those deleted comments not really a useful contribution to the greater good.

And, you know, the Greater Good here really is essentially "have interesting and fruitful conversations" so as far as I'm concerned it's okay to lose some brazen speech occasionally (even if it's mine) so that as a group we can continue mostly civil discourse.

Plenty of other places on the net where if you want to smash your beer bottle on the bar and start a brawl you can do that; here in the lounge we favour a little more gentility.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:42 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Plenty of other places on the net where if you want to smash your beer bottle on the bar and start a brawl you can do that; here in the lounge we favour a little more gentility.

Indeed, us Meefits are just sitting around an organically made table, enjoying cilantro on our veggie burgers and talking about crappy bands such as Magnetic fields and Boards of Canada.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


...if there was a huge thread of dozens of people happily discussing baseball seriously and someone pops in and posts "omg, don't tell me anyone here cares about millionaires swinging sticks and trying to swat rawhide balls out of the air?!" it'd be deleted as noise and a derail.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:38 AM


QFT. Also in case people skipped the beginning of the thread and are just jumping down here for the "OMG Moderation is killing Metafilter" discussion.

Also the way that people are wondering whether it is OK to be critical of religion on Metafilter is ridiculous.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:48 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


empath: "For those playing along at home."

Heh. Do those exist for the other subsites?
posted by zarq at 6:54 AM on May 17, 2013


It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.

Not true. People are questioning and critical of religion all the time on MeFi and it's fine. Some people have issue with this position and they're going to have a lump it, somewhat, or talk to us on the Contact Form or here. Some people have difficulty with the "Hey could you not show up in a thread and just grind your same old axe we'd sure appreciate it" request we generally make. This is no different from showing up in a thread about BBQ and shouting "Meat is murder" or showing up in a thread about complex abortion legislation and making your stand about the rights of the unborn babies.

If you want to comment, even if it's making a negative comment about the topic or idea the topic represents, just be clear that you're joining a conversation already in progress and don't turn the entire thread into a referendum on your personal take on the idea. It's a big website, it's very lightly moderated, we're fairly clear about what the guidelines are and happy to discuss them if people have questions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:54 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.

Yes.


Your favorite Metatalk axegrind sucks.
posted by kmz at 7:04 AM on May 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was deleted because in every thread we are required to accept the underlying assumptions and only talk about stuff as framed.

Clearly, users are not allowed to subvert the premise of an FPP in the comments. Even if it is the first comment in the thread.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:15 AM on May 17, 2013


What your comment did was tell a bunch of people you hang with regularly that they're suckers. It didn't really do anything else. You didn't prove that there's no Jesus, so it wasn't exactly persuasive. All it really accomplished was letting people know you think their religion is hooey.

But what's the point of being an atheist if I can't use my non-faith to repeatedly demonstrate to people how much smarter I am them them? I have so few other things to take pride in!

Well, my troll doll collection is pretty neat I guess.
posted by Diablevert at 7:16 AM on May 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


All I've really done is to refer to Christianity as "mythical nonsense", which is what I believe it to be. I realize that the sentiment won't be loved by everyone, but I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to say.

If nothing else - even if you leave religion out of the picture entirely, it wasn't germane to the conversation.

Lemme explain - say the conversation wasn't about religion, but about cheesemaking. Suppose it was about an ongoing debate within the cheesemaking community about raw milk cheese, and debates about its legality in certain countries. Some cheesemongers take one position, some another, and the FPP therefore may be about a third school of thought when it comes to raw milk cheese and how the first two schools are reacting to that third school of thought.

If that were the discussion, and someone came into that thread and said "cheese sucks, just wake up and face it you morons," that...doesn't really fit into the conversation. The conversation is about "how these groups of cheesemakers are discussing things among themselves," it's not "Escape From The Potato Planet's thoughts on cheese."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 AM on May 17, 2013 [72 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos has distilled my tangled and inarticulate thoughts on the matter down to their essence and has framed it quite nicely.

She also saved me a great deal of typing. :)
posted by DWRoelands at 7:21 AM on May 17, 2013


"Escape From The Potato Planet's thoughts on cheese."

I saw them play a great show at a hole in the wall on Halsted back in '87.
posted by kmz at 7:23 AM on May 17, 2013


DWRoelands: I just managed to pack for a nine-day vacation and only needed one carryon bag. I think I'm on some kind of condensation roll. :-)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I need a new overnight bag. Suggestions?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:27 AM on May 17, 2013


only needed one carryon bag.

I thought that said crayon bag.
posted by pracowity at 7:28 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I need a new overnight bag. Suggestions?

Oh, I don't know - I just used a random duffle that was the right dimensions for most carryons. My only recommendation would be to go with something soft-sided, so it can be smooshed to accomodate whatever shape the overhead container is; some airlines are less lenient about the definition of "carryon bag" than others, and I got screwed over once because my carryon bag wouldn't fit into a specifically shaped space.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on May 17, 2013


I need a new overnight bag. Suggestions?

Yes.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:32 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I need a new overnight bag. Suggestions?

LL Bean Boat and Tote forever.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:38 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, that is pretty Slap*Happy!
posted by SLC Mom at 7:40 AM on May 17, 2013


I'd get in trouble for posting racist comments, but my Scythian jokes would probably go undeleted.

One of the worst parts about playing Civilization against my best friends is that I've developed a deep and abiding loathing for those dirty backstabbing Hittites.

God I hate Hittites.
posted by winna at 7:57 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nonsense, everyone loves hitties.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:08 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Totally onboard with this deletion, but referring to the original comment with terms like "bombastic" or "brazen" seems to be giving it too much credit. Lots of people on this site (myself included) are skeptical of or reject religion outright, but can find ways of expressing this without mouthing the same banal "mythical nonsense / invisible sky wizard / zombie Jesus" phrases and expecting to gain points for our radically incisive stance. This just isn't how you communicate with anybody who doesn't already agree with you 100%, IF your goal is to argue for a different point of view and not just to cast yourself as the Blazing Beacon of Elevated Insight.

To act as if the deletion of this comment says anything about MetaFilter's "stance" on religious or other dissent is way too big of a leap. This was just an unremarkable turd of a comment. Not even a turd of surprising shape or interesting composition, just a bog standard turd.

(on preview - oh wait, have we moved on to Hittites now? Man, fuck Hittites and the overnight bags they rode in on.)
posted by DingoMutt at 8:21 AM on May 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


I have been quite pleasantly surprised by the level of discourse in that thread.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:39 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are hitties Hittite hippies? Can anyone even say the previous sentence in this comment without having a stroke?
posted by selfnoise at 8:41 AM on May 17, 2013


Tanizaki: "I have been quite pleasantly surprised by the level of discourse in that thread."

It helps that it's not about people who are actively trying to deny rights to others or are covering up a pedophilia scandal.
posted by zarq at 8:44 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm always somewhat amazed/amused/disappointed that mathowie's tag says "staff" and not "god".

His rod and His staff they comfort me.
posted by BrashTech at 8:45 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's not talk about his rod again.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:46 AM on May 17, 2013


His staff, though, has always been patient with my abuse of the contact form.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:49 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


It helps that it's not about people who are actively trying to deny rights to others or are covering up a pedophilia scandal

I am not surprised by the level of discourse in this thread.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:55 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


so was pilatenate
posted by clavdivs at 8:58 AM on May 17, 2013


It helps that it's not about people who are actively trying to deny rights to others or are covering up a pedophilia scandal.

We don't actually have to go looking for a fight about organized religion, you know.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:59 AM on May 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


> Thread closing is not determined by user vote

but the supreme court reads the election returns.
posted by jfuller at 9:01 AM on May 17, 2013


Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?

No.


This kind of comment is either disingenuous or revealing of a sadly limited set of rhetorical strategies. I am a fan of points of view critical to religion. I believe they are essential because they provide a counterbalance to the negative excesses of religious institutions and the limited perspectives of extreme believers. And I see these kinds of comments on MetaFilter routinely and they contribute thoughtfully to the discourse and make this place a good place to have a conversation about both religion and not-religion that is interesting and really hard to find anywhere else - the kind of conversation that has been going on in that thread, which is full of both religious practitioners and those who eschew such practice. They can still talk about so many things of common interest, like the historical record, early Christian history, recent history of changes to American religious views, the politics of religion, contemporary movements, general moral values, and so on.

People who feel that they are not allowed to express their anti-religious opinions seem to be numb to certain kinds of social understanding that would allow them to perceive the difference between an interesting, substantive, and truly conversational contribution and one that is not those things. I've come to the point where I think there is just something about conversation that they do not perceive, and this, rather than their worldview, is what lies behind the inability to make the constructive and interesting comments that others do. Most of us have been exposed to the argument "there is no god you dummies" since we were in the primary grades, and whether we agree with the sentiment or not, that is not a new, personally insightful, or interesting contribution to discourse.

It's not the sentiment that's the problem, as many people espouse the sentiment and get along perfectly well in the conversation. It's the way the comment draws attention to itself, nominates its maker as the new center of the conversation, is intended to insult, and attempts to change the frame of discussion from "what do you think about this?" to "is this discussion even legimitate?"
posted by Miko at 9:02 AM on May 17, 2013 [26 favorites]


We don't actually have to go looking for a fight about organized religion, you know.

It's spring, we're just planting!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:02 AM on May 17, 2013


I don't think zarq is trying to start a fight. Those are things that have been in the news and the subject of posts in the past. When they're the subject things get ugly because the subject is ugly. For theists, it isn't fun watching all the dirty laundry get aired out but lots of people like to do it. That's why the referenced thread is getting so many comments like, "I'm happy it went so well!" since it's about a positive, or at least not really negative, aspect of religion when so many are about scandals and outrage.
posted by charred husk at 9:03 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think zarq is trying to start a fight.

I don't think that was his intent either, but that comes back around to where we started: there's a difference between having a thought and expressing that thought carefully and in a context where it doesn't come off as tossing a bomb. Offhandedly chucking a couple of out-of-the-blue references to really charged issues in religious politics/scandal into a general discussion about conversation on the site isn't really doing a good job of broaching the subject, much as I think it can be totally worth discussing the why and how of potentially difficult threads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


cortex: "We don't actually have to go looking for a fight about organized religion, you know."

First, thank you, charred husk.

Cortex, I swear to you, I am not looking to start a fight. Am not interested in rehashing scandals or anything else in this thread. But I do think my comment was relevant to the point of this meta.

I'm simply trying to point out that the story behind the FPP topic makes a huge difference as to whether a post (especially one about religion, religious belief or theists) does well. Post about the latest religious scandal and the thread will get heated. Post about a group of people who are trying to take their religion back to basics and live up to its ideals, and the ensuing discussion is more likely to go well.
posted by zarq at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


cortex: "I don't think that was his intent either, but that comes back around to where we started: there's a difference between having a thought and expressing that thought carefully and in a context where it doesn't come off as tossing a bomb. Offhandedly chucking a couple of out-of-the-blue references to really charged issues in religious politics/scandal into a general discussion about conversation on the site isn't really doing a good job of broaching the subject, much as I think it can be totally worth discussing the why and how of potentially difficult threads."

In retrospect, then, I would have been better off combining my last two comments for deeper context.
posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on May 17, 2013


I find it simply incredible that so many intelligent, educated Mefites continue to believe in mod. Look, there's no magical web-fairy out there who is going to step in and make our conversations civil!
posted by yoink at 9:30 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oooh oooh ooh less than 200 comments a young deletion whine thread that people might still be reading and I get another crack at turning a favewhoring trick oh and vote #1 quidnunc kid he is kind and clever
posted by flabdablet at 9:32 AM on May 17, 2013


zarq: "In retrospect, then, I would have been better off combining my last two comments for deeper context."

So this is probably the takeaway here, escape from the potato planet. You can have whatever opinions you want, just maybe don't be lazy about how you present them on big serious threads. Explain, expatiate, extoll. If you read what you wrote and think "I should put that on a bumper sticker", it's gonna be a good candidate for deletion.
posted by boo_radley at 9:32 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm always somewhat amazed/amused/disappointed that mathowie's tag says "staff" and not "god".


I post at the pleasure of mathowie.
posted by ApathyGirl at 9:44 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I post at the pleasure of mathowie!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:54 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find it simply incredible that so many intelligent, educated Mefites continue to believe in mod.

Since comments and threads can be deleted, it is more respectful to say "M-d."
posted by brain_drain at 9:58 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


His rod and His staff they comfort me.

I am the daughter of a man who spent his career as a City Manager, i.e., a professional administrator.

When I heard this Bible verse in Catholic school, I imagined Jesus standing there with a walking stick and behind him a group of serious-looking people wearing business suits and taking notes on clipboards.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:06 AM on May 17, 2013 [28 favorites]


Well, you can always take comfort in the idea that Shirley (good Mrs. Murphy) will follow you all the days of your life.
posted by heyho at 10:09 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since comments and threads can be deleted, it is more respectful to say "M-d."

Or Mthw.
posted by yoink at 10:10 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


HGHY, surely.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 AM on May 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


And apparently God was banned from metafilter.

I'd be happy if He was just banned from government.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:13 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't call me SRLY.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:18 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Your favorite banned sucks.
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 10:18 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I guess that being nice while believing in mythical nonsense is better than being a dick while believing in mythical nonsense. On that level, I applaud this movement.

However, I've never understood why people can't just be nice while not believing in mythical nonsense. Seems like the best of both worlds, doesn't it?"


WHY CAN'T THESE DIPSHIT RELIGIOTS JUST BE NICE AMIRITE
posted by Sys Rq at 10:24 AM on May 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Good deletion. Might it be advisable to have some stock text in the deletion note that points people to the contact for? Might reduce a number of MeTa threads.
posted by arcticseal at 10:26 AM on May 17, 2013


>Lemme explain - say the conversation wasn't about religion, but about cheesemaking.

EmpressCallipygos has distilled my tangled and inarticulate thoughts on the matter down to their essence and has framed it quite nicely.


But, but... We're talking bout cheesemaking, not distillation! I am so confused...!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:27 AM on May 17, 2013


But, but... We're talking bout cheesemaking, not distillation! I am so confused...!

Ah, but when you take your first sip of my cheese whiskey, all confusion will melt away.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:30 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I find it simply incredible that so many intelligent, educated Mefites continue to believe in mod.

Over 1000 MeFites have actually met one of us and many have photographs of that event.

Might reduce a number of MeTa threads.

Not sure I understand what "deletion note" you're referring to but I suspect nothing would delete the number of MeTa threads, they seem to be set at some sort of constant level lately.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:33 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're caused by bells ringing. That's what teacher says, anyway.
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 10:34 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mod ban it, this shit is silly!
posted by pracowity at 10:38 AM on May 17, 2013


Ah, but when you take your first sip of my cheese whiskey, all confusion will melt away.

I really shouldn't google all the things.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:39 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Lemme explain - say the conversation wasn't about religion, but about cheesemaking.

Look, if you want to find some subject with no connections to christianity, you're going to have to do better than talking about the blessed cheesemakers.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:54 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I’d like to know why it’s a problem when I call you all a bunch of morons, when it’s so obvious that you’re a bunch of morons?
posted by bongo_x at 11:01 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


We are NOT a bunch of morons! We are all morons individually!
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 11:04 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


We are NOT a bunch of morons! We are all morons individually!

I believe it's well-established precedent that we are jointly and severally liable for our moronosity.
posted by Diablevert at 11:18 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't call me SRLY.

Hey, SRLY only looks out for one guy: SRLY.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:20 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


SRRY SRLY
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:33 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to say that I promise to use the phrase 'drunk on meths' every day from now on forever and into the afterlife even if I am reincarnated as a snail or a mold spore or some type of weird magnetic rock.
posted by mintcake! at 11:44 AM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]

Somehow having more mods has made it imperative that we not make too much work for them
What in the actual fuck

Please either contribute usefully or leave. There are quite a number of us who actually view this place as a pretty nice community, and your constant FUCK THE MODS griefing makes it materially more burdensome to read.

You're not being the voice of reason. You're not being the bringer of tough love. You're just being a more or less constant asshole, and it's gone way past tedious into "please just shut the hell up and find another target for your vitriol" territory.
posted by scrump at 12:04 PM on May 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


you're expecting him to check in on this thread again, which is pretty hopeful.
posted by boo_radley at 12:08 PM on May 17, 2013


wait, no, the other one -- charitable.
posted by boo_radley at 12:11 PM on May 17, 2013


Your comment was itself even more vitriolic, scrump.

I do share the sentiment though; and while I do have some reservations about saying to a dissenter "shut up", I have to agree that there's a small group of people who write these sort of pissy comments in every single thread involving moderation and otherwise don't engage on the issue in any way beyond dropping yet another pissy comment.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:14 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome
posted by flabdablet at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]




Communicating While Atheist: A Short Primer

Introduction
So you are now an atheist. Congratulations! Yes, it can be a wonderful feeling. You may even want to share this wonderful feeling with others, so they too can bask in the glow of your amazing intellectual powers. Unfortunately not everyone will immediately recognize your intellectual greatness for what it is! Shame. In fact some poor sods might even think you are being rude. Pity.

Thus, the following short guide has been prepared to help you navigate these troubling waters in order to help you better communicate with the unwashed masses of non-atheist rubes.

When Engaging in Conversation with Potential Non-Atheists:

1. Write down your opinion on the question at hand, but don't hit post just yet.
2. Ask yourself: if I read this aloud does it make me sound like Temperance Brennan?
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the answer to 2 is "no"
4. You are now free to post.

Good luck!
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Here is where I am on this:

I believe people can say things like "I find religion wrong or distasteful or offensive to my reason-based scientific worldview. I find the habitual practice of conservative or fundamentalist theists to try to impose their worldview on me, my government, or the educational system to be overstepping at best and quite reprehensible at worst. Put simply, I do not understand how rational people can accept things on faith, which I consider to be naive and facile."

I can completely respect this, and as a rather liberal person of faith, I can even agree with some of it. In fact, I believe people of faith can become better people of faith and better citizens by listening to these types of objections to theism.

What I find distasteful is not objection to what I believe. What irks and offends me is when people speak to one another on Metafilter in ways I honestly do not believe they would speak to anyone face to face. So tell me I'm wrong. I am a big boy. I can agree to disagree.

But comments I see on this site like "invisible sky wizard" and "Jesus fucking Christ" are, in my humble opinion, beneath what Metafilter is capable of.
posted by 4ster at 12:41 PM on May 17, 2013 [27 favorites]


4ster, well said. Completely agree.
posted by zarq at 1:00 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Over 1000 MeFites have actually met one of us and many have photographs of that event.

Like that means anything. They have "photographs" of the supposed "moon landing," too.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:15 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I say that there is no Mod but mathowie; these other so-called "mods" are mere brazen idols made to appear as though they can speak and move and delete posts by the clever use of levers and pulleys and secret compartments.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:34 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm generally down with most comment deletion rationale these days, but this actually makes me a wee bit cranky.

It was. It was the mods crankily saying, "You know what? I don't want to put up with your bullshit right now." And I don't blame them.
if there was a huge thread of dozens of people happily discussing baseball seriously and someone pops in and posts "omg, don't tell me anyone here cares about millionaires swinging sticks and trying to swat rawhide balls out of the air?!" it'd be deleted as noise and a derail.

This is no different from showing up in a thread about BBQ and shouting "Meat is murder" or showing up in a thread about complex abortion legislation and making your stand about the rights of the unborn babies.
These seem like perfectly reasonable reasons to delete. Why is this so difficult for some people to understand?

Outside of evangelical communities, it's pretty much accepted that you don't just jump in with conversational openings like, "Have you heard the Good News about Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?" It sort of poisons the well right from the start and isn't germane to the discussion. "escape from the potato planet" sounded just like that guy.
posted by deanc at 2:04 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


[...] "Jesus fucking Christ" are, in my humble opinion, beneath what Metafilter is capable of.

Serious question: Are you actually complaining about people taking the lord's name in vain? Because I can't figure what else "Jesus fucking Christ" refers to.
posted by nooneyouknow at 2:11 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Serious question: Are you actually complaining about people taking the lord's name in vain? Because I can't figure what else "Jesus fucking Christ" refers to.

It is an example of an exclamation made from time to time on this site that I am using as an example of the point I made above.
posted by 4ster at 2:15 PM on May 17, 2013


It's something many Christians find blasphemous and offensive. It's more polite to come up with a different way to express your frustration if you aren't sure of your audience.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:15 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This may be one of those situations where we-as-mods need to explain that while we're likely to delete invisible sky wizard type comments and pretty much not going to delete "jesus fucking christ" type comments which is maybe a good way to illustrate where the line gets drawn here? Obviously if we think people are making the latter statement specifically to needle specific people of faith we might approach it differently, but "blasphemous" talk is not really a path we're going to go down moderation-wise unless there's a pretty strong push in that direction which I don't think we're likely to see. And this has no bearing on whether people may want to, of their own accord, be more mindful of their language along those lines, but I see those two things as pretty distinct, though I realize that other people may not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:18 PM on May 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


But comments I see on this site like "invisible sky wizard" and "Jesus fucking Christ" ...

As an atheist, I don't personally care enough about the whole deity thing to ridicule it, and I never understand why some atheists weird out like that. I mean, if it's really of no consequence to you, why bother with the insulting nicknames? So I've got that part down.

I've given this a little thought, and I think that I rationalize using "Jesus" as an expletive on the basis that he's no more real to me than a character of any fictional/allegorical work, so no harm, no foul (to me). Yikes. When one honestly just don't believe in faith/religion/god/spirituality, I think it becomes lazyeasy to appropriate the language and forget, or not realize, that you're slamming something that is an integral part of people's lives and identities. Hm. Not good, comrade.

Interesting. Seems that every time I think I've got something nailed down properly, some smartypants comes along and shines a little light on the part I missed. Thanks for pointing to this, 4ster. Much appreciated.
posted by heyho at 2:20 PM on May 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Serious question: Are you actually complaining about people taking the lord's name in vain? Because I can't figure what else "Jesus fucking Christ" refers to.

Throw the word "fuck" in between your gf's/grandmother's/baby's first and last names in a non-joking context used to indicate anger or derision. It's not complimentary.
posted by heyho at 2:36 PM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jesus is very much a part of my cultural identity, though--ownership of Christian culture is not limited to believers.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:51 PM on May 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Esquire: There Are No Saints Online ... But The Internet Will Be Cleaned Up Yet
It would be silly to blame Twitter or the comment boards for this human impulse. People are the problem, not technology. Every leap forward in our access to one another, every period in the intensification of discourse and debate, inevitably generates the question What are the appropriate limits of speech? After the explosion of pamphlet culture in the seventeenth century — which created a froth of furious, often anonymous debate — the English created the Royal Society to regulate discourse and verify authorial integrity, as well as to establish a common framework for exchange.
Rereading this thread, I understand the refrain: "We will not apply a technological solution to a social problem."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:56 PM on May 17, 2013


Happy friday.
posted by iamabot at 2:58 PM on May 17, 2013


Throw the word "fuck" in between your gf's/grandmother's/baby's first and last names in a non-joking context used to indicate anger or derision. It's not complimentary.

Deanna Rhaella Fucking Riker Who Mounts the World Jr.? Kind of has a ring to it, actually. Think I will use this from now on when I am otherwise tempted to use someone else's Lord's name in vain. Which is often.
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 3:00 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"It sort of poisons the well right from the start and isn't germane to the discussion. 'escape from the potato planet' sounded just like that guy."

It's a bit worse than that.

In my opinion, the parallel isn't to someone proselytizing their religion where it's inappropriate, the parallel is to a theist saying to atheists (as they often do) that there's something sad or broken or immoral about disbelieving in god. It's not just inappropriate, it's an insult. "Mythical nonsense" is insulting. "I feel sorry for you because you don't believe in God" is insulting. This isn't rocket science.

"I think it becomes lazyeasy to appropriate the language and forget, or not realize, that you're slamming something that is an integral part of people's lives and identities."

Yeah, I really like your comment and it makes a good point.

Ultimately, though, I think that it's untenable because profanity, in the sense of "swearing" of any kind, is by its very nature necessarily transgressive, not just in the case of technical profanity. In being transgressive, almost any kind of "swearing" that functions as "swearing", in any culture or imagined culture, is likely to offend someone's sense of identity in some respect because that's the whole point of transgression.

So I think you're on the right track, really: we should just be mindful of the trade-off we're making when we choose to use transgressive language. How transgressive is too transgressive? There's no universal answer to that question.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:06 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus is very much a part of my cultural identity, though--ownership of Christian culture is not limited to believers.

the young rope-rider, will you please expand on this? I don't understand what you mean by Jesus being part of your cultural identity.

I don't think I feel any ties, culturally or otherwise, to Christian culture. But I don't think about this much, so I suspect it's possible that there's another blindspot or three that I'm missing. Maybe not, but I'd still like to explore it.
posted by heyho at 3:09 PM on May 17, 2013


Hmm, what if we just went with "Sky Fucking Wizard" as an expletive. Compromise!
posted by Drinky Die at 3:11 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


That is the best kind of wizard.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:15 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Neil deGrasse Fucking Tyson this is a mess!
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 3:16 PM on May 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


How can it be a compromise when it's such an amazing mental image?
posted by Diablevert at 3:16 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can only speak for myself, but: I don't feel strong ties to Jesus or Christian culture, despite being raised half-Catholic, but Jesus is as a culturally-aware American pretty much an unavoidable part of my cultural identity. He's the religious Beatles of western culture, the touchstone for just about every goddam thing in discourse and lay morality and figurative discussion. Casual atheists quote proverbs without realizing it, art vamps on The Passion intentionally and not, people reference biblical themes as a matter of basic rhetorical navigation of the culture we exist in.

I'm never going to specifically shout "Jesus Christ!" at a devout Christian with the specific intent of hurting their feelings, because I don't want to be the person shouting anything at anyone with that specific intent, and I think people who I otherwise agree with about religion and atheism and so on are sometimes kind of terrible assholes about this stuff. But at the same time, I'm also not going to put the name and figurative use in a box to protect people on the off chance that someone is bothered that I reference non-piously the figurehead their religion has managed to broadcast into secular American culture.

Calling it blasphemous to name-check the big J would be a lot more meaningful in a cultural context where referencing him or the religious trappings around him was actually opt-in rather than the pervasive norm. People shouting "Jesus Christ!" in a neutral secular context is, in a null context, the cost of being wildly successful as an ideology.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:17 PM on May 17, 2013 [25 favorites]


He's the religious Beatles of western culture

Not quite as popular, though.
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 3:18 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lennon just meant they were taller. Except maybe Ringo.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:19 PM on May 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


The Ringo Who Mounts the Afterworld.... hmmmmm....
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:26 PM on May 17, 2013


Are Metas complaining about comment/thread deletion up lately or am I just perceiving this?
posted by 41swans at 3:27 PM on May 17, 2013


Are Metas complaining about comment/thread deletion up lately or am I just perceiving this?

They appear to be happening roughly every Friday.
posted by mimo at 3:47 PM on May 17, 2013


Jessamyn, I was thinking more along the lines of FPP deletion notes for the contact form reference (if that makes sense?).
posted by arcticseal at 3:55 PM on May 17, 2013


Ah, I see what you're saying. Yeah I wonder about that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:57 PM on May 17, 2013


Matt should probably look into hiring some Gibson-type information flow savant, someone who can perceive the totality of MeFi activity and predict the emergence of these weekly GRAR nodes.
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:11 PM on May 17, 2013


-ownership of Christian culture is not limited to believers.

There's a degree to which it's the water we swim in - and it might become more evident if you ever spend time living in a culture which does not have Christianity as the dominant religion. Cortex covered it, but the holidays, the metaphors, the proverbs, the Biblical stories and characters, the broad-stroke characteristics of Christianity's moral and epistemological system - all this stuff is part of what we're surrounded by. Even when I was an athiest, having been raised by people who opted out of two very strict (different) religious traditions, I got a pretty fantastic comparitive education on basic Christian cultural literacy, theology, and morality. This frame is part of American culture, at least, at a level deeper than personal decisions about theology.
posted by Miko at 4:11 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


heyho: "As an atheist, I don't personally care enough about the whole deity thing to ridicule it, and I never understand why some atheists weird out like that. I mean, if it's really of no consequence to you, why bother with the insulting nicknames? So I've got that part down. "

Speaking for myself here, and the reason I have to avoid threads like the Red Letter Christians one, is that there is a feeling that there is a consequence to the power of theism in our society. Be it from Christians here or Muslims over there, there is an argument (that I'm not trying to start here) that their influence is a net negative on society. So it's great that you're one of the ones that doesn't care about it (honestly!) but for some of us the damage has been done and continues to be done and we want to stop it. And we get passionate about it.

But I agree that "you're an idiot for believing in an invisible sky wizard" isn't the most productive path.
posted by Big_B at 4:15 PM on May 17, 2013


There's a degree to which it's the water we swim in

Christianity: You're soaking in it!

/Mother Madge
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:17 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Matt should probably look into hiring some Gibson-type information flow savant, someone who can perceive the totality of MeFi activity and predict the emergence of these weekly GRAR nodes.

For a very reasonable consideration, I will say "probably Friday, dude" once a week.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:32 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus is very much a part of my cultural identity, though--ownership of Christian culture is not limited to believers.
will you please expand on this? I don't understand what you mean by Jesus being part of your cultural identity.


Speaking as an American a huge number of the people who live here -- and thus a very large percentage of the people who create and participate in our culture -- believe in Jesus. For hundreds of years the "God" referred to by the U.S. government was always the Christian one. Our literature is full of books and stories that require a knowledge of Christianity to understand. Cultural touchstones such "The Twilight Zone", "The Scarlett Letter" and "Spawn" all draw on the world presented by the Christian bible.

As for Jesus himself, the Christ allegory is a regular staple of American culture. No matter where you look someone is always sacrificing himself for our sins.

Christianity is also present in our language, most commonly in swearing ...

Jesus 'fucking' Christ
Jesus!
God damnit!
Holy shit!
Oh God...
Damn!

... but the people using the phrases seldom mean them literally any more than they are literally thinking of fuck, shit, crap or asshole. Or douche. Especially douche.

As Miko mentions above there's a lot more that is most easily observed from someplace where Christianity is not endemic. I'm not a Christmas kind of person but I definitely felt a little off in Bali a few years ago when it was just another day. In fact the only clue I had it was Christmas was when a clerk said "This is a holiday where you come from isn't it?"
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:10 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The gist of it was:

"I guess that being nice while believing in mythical nonsense is better than being a dick while believing in mythical nonsense. On that level, I applaud this movement.


This is just a mean comment. Why would you, in polite company, tell people their beliefs are "mythical nonsense"? Weren't you raised better than to be rude like that?

This, to me, isn't just about being a troll or writing flame-bait comments. It's about being a rude, immature asshole.
posted by Unified Theory at 5:43 PM on May 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


More evidence that we no longer have moderators, but editors....

Editors usually make people seem much smarter than they really are. Regrettably, this does not appear to be the function or purpose of Metafilter.
posted by space_cookie at 5:59 PM on May 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


That makes sense. I think I was getting hung up on the word identity.

I wasn't making the connection between doing well in the Bible category on Jeopardy! and that knowledge being part of my identity, but sure, in a way I suppose it is.
posted by heyho at 6:00 PM on May 17, 2013


the reason I have to avoid threads like the Red Letter Christians

It's that simple. It's a great idea to avoid threads that are going to trigger that response.
posted by Miko at 6:48 PM on May 17, 2013


I am pretty sure that the "Boss" tag is reserved for Bruce when he finally shells out $5.
posted by humanfont at 7:17 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or are there more and more MeTas that revolve around 'hey guys I lost an inflammatory comment, did I just imagine that or did the silent mod-editors silence me again, y'know I don't want to cause trouble but I'm going to make a MeTa when my question could have been answered with the contact form'?

Frankly, I agree that blatantly inflammatory comments should not stand, regardless of how reasonable their content is. This was a good deletion. You were being plainly mean.
posted by undue influence at 7:40 PM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am pretty sure that the "Boss" tag is reserved for Bruce when he finally shells out $5.

For me, that would form some sort of deep gravity/black hole of awesomeness that would simply obliterate me from the face of the earth.

Unless he's already here, which would be awesomer still.

/ponders which user is most likely to be incognito Bruce
posted by Miko at 7:57 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


More evidence that we no longer have moderators, but editors. There's still too much good stuff here for me to just quit, but this is a very discouraging trend.

Metafilter is being wikified, slowly but inexorably.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just Saying.
posted by Shouraku at 8:08 PM on May 17, 2013


I like throwing in a good "Roosevelt" in my blasphemy. Never sure if I mean Teddy or FDR, but "Jesus H Fucking G-ddamn Fucking Roosevelt Christ" has a certain OOMPH for the situations that really require the maximum amount of swearing.

Also, "Jesus H Christ on a Pogo Stick" is good because it's fun to imagine Jesus on a pogo stick.
posted by sonika at 8:41 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


In all seriousness: that was perhaps the best religion thread I've seen on MeFi, and as someone who has taken some self imposed walks due to religion threads - seriously, thanks for that everyone. I didn't comment as I had nothing to add, but reading it was a very interesting (in the good way!) use of my son's naptime - so, yeah, thanks for the discussion!
posted by sonika at 8:46 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, the FAQ entry for "Why was my comment deleted?" has the line:
If you have a question about a comment removal, please use the contact form to ask about it.
Was that always there, or was it added recently?
posted by mokin at 8:55 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, it seems unfair that "Conservative Bias" takes up such a prime spot in MetaTalk Bingo. Not only can it be used for a vertical or horizontal bingo, but also a diagonal bingo. Such precious real estate should not be afforded to something so rare. When was the last time anyone was accused of conservative bias on Metafilter?
posted by mokin at 9:17 PM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Replace it with 'link to Metatalk bingo'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:22 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Shouraku: "Just Saying."

The upshot of which is that there's now the appearance that the mods are working on 4 basic tenets/guidelines for deletion, where in the past there were only 2:
  1. What was said: a straight-up shitty comment
  2. The way it was said: a comment presented in a shitty way.
  3. What is thought was said: a comment that reads OK but that, if taken in conjunction with the reader's prejudices and/or opinion of the poster, is seen as shitty. These get flagged and, if a mod agrees, get taken down
  4. The fear of what is thought was said: A pre-emptive strike on #3 - someone, somewhere might think the comment was shitty.
1 and 2 are long-standing principles here, pretty non-controversial, and the first part of the comment in question in this post fell squarely into 2.

3 & 4 have also always been there, and have proved useful when used sparingly. They're also somewhat antithetical to the principles of free, open, and honest discussion that most users expect from Metafilter, and so should only be used sparingly.

Unfortunately, there seem to have been a gradual increase in their use over the last couple of years, and a dramatic uptick in use over the last couple of months.
posted by Pinback at 9:49 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]




Hey, the FAQ entry for "Why was my comment deleted?" has the line:
If you have a question about a comment removal, please use the contact form to ask about it.


Seriously, using the contact form is awesome. I have always gotten a reply in under five minutes (my experience, reply and hot pizza not guaranteed). Also you get a reply from actual people involved in the deleting, not random Metafilter people munching popcorn and guessin.'

For. Real.
posted by sweetkid at 9:53 PM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Unfortunately, there seem to have been a gradual increase in their use over the last couple of years, and a dramatic uptick in use over the last couple of months.

And yet this particular thread isn't about a deletion like that. Let's not start that fight again.
posted by mokin at 9:55 PM on May 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


What is thought was said: a comment that reads OK but that, if taken in conjunction with the reader's prejudices and/or opinion of the poster, is seen as shitty. These get flagged and, if a mod agrees, get taken down

That's really not about "what is thought was said," as if the whole thing results from misperceptions. It's about clarifying intent, and knowing users who have a history of making problematic comments, with usually a history of some back-and-forth with mods behind the scenes, and sometimes explicit agreements and warnings that have gone under the bridge before the comment was made. None of the rest of us can read any single comment by anybody and know much of what went before, but it's not a case of "the readers misunderstood your comment and we the mods generally don't like your bias;" in most cases that have been explained here and in person, it turns out there is really a lot more backstory than that. We can't all expect to be privy to that, but that fact that the mods are pretty good at protecting privacy and letting people save face with this stuff can make the deleted commenter seem far too benign, just someone suffering from a mod's misperception or animus. Usually, it's more complicated.

The fear of what is thought was said: A pre-emptive strike on #3 - someone, somewhere might think the comment was shitty.

This is totally reasonable based on abundant evidence. If someone makes some profoundly misogynistic comment, say, the mods are right to predict, on the basis of dozens of past threads, that someone is going to find it shitty. They know the userbase, after all. They approve our memberships, see our flags, read our comments. They understand the site dynamic, even in ways the rest of us don't. If they confer and agree "this is going down the same bad road as before," they're certainly entitled to close that window.
posted by Miko at 9:59 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think the comment in question was particularly worth saving, but I think a line is being crossed when comments critical of religion and religious belief are deleted from threads dealing with religion merely because they are critical.

The comment was basically the religious equivalent of "Your favorite band sucks."


Yeah, late in the thread here and I haven't read everything ... but the meaning of "critical" that's being used here is pure middle school (or earlier). In other words, it's just serving as a nuance-free synonym for "against" or "anti". When Metafilter is functioning, the kind of criticism being pursued involves arguments, counter-arguments, a sincere effort by the critic to view a potentially divisive issue as multifaceted, and so to investigate these various facets.

By all means advance your opinions on whatever, but please have the courtesy to do so with a little delicacy and thoughtfulness. Anything else just isn't very nice.
posted by philip-random at 1:27 AM on May 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've done at least my share of grumbling about moderation generally and specifically, but in fairness -- a thought that if I say something when I disagree, I should say something when I agree -- the deletion and deletion of similar comments in that context strike me as the choice of choice.
posted by ambient2 at 2:09 AM on May 18, 2013


Throw the word "fuck" in between your gf's/grandmother's/baby's first and last names in a non-joking context used to indicate anger or derision. It's not complimentary.
What about 'Joan Fucking Jett'?
posted by dg at 3:07 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


When Dirk Benedict, for reasons of his own, entered the Celebrity Big Brother house in one of the UK's reality TV programs, another picocelebrity looked up and cried out in surprise "Dirk Fucking Benedict!"

Utterly unruffled, Benedict replied "Actually, I don't usually use my middle name."
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:36 AM on May 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


User that believes in escape from potato planet rails against mythical beliefs.


Aye, nae bother pal.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:55 AM on May 18, 2013


Also, it seems unfair that "Conservative Bias" takes up such a prime spot in MetaTalk Bingo.

One of these days, I'll get around to writing a script to randomize them.
posted by empath at 6:48 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


being raised half-Catholic

INSIDE CHURCH - DAYTIME

The camera opens over the shoulder of a young CORTEX, head raised in anticipation of his Communion wafer. We see PRIEST, happily dispensing Communion and blessings to the parishioners in line ahead of the boy. He notices CORTEX, his smile fades and he sighs as he breaks a wafer in half, wondering, just like the week before and the week before that, what the Hell to do with the leftover half.

posted by yerfatma at 7:09 AM on May 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


One of these days, I'll get around to writing a script to randomize them.

There are a lot of web apps that will do this for you. Teachers use them a lot. No implied endorsement of these two, they were just the first two results. There are many.
posted by Miko at 7:24 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


INSIDE CHURCH - DAYTIME

Confession must suck when you only do the admit your sins part and skip the absolution.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:29 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't help feeling that using "fucking" as a middle name now has lost all negative connotation because Ron fucking Swanson.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:58 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I say "Jesus fucking Christ" I am not talking about the protagonist of Christian scripture. It's just another intensifier-loaded expletive and should not be construed as anything else. Also, when I say "holy fucking shit" I am not talking about holiness or fucking or shit.
posted by pracowity at 8:03 AM on May 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Holy Fucking Empire was neither holy, fucking, nor an empire.
posted by neroli at 8:08 AM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


What about 'Joan Fucking Jett'?

I don't think she would give a damn how it might affect her reputation.

No no no no no no no.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:53 AM on May 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Don't worry, escape from the potato planet, you haven't really been silenced; your opinion has been registered. In fact, if you like, I'll add a little note here that you think religion is "mythical nonsense," and we can all go away happy.

Those of you who say that using Christ's name in an expletive shouldn't offend people who believe it to be a holy name: I'm inclined to add a note to look out for your comments in the next giant post about racist/sexist/privileged/etc. language.
posted by SMPA at 9:01 AM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now I'm wondering: In places in the world where Islam is the...background noise, the way Christianity is in the U.S./UK/Europe, are there equivalents to the kind of "Jesus fucking Christ" swears?
posted by rtha at 9:46 AM on May 18, 2013


are there equivalents ...

I found only one on the whole Internet, though I didn't look very hard.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:53 AM on May 18, 2013


I got a pretty fantastic comparitive education on basic Christian cultural literacy, theology, and morality. This frame is part of American culture, at least, at a level deeper than personal decisions about theology.

Yeah, if we are fish, the water we swim in, in Western Culture (definitely North America) has got a whole lotta Judeo-Christian in it. And if you can't see this, well that makes sense, you're too busy swimming in it. But it is that very stuff that's keeping you afloat/trying to drown you -- our laws, our mores, our poetry, our holidays, our swear words, our pretentious book titles -- you don't have to dig deep at all (he said, mixing his metaphors) to find roots emanating from the so-called Holy Bible.

On a negative, look at our attitudes toward the environment (only now starting, hopefully, to change) and how they reflect back to that bit in Genesis about man being more important etc than all the other living things. On a positive (for the most part), take the Ten Commandments which may seem a bit rusty in places, but they do serve as a pretty solid basis for keeping things peaceful in the village -- stuff like don't kill people, don't steal their wives, don't steal their money, be nice to your parents ...

Which gets to my half-Catholicism. Church every Sunday, catechism as well until age fifteen. And mostly boring as hell, and certainly doing nothing to send me creeping to the cross. Yet I'm glad now to have the information, a reasonably good (and intuitive) grasp on the various stories (call them myths if you must) that inform so much of what drives the culture (good, bad, ugly).
posted by philip-random at 10:14 AM on May 18, 2013


Christianity's not nonsense, it's stories alongside thoughts on morality and human behavior! The weird tendency of certain Christians to take those stories literally is... weird. But when I was a kid I remember punching another kid because he said something about Hermione Granger that I didn't think was true so I understand the impulse. It's possible to be so caught up in what a story means to you personally that you find it hard to accept that other people don't interpret it quite the same way. And it's even easier to forget that what matters in a story is what you get from it, rather than what it is, and that forcing a story down another person's throat will satisfy them less than if you smother it in butter and parmesan, like any respectable chef does.

I've been rereading Isaac Asimov's Foundation, which I first read when I was 9 or 10, and it's astonishing to me how much of it I took at that age to form part of the foundation (ahem) for how I interpret and understand others. I can see the attitudes it promotes which I've since discarded, and encountering those passages feels like encountering a younger me, but then I find parts or characters which I realize I'm still emulating, to some extent, and it both feels neat to return to them and uncomfortable, because I wonder: how much more of this will I one day look back upon with embarrassment?

So I think that what irritates me about comments like the original comment is that it reduces a series of complex fables so enormous in volume that most people don't read through them all (no matter what atheists like to claim in discussions – myself included!) to "mythical nonsense", which suggests that myths and nonsense alike aren't valuable things. Myths are absolutely valuable, and nonsense might be even more so, and while there are many nonsensical myths that are very useful for this day and age (I enjoy Bill Nye myself) there is a whole lot of extraordinarily valuable thought contained within Christianity that has no parallels, except for the equally extraordinary thought contained within other ancient religious traditions. All of which I'm sure the OP would have been equally willing to dismiss. The millennia spent debating and analyzing and discussing them have only served to make them more valuable.

And yes, some of the things that came out of the discussion were ugly and wrong-headed and I hope we as a society can burn them with very-non-literal fire, but that happens in every discussion. Richard Dawkins gets called out for saying awful shit every couple months. James Watson is sometimes kind of a racist. Isaac Asimov was a womanizer and Bill Nye is by some accounts an asshole. With enormous mythic institutions the shit that comes out is proportionally worst, so yes, some of the worst evils of humanity have come from religion, but it's the humans within religion that are the problem. Take religion away from them and they'll find ways to avoid radical self-doubt by way of hurting others. At least Christianity tells them they should be examining themselves for signs of suckiness.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:22 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Myths are absolutely valuable, and nonsense might be even more so, and while there are many nonsensical myths that are very useful for this day and age (I enjoy Bill Nye myself) there is a whole lot of extraordinarily valuable thought contained within Christianity that has no parallels, except for the equally extraordinary thought contained within other ancient religious traditions

Greek philosophy was around for hundreds of years before Christianity, and based their moral codes on logic and reason, not mythology. There's really nothing great that Jesus said that others hadn't said before and better, and a lot of what Paul added to what Jesus said was pretty vile.

And there is a distinct difference between taking Harry Potter seriously and how Christians treat the bible, and you know it. Nobody killed their child, blew up a plane or bombed an abortion clinic because they took Harry Potter too seriously. And Christians don't even need to take it to that level to be a threat -- merely voting to take peoples rights away or voting to ruin the public schools science curriculum based on your great book of myths because they believe it to be true is dangerous enough.

I understand that it's nice for there to be a safe place for Christians to talk about Christianity without a bunch of atheists dropping by to tell them they're basically arguing about nonsense, but there is a time and a place for atheists to loudly and forcefully argue that Christianity is based on beliefs which are not true, because people who believe that it's true are frankly a danger to society. They act in ways which are dangerous to themselves and others.
posted by empath at 12:41 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Empath, it would be just as true to say

there is a time and a place for Christians to loudly and forcefully argue that atheism is based on beliefs which are not true, because people who believe that it's true are frankly a danger to society. They act in ways which are dangerous to themselves and others.
posted by Unified Theory at 12:55 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd agree with that, too. People need to be able to argue about foundational beliefs. Now, I don't know if metafilter is ever the right place for it. But we'll never move forward as a society unless we do it.
posted by empath at 1:04 PM on May 18, 2013


The Greeks were not quite as reasonable a people as it's fun to believe. They got up to a lot of nasty shit, often in the names of their gods.

And there is a distinct difference between taking Harry Potter seriously and how Christians treat the bible, and you know it. Nobody killed their child, blew up a plane or bombed an abortion clinic because they took Harry Potter too seriously.

Well, Harry Potter's been around for 20 years, and it's a piece of entertainment first and a moral beacon maybe distant fifth. A dude did kill another dude over an item on World of Warcraft, though, so it's not like works of entertainment don't ever get people ridiculously worked up or anything. And philosophies inspire violence much as religions do – radical extremism is not merely a religious thing.

The difference between Christianity and any other focus of a human being's attention is that it's larger and it's been around much longer. I think it's reasonable to say both that large entities of people are themselves inherently dangerous and that social order which roots itself in ancient traditions is going to lead to a lot of tension with modern society. But there are many types of Christianity, this Red Letter thing included, that approach modern issues with fresh eyes and which are considerably different from, say, Bible Belt literalists.

A lot of the worst conservative religious influence on America today is the result of a couple of very specific movements that spent decades and decades marketing their beliefs to the rest of the country. It's not like Christianity just magically turns people into nuts. It's that a bunch of nuts use Christianity as their way of reaching outwards. There are nuts in every community, and Christianity is just a community large enough that when nuts are successful within it, there are dire implications for the rest of us. Again, that's less a problem with religion than it is with enormous collections of people. I think the worst parts of capitalism are way scarier and way more entrenched in the modern world than the worst parts of religion, and the state of broadcast media today strikes me as way more terrifying than the state of religious faith in this country.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:04 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Greeks were not quite as reasonable a people as it's fun to believe. They got up to a lot of nasty shit, often in the names of their gods.

I didn't say that. I said that Greek philosophy included every good thing that Jesus said. He wasn't a particularly innovative a thinker.
posted by empath at 1:24 PM on May 18, 2013


"Greek philosophy was around for hundreds of years before Christianity, and based their moral codes on logic and reason, not mythology."

Yeah, this is just not true. I really admire the Greeks, and their rationalism, but they didn't base their moral codes on logic and reason.

For example, Socrates is very interesting in how and when he uses the authority of religion, and tradition, and appeals to mysticism in Plato's dialogues — something that people who haven't read all the dialogues probably don't expect.

I think that what the Greeks did that you admire was to query and rationalize (in the good sense) their preexisting cultural values, certainly including religion, which is what the Romans did both with their paganism and later with Christianity, and pretty much what every culture that tilts toward rationalism has done, including ours.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:16 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


There wasn't just one school of philosophy in Greece. And once again, I didn't say they were perfect, only that Jesus didnt do anything that they hadn't already done. They sometimes used reason, sometimes mysticism, sometimes revelation. The point I was arguing against was that there was anything good in Christianity that had no parallels. Everything worth saving that Christ said was already said by at least one Greek philosopher before Christianity existed.
posted by empath at 3:33 PM on May 18, 2013


I understand that it's nice for there to be a safe place for Christians to talk about Christianity without a bunch of atheists dropping by to tell them they're basically arguing about nonsense, but there is a time and a place for atheists to loudly and forcefully argue that Christianity is based on beliefs which are not true, because people who believe that it's true are frankly a danger to society. They act in ways which are dangerous to themselves and others.

Without regard to whether this is true or not, it doesn't seem like a good function for Metafilter. Metafilter is unlikely to attract people who have just never examined their beliefs and are really going to benefit from the shining light of reason.

Metafilter is a lot more likely to attract smart people of faith who have really thought this stuff through and don't appreciate the sort of comments, like the one that spawned this thread, that are basically the internet version of schoolyard taunts.

One's time might be better spent convincing people not to be violent or bigoted, since in my experience that really doesn't go away when you remove the religious justifications.
posted by selfnoise at 3:38 PM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


"There wasn't just one school of philosophy in Greece."

Really? Wow.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:09 PM on May 18, 2013


There wasn't just one school of philosophy in Greece. And once again, I didn't say they were perfect, only that Jesus didnt do anything that they hadn't already done.

Barring the walking on water, and the loaves and fishes, and the coming back from the dead.

(Although there's always the myth of Er, I guess. Way to make classicists sound confused, Plato. You dick.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:20 PM on May 18, 2013


I know I am late to this argument, but applauding "being nice" and in the same sentence calling stuff mythical nonsense, well, that doesn't go together.

I happen to strongly dislike all religions, and do indeed agree with the mythical nonsense label.

Yet, when recently some Jehova Witness people tried to give me a tract. I told them kindly that, knowing their reason for trying to spread the word, I appreciated the sentiment but I was a hopeless case from their point of view.

They are human beings. Utterly deluded from my point of view, but that doesn't mean I get to tell them that in their face. I'm happy to discuss details with them, but it usually doesn't get that far. If it does, I kindly request them to do some bible study - with their pastor if they want, and ask them to figure out two things: what happened to the 30 pieces of silver Judas received (it is mentioned in two gospels and utterly incompatible with each other) and I ask them to combine the story of the resurrection, told in all 4 gospels, into one consistent story containing all the facts mentioned in all gospels. Those two things usually make sure they never return, but I ask them nicely, and hope that I planted some seed of logical thought.
posted by DreamerFi at 4:27 PM on May 18, 2013


there is a time and a place for Christians to loudly and forcefully argue that atheism is based on beliefs which are not true

Beliefs? Plural? For me Atheism is simply the absence of belief that any god exist. There's no belief to discuss. I've run in this before with Christians that wanted to 'discuss' my beliefs and they're always disappointed.
posted by justgary at 4:36 PM on May 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Justgary, that statement was not meant to be taken literally, it was meant to illustrate the concept that atheists don't like Christians telling them they're deluded, just like Christians don't like atheists telling them THEY'RE deluded.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


also, justgary, do you not believe in anything?
posted by philip-random at 6:22 PM on May 18, 2013


careful. it's a trick question.
posted by philip-random at 6:23 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole universe came from nothing.
posted by humanfont at 7:00 PM on May 18, 2013


there is a time and a place for Christians to loudly and forcefully argue that atheism is based on beliefs which are not true
Beliefs? Plural? For me Atheism is simply the absence of belief that any god exist


Sure, that's the definition of Ateism. But how did you arrive there? How do you account for your own existence? Are good and evil real or abstract concepts? Is there a higher order to the universe that is not a god?

If none of these questions have ever occurred to you then I apologize, but it's been my experience that most people who bother to discuss this kind of thing have beliefs about those topics.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:30 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Folks if you decide this is a thread to have your Believers vs Non-Believers discussion-verging-on-argument we'd like you to reconsider, or at least bring your A Game.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:56 PM on May 18, 2013 [16 favorites]


that statement was not meant to be taken literally, it was meant to illustrate the concept that atheists don't like Christians telling them they're deluded, just like Christians don't like atheists telling them THEY'RE deluded.

I can't read minds, and the idea that Atheists have a list of beliefs is something I hear all the time.

But I'll take your illustration as dealing with the big picture, because no, I don't find it a big deal being told that I'm 'deluded' because I don't believe in god. I live in the heart of the bible belt. Ultra conservative, church on every corner, preachers screaming from busy intersections about the road to hell while their wives hold signs, and being given tracts at gas stations and leaving the theatre (that's just this week). If I had a problem with being considered deluded (or evil, in many cases), I would definitely move. I don't use g-d because I'd be offending someone daily, and I have no desire to do that. I respect any belief as long as it isn't pushed on me.

But telling me I'm deluded because I lack a belief in a deity evokes about as much emotion as telling me I'm deluded for not believing in santa claus. Using your belief in god to create laws that affect me = problem (no alcohol on sundays?).

And yeah, I have no interest in discussing the hows and whys of what I believe. I completely agree with the deletion. The OP could have gotten his point across civilly and without the risk of derail.
posted by justgary at 8:14 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


People need to be able to argue about foundational beliefs. Now, I don't know if metafilter is ever the right place for it. But we'll never move forward as a society unless we do it.

People don’t argue about religion enough, that’s the problem with the world? I believe I’m going to have to disagree. See, I’m helping!
posted by bongo_x at 8:19 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


But how did you arrive there?

Through ongoing sensory input and cognative development as my body matured.

How do you account for your own existence?

Quicken. It is a great financial accounting package. Also a few smart phone apps to track food, exercise, sleep mood and other physical items related to my existence; plus a personal journal.

Are good and evil real or abstract concepts?

If you take away all the people, is there still good and evil? Can you objectively measure good or evil? This seems to suggest that these are abstract concepts

Is there a higher order to the universe that is not a god?

Entropy has increased as the unverse expands and cools.
posted by humanfont at 8:31 PM on May 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


... or at least bring your A Game.

Rolf Lassgard is the One True Wallander.
posted by y2karl at 8:31 PM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those of you who say that using Christ's name in an expletive shouldn't offend people who believe it to be a holy name: I'm inclined to add a note to look out for your comments in the next giant post about racist/sexist/privileged/etc. language.

The discussion seems to be less about if people should be offended and more about if that offense is the sort of thing the Mods should do something to alleviate. As the mods have mentioned, there is a difference between the lolskywizard and casual swearing.

The difference between the phrase in question to the comment that they did delete are a great illustration. The deleted comment was quite simply insulting. It gave a specific negative characteristic to people who were members of a religion. At one point or another I came across the theory that swearing is a sort of non-violent way of establishing dominance. Rather than beating the crap out of someone, we show that we're so powerful that we can flaunt the taboos of our society with little repercussions. I think a large part of phrases like Jesus Fucking Christ appearing online is a sort of claim staking of the language by non-Christians, we're in one of the few relatively safe place to admit that we're NOT like everyone else, and one way we mark that territory is by using phrases that are particularly taboo in other places. The thing is, it might not be the most considerate thing to do, but it's not out and out debasement of others based on their beliefs.

Beyond that though, I think before you start think of blasphemy and privileged language as analogs, you need to take a long hard look about who has the power. The basic assumption in American Culture is that you're a Christian of some sort or another, even if it's just in a vague sort of way. That's what gives the phrase so much power, the very visible transgression against the norms in society. Simply put, the phrase is one of rebellion, not oppression.

I think the proper place for this discussion isn't in the realm of privilege or racism, or sexism, or even bigotry. I think the discussion of blasphemy is absolutely one of etiquette and consideration for others. Personally, I genuinely like my fellow Mefis and try to go out of my way not to upset them. There is however, a long history of deliberately using shocking language to show just what the assumptions of society are and how those who don't fit into those assumptions are punished.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:42 PM on May 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


As the mods have mentioned, there is a difference between the lolskywizard and casual swearing.

I parsed this as the lolsky wizard. Like a new kind of wizard who happens to be lolsky (pronounced loll-skee). Or maybe Lolsky is the wizard's first name. Lolsky the wizard was a jolly happy soul...
posted by medusa at 9:51 PM on May 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


How do you account for your own existence?
Quicken. It is a great financial accounting package. Also a few smart phone apps to track food, exercise, sleep mood and other physical items related to my existence; plus a personal journal.


I had more in mind the question of how humans came to exist. For myself I'm pretty sure it didn't involve Quicken but I'm prepared to be convinced.

However, seeing as you are an Atheist I don't think it unreasonable for me to assume you believe in a primordial soup followed by lots of natural selection.

Which brings me back to the point that I was originally trying to make, which is that Atheism tends to be a good predictor of a whole set of beliefs beyond the simple "there is no deity" dictionary definition.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:02 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stanislaw Lolsky was the best power forward the Halifax Wizards ever put on the ice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:12 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Atheism tends to be a good predictor of a whole set of beliefs beyond the simple "there is no deity" dictionary definition.

I think it pays to be a little careful with the word "belief".

"Working assumption" and "article of faith" are labels near opposite ends of a spectrum of ideas that can all be reasonably labelled "belief". An awful lot of the fruitless point-scoring that goes on between theists and atheists (neither of which merit an initial capital, by the way) comes down to careless or occasionally even wilful conflation of these shades of meaning.

More useless one-upmanship relies on similar imprecision in the use of the word "faith". If we're discussing religion and I claim not to have faith, it should be pretty clear that the meaning I'm attaching to that word is "beliefs that it is improper to doubt". But that never seems to stop the inevitable derail involving "faith" being used as a synonym for "confidence".
posted by flabdablet at 7:29 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


However, seeing as you are an Atheist I don't think it unreasonable for me to assume you believe in a primordial soup followed by lots of natural selection.

Because you're on metafilter, I can assume you believe the same thing, atheist or not.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on May 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I had more in mind the question of how humans came to exist. For myself I'm pretty sure it didn't involve Quicken but I'm prepared to be convinced.

There is a conjecture that there is high probability that this is simulation of reality and not reality. I propose that the highest utility for such a simulation would be for purposes as a module of a sophisticated accounting package. Thus our simulated existence is from Quicken.
posted by humanfont at 9:37 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"This was Destiny's true mission"
posted by clavdivs at 9:44 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had more in mind the question of how humans came to exist. For myself I'm pretty sure it didn't involve Quicken ...

Well, none of us would be here if we didn't quicken at some point (definition #2).
posted by benito.strauss at 10:46 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it pays to be a little careful with the word "belief".

Good point.

the meaning I'm attaching to [faith] is "beliefs that it is improper to doubt".

Actually propriety/loyalty would never have occurred to me with regards to faith but the dictionary agrees with you here. Definitely a word to be avoided unless you're prepared to open a large can of worms.

I'm sure "belief" suffers from similar issues. Is there a word for "something I assign 99%+ probability to"?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2013


However, seeing as you are an Atheist I don't think it unreasonable for me to assume you believe in a primordial soup followed by lots of natural selection.
Because you're on metafilter, I can assume you believe the same thing, atheist or not.


Veering off from the philosophical to the demographic, I'm not sure how good an assumption that actually is. Certainly primordial soup is well represented, but I'm not sure it's an overwhelming majority.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:05 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tell Me No Lies: " However, seeing as you are an Atheist I don't think it unreasonable for me to assume you believe in a primordial soup followed by lots of natural selection."

Beware of assuming that theists on Metafilter don't also believe in evolution, adaptation and natural selection.
posted by zarq at 10:09 AM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


His rod and His staff they comfort me.

I am the daughter of a man who spent his career as a City Manager, i.e., a professional administrator.

When I heard this Bible verse in Catholic school, I imagined Jesus standing there with a walking stick and behind him a group of serious-looking people wearing business suits and taking notes on clipboards.

posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 1:06 PM on May 17


Those were the Disciples.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:16 AM on May 20, 2013


God is a little kid with a chemistry set. He mixed some stuff up and voila! the so-called Big Boom. The key question is, who were/are his parents and did he catch hell from them?
posted by philip-random at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2013


Veering off from the philosophical to the demographic, I'm not sure how good an assumption that actually is. Certainly primordial soup is well represented, but I'm not sure it's an overwhelming majority.

Given that mefites aren't shy about expressing their opinions and I can't recall a single creationism vs evolution argument, I think it has to be.
posted by empath at 10:21 AM on May 20, 2013


I can't read minds, and the idea that Atheists have a list of beliefs is something I hear all the time.

The context of the discussion was what filled me in that that was meant, actually, as opposed to mind-reading.

And yeah, I have no interest in discussing the hows and whys of what I believe. I completely agree with the deletion. The OP could have gotten his point across civilly and without the risk of derail.

Then we are in agreement. I was just concerned that focusing on a semantic detail would distract from the bigger picture (which, to my mind, is whether or not the distract-y comment could have been more civil).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2013


It may not be always true but I think if you've managed to stay in MeFi for any length of time there's a pretty good chance that whatever your position on the whole god/no-god debate (or any other debate) it's not a conclusion you arrived at without some consideration and thoughtfulness.

Which is really just a plea for assuming "good faith": mefites are good people, and everyone has Reasons, and they've probably thought a lot about those Reasons, and it's unfair to dress anyone down to a caricature of their cohort.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


it's unfair to dress anyone down to a caricature of their cohort.

That's is a really good way of putting this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:33 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Given that mefites aren't shy about expressing their opinions ...

I'm betting you haven't done any research beyond participating here, and I gotta point out that this claim is almost a perfect example of how sampling bias leads to observations that can be very far from the truth — you haven't heard from the people who are shy about expressing their opinions.

As an example, there are some subjects where I run counter to the apparent MeFi consensus, but I don't bother posting in those discussions. I also remember reading that there are a whole lot more active readers than active posters, like by a factor of twenty or so.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:01 PM on May 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


Even though the thread has now stayed completely within the bounds of civil-on-MeFi discourse, it has taken the usual boring turn and effectively cut off the conversation among people who wanted to discuss the post topic.
posted by Miko at 2:49 PM on May 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Which thread, Miko? The FPP? Or this one?
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:01 PM on May 20, 2013


I would think this one, the subject of which is In short: what is the MeFi policy or guideline that I overstepped here? Is it not permissible to express negative opinions of religion on MetaFilter?, and not the FPP, which mods usually discourage discussion of in a meTa, since the meTa is (in theory, at least) about a thing that happened in the FPP thread, and not about the fpp subject itself.
posted by rtha at 3:12 PM on May 20, 2013


Why not start a thread that is more directly targeted to the conversation you want to have.
posted by humanfont at 4:06 PM on May 20, 2013


Was there more to say on why the comment was deleted?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:22 PM on May 20, 2013


empath: “Given that mefites aren't shy about expressing their opinions and I can't recall a single creationism vs evolution argument, I think it has to be.”

I can remember being involved in a few, if you want the pure datapoint.
posted by koeselitz at 5:32 PM on May 20, 2013


Beware of assuming that theists on Metafilter don't also believe in evolution, adaptation and natural selection.

It's easy to believe in all of those without accepting them as the ultimate origin of humans or indeed life at all. It's also easy to believe that both the primordial soup and the seven day thing are true despite their glaring contradictions.

In fact it's easy to believe lots of things and with this particular crowd I think it could be a mistake to assume that any two people agree on anything, much less that a majority viewpoint exists.

Could be wrong though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:32 PM on May 20, 2013


I meant the original thread.
posted by Miko at 7:12 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually propriety/loyalty would never have occurred to me with regards to faith

Yes, that's a slightly shocking idea. I think it's right, though; I can't think of any other plausible reason for a loss of faith striking so many people as bad, wrong, misguided, unacceptable and so forth.

Faith has always seemed to me to be a house of cards, the foundation card that the whole edifice leans on being faith in the value of faith itself. I've observed that people who value their faith usually treat any risk of pulling out that foundation card as grossly improper, some even to the point of supporting blasphemy laws that actually kill people.

Is there a word for "something I assign 99%+ probability to"?

I generally use "belief" for that except in the context of discussions involving religious faith, where clarity pretty much forces me to use "working assumption" instead. "Assumption" alone has a connotation of being ill-considered; "working assumption" I think makes clear the possibility of revision remaining an option.
posted by flabdablet at 8:05 PM on May 20, 2013


And one more thing while I'm on a clarification roll: faith and reason are often discussed as if they are in some way opposed. Defenders of reason will frequently deride faith (see Dawkins) and defenders of faith will frequently defy reason (see Michele Bachmann).

Personally I don't see them that way. I see both as faculties we use to help us find our way in the world, along with others like intuition, empathy, instinct, love/fear, attraction/revulsion, enjoyment/disgust, meditation, psychedelics and so on.

Everybody's toolset is unique, and as long as yours works for you and you're not actively trying to stop me using mine, more power to you.
posted by flabdablet at 8:17 PM on May 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm betting you haven't done any research beyond participating here, and I gotta point out that this claim is almost a perfect example of how sampling bias leads to observations that can be very far from the truth — you haven't heard from the people who are shy about expressing their opinions.

Well, yes. But if a significant percentage of mefites actually believed in creationism, some percentage of them would talk about it. I'm sure there are a few, but compared to opinions which I think most people would agree are unpopular here -- Libertarianism, pro-life, pro-war, etc, etc, people are much, much, much less likely to talk about creationism here. I mean even in a post about creationism, not a single person made the case for even the weaker case of intelligent design that I can see. I

I'm sure there are people who believe it in here. But I'd say at least a 'significant majority' believe in evolution. Do you disagree with that? Can you find a single thread where more than a single person argued for it?

Anyway my point was that arguing that most atheists believe in evolution no more necessitates that atheists have a set of beliefs that includes it than that being a mefite necessitates it, even though one can assume that both atheists and mefites believe in evolution in general.
posted by empath at 8:30 PM on May 20, 2013


Yeah, I'd probably come up with the same figures as you if asked to guess the proportions of MeFites who held certain beliefs. I just couldn't resist noting the self-supporting component in the particular argument you made there.

But I don't think it's essential to your point, as you said in your last sentence there. Which makes sense to me.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:53 PM on May 20, 2013


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