Ways a Thread Goes Bad February 13, 2014 3:44 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday's FPP about aedison's misgendering while in detention went... not so well. Some thoughts on what went wrong and how threads like this could go better inside.

While this is a call-out of that thread, it's not like a lot of the behaviors on display aren't common on the blue, especially when accounts of harassment and discrimination come up. So, some things that went wrong:

1. Some people wanted a referendum on aedison's guilt. Others felt that we should be talking about more important things. Some expressed both sentiments.

The problem was that the FPP was specifically about what happened to aedison in detention. It really wasn't a place to discuss her culpability (which she was pretty upfront about). Similarly, arguing about whether MetaFilter's time could be better spent protesting prison conditions in general or asserting that aedison had it pretty good, as far as being a detainee goes, was pretty much a derail. Keeping comments focused on the actual topic of the FPP seems to be a problem.

2. The internet is distancing, and a lot of people get into trouble by trying to talk about issues in a very abstract, theoretical way. Which is natural, it's something smart people do, and MetaFilter is full of smart people. However, when a post is about harassment, microagressions, and/or discrimination, it's pretty likely that at least some of the commenters are going to be people for whom the issue is anything but abstract and theoretical. And they are likely to respond badly to "armchair analysis." Then the abstracter gets defensive because they are shocked at the negativity -- after all, they were just talking theoretically. It's obviously not possible (or even always desirable) to stop doing this, but it's a recurring issue.

3. When they get push-back, people double down rather than backing away. Similarly, taking on all comers and making multiple attempts to clarify what they meant make threads a lot more contentious.

That's about it. I'm especially not happy that aedison is a MeFite and likely to see that thread, but I'm not sure what the solution to that one is.
posted by GenjiandProust to Etiquette/Policy at 3:44 PM (331 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

a lot of people get into trouble by trying to talk about issues in a very abstract, theoretical way - So, reasoning is bad, indignation is good?
posted by Ardiril at 4:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


My personal rant about that thread:

Telling people that the thing they're discussing isn't the REALLY important thing, and they should be concerned about some other issue, or the larger context in which that issue under discussion is taking place. Sometimes conversations drift to different things; sometimes people naturally start specific and then go to a larger context. I think those things are fine.

And, while I'm here and ranting, I think it's shitty to say that people are only concerned about [issue] and not [larger context of issue] when all there is to go on is the fact that people are discussing [issue] right then and there. To imply that that means they don't care about the larger context, and aren't working on the larger context, is incredibly presumptuous and getting pretty close to offensive. Telling people they're being dilettante activists is not a great way to get new or non-activists to get more involved.
posted by rtha at 4:06 PM on February 13, 2014 [53 favorites]


So, reasoning is bad, indignation is good?

Maybe don't start with that out of the gate. As per usual in MetaTalk we expect people to be participating in good faith and if it seems like you're just trolling we'd like you to not do that here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [18 favorites]


Honestly, I think we need a break from trans FPPs and people need to think much harder before making one. The 'success' rate is pretty low and then inevitably there's a MeTa that treads over the same ground as the last time around without coming to any resolution.

I don't really know what to think of this last thread. It's like people have this need to make everything Avery's fault because it means they couldn't possibly be caught up in a kafkaesque situation at a border.
posted by hoyland at 4:17 PM on February 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


"a lot of people get into trouble by trying to talk about issues in a very abstract, theoretical way - So, reasoning is bad, indignation is good?"

That seems more self-descriptive than anything else.

But more to the point, when you're talking about someone's actual life, abstracting it often means eliding some really important details, as well as essentially objectifying them — they're no longer a human, but rather a piece of a puzzle, to be turned to the needs of the discussion. It's really frequently a way to demonstrate that you don't really care about their concerns, but are more treating it as a diversion, and people tend to resent dilettantes judging them.

So, no, you're looking for more and better reasoning, rather than reductive, glib pseudo-reasoning under the aegis of "abstraction," disinterest and distancing.
posted by klangklangston at 4:20 PM on February 13, 2014 [34 favorites]


What if I see most, if not all, politics as a form of trolling? (Or else violence, or both.)

It is very difficult anymore to tell what is an acceptable line of conversation. Like on my first account I had v. v. few comments deleted, and the few that were I generally suspected they were borderline, but made a judgement call just on the wrong side. Now I don't even know, I basically just pretend the site's poorly coded or something and my comments have a chance of failing. I'll think my sentiments happen to align with the politics norms and biases of the site on some matter, but still disappeared, or caught up as collateral as a response to something disappeared. I saw this concern dismissed before but it does tend to have a minor "gaslighting" effect - for me solely some momentary confusion rather than distress, as I wonder if my comment was deleted, if I forget to finish it, if I dreamed of writing it, or if the Internet failed. I am comfortable with much uncertainty so not too bothered but I can see how it could be irksome.

Shakesville tends to outline the desired bounds and direction of the conversation in many posts, perhaps something like that could be adapted?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:22 PM on February 13, 2014


1. I think there was some confusion, at least at the outset, as to exactly what happened. This confusion probably stemmed from folks making some assumptions based on the FPP without having read the Storify link. As always, it is most advisable to RTA. I think it's also sometimes hard to easily figure out what's going on by a string of live tweets after the fact.

There was also frankly a lot of guessing going on, a big and sort of unhelpful discussion of 'detention' vs. 'prison' and so forth, and no one really knew exactly what the situation on the ground was at the center, other than that she was separated, at least as far as I can tell.

As far as the culpability thing goes, I'm not sure that talking about the relevant immigration issues, why she was being detained as opposed to sent home, etc., was a bad thing exactly, as such issues were in fact very germane to the situation, though the tone with which people discuss such things probably always has room for improvement.

And with regard to discussing Aedison's situation vs. that of other detainees, I mean, she herself brought that up during the fiasco on her Twitter, so I'm not sure that was as much of a derail as it seemed; though I get the general sentiment that derailing threads with "could be worse" is generally a bad thing.

2. I think this is a particularly tough issue actually without a super simple answer. I personally think discussing things in abstract, theoretical ways can be critical to uncovering deep issues and problems. Discussing things in sort of removed, philosophical ways is a really helpful tool in lots of situations. But as with basically everything, you've got to know the time and place to engage in that kind of discussion (and I myself am totally guilty of doing this at inappropriate times here). What I've found helpful is to try to engage more with the community as if you were in a living room with them, and not so much on the internet. The way you might present some abstract argument about a sensitive issue is way different when you have to say it to an actual person, which is what you are in fact doing on the internet, than saying it to a void, which it can seem like you're doing because you're typing to a screen.

3. There are, I think, two issues here. One is that people are often bad at walking away or admitting they are wrong. I will tell you that learning to be cool with these two things has a lot of benefits and I encourage everyone to give them a shot. The other issue though is that, in that thread as in so many, people don't always give other people the benefit of the doubt and often assume the worst of people, which isn't helpful either, and causes these spirals into "you said this" "no I said this" "you are bad "no I'm not" land.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:24 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, wasn't the problem the same problem as ever? I mean, it's not unpredictable that this is going to happen in threads about trans people and, pace Hoyland, I'm not sure that agreeing collectively not to mention trans people in future is the right, or an achievable, response...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:26 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


What I've found helpful is to try to engage more with the community as if you were in a living room with them, and not so much on the internet.

Am I the only one who is reversed on this? I am much more offensive and politically incorrect IRL than on the Internet. Not just here where I might get disciplined, but on like Reddit too, I tone myself down quite a bit. Probably a NYC thing?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


There was also frankly a lot of guessing going on, a big and sort of unhelpful discussion of 'detention' vs. 'prison' and so forth, and no one really knew exactly what the situation on the ground was at the center, other than that she was separated, at least as far as I can tell.

FWIW, I thought the people insisting "It's not a prison!" were acting in bad faith.
posted by hoyland at 4:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Am I the only one who is reversed on this? I am much more offensive and politically incorrect IRL than on the Internet.

I guess maybe it's easier to just say 'be your nicer self,' whichever that is.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:29 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


(Sorry, hoyland - just read that back and it may sound snarkier than it's meant to. But I think that, unless the mods start deleting threads involving trans people/issues, they are going to keep being made, because MeFites are going to find them of interest. And I don't think mods deleting threads due to subject matter is a good thing to enter into lightly.

It's possible that threads involving trans issues are the new Israel/Palestine, and the bar needs to be set higher, but I don't think that's exactly right - I suspect that there are people for whom the bar simply could never be set high enough, and it is these people, rather than the formulation of the threads, that are the problem.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2014


pace Hoyland, I'm not sure that agreeing collectively not to mention trans people in future is the right, or an achievable, response...

I don't think we need to never have another trans-related post, nor do I think a break is actually a reasonable proposition, even if I wish for one. However, I do think people really ought to be do some thinking before they make a trans-related post: Why do they think it's worthy of a post? Is it just going to result in a fight and, if so, does that make it not worth it? Is it "Oh look, a trans person did something"?
posted by hoyland at 4:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm especially not happy that aedison is a MeFite and likely to see that thread

Apropos of Something ended up leaving MeFi because of that.
posted by homunculus at 4:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


I am much more offensive and politically incorrect IRL than on the Internet.

It's about knowing your audience. If you're in a small and finite group of people, all of whom you know, you can anticipate reactions better and your audience will understand the context of your actions better, so you can push boundaries that you wouldn't in a room full of strangers.

But the flipside is that if you assume no one on the internet is a real person with feelings and you just do whatever the hell you want, you'll step on a *lot* of toes and you won't get positive responses in most contexts. Metafilter is definitely one of those contexts.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:41 PM on February 13, 2014 [10 favorites]


A post whose intention was to rally support for "a member of this community, our community, being arrested and having a hard time" might have been better placed on MetaTalk, like the many posts made about Hoder.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:45 PM on February 13, 2014 [24 favorites]


For example, this post is kind of "Oh look, a trans person did something", but the article (as I recall) was not bad and because there was no 'controversy' (real or manufactured), the post went okay.* I don't think the FPP here cleared that bar and went bad in predictable fashion--it's newsfilter, it's wide-open to rules lawyering from cis people, etc.

*The last time round in MeTa, I suggested that posts about trans men fare substantially better than posts about trans women. I assume that was aslo a factor here.
posted by hoyland at 4:45 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


As far as "analytical/theoretical" goes, pretty much what klangklangston said, but a couple of other thoughts:

If you must go that route (and I do it myself, often enough), it's important to remember that actual lived experience is important data, and, if you don't have it in the specific area being discussed, your analysis is, at best, weak and, more likely, badly off the mark.

I have a friend who has a lot of problems. I hear about them all the time. I am by nature a "fixer," so I used to offer a lot of advice, and we would periodically get into fights over it. After a while, though, I figured out that pretty often I was not being asked for advice, I was being asked to be a sympathetic ear. So I have learned to say "I hear you" "that's rotten," and, judiciously "have you thought about [point]?" It makes our communication much smoother. Now, obviously, the Blue is not a great place to go just looking for sympathy, but there is a time and a place for everything and listening, learning, and offering sincere sympathy is often better than offering solutions or points of view that the people with the actual experience have usually considered and discarded as unworkable some time before.

Lastly, if you are being "analytical/theoretical" and you find yourself getting heat from it, it's worth remembering that the person who is snapping at you isn't (probably) snapping at you personally; they are expressing frustration with systems that have treated them badly. So not escalating or restating the point on the assumption they didn't understand it the first time is not a route to a smooth thread. There is always apologizing or even just walking away for a bit.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:46 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


A post whose intention was to rally support for "a member of this community, our community, being arrested and having a hard time" might have been better placed on MetaTalk

True, but it wasn't, and I don't think that really absolves anything -- anyone who read the FPP knew there was a MeFite involved and could have chosen to be less... accusatory about things.

I'm unhappy that Apropos of Something felt badly enough that they chose to leave over it, and I hope they come back. I doubt blaming for the framing is going to facilitate that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm unhappy that Apropos of Something felt badly enough that they chose to leave over it, and I hope they come back. I doubt blaming for the framing is going to facilitate that.

Seconded on both counts.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:00 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


For me, 1) I didn't have anything substantive to say in that thread, so I just read it and didn't comment; I kinda wish more people would pursue this option, it works out pretty good for me.

and 2) I think the mods kinda dropped the ball on this one, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if trans threads are gonna be a net positive it's clear by now I think they require aggressive moderation. It sucks, but there it is. Unhelpful comments should be deleted immediately and with prejudice; if something is lost I think the positive outweighs the negatives at this stage of the game. Secondly, mods regularly delete posts along the lines of "here is a bad thing happening." All due respect to trans discussions, politics, and issues, but I don't really see how the post wasn't that. Discussion pushed in a helpful direction, but highlighting systemic and social issues above this one issue, but the way it was built, it wasn't there. Likely deleting it for that reason would have prompted its own meta, too. But I think the bar could have been a bit higher.
posted by smoke at 5:02 PM on February 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


The original post probably should have been deleted as sparse news filtery outrage filter. Really what would there have been to talk about that would meet the suggestions of this Meta besides a bunch of agreement that sucky thing sucks.

Much better if a person wanted to raise awareness of this issue would be to post it in a week once the issue had been resolved. At least that way we could have avoided the speculation about what was really happening. Unlike a wide spread disaster where the thread can work as a check-in and support thread for affected indivuals there was nothing time sensitive we could do here besides GRAR! at the situation one of our own was in.
posted by Mitheral at 5:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


The original post probably should have been deleted as sparse news filtery outrage filter. Really what would there have been to talk about that would meet the suggestions of this Meta besides a bunch of agreement that sucky thing sucks.

Yep.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:14 PM on February 13, 2014


Frankly the real problems in that thread were, in no particular order:

1) You Should Care About This Other Thing

2) I Am Going To Faux-Summarize Your Commentary In The Most Uncharitable Way Possible
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:18 PM on February 13, 2014 [23 favorites]


Secondly, mods regularly delete posts along the lines of "here is a bad thing happening." All due respect to trans discussions, politics, and issues, but I don't really see how the post wasn't that.

Post came in on my shift and I felt sort of on the fence about it but thought it had a bit of interesting internet zeitgeist heft to it along with the mefi's own thing (though, yeah, that could also have been a good reason to consider framing it as a Metatalk post instead) and so ultimately let it stand. We have deleted at least a couple of posts that were more clearly into straight-up "bad thing happens to trans person" territory with not a whole lot else going on. Maybe I was being a softy about this one? I dunno. Like I said, it was a middle-ground thing for me.

And I kept a pretty close eye on it, really; I left several notes, nixed a few things pretty quickly, even got some grary pushback for being sort of johnny-on-the-spot in there to try and keep things from wandering to much. More than half of the thread as it stands happened during the first few hours when it was the thing on the site that had the majority share of my attention. Which, I'm not under the pretense that I did a perfect job or anything; it's certainly hard to find the right line to walk on this stuff. But there's not really a model for discussion that involves us being significantly more aggressive about moderation than we already were that still looks like what conversation on Metafilter has historically been.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:23 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


The problem was that the FPP was specifically about what happened to aedison in detention. It really wasn't a place to discuss her culpability (which she was pretty upfront about). Similarly, arguing about whether MetaFilter's time could be better spent protesting prison conditions in general or asserting that aedison had it pretty good, as far as being a detainee goes, was pretty much a derail. Keeping comments focused on the actual topic of the FPP seems to be a problem.

Probably because there was a lot of murky aspects about the situation as it was happening. That almost always happens with any news event thread.

As to whether those topics can or should be discussed in that thread, 1) I don't see why not and 2) It's almost impossible to deny those discussions in a fast moving event because people are trying to figure what's going on and whether the reported story is factual.

The post probably should have been deleted.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:33 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]



The problem was that the FPP was specifically about what happened to aedison in detention. It really wasn't a place to discuss her culpability (which she was pretty upfront about). Similarly, arguing about whether MetaFilter's time could be better spent protesting prison conditions in general or asserting that aedison had it pretty good, as far as being a detainee goes, was pretty much a derail. Keeping comments focused on the actual topic of the FPP seems to be a problem.


I wasn't really involved in that thread. But it seems to me like you're saying people should have been extra sensitive because the issue was important and because the person involved was a MeFite. To me....that just seems like it shouldn't be a blue post, then. The primary reason for putting something on the blue is because it's an interesting thing on the internet, and that's how people approach discussions there --- they ramble on about what aspects of the thing were interesting to them. If something is so sensitive that members ought not to talk about it like they'd talk about any other post, then it just seems to me like a bad candidate for posting at all. The site is read by 90,000 strangers.
posted by Diablevert at 5:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [21 favorites]


To be honest, I think we should probably let everything sit for a week or so before posting - especially Apple product launches and the deaths of celebrities.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lastly, if you are being "analytical/theoretical" and you find yourself getting heat from it, it's worth remembering that the person who is snapping at you isn't (probably) snapping at you personally; they are expressing frustration with systems that have treated them badly.

Actually, I've had the opposite experience much more often, where I'll have formed a theory about "how things work" based on my actual experience, added my two cents during a related discussion, and gotten called out for being too abstract by people who it then turns out actually have a less personal relationship with the subject matter than I do. It hasn't happened a ton and is almost never mean-spirited (that the call outs are generally in good faith is a reason I tend to disengage rather than double down) but I remember it happening at least three or four times in the last month or two. Has anyone else had similar experiences? If not, I'll just chalk it up to me having a weird writing style or a weird life or something, but if so, then I think maybe (some) people are already too suspicious of abstraction and are making the assumption that it serves different purposes than it necessarily does.

Personally, I think abstraction comes out of people trying to explain their own experiences to themselves, and that it's not a sign of distance or disinterest at all (just the opposite). To me, it seems wrong to pit experience against theory as though they have an either/or relationship, because I think experience is what necessitates theory. So I would guess that abstractions would mostly come from people who actually do have personal experience in the subject area and that hammering away at particulars/questions would mostly come from people who don't (and, in the best case, are trying to get a lay of the land). That's also what I personally saw in the Happy-Go-Lucky Brand thread (EX: people asking questions or expressing shock about Canadian detention/visas/strip searches were more likely people who didn't have personal experience with misgendering or incarceration v. people discussing misgendering in incarceration were more likely people who did have personal experience in either or both).

Regardless of whether that's true or not, though -- I think that the thread wouldn't have gotten so personal, and personally hurtful, if it had been *more* abstract. I don't think that abstraction is necessarily a bad thing, and I think it's more likely a sign of knowledge and interest than ignorance and distance.

The original post probably should have been deleted as sparse news filtery outrage filter. Really what would there have been to talk about that would meet the suggestions of this Meta besides a bunch of agreement that sucky thing sucks.

If the thread was supposed to focus on one particular member of MeFi it might have been better in MeTa.
posted by rue72 at 5:59 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


However, again, a week's delay is not really something that we can expect to happen all the time - just as we can't expect people to read the links before commenting. One of the problems in the thread under discussion is that some of the contributors clearly didn't have a solid idea of what was going on. So, for example, five fresh fish appeared to believe that the issue was that a prison warder had used the wrong pronoun, having apparently not read the links, or indeed the thread, and then got really surprisingly upset that people were not swayed by his insight. This is not great behavior, but there is no rule that people have to read anything before posting.

So, "things that could have happened" so far has:

1) The thread could have been deleted - which is true, but clearly there were reasons why it was not, and there probably isn't a guarantee that similarly edge-ish cases in the future will be deleted.
2) Everyone could have read the background material and understood the situation going in, with every intention of discussing it in good faith - which is a Utopian vision of a perfect world we shall not live to see..
3) Something else.

That (3) is interesting... in threads like this, on almost any contentious issue involving people who are outside the broad MetaFilter social consensus, it seems that statistically someone, or more generally some ones, will end up holding the contrarian ball, and how they handle that, and how they are handled, by other users and moderators, feels pretty important to me.

In this case, it's actually pretty easy to see a dynamic at work - at least in Chrome, or any browser that maps occurrences of a command-Fed word along the scroll bar. And, when you see that, you can see the decay curve of the thread, which is not related to the thinness or thickness of the initial content.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:09 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


1) You Should Care About This Other Thing

2) I Am Going To Faux-Summarize Your Commentary In The Most Uncharitable Way Possible


These are problems in a lot of threads.

I wish people would assume good faith at the beginning, and sometimes in the middle, and occasionally even at the end. Or walk away.

And lead discussion by talking about the Things We Should Really Care About themselves.

Makes life really frustrating for trolls, too.
posted by zennie at 6:10 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


But it seems to me like you're saying people should have been extra sensitive because the issue was important and because the person involved was a MeFite.

Well, I think it's worth remembering that a MeFite is more likely to read it, and being a little sensitive to that fact, the way you might not be quite so blunt to a person's face. You know, general politeness stuff (although, considering the way some people get treated in AskMe, I don't know why I'm even arguing this point). For the other, I think it's important enough to talk about, and it was a complicated enough issue that the mods let the post stand, as opposed to "THIS IS IMPORTANT, AND YOU MUST SEE IT," which I don't feel the post did.

As I said in the text you quoted, a lot of the problem for me was that people were not reading the links and interacting with the material there; they were free-associating their own thing, and I think that's bad form. The post was about what happened during detention; why aedison was detained and whether she "deserved" it shouldn't have been an issue. Furthermore, the whole business about how the situation wasn't that bad, and we should be spending our attention elsewhere was... well, really wrong. The FPP was about a specific incident; arguing that that incident is not worthy of our attention is really in the "your favorite band sucks" or "this isn't about race; it's about class territory. If you want to talk about that other thing; make a post about it. Although, to be fair, that wasn't the weirdest derail I have seen -- I remember someone complaining that we weren't discussing famine in Africa in a thread on gay porn....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:10 PM on February 13, 2014


Has anyone else had similar experiences? If not, I'll just chalk it up to me having a weird writing style or a weird life or something, but if so, then I think maybe (some) people are already too suspicious of abstraction and are making the assumption that it serves different purposes than it necessarily does.

This has happened to me, but I think I do have a weird communication style sometimes. (That said, the two times I can remember it happening on MeFi (because I was particularly upset) involved some of the same people, so I don't think it was all me.)

(EX: people asking questions or expressing shock about Canadian detention/visas/strip searches were more likely people who didn't have personal experience with misgendering or incarceration v. people discussing misgendering in incarceration were more likely people who did have personal experience in either or both).

I think this is true as a general trend, but I do think there were people making sweeping statements about the prison system that they pulled out of thin air to excuse the mistreatment of trans people.
posted by hoyland at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2014


OutrageTransFilter is getting tiresome IMHO. I've learned a lot from it but this isn't your personal axe grindy playground, and I'd like to see more pruning . MeFites don't get automatic deference either.
posted by lordaych at 6:14 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


My "your" is othering and I apologize, but I mean it's getting to NSA or election 2008 levels of proliferation at this point. Nbd.
posted by lordaych at 6:15 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the bulk of people who make posts on trans issues are cis.
posted by hoyland at 6:19 PM on February 13, 2014


Personally, I think that if a post is worthy of FPP status, then by definition all related lines of commenting are appropriate. You can't dictate the direction of the conversation.
posted by yarly at 6:25 PM on February 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


I was thinking of posting this link, but based on this MeTa it would probably end up being trolling:

Facebook offers 50 choices for gender
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:44 PM on February 13, 2014


CP: don't worry, you're an hour and a half too late anyway.
posted by gingerest at 6:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ahem
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's an FPP. I have mixed feelings. I thought it was going to go okay, but it's on the verge of collapse.
posted by hoyland at 6:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


gingerest, I am shaking my fist at you in impotent rage right now.

just fyi
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:48 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


running order squabble fest: "on almost any contentious issue involving people who are outside the broad MetaFilter social consensus, it seems that statistically someone, or more generally some ones, will end up holding the contrarian ball, and how they handle that, and how they are handled, by other users and moderators, feels pretty important to me."

Because we aren't nearly the insular group thinkers that is so often claimed. We pretty well run the spectrum of viewpoints that one would expect from thousands of people spread across the globe. I mean we probably don't have any hard core white supremacists but we have pro-lifers, pro-choicers, gun enthusiasts, weapon restriction advocates, democrats, libertarians, republicans, communists and people who talk at the theater.

GenjiandProust: "The post was about what happened during detention; why aedison was detained and whether she "deserved" it shouldn't have been an issue. "

While the OP and some members may have wanted the discussion to be so narrowly focused a post that starts with someone being detained is going to have discussion about why they were detained and that seems, IMO, reasonable. Especially in the case where the reason for posting is to raise awareness of judicial procedural problems. People are going to question if the reason for detention in the first place is because of discrimination.
posted by Mitheral at 6:50 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Actually, I've had the opposite experience much more often, where I'll have formed a theory about "how things work" based on my actual experience, added my two cents during a related discussion, and gotten called out for being too abstract by people who it then turns out actually have a less personal relationship with the subject matter than I do.

Does that automatically invalidate their point? As a white person, is it impossible for me to tell somebody "hey, you're discussing [issue that disproportionately or exclusively affect people of color] in a way that's really abstract and ignores the experience of the people who are actually living with it"?
posted by Lexica at 6:51 PM on February 13, 2014


What if I see most, if not all, politics as a form of trolling? (Or else violence, or both.)

Then maybe you should grow the fuck up.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:54 PM on February 13, 2014 [11 favorites]


As a white person, is it impossible for me to tell somebody "hey, you're discussing [issue that disproportionately or exclusively affect people of color] in a way that's really abstract and ignores the experience of the people who are actually living with it"?

In those words? Probably. They're specifically not ignoring their experience--it'll inform the abstraction.
posted by hoyland at 6:55 PM on February 13, 2014


We pretty well run the spectrum of viewpoints that one would expect from thousands of people spread across the globe. I mean we probably don't have any hard core white supremacists but we have pro-lifers, pro-choicers, gun enthusiasts, weapon restriction advocates, democrats, libertarians, republicans, communists and people who talk at the theater.

I hate to point this out, but with the exception of the last one, which is a global issue, all those examples of the incredibly broad global diversity of MetaFilter are framed in terms of not just primarily American but primarily US concerns and debates.

I'm not saying it's wrong. Quite the reverse.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:08 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


As I said in the text you quoted, a lot of the problem for me was that people were not reading the links and interacting with the material there; they were free-associating their own thing, and I think that's bad form.

I dunno, to me it feels like people do that with pretty much every post....it's sort of to be expected. That is what goes on in a post on the blue, people take the ball and run with it. I put up a post about a journalism ethics/corruption issue at PBS the other day; someone took that as an opportunity to speculate about the psychological profile of what they termed "the oligarchy". Thematically, you could make a connection between some aspects of TFA and the influence of money over our culture/political system and from there to the influence of money over the human brain, but there's a lot of stepping stones on the path. But the fact that someone went that far afield with it was to be expected, to my mind. My personal feeling is that the more political/hot button a post is, the more people are likely to use it as a launch pad to broadcast their opinions on every possible tangent related to that political issue/hot button.

I want to be clear, it's not that I don't feel you, on thinking this whole thing could be pretty hurtful to read for aedison. But I think that's true of any group of strangers' commentary about any potentially controversial news figure. MeFi is better than a lot of places --- the vast majority of places on the internet --- when it comes to this stuff. But I feel like there's a rare collision here where the political issues raised by the post do fit neatly into the type of things Mefi likes to jawbone about. But on this specific topic, it seems like you'd prefer that discussion to be handled with kid gloves, with the same level of politeness and delicacy you'd use to debate your prospective mother in law about religion at the dinner table. And I just...i think that's to big a lift for 90,000-odd people who are gathered here today because they paid five bucks. People being judgmental about the subject of a news story or airing their opinions about why that person is good or terrible and why happened to them is an atrocity or completely justified is just what people do.
posted by Diablevert at 7:24 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


We're all friends here on MetaFilter, even when we disagree. I wish people would remember that more often, and dial down their emotions accordingly.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


Then maybe you should grow the fuck up.

Less snarkily, a well-regarded scholar saw war as the continuation of politics by other means, I don't think I'm too far gone to see the relationship going the other way.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2014


I don't think I'm too far gone to see the relationship going the other way.

Yes, actually, you are. But that's probably a topic for another thread.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:42 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


So, for example, five fresh fish appeared to believe that the issue was that a prison warder had used the wrong pronoun, having apparently not read the links, or indeed the thread, and then got really surprisingly upset that people were not swayed by his insight.

I was responding to those who were have shitfits over the prison guards being stereotypical prison guards. You do seem determined to be an uncharitable asshole, so thanks for your part in all this, too.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


We come here to share in good faith.

I don't feel like it's true that everybody comes to these threads to share in good faith. There is a lot of snarky, sarcastic attitude that happens in these threads. I'm not the first to make that criticism, and it usually gets derailed into discussing what deeper issue might be provoking those responses...and honestly, I don't care. They make the site worse. I don't care that they might be stemming from some deeper justification. They fuck up MetaFilter.

There are a handful of users who adopt that as their default voice in these threads. It's almost invariable that you'll find some sarcastic comment from them in these threads. There's at least one whose sole participation on the site is fighting snarkily in these threads. I have no idea if it's a longtime member's sockpuppet, or just a sincere-but-aggro user, or maybe a troll. It doesn't matter. Every snotty, fighty comment pulls that thread down a peg, and in turn every muddy thread pulls the site downward.

I don't know if MetaFilter features more gender content than other sites, but it feels that way. For sure, some good has come from those threads. It's awesome we've eradicated some of the intentionally offensive comments. But it feels to me like...we built up some kind of momentum in eradicating "I'd hit that" and "he-she" comments, and with those gone, then that momentum turned to a next level of comments that might be ignorant or contrarian. Which, okay, if you want to take issue with those things that's fine; but it's a much blurrier line, and more importantly they are qualitatively different from comments that are intentionally callous or offensive. And accordingly, they're not appropriate targets for that particular momentum we had stoked.
posted by cribcage at 7:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Well. 13 years on this site and my first Meta callout. Guess I'm a grownup now.

I've typed and deleted several things here, and I guess I'm just not going to say any of them because everything can be pretty much summed up by what was said above -- for me, the biggest issue was the whole I Am Going To Faux-Summarize Your Commentary In The Most Uncharitable Way Possible thing, and I see it happen in this callout as well.

When you post something on Metafilter, you're going to get all the viewpoints, not just the ones you agree with or the ones that make you feel good. Sometimes those viewpoints will expand your view, and sometimes your views will expand the view of the person commenting. The thing about her being a member of the site, is, I think, sort of a red herring. Anybody we talk about is very likely to see what we're saying, as has been proven time and time again.

I still don't get how saying "I'm surprised that she didn't see this as one possible thing that might happen to her" is the same as making it a "referendum on her guilt". I certainly never said that she deserved to be misgendered as punishment for a visa infraction, which is what I lot of people seem to think I was saying. I never even said that she should have thought this was the most likely outcome -- just that I was surprised that she -- an apparently smart and thoughtful person who clearly knew she had a visa issue and had taken some steps (nonrefundable ticket, bringing the lease) to make herself look like a credible visitor -- had not had a plan in place in case she was, in fact, detained. That's it. I was surprised. And I expressed my surprise, as sort of an aside, while at the same time expressly saying "The outrage here is the misgendering, not so much the detention itself.". But apparently my surprise is controversial and makes people angry.

On the privilege issue, I guess that while it's ok for Avery herself to acknowledge her privilige "With the proviso that this isn't the end of the world - I'm white, speak English, I'll be pretty okay." it's somehow offensive for anyone else to express that exact same view. I'm glad that this episode was able to shed a spotlight on an injustice; I can't help but wonder, though, how many other trans* people were hassled by US and/or Canadian immigration in the past couple days who didn't have The Internet to advocate for them. I saw a lot of focus on this one person; I hope that translates into systematic change for every trans* person who gets tangled up with the mess that is the US and/or Canadian immigration system, but frankly I'm not holding my breath. I actually wonder if there were other trans women being held at the same time as Avery who didn't get to be moved to a more appropriate facility -- I never saw that question asked once, all day, but hopefully it was just in different media and I missed it.

In conclusion Metafilter is a land of contrasts, I, too, left this conversation feeling less good about this site than I did before it started -- mostly because of what I said at the start ... I used to see this is a place where diverse viewpoints could have a rational conversation. I didn't see that at all yesterday -- in fact, I saw the opposite, where people were eager to willfully twist what I was saying and accuse me of using words (like "stupid" for a start) that I never, ever said -- and the more I look around the site the more I realize that maybe that has been gone for longer than I realized.
posted by anastasiav at 7:55 PM on February 13, 2014 [34 favorites]


On the privilege issue, I guess that while it's ok for Avery herself to acknowledge her privilige "With the proviso that this isn't the end of the world - I'm white, speak English, I'll be pretty okay." it's somehow offensive for anyone else to express that exact same view. I'm glad that this episode was able to shed a spotlight on an injustice; I can't help but wonder, though, how many other trans* people were hassled by US and/or Canadian immigration in the past couple days who didn't have The Internet to advocate for them.

But you didn't follow up with actual discussion of the systemic issues, which is what left a bad taste in my mouth. You most certainly weren't saying "Let's understand the broader issue here and how this situation is part of a larger problem."
posted by hoyland at 8:01 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I still don't get how saying "I'm surprised that she didn't see this as one possible thing that might happen to her" is the same as making it a "referendum on her guilt".

Like I said in the thread, this was distracting from the actual issue. Had the thread been going differently, such a comment wouldn't have been a problem, but there was a hell of a lot of "Well, this is all her fault" going on. It's unfortunate if you wandered into that accidentally, but that's why I reacted the way I did.
posted by hoyland at 8:02 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


But you didn't follow up with actual discussion of the systemic issues

I was actually willing to have that conversation, but once it became clear that every single thing I wrote was going to require me to defend myself I decided I just didn't feel like dealing with the fight. Had the entire conversation been less fighty I probably would have stuck around.
posted by anastasiav at 8:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I still don't get how saying "I'm surprised that she didn't see this as one possible thing that might happen to her" is the same as making it a "referendum on her guilt".

The problem I had with this line of discussion is that it seemed (repeatedly, and not just from you) to conflate the problem of being detained over her visa problems with the problem of her being misgendered.
posted by scody at 8:07 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was responding to those who were have shitfits over the prison guards being stereotypical prison guards.

Yes, and that showed you hadn't read the comments or thread very closely, because the concern was that she was misgendered by Border Control agents, then by the Government during pre-hearing remand assignment, many many hours before she ever reached the prison and its stereotypical guards. One person - muddgirl - mentioned that Avery tweeted she'd been further misgendered by the guards at the men's prison as evidence that Avery was in a men's prison. No one had a shitfit over prison guards. Well, okay, you did riff some on all the terrible things prison guards do, but that was later.
posted by gingerest at 8:30 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was responding to those who were have shitfits over the prison guards being stereotypical prison guards.

See gingerest, above.

However, I think generally a thread can survive one or two drive-bys - the problem deepens when people double down, and just keep saying the same thing over and over again. Five fresh fish, you basically alternated between "people who choose to get incarcerated should explain themselves" and "prison guards are not going to use the right pronoun, get over yourselves" until you stormed out.

Likewise, jsturgill started out with Edison's safety, her (minor) celebrity and the assertion that it is getting her better treatment than most, and then basically used the same or similar words over and over again in repeating those statements:

She chose to be detained, and the authorities are doing so safely before her hearing...It's amazing how minor celebrity and facility online have made this into a minor news story

They made the right decision. They're keeping her safe.


But since I'm me, my thoughts and feelings are lingering more on the effects of her celebrity and internet savvy. Those assets allowed her to generate an uproar over her situation, which was one of physical safety and limited emotional duress

She's physically safe except from the guards...She is also a white, attractive, educated minor celebrity who understands the levers of power and has managed to create an uproar online to improve her situation.

At this point (8:23pm Metafilter time), after a break, jsturgill also starts adding nice comments about Edison's personal qualities to posts - "smart and nice", "attractive", "a funny, nice person". Which is nice, I guess.

But, regardless of the niceness of saying nice things about nice people, it feels like just saying the same thing over and over again - she is safe, she is a minor celebrity, she is getting better treatment than many people in the prison system (optional: she is [complimentary adjective])" using largely the same words, is going to rub people (especially people with skin in the game - e.g. trans people who have to cross national borders and for whom this is a nightmare scenario) the wrong way, until eventually the word "jsturgill" becomes a more common element in the thread than hydrogen is in the universe.

(Starting at 8:23am Metafilter time, and hitting an extinction burst at 1:29pm, effectively killing the thread.)

That doesn't mean anyone's a bad person, but it characterizes a way threads go bad. If you do the CMD/CTRL-F on, say, "corb" in this Coy Mathis thread, you'll see basically the same pattern, albeit with more pulses.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:34 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


there was a hell of a lot of "Well, this is all her fault" going on.

I just reread the entire thread up to my first comment -- and what I see is:

how frequent is it for the Canadian government to detain an English-speaking immigrant over visa issues?

I find it strange that she would be sent to prison on (re)entry into Canada for overstaying a student visa. Why not just refuse entry and send her home?

Perhaps they thought/decided the ID listing her as female was fraudulent and turned it into a fake-passport issue?

So it's the normal routine when a an overstay attempts a re-entry to Canada is to detain and wait for a hearing? Most places just send you straight back on the next flight and ask you to sort stuff out at the home countries embassy.

I would love to know what she is being held for, and why they think they can misgender her.

Which I don't read at all like blaming her (partly because they're almost all questions), but rather like people saying "what the actual fuck? How did this happen? Are they treating her more harshly (by detaining her) because she is trans gender?" There were certainly a TON of people on Twittter (not exactly a bastion of clear discourse, I grant you) who were certain that she had been denied entry specifically because of her status. So, maybe that's part of what's going on here -- you were reading these statements as "this is all her fault" and I was reading these statements as "help me understand how we got to this spot".
posted by anastasiav at 8:40 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well, I have to give you that one, anastasiav, and I was among those who was under the impression the thread was already hostile to her decisions before you commented. I think I was defensive from watching this unfold on Twitter in real-time (and thus having been exposed to a lot of rudeness about Avery's decisions) and by the other recent MeTa fight about protest priorities.
posted by gingerest at 9:02 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


…that showed you hadn't read the comments or thread very closely, because the [emph. mine] concern was that she was misgendered by Border Control agents, then by the Government during pre-hearing remand assignment, many many hours before she ever reached the prison and its stereotypical guards

No, a concern was that she was misgendered by Border Control agents. Another concern was that she was being wilfully misgendered by prison guards. And yet other concerns were about other things.

Five fresh fish, you basically alternated between "people who choose to get incarcerated should explain themselves" and "prison guards are not going to use the right pronoun, get over yourselves" until you stormed out.

Yup. Because people were addressing me regarding those things. And when it became obvious that aggressive, uncharitable mischaracterization was the ongoing theme, I said naturally said fuck this bullshit, and went on to more pleasant pursuits.

A multiplicity of opinions, issues, and ideas should be expected in any thread. The problem I see in the aedison thread is that a few people wanted control over what others could or should say, and attacked everyone who didn't toe their line.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:13 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh hey, you found a way to re-purpose your deleted SJWs and minorities are ruining MetaFilter comment from yesterday! Impressive efficiency!
posted by Corinth at 9:17 PM on February 13, 2014


And let me point out that …that showed you hadn't read the comments or thread very closely is yet another example of uncharitable interpretation. What it really shows is that I wanted to address a very specific comment. In absolutely no way does my addressing that specific comment provide you any basis whatsoever to make claims about how closely I read the thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Corinth: eh? Is that directed at me?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 PM on February 13, 2014


Yeah, I'm confused by that too.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:24 PM on February 13, 2014


Hi! I disagree with how I'm portrayed in this thread and the original thread. I hope it's not derailing to talk about my role in all this, rather than the general topic under discussion.

Because the thing is, I feel misused and abused by many people in that thread and this one. I never said or implied that we needed to talk about what I wanted to talk about, yet that is what I'm being called to task for.

I expressly said, for those who feel that random internet strangers have opinions that matter, that Avery did nothing wrong, there is no danger of MetaFilter running out of space anytime soon (so don't stop sharing how upset you are), and that it's a terrible and frustrating thing for her to experience. That wasn't a dog whistle for trans haters everywhere; that wasn't a bald-faced lie told with a smirk. It was the god's honest truth, plainly stated so as to avoid any confusion. And yet there I am, cited as someone who wanted us to talk about something other than The One True Topic of the thread.

Please.

I really and truly put my foot in my mouth with a clumsy attempt to explain how conflicted I was that people were planning on organizing real life protests for this particular situation. That's the comment of mine the OP here linked to. It was a terribly worded sentiment, but I made a valiant effort to reword it later on. Thanks for not linking to that, but I guess I don't deserve the consideration of being understood at anything other than my worst, right?

This is all pretty frustrating stuff. At no time did I try to shut anyone up; at no time did I treat anyone with disrespect. And yet, I do think people tried to shut me up, and I do think people treated me disrespectfully. I also think that people were intentionally reading my comments in a fighty, uncharitable manner. I think things were being attributed to me that it was unreasonable to attribute to me, and yet at no time did I do the same to others.

I dislike that the mods chided me, yet had no words to spare for others' bad behavior in the thread. Meanwhile, having been asked to shut up, others were free to continue to criticize things I never said or implied.

The things I wrote, and the way I wrote them, should in no way be unacceptable.

All of these things kind of piss me off. Not the end of the world, but there you go. People get emotional. Not everyone is a good reader all the time. And the mods have perspectives of their own that influence how they do their job, which is important, difficult, and generally done quite well.

But just because I understand why this happened doesn't mean it's OK. I was not treated well in that thread, and I'm glad I have the opportunity here to express that.
posted by jsturgill at 9:26 PM on February 13, 2014 [17 favorites]


Diablevert: "The primary reason for putting something on the blue is because it's an interesting thing on the internet, and that's how people approach discussions there --- they ramble on about what aspects of the thing were interesting to them."

I guess, but people rambling on about what aspects of the thing are interesting to them is basically the way another thread is going bad as we speak. The progression from how this positive change affects trans people on Facebook to how it might have some negative side effects for them elsewhere, such as dating sites, worked. But then some people wanted to talk about how the change might affect them as cis people specifically interested in not dating trans people, and then wanted to defend categorically not wanting to date trans people, which is completely off the primary and even secondary subjects and is absolutely not going to go well without perfect framing and moderation (and probably wouldn't even then).



fff: Yeah, directed at you. It had the same thrust and ended with a similar bit about about a party line.
posted by Corinth at 9:33 PM on February 13, 2014


Dude, topic is tense enough, no need to drag in deleted comments from other threads.
posted by smoke at 9:36 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Ah, I finally have clear examples of what "uncharitable reading" is. God, sometimes I fucking hate us all so much.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:36 PM on February 13, 2014


It was from the thread this MeTa was started about and seemed to be the tipping point for Apropos of Something leaving.
posted by Corinth at 9:40 PM on February 13, 2014


I'm actually surprised, five fresh fish that you haven't closed your account out of sheer embarrassment at this comment of yours, which contained this little "gem": Just don't push so hard that the thugs exact revenge by removing her safety.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:46 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


hoyland: " rules lawyering"

Not a fan of this particular callout, because it can be levied against virtually any argument, particularly when an emotional argument meets a logical one.

This story seemed to embody that divide rather well -- Avery was apparently being detained in accordance with Canadian law. I think that you could validly make arguments that the law was extremely fucked up, but also that it's a bad precedent for a government to ignore its own laws regarding the treatment of prisoners.

Honestly, I also didn't see much contention over the main points in the thread, and it only looked like a very small number of people (like, one or two) were acting in bad faith. We're arguing over a subject that we agree 99% on. Avery broke a law that carries a prison sentence in virtually every country. Immigration law generally sucks. Prison generally sucks. Transgendered individuals deserve the right to self-identify and be treated fairly and equally. The laws in this case suck and need to be changed.
posted by schmod at 9:47 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: "I'm actually surprised, five fresh fish that you haven't closed your account out of sheer embarrassment at this comment of yours"

I disagree rather strongly with that comment, but I'm also generally against shaming members of our community and encouraging them to leave.

Please be nice to people, even if they're doing things that you think aren't nice in return.
posted by schmod at 9:49 PM on February 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


Corinth, I don't know what "SJWs" means, and I am absolutely certain I said nothing about minorities. I did say that not everyone respects everyone on Mefi, in response to someone else making the claim that "we all" do. "Recycled" is accurate enough; the rest of your accusation is bullshit. Also, it was not in the aedison thread, it was in the Slactivist thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:49 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


To be honest, I think we should probably let everything sit for a week or so before posting - especially Apple product launches and the deaths of celebrities.

To be honest, you're one of those people who always seems to be stirring the pot in Metatalk threads, so maybe you should really consider sitting out of them for a week before commenting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Holy jesus fuck Corinth, are you completely incapable of reading what people have actually written? In no fucking way are cis people saying anything about categorically not wanting to date trans people. The comment you linked to is by someone who has said the exact opposite, and who is saying that dating sites already let us filter in various ways, and that filtering "who I want to see" and "who I want to see me" is already a function of dating sites. Someone with the barest hint of reading comprehension would also note that the comment you linked to is very specifically not using specific identities. In fact, for those too lazy to click, here's the comment:
Pretty simple solution there. OKCupid asks for your identity and the identity of who you would like to date. If they added trans/cis as options for both of these fields, the problem is solved. If someone doesn't say they're interested in dating a trans person, a trans person shouldn't pursue a date with them.

OKCupid currently also allows gay men and lesbian women to make themselves invisible to straight women and straight men, respectively. That would work in any direction, with any identity that a person was not interested in connecting with.

As for a hypothetical situation where someone is intentionally misleading under these circumstances, well, they're totally doing the wrong thing. But obviously the appropriate reaction is to say "hey what the fuck, you mislead me, I though you were (insert identity), I'm leaving", as opposed to the terrible reactions we sometimes see from men in this situation.
What the actual fuck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:50 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


God, insomnia's kicking my ass and this is the crap being posted? Ugh.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can we please close this up? Nothing good is going to come of this thread. The callout-to-noise ratio is approaching 100%.
posted by schmod at 9:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Maybe if we stick to "I feel" statements? And possibly also one collapsing thread at a time?

Jsturgill: Thanks for not linking to that, but I guess I don't deserve the consideration of being understood at anything other than my worst, right?

I understand your feelings, and I am happy to query my own motivations in not quoting that 8:58 post. I believe that I stopped quoting at 8:23 because that was where the pulse started. The thread had basically thrown a flywheel at that point.

(That said, your rewording is actually a number of the same words - "white", "educated", "internet-savvy", "privilege". "Well-known" is substituted for "minor celebrity", but if we're talking about reformulating/not-reformulating things, that does feel relevant.

Also, there's a degree of imagineering going on regarding the levels of privilege, maybe - social capital is capital, of course, but Edison was worried about being able to afford a lawyer, and had at the start of this about as many Twitter followers as, e.g., Matthowie - a legend, of course, but not I think a celebrity, exactly.)

So, point taken. I think there's an ideal discussion, which did not happen, and why it did not happen is kind of why this thread exists, if the aim is not simple recrimination.

AnastasiaV: Well... I feel that sometimes we may not wholly see the mote in our own eyes. Like, I sound snarky. That's a problem I understand that I have to address, but I often don't see it at the time. Likewise, I think it's tricky to say that people mischaracterizing others' statements is the cause of the problem, and then shoot out a zinger like:

But apparently my surprise is controversial and makes people angry.

To be exact, I think that's an incomplete assessment of your interactions with the thread - and again, this is a situation where one can relate things to previous experiences of how message board interactions work. If you say the same words over and over again, people will get progressively more irritated by the repetition, consciously or not. In the same sort of way, saying:

I have no doubt that the wrath of Metafilter (tm) will descend on me for saying this

Is programmatic language - it's inviting people to respond to you in a certain way, by both telling them that you think they will be angered by your upcoming statement, and also that you find their anger predictable, mockable ("tm") and inauthentic ("internet outrage").

Using "ummm" at the start of a reply to indicate that you are dumbfounded by the quoted comment is similarly a tension-raising mechanism.

(As, possibly, is my starting this with "well..." - the point here is that a lot of this stuff is not intentional - it's just part of the rhythms of our speech which don't necessarily do well in online discourse.)

And, funnily enough, the "I'm going to engage with the real world, while you guys carry on shouting on the Internet" parting line has the potential to really get people's backs up. I suspect because it's a little like leaving the living room, while shouting "people in living rooms are wasting their lives!" over one's shoulder. Real life is real life, of course, but "I will check back later", or even "I'm out" is kind of different from "you are welcome to pillory me in absentia should you so desire".

This is where I think the examination of this thread's collapse is maybe more interesting than the usual post-match analysis of trans-issue threads, which generally have one or two people full-on Stuka-ing the validity of trans experience in general.

On a pretty basic level, I think everyone in that thread - the diversity of MetaFilter opinion highlighted by Mitheral above notwithstanding - agreed on the basic principle that misgendering Avery Edison is bad, personally and bureaucratically.

The problem came, I think, in a split between those who felt that this was a relatively manageable situation for Avery Edison, and should be used to highlight the neglect of the greater dangers faced by (less white, less minor-famous, less educated) people, trans and otherwise, in the prison system, and those who felt that those hypothetical people, while important, had sort of popped into being, rhetorically speaking, to lessen the extent to which it would be seen as reasonable to be concerned and angry about the mistreatment of one, actual person, even if that person was not at immediate risk of being murdered. The rhetorical stuff doesn't help, there, but it's not quite the situation in, say, that Coy Mathis thread I linked to.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:52 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Twists, you're a fool if you think prison guards would not release an isolated prisoner to general population and encourage them to lay on a shit-kicking.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:54 PM on February 13, 2014


This thread really, really needs to not become any other thread-by-proxy if it's going to be of any use to anyone.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:55 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Corinth really, really needs to stop totally misrepresenting what other people are saying if this thread is going to be of any use to anyone.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:57 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


But, regardless of the niceness of saying nice things about nice people, it feels like just saying the same thing over and over again - she is safe, she is a minor celebrity, she is getting better treatment than many people in the prison system (optional: she is [complimentary adjective])" using largely the same words, is going to rub people (especially people with skin in the game - e.g. trans people who have to cross national borders and for whom this is a nightmare scenario) the wrong way, until eventually the word "jsturgill" becomes a more common element in the thread than hydrogen is in the universe.

....

If you say the same words over and over again, people will get progressively more irritated by the repetition, consciously or not.

Somehow "she is safe, she is privileged, are her privileges why this got traction" got turned into "why you say stop talking about whatever?" and "why you say she should not be upset? why you say nothing bad happened?" and... and...

Christ. I was trying to stay grounded and clear in my communication to maximize the potential of someone actually hearing what I was saying instead of running off on some bizarre tangent because they are upset at the world and want to take it out on an internet stranger. But no, apparently emphatically re-emphasizing where your goal posts are, not changing them wildly depending on what other people are saying, and clarifying when others badly misread your words, is... problematic?

I responded to too many things. I will straight up give you that criticism of me in that thread. You are correct.

But how I responded? No. That should not be problematic. I stayed on-point, and I expressed myself using polite, plain language. And yet somehow the thread managed to bring more bad faith to my words than Bill O'Reilly to an interview with Hillary Clinton.
posted by jsturgill at 9:58 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think my characterization was more charitable than r_n's in her mod note, fffm.
posted by Corinth at 9:59 PM on February 13, 2014


Of course you do. You're also wrong. You dishonestly mischaracterized what I said in the thread this one is about. You dishonestly mischaracterized what fff said. You dishonestly mischaracterized what MBATR said.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:02 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


And yet somehow the thread managed to bring more bad faith to my words than Bill O'Reilly to an interview with Hillary Clinton.

That, again, is a rhetorical device, dude. I don't think anyone here is Bill O'Reilly (although I guess the possibility exists) and it's not a great comparison to draw if we're looking for common ground. The odd - Chinese? - speech forms in your paraphrase are kind of weirding me out as well, TBH.

As cortex said in the thread. "The first misunderstanding is where "huh, that's not what I meant" makes sense; the fifth or sixth in a row is a pretty good sign that there's an actual active mismatch between your intentions and what you are actually communicating." I'm just suggesting that maybe where you see staying on point, a lot of other people saw something else.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:04 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


The odd - Chinese? - speech forms in your paraphrase are kind of weirding me out as well, TBH

what
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:07 PM on February 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


You're all fucking weird, and not in a cute zany idiosyncratic way.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:09 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Grosser and grosser.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:09 PM on February 13, 2014


I don't feel that I've dishonestly mischaracterized what fff said that prompted Apropos of Something to leave. The mods and/or fff are free to repost the comment(s) if they want and you can decide for yourself. If you'd prefer r_n's summary of "but I only want to fuck cis people and I'm not a bigot" to mine then I apologize for mischaracterizing what you and MBATR said and assure you it wasn't done dishonestly.
posted by Corinth at 10:11 PM on February 13, 2014


Bullshit. Start actually reading and responding to what people are writing, and not the monodialogue you're inventing in your head.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:13 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I feel this may be running in a few different directions, but...

FFFM: Oh, I meant the "why you say stop talking about whatever?" and "why you say she should not be upset? why you say nothing bad happened?" part in the opening para, here.

I feel like there's been a discussion of the dangers of treating paraphrases like direct speech - in fact, I think you highlighted it as a problem, and I'd agree that it's something to be very cautious of, because it can create bad feeling. But in this case I was thrown by the "why you say" formation in particular. I can't place what it's supposed to be conveying, is all.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:13 PM on February 13, 2014


It's probably just a riff on internet/lolcat speak and in any case is completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, so why you brought it up is pretty bizarre, since it's pretty well guaranteed to start pushing buttons, and you seem to be fingerwagging about button pushing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:14 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Corinth clipped & saved my deleted message. It's not the one I thought s/he was referring to (and was in the aedison thread). It was this:

[cortex] the fifth or sixth in a row is a pretty good sign that there's an actual active mismatch between your intentions and what you are actually communicating

[me] Or that there is no good-faith attempt being made by the respondees to comprehend what is actually being said. Indeed, based on responses, IMO there is a cadre of angry, vindictive members who actively engage in character assassination, hyperbolization, misquoting, and aggression to shut down anyone who dares challenge their party line.


Perhaps Corinth knows who's a minority and who isn't in that thread. I don't. What I do know is that there are people who are hyper-aggressive toward everyone who doesn't toe their line, and this happens in other threads as well.

"SJWs and minorities are ruining MetaFilter" is a gross mischaracterization.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 PM on February 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


I can't place what it's supposed to be conveying, is all.

Well, if history is any indication, you can presuppose the least charitable possible reading, or perhaps even just make up some negative meaning that isn't even remotely possible, and respond to me as though that's what I meant.

Then I could clarify, and then I'd be shitting up the thread and told to stop.
posted by jsturgill at 10:15 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I don't feel that I've dishonestly mischaracterized what fff said that prompted Apropos of Something to leave.

Based on what fff just posted, all I can say is this:

You have got to be fucking joking.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:17 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's ok to let stuff go and move on to something else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:19 PM on February 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


If that isn't a dog-whistle phrase for the bogeymen in threads like these then I could be wrong. But it feels like it is. That's where I'm coming from, anyway.
posted by Corinth at 10:23 PM on February 13, 2014


Well, if history is any indication, you can presuppose the least charitable possible reading, or perhaps even just make up some negative meaning that isn't even remotely possible, and respond to me as though that's what I meant.

Or, you know, you could respond with an actual, good-faith answer, and see how that goes. It was a strange thing to read, is all. The intention is clearly to characterize the people who were engaging you in the thread as something - Ungrammatical? LOLcats, as FFFM suggests above? Overexcited? Uneducated? These are all possibilities. I am aiming not to put words in your mouth. Whether it is irrelevant to the topic at hand, as FFFM believes, I don't know. And it's totally OK if the answer is "I have no idea, I was typing fast, I don't know why it came out like that". But if there's an intended meaning, I'm not getting it.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:24 PM on February 13, 2014


The intention is clearly to characterize the people who were engaging you in the thread as something

No, there is no such clear intention. People just talk that way on the internet sometimes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:26 PM on February 13, 2014


I know I play this song in a lot of MeTas, but it's sort of crazy Corinth can say five fresh fish is a bigot (Something I think is pretty awful to accuse someone of, particularly in a community/environment like MeFi), but I can't tell Corinth to fuck off with their nonsense.

What a country!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:27 PM on February 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


That, again, is a rhetorical device, dude. I don't think anyone here is Bill O'Reilly (although I guess the possibility exists) and it's not a great comparison to draw if we're looking for common ground.

Let me, gently, suggest that I am aware it's a rhetorical device, and that I don't really think anyone in the thread is Bill O'Reilly, and that in this particular instance, I was not looking for common ground. I was attempting to clearly convey my strong dissatisfaction with how my participation has been characterized.

But if there's an intended meaning, I'm not getting it.

I was mocking the intelligence of the people who mischaracterized me because my feelings are hurt. Dig? That's the straight up honest truth. In particular, it was not a reference to LOL cats or the Chinese (WTF?), but rather a more personal callout to the speech patterns of a friend's half-brother, who is about two years old.

Does that make you feel better? Does it improve the thread to get an answer from me? Is it too much for you to take the ambiguity and run with it, in a direction that gives me the benefit of the doubt at least insofar as not being crazy racist?

And please do understand: I'm being actually critical and cutting here in a way that I was not, in any way, being in the previous thread. So please don't confuse my word choice and message here with my word choice and message there.
posted by jsturgill at 10:30 PM on February 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have not called fff a bigot. (I absolutely don't think he is one, either, if anyone cares, which they probably shouldn't?)
posted by Corinth at 10:30 PM on February 13, 2014


No, there is no such clear intention. People just talk that way on the internet sometimes.


People, sure, but none of the people involved in this conversation. I was thinking, in fact, of something you said earlier:
It is uncharitable in the extreme to mischaracterize what people are saying by using quotation marks as if those words had ever been said. Which they weren't.
That seemed very sensible - and in this case, those words definitely weren't used. Is the intent uncharitable? Like I say, I have no idea. As a device, it is not getting its intended purpose over to me. It doesn't seem egregious to look for clarity.

Ah - and on preview, yes, the intent was indeed uncharitable - it was intended to communicate stupidity. QED.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:33 PM on February 13, 2014


Nah, Corinth, you just accused him of saying and meaning bigoted things that he neither said nor meant.

I suppose there's a fine semantic difference there, but I left my microscope in my other pants.

rosf, seriously?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:35 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


You did not specifically call me a bigot, but you did accuse me of singling out minorities and "SJWs", which is the same thing.

You've also accused me of driving off a user, when I see no evidence of having caused that.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, Corinth, why do you clip & save flagged comments? I can only imagine uncharitable explanations. (And I still don't know what an SJW us.)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 PM on February 13, 2014


Googled it: "Urban Justice Warrior"
posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:44 PM on February 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have not called fff a bigot. (I absolutely don't think he is one, either, if anyone cares, which they probably shouldn't?)

In your first comment here you paraphrase him as saying 'minorities are ruining MetaFilter'. If that's not what you meant to suggest, perhaps you should paraphrase less.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


FFFM: Yes? I mean, jsturgill just clarified:

I was mocking the intelligence of the people who mischaracterized me because my feelings are hurt. Dig? That's the straight up honest truth. In particular, it was not a reference to LOL cats or the Chinese (WTF?), but rather a more personal callout to the speech patterns of a friend's half-brother, who is about two years old.

So, it turns out we were both wrong, although in a sense we were also both not a million miles off - the friend's half-brother speaks like that because English verb forms are complex and hard for a toddler to master. Internet/LOLCat speech is modelled on a sort of imagined baby-talk morphology (I can has cheezburger? You is friend). Likewise, speakers of English as a second language are often represented in popular media as stronger on vocabulary than verb formation.

So, not knowing Jsturgill's friend's son, we went in two different directions from a common root (popular representations of ungrammatical English). Jsturgill has now clarified that our first shots in the dark were inaccurate - although I think it's difficult to clarify that you were deliberately suggesting that fellow MeFites have the minds of toddlers and also demand the benefit of the doubt. However, I think everyone's feeling quite stressed, so perhaps we should all forgive each other our various unintentional trespasses.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:51 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


SJW = Social Justice Warrior

I don't know if the term was first used earnestly on tumblr, or if it came about to mock the OUTRAGE! cohort on tumblr, but either way it's always seemed to me that it came from tumblr.

Which is not to say that tumblr doesn't have a cohort of thoughtful people as well, but that Venn diagram doesn't seem to have a large intersection.

rosf, I really don't understand what you are trying to do here. I think you think you're helping but this really weird unpacking of motives, and fingerwagging about manipulative language when you're doing exactly the same thing, casts a lot of doubt on your motives. You might want to think about the advice given to you above.

I'm going to take that advice even though it wasn't aimed at me, because I should have been asleep hours ago.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:55 PM on February 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Probably a good idea. Night, FFFM - thanks for your feedback.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:00 PM on February 13, 2014


I went and re-read Corinth's cut & paste. I missed seeing Apropos's message in there; to paraphrase, a combination of "missed the party line meeting", "sad about friend in jail", and "blinded to the real issues vis a vis priveleged white girl".

So, another Corinth mischaracterization, although less unjust than the others.

I think I sense a theme here.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:03 PM on February 13, 2014


rosf, you're turning this in a kind of weird direction. It's not a silver bullet to note that I was being slightly dismissive, or uncharitable, in that comment.

Is it?

...

What a strange thread. The only winning move is not to post.

d'oh!
posted by jsturgill at 11:11 PM on February 13, 2014


Apropos, if you chance to read this, I have no idea who you are, no idea how you identify, no recollection of what you posted in the thread.

If you identify with "a cadre of angry, vindictive members who actively engage in character assassination, hyperbolization, misquoting, and aggression", that's on your head: I had no particular users in mind when I wrote that. I was addressing only the tone and quality of the thread.

To be perfectly honest, I can't be arsed to keep track of who said what unless I'm directly replying to them. IMO, who said what isn't nearly as important as what is actually said. And in that thread, a lot of what was said was grossly mischaracterized.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I made one of those "what in the actual fuck how did this happen?" quotes, as anastasiav (correctly) reads them. Mischaracterization is one of the problems, the other is that this developing news story (as it was) didn't know what color of metafilter it belonged in.

Someone said in a recent Meta that the tone and level of GRAR of metafilter has changed. I might be the 'oldest on here with my four digits and I have to say that yes, yes it has.

People were working hard to read things into what people were saying in that thread.
posted by dabitch at 11:11 PM on February 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


Alvy Ampersand, several of the people who were engaging in that thread are trans. There are prior examples of people calling trans users (among others) too loud and/or saying they have too much control over site policy and moderation. fff's accusation that the people who are pushing back against his position (again, several of whom are trans) are an angry cadre enforcing a party line seemed pretty egregious to me given the framing and targets of such wording in the recent past. Which sucked, but hey - it got deleted. But then he posted a very similar complaint in this MeTa, and given the way I viewed his contributions to the Edison thread as helping to precipitate its decline, and the way another trans thread was simultaneously imploding in a depressingly familiar way, it was very hard not to feel like the full force of the anti-whatever sentiment threads (linked above) was encoded in his words and despair that we'd ever have a thread about a trans person or gender identity survive past thirty comments.

And even if he wasn't aware of that context - the trans posters in the Edison thread, or the previous MeTas/FPP - it still felt like the same kind of thing: a resistance to improvement and the proliferation of minority voices. And that sucks. And I reacted strongly - probably too strongly.

So, hey. If nobody else feels any of that at all, well: Fuck. I'm sorry.
posted by Corinth at 11:20 PM on February 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


rosf, you're turning this in a kind of weird direction. It's not a silver bullet to note that I was being slightly dismissive, or uncharitable, in that comment.

I feel like thinking in terms of "silver bullets" is probably not helpful in this context - I don't think this is a gunfight, or indeed a gunfight with werewolves, that needs to end in someone bleeding on the ground. I didn't understand why you chose a particular speech form, you explained that your intention was to belittle the people who you felt were not getting you. That's pretty much that - question asked and answered.

More generally, I don't think that in the longer term the belittling approach at this point is conducive to people getting along - and, barring outliers, I think getting along is absolutely possible. As I've said a few times now, I think one of the interesting things about the Avery Edison thread was that I think misunderstandings, provocative language (for which see above) and some failures of empathy cut off the chance for people with a lot of common ground to feel respected by each other.

Generally, I think the people here are good people. [Insert Lilo & Stitch quote here]. But being good doesn't necessarily always mean being right, and being wrong doesn't stop someone from being good.

Ohana!
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:33 PM on February 13, 2014


fff's accusation that the people who are pushing back against his position

Sigh.

It was not an accusation and it was not about the response to my posts.

It was about the response to jsturgill's posts and it presented an alternative to cortex's assignment of fault (ie. that it wasn't "active mismatch between your [jsturgill's] intentions and what you are actually communicating" but a lack of "good-faith attempt being made by the respondees to comprehend what is actually being said [by jsturgill]".)
posted by five fresh fish at 12:03 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is a clusterfuck and if I could undo posting in it, I would.
posted by gingerest at 1:23 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Happy Valentine's Day everybody!
posted by kagredon at 1:24 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd be personally happy if we did not do the "why are we even talking about this" thing in any threads, because I see threads as naturally self-regulating for this, basically.

People make posts about links that seem interesting to them, and other people who also find the links interesting discuss them. If nobody's interested, or there really isn't that much to say about the topic, there will be little discussion. If people do want to talk about the specific link(s) posted, there will be discussion about that. Chiding people for talking or caring about the posted subject matter seems odd.

If someone thinks, "hm, I feel like a more interesting focus is some other aspect of this broad topic," they are free to make a post about the thing that interests them more, which is a more productive use of energy than complaining that a post was made at all, or that people care about the situation, or are discussing it. If someone feels like the situation or item being discussed just isn't that intrinsically worthwhile or noteworthy, they should probably just not waste time on that thread. Commenting a lot that it's not something worth talking about begins to seem intentionally disruptive.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:00 AM on February 14, 2014 [19 favorites]


Just wanted to say that I was incredibly disappointed that the dating-site-filter-by-genitals derail in the Facebook gender thread wasn't nixed, even after two mod notes to drop it - people continued the conversation, and it was allowed to stand. What was the point of the mod notes if people can just wilfully ignore them?
posted by Dysk at 3:11 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Because that's not what the mod notes were talking about, and that's kind of an unfair way to characterize what we were talking about? IME mods are not exactly light-handed when one posts contra to a mod note.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:06 AM on February 14, 2014


Vote #1 quidnunc kid and the inefficacious "mod note" system will be replaced by a mandatory "MOD COMMAND" scheme. Here are some of the mod commands that I would issue under such a glorious revolution:

[Now listen: could one of y'all just pop out and get me some Doritos?]

[Not the spicy kind, the other kind. The blue kind.]

[Oh, and a six pack of beer.]

[It's pretty thirsty work watching the computer screen all day, I'm just saying.]

[Kinda lonely too.]

[Wait is that you at the door with the- oh, no it was just the wind.]

[So ... yeah. Pretty lonely stuff.]

[Kind of ... not exactly "sad", but if I had a few beers to dull the pain, that would probably help a little.]

[Actually is anyone reading these mod comments anymore?]

[Anyone?]

[Guys?]

[Seriously ... guys?]
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:22 AM on February 14, 2014 [15 favorites]


Then what, pray tell, was this about, if not the exact derail MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch and others were perpetuating both before and after:

"[Guys, this is turning into a) a pile-on b) on kind of a tangent that c) has turned seriously ugly in the past. Can we mutually agree to please not?]"
posted by Dysk at 5:00 AM on February 14, 2014


feckless fecal fear mongering: "Because that's not what the mod notes were talking about, and that's kind of an unfair way to characterize what we were talking about? IME mods are not exactly light-handed when one posts contra to a mod note."

That's totally what the mod note was about. It was a weird paraphrase of what was going on, but that's what it was clearly about. fffm, you're not covering exactly covering yourself in glory on that derail.
posted by hoyland at 5:06 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


c) has turned seriously ugly in the past.

On this subject, I have a really clear memory of having the same 'discussion' with someone else previously, to the point that I wondered if it was one of the same people under a different username.
posted by hoyland at 5:08 AM on February 14, 2014


I don't want to speak for r_n, but basically, the way I see it, is a lot of comments about the specific ways in which a trans person's genitals may or may not suit my specific sexual requirements = very much not the way to go. More general "what if" maundering about dating sites offering more options similar to the Facebook thing is nominally less of a problem, but yes, it really really really needs not to get into weird territory of "okay, sure, whatever you want to call yourself, just tell me what's in your pants" kind of thing.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:11 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


1. Some people wanted a referendum on aedison's guilt.

The statement was in direct response to someone asking why Aedison was being detained. You may have thought the detention aspect was immaterial, but that there was outrage about that part too.
posted by spaltavian at 5:48 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm having a hard time not seeing exactly that conversation carrying on after the mod notes, taz.

Also at least one user made a post that basically said "I posted this and it got deleted so I'm posting it again" which seems... not the way to go.
posted by Dysk at 5:54 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just chiming in as a person that does not really participate in those types of threads, and these MeTa types less and less, that from an observer's perspective there has been an absolutely insane amount of mischaracterization going on here.

I feel like we lose the 'assume good faith' part of our mantra in these hot social-issues discussions, and it's really frustrating to watch.
posted by Think_Long at 6:05 AM on February 14, 2014 [30 favorites]


I have to say that it is enormously disappointing that we so consistently have trans threads go so badly, and I really don't think "let's not do them as much" is the solution. I think it is useful to go into those threads recognizing that they are about real people who have a lot of shit they have to deal with, and have spent their lives dealing with that shit, and they are necessarily the experts on their own lives. I feel like if you go in thinking, oh, hey, I'll just Spock this out, it's just an intellectual exercise, you're likely on the wrong foot. I feel like if you start getting fighty about an experience that is not yours, it might be a good time to calm down and listen instead of talk. I think these are good rules of thumb, and ignoring them doesn't just make for a bad thread -- it really hurts people, and often leads to circular conversations and trans 101 discussions and unexamined transphobia having to repeatedly be confronted. And it's incumbent on non-trans people not to make MetaFilter a place that is hostile or ignorant or indifferent to the experiences of a percentage of our members, because that's just good citizenship, and at this moment, I feel like we are generally pretty shitty citizens on the subject of trans issues.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:23 AM on February 14, 2014 [14 favorites]


Basically if your point is, ever, "[she] isn't sympathetic to me" when the thread is specifically a situation where someone is suffering, you are being cruel. Cut it out. It doesn't matter whether its someone who posts here, but when it is, it's even worse because you know they're going to read it and you still feel the need to point out that you don't care. Female people are especially subject to being labeled (in all but name, or sometimes literally) "attention whores". If you wouldn't come into a funeral and tell the widow that her husband shouldn't have been driving so fast, you shouldn't do it online either. Just close the window and go somewhere else.

I would be a lot more mad about this if avery hadn't been switched to a women's center and was going safely back to the UK. I hope AOS returns soon, we need more kind, friendly, smart, charitable people on this web site.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:40 AM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


If you find yourself feeling the need to tag a 'totally not transphobic' disclaimer on the end of your posts, it might be worth re-examining what it is you're saying exactly as well. At best such a disclaimer is utterly meaningless.
posted by Dysk at 6:55 AM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


Basically if your point is, ever, "[she] isn't sympathetic to me" when the thread is specifically a situation where someone is suffering, you are being cruel.

Eh, the word cruel is thrown around pretty easily these days and almost always has an emotional attachment to it that people want to apply if others don't agree with them. It has elements of smarm, which don't do anything to raise the level of conversation.

It's also outrage for the sake of others in this case, due to the subject of the post being a public figure and a comedian no less. Pretty sure they can handle people on the internet talking about them. This doesn't mean people should just talk smack willy nilly about others, but to note that there are legitimate questions to raised in that specific situation.

If you wouldn't come into a funeral and tell the widow that her husband shouldn't have been driving so fast, you shouldn't do it online either.

There's a vast difference between a funeral and online forums. Equating the two dulls any point trying to be made.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 AM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


But it feels to me like...we built up some kind of momentum in eradicating "I'd hit that" and "he-she" comments, and with those gone, then that momentum turned to a next level of comments that might be ignorant or contrarian. Which, okay, if you want to take issue with those things that's fine; but it's a much blurrier line, and more importantly they are qualitatively different from comments that are intentionally callous or offensive

I'm not sure every instance of "I'd hit it" is intentionally offensive - I reckon a lot of the time it's (erroneously) seen as harmless, much like a lot of the insidious transphobia that gets called out in trans threads.
posted by Dysk at 7:02 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


>1. Some people wanted a referendum on aedison's guilt.

The statement was in direct response to someone asking why Aedison was being detained. You may have thought the detention aspect was immaterial, but that there was outrage about that part too.


Well, maybe, in part, but a) that question could have been answered by reading the links and b) it did not need to become a dominant theme of the thread. It really was a derail that generated a lot of ill-will, since it distracted from the issue of misgendering and smacked of blaming the detainee.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:24 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


It has elements of smarm, which don't do anything to raise the level of conversation.

Uh, a long part of that article argues that insisting on a higher level of conversation can itself be smarmy when it's done as a way of avoiding the other person's point
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:29 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also at least one user made a post that basically said "I posted this and it got deleted so I'm posting it again" which seems... not the way to go.

It was a case where the part that got the original comment deleted was a paragraph complaining about moderation. Excising the "this got deleted" re-up entirely and just reiterating the topical part of their comment would have been a batter move by that user but I think r_n was trying to navigate some peace there and in any case the re-posted version was eliding the part that got the original deleted.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:35 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I didn't participate in the OP, but I did want to chime in to say that I am really not comfortable, in general, with the (paraphrasing) "If an active Mefi member is the subject of an FPP, unspoken rules should apply that only kind and supportive comments are acceptable since the member might read it" concept some folks seem to be advocating for. Either there needs to be a rule that active members are not allowed to be the subject of FPP's or normal rules of FPP behavior should apply without exception. But I can't support this sort of special pleading where Mefites can be the subject of FPP's, but only comments that specifically advocate for one viewpoint are then acceptable.
posted by The Gooch at 7:40 AM on February 14, 2014 [25 favorites]


Thanks cortex, that totally explains it :)
posted by Dysk at 8:01 AM on February 14, 2014


the Alienating Atmosphere thread

Link?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on February 14, 2014


Link?

It's the first link in the comment.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:05 AM on February 14, 2014


Sorry, the only link in the comment. (I read kaalessin's two comments as one.)
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:06 AM on February 14, 2014


Well, maybe, in part, but a) that question could have been answered by reading the links and b) it did not need to become a dominant theme of the thread. It really was a derail that generated a lot of ill-will,

Well it seems like the derail actually came from claiming comments such as:

"Any details on the visa infraction? The story doesn't elaborate but I find it strange that she would be sent to prison on (re)entry into Canada for overstaying a student visa. Why not just refuse entry and send her home?"

were transphobic or "want[ing] a referendum on aedison's guilt". I don't understand how such accusations are not derails but defenses to those accusations are.

makes it seem like all of us, collectively and individually are suffering from some sort of mental disorder wherein we can't present any sort of consistency in what we believe or what we will say about any particular topic

Well, "we" are just people who read the same web forum. It sounds like you are hoping posts will be persuasive in a way that I think hardly anything is.
posted by spaltavian at 8:11 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


What a strange thread. The only winning move is not to post.

Well, judging by what trans MeFites have repeatedly said, they seem to feel the same way. As the last couple threads in both the blue and the grey illustrated, one can't gently inform or remind people about terminology, otherwise they're stirring up drama; if they don't remind commentors, it's their fault for not speaking up. Using that terminology itself reeks of academic elitism or language policing, but attempting to simplify it is patronizing. There's too much talk about trans issues, but it's perfectly fine to equate those issues with otherkin or bronies in relation to culture and policy. Don't ignore intersectionality, but talking about how often GLB forgets about the T or how problems trans women have is all of the problems cis women have tenfold smacks of tunnel vision. Just mention the prefix "cis" and all of the sudden people are being forced to identify themselves as such, but it's important (and often seemingly imperative) when identifying men and woman as trans to specify it. It's unfair to discuss members of a group or organization that have said or done something problematic, but a single angry response obviously speaks for everyone involved.

That's not even a complete list, but even so, we've had MeTa after MeTa where MeFites point out that dealing with just one of those items is exhausting, irritating, enraging, depressing, a combination, or all of the above. It might be useful for people to remember that when the conversation gets a bit tetchy over what seems from their perspective like a simple mistake or slight difference in opinion. It might also be nice to understand that, even though MeFi is by all accounts vastly more welcoming than the real world when it comes to trans issues, that real world is supremely hostile even now. Topics like the FPP represent existential threats to both individuals and trans people as a whole. Most supposedly socially liberal countries (including the US and Canada) have some nasty policies still in place, or don't provide protections where they should. What might be a thought exercise, hypothetical, or academic difference for you is very real and immediate to others.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:15 AM on February 14, 2014 [22 favorites]


spaltavian, I don't think anyone is characterizing that question as transphobic, but rather the repeated 'let me tell you why this is all aedison's fault' responses to it.
posted by Dysk at 8:19 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, if you can't see why responding to "a terrible thing is happening to a fellow mefite! She's being put in a men's prison!" with "it's her own damn fault!" might raise some hackles, I don't even know what to say.
posted by Dysk at 8:22 AM on February 14, 2014


Dysk, can you please directly quote one or two responses where you believe someone asserted that it was her fault?
posted by anastasiav at 8:22 AM on February 14, 2014


What might be a thought exercise, hypothetical, or academic difference for you is very real and immediate to others.

Lot of assumptions about who I am, what I feel, and why I'm writing there that are not necessarily true. Totally weird to be called Spock by a bunch of different people, and informed that I'm being abstract and academic about something I care deeply about.

I posted this:

We live in a world of tragedies and horrors, and I find it disconcerting to see which horrors get traction and which don't. This particular problem is being experienced by someone with many different kinds of privilege who also belongs to an unprivileged class. It's frustrating to see those privileges being used to resolve her problem, when even if left alone the problem would resolve itself in no more than 48 hours. This is in marked contrast to many problems being experienced by many people who do not have those privileges.

White people problems, first world problems, rich people problems--these are all destructive and divisive ideas. But they exist as concepts because they reflect an underlying desire for proportionality that is very human and, if directed properly, may not be a bad thing.

To the extent that this diverts energy that could be directed towards other problems, I find it problematic. To the extent that this reflects the different systems of justice experienced by the white, the educated, the well known, and the internet savvy, I find it problematic.

To the extent that it is a springboard for larger change within prisons in general, or change to how trans* people are treated in prisons, I find it awesome. To the extent that it introduces people to activism and is a gateway to further agitation on all sorts of issues, I find it awesome.

I don't begrudge her using any and all tools at her disposal to improve her situation.


And I get called a cissplainer, who is derailing the thread from its One True Topic.

Harsha Walia, the founder of the Vancouver Chapter of No One is Illegal, was later quoted in the thread:

super messed up and deeply transmisogynist that a transgendered woman was placed into a men's provincial prison by CBSA. though reading her twitter, she seems to be getting (relatively of course) unique treatment by prison guards and CBSA officials - who are seemingly shocked she is detained at all, who are allowing her free calls on cell phones (usually you have to call collect to a landline), immediate access to call legal counsel and to have visitors, and being able to tweet so far into it (apparently in plain sight) until being put into jail. so yeah let's acknowledge white privilege/western passport privilege/liberal outroar (MP's all of a sudden speaking about CBSA - um Lucia any of you?) obviously no one should be detained or in prison and i am overall of course glad that she is getting lots of support - as she should - and that the horrific oppressive practices of the CBSA (and prison/detention centers in general) is getting out to those otherwise unaware/shielded from it, but shit i just gotta say, i'm sure every migrant and refugee of colour would be lucky to get one free call out. i know i would have been.

No uncharitable readings were made of Harsha Walia's comments. Do MeFi users posting in threads need to use more dashes and run-on sentences when they indicate support for/understanding of other people's burdens in order to not be misunderstood? Was that my error? Did I not linger enough on how badly she was treated?
posted by jsturgill at 8:22 AM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


Really Dysk? I can't find any "it's her own damn fault!" responses to the question of why Avery was sent to prison over a simple visa infraction. I thought she was being sent to prison specifically because they were harassing her for being trans.
posted by dabitch at 8:30 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dude, maybe slamming Harsha Walia's English is not the way to go, here? I mean, "what is it about what Harsha Walia said that differs from what I said?" is a perfectly solid question, but the punctuation is I think irrelevant.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:31 AM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Dysk, can you please directly quote one or two responses where you believe someone asserted that it was her fault?

Hi. Not Dysk, but I read this comment (one of yours, actually), with its first sentence being "Ummm... this was a completely foreseeable consequence of violating immigration law and then returning to the country where you committed that violation." as asserting that it was her fault.
posted by rtha at 8:37 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Dysk: I mean, if you can't see why responding to "a terrible thing is happening to a fellow mefite! She's being put in a men's prison!" with "it's her own damn fault!" might raise some hackles.

I can see why that would raise hackles. I can't see where that happened, which is what I clearly said.

Unless something was deleted, exactly zero people said it's her fault for being put into a men's prison. Some people did discuss the reason she was detained, in response to questions about why. From there, some people did the same thing you just did, which was turn "she's being detained for a Visa violation, and in that single aspect, that wasn't due to transphobia and was a forseeable consequence", into "everything is her fault".


Now, the rest of the argument, which was "why are we focusing on this, other people have it worse", I suspect we agree on. In my view, it's the topic of the post, so if you think it shouldn't be focused upon, stay out of the thread. That line of through was a derail. But the Visa issue was germane and in response to what I took as an implication that she was only be detained due to her gender identity.

rtha: Hi. Not Dysk, but I read this comment (one of yours, actually), with its first sentence being "Ummm... this was a completely foreseeable consequence of violating immigration law and then returning to the country where you committed that violation." as asserting that it was her fault.

That's say the visa violation was her fault, not everything.
posted by spaltavian at 8:38 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Allow me: What is it about what Harsha Walia said that was different from what jsturgill said?

Did I misunderstand the part where Avery was offered to turn back on the next flight before entering Canada and for her own reasons, decided not to do so? Can we call that a "choice" being made?
posted by dabitch at 8:41 AM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Dude, maybe slamming Harsha Walia's English is not the way to go, here? I mean, "what is it about what Harsha Walia said that differs from what I said?" is a perfectly solid question, but the punctuation is I think irrelevant.

Again, a crazy response to what I wrote. I love what Harsha Walia wrote and how she wrote it is great! But a stylistic difference is the only major difference I could find between the two statements. I think you're implying something incredibly difficult and harsh there, that I don't deserve.

I understand that jsturgill clarified and got out from under that momentum later, but as a first comment it left a lot to be desired.

Absolutely. Unnecessary, shitty wording in my first comment. Which oddly enough was never, ever misquoted or characterized, unlike (almost) every other comment. Apparently I need to be shitty to not be misunderstood?

As an aside, I think I've been very good at accepting things I've done that have been unhelpful in that thread. My first post? Pretty terrible. My rubric for deciding when you've protested enough to protest about this? Pretty terrible! Gosh. Do better, Jsturgill. Not limiting my involvement more and earlier? Not cool, man. Not cool.

I've yet to see someone else take responsibility for being aggressive, for being sarcastic, and for missing the clear point of someone else's post by a country mile.
posted by jsturgill at 8:45 AM on February 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


anastasiav, it's a subtext of a few comments, such as your own "there are much bigger immigration related outrages going on every single day than one female comedian who is being held in safe segregation inside a detention facility for male inmates, especially considering she knew full well she was flying into a country where she could possibly be denied entry."

So it's not much of an outrage to put a woman in a men's prison, especially because she should have known better. Her mistreatment is not an outrage BECAUSE she should have known better. Again, if you can't see why that would get under people's skin, I just don't know what to say to you.
posted by Dysk at 8:47 AM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]



There is, however, apparently a lot for us to still disagree about, so I'm not gonna issue you a get out of jail free card.


If I were rosf, I would now take that statement ("get out of jail free card?" what do you mean by that in this context?) in a direction only nth dimensional chess masters would understand and somehow imply you were racist.

I'll stop bringing that up now even if rosf keeps doing it. Sorry to use you to make a point.
posted by jsturgill at 8:49 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


"The outrage here is the misgendering, not so much the detention itself. I'm sort of puzzled why she didn't seem to at least have an inkling that this would be one possible result."

Also this reads entirely like you're saying that she should have anticipated misgendering and being put in a men's prison as if they were natural and acceptable consequences of a visa violation. She totally did take responsibility for being detained, and this had been pointed out several times in the thread before that comment. How exactly should she have known that, as a woman, with a passport that says 'female', she'd be put in a men's prison?
posted by Dysk at 8:53 AM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


jsturgill, what you are doing here is not helping the conversation and as much as you've blown the being misread horn, it's odd to see you blowing it for someone else.

Rosf has had a weird response to a lot of my comments in this thread. Previously, when I used nonstandard english riffing on a lot of different things, but drawing on a personal experience, he hazarded a guess that I was using fake Chinese-talk. Strange thing to suggest, but if I were doing that, it would be really crazy racist.

Then I use a familiar phrase, "silver bullet," and he lectures me about how we're not werewolves. This is all after, of course, ensuring me that despite my misapprehension, it's unlikely that anyone in the thread is Bill O'Reilly or Hillary Clinton.

He's either having a stroke or engaging with me in a way that is, if not malicious, then certainly bizarre.
posted by jsturgill at 8:55 AM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Apparently I need to be shitty to not be misunderstood?

I guess my feeling is that if one person misunderstands you, it may simply be a misunderstanding or a willful misreading. If a lot of people misunderstand you, it may be worth examining if you are communicating what you mean to, and if you aren't accidentally communicating something you don't mean to.

I don't know how you intend to come across, but much of what I have read by you in this thread seems edged with sarcasm, and in this context, that can feel contemptuous or dismissive, and as tones go, is likely to inspire further miscommunication, or heated communication.

Of course, I could be misreading your tone, but that's how it's coming across to me.

Also, it's probably worth stripping the word "crazy" out of your vocabulary when interacting. It's like throwing oil onto burning oil in an exploding oil well.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:56 AM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Also, your use of silver bullet wasn't entirely comprehensible to me, but it does immediately call to mind werewolves.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:58 AM on February 14, 2014


"She chose to be detained, ..." is pretty unsympathetic.

Isn't it also accurate? There's no responsibility to be sympathetic toward the subjects of FPPs on MetaFilter. It would be nice, sure, but that's about it. It very routinely does not happen. To the extent you're pointing out that it sucks the community couldn't show pure sympathy toward a member in a tough situation, I agree with you. That's one of the many reasons that FPP should have been deleted. But it wasn't, and once it's up, usual expectations apply.

I agree several people in that thread went so far as to suggest Edison should have expected to be placed in a men's facility. I understand why you might find that distasteful, but it's also a reasonable comment. Something can be unjust and also foreseeable. If you don't agree this thing was within the set of foreseeable unjust consequences of detainment, that's a perfectly reasonable comment to make, too. Neither is "aggressive" within the context of an FPP.
posted by cribcage at 9:03 AM on February 14, 2014 [15 favorites]


I don't know how you intend to come across, but much of what I have read by you in this thread seems edged with sarcasm, and in this context, that can feel contemptuous or dismissive, and as tones go, is likely to inspire further miscommunication, or heated communication.

I've been very clear--like, actually stating it directly without sarcasm using simple words--that I have been sarcastic, contemptuous, and dismissive in this thread. I've been extra special clear about that being different from how I participated on the blue, and I've said why.

I've gotten that out of my system now and promise to not be sarcastic for the rest of the thread.

I guess my feeling is that if one person misunderstands you, it may simply be a misunderstanding or a willful misreading. If a lot of people misunderstand you, it may be worth examining if you are communicating what you mean to, and if you aren't accidentally communicating something you don't mean to.

Or it could be a lot of people could be really outraged at something and not bothering to understand what I've actually written. I have re-read my own comments and others, carefully and for understanding, and that's what I think happened. I also think they acted in a way that, in other contexts, would not be acceptable on MetaFilter.

I'll give the thread some breathing room now. Hopefully it hasn't been too much to respond directly to people responding directly to me.
posted by jsturgill at 9:04 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is this thread all about tone-policing jsturgill? I'm not entirely comfortable with this.
posted by dabitch at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2014 [15 favorites]


The silver bullet is a can of Coors Light. "#1 with the silver bullet". Their commercials played for years and years. How could anyone mistake it for a werewolf reference?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:07 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Part of what was frustrating about trying to moderate that thread is people are, however understandably, kind of bad sometimes at doing the mutual-disarmament thing when stuff's gotten heated, especially if what they're arguing about is no long What I Actually Mean so much as What You Said About What I Said. It can be hard to just say "you know, that's not what I'm going for but I'm gonna let this drop." I think that's sort of universal, it's tough for everybody, and it gets in the way of discussion about the non-meta layers of the topic.

Pretty much all the mod notes I left in that thread the day were aiming to just sort of push back on that specific dynamic: not to say "stop talking because you're bad/wrong" but "hey, let's cool it a little with this sideline argument about who's misreading who".

This is feeling like that whole dynamic warmed over. It would be really, really great if, if you're feeling sort of entrenched in trying to find some personal justice over how you feel like people were/are misreading you or whatever, to just kind of step back and let it be. I feel like that's the likeliest route we've got to having a conversation that's more productive. It may not feel fair or just but if the alternative is just going around in circles it may be the better overall call.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Her: You're being a jerk.
Me: Here are 24 ruthlessly-sourced air-tight logical reasons in outline format why you are wrong.


--The type of exchange I got into a lot before I got divorced.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:09 AM on February 14, 2014 [13 favorites]


Or it could be a lot of people could be really outraged at something and not bothering to understand what I've actually written.

Well, that's a big part of communication. If people are outraged, and you have actually done nothing outrageous, it's worth apologizing for the miscommunication and rephrasing the comment, so that it's clear that there was a miscommunication.

That is, unless you think people who are outraged are just irrational and cannot understand what you're saying no matter how you state it. And if you feel that way, you're not only engaging the thread in bad faith, but you're also being disrespectful of the fact that there are real reasons that people might be upset.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:10 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wrote a long thing here and then just saw Cortex's comment, so I'm going to step back and let it be, as he requests.

I think that cribcage just expressed my position better than I have at anytime by saying "Something can be unjust and also foreseeable."
posted by anastasiav at 9:12 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is this thread all about tone-policing jsturgill?

I guess my question in response is do you think jsturgill is in earnest when asking why people might respond how they did to his comments. I'm not dictating how he must respond, just offering suggestions for how the discussion might flow better.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:13 AM on February 14, 2014


"She chose to be detained, ..." is pretty unsympathetic.

If someone makes a critical statement that does not express sympathy, does that mean that do not have any sympathy?
posted by zennie at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


In the thread, I read his comments as earnest and even apologetic for his initial comment coming across wrong. I really don't understand why this pile-on need continue. It feels a little less like tone-policing and a little more like opinion policing at this point. Example: an entirely foreseeable consequence of visa infractions pointed out is represented as if people called Avery "stupid", even though nobody did. An accurate description that Avery ' chose to be detained ' is labelled unsympathetic. It's like the regular rules of the blue do not apply in certain threads here.
posted by dabitch at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2014 [12 favorites]


Allow me: What is it about what Harsha Walia said that was different from what jsturgill said?

Did I misunderstand the part where Avery was offered to turn back on the next flight before entering Canada and for her own reasons, decided not to do so? Can we call that a "choice" being made?


I think that's two questions, dabitch - the first being "what did Harsha Walia say that was different from what jsturgill said", and the second being about choosing to be detained.

The first one I think can usefully be addressed, though, and sheds a little light on the second also. Here's what jstrugill said:
This is like a poster child for how not to have a poster child for your movement. There is a lot that needs to be done with jails and prisons, and the treatment of trans* people in jails and prisons, but she isn't sympathetic to me. She chose to be detained, and the authorities are doing so safely before her hearing. Physically and mentally, she will leave this in good shape unless a guard decides to abuse her. Other prisoners will not be so lucky.

It's amazing how minor celebrity and facility online have made this into a minor news story, rather than the suffering and mistreatment of other trans* people.
And here's what Walia says:
super messed up and deeply transmisogynist that a transgendered woman was placed into a men's provincial prison by CBSA. though reading her twitter, she seems to be getting (relatively of course) unique treatment by prison guards and CBSA officials - who are seemingly shocked she is detained at all, who are allowing her free calls on cell phones (usually you have to call collect to a landline), immediate access to call legal counsel and to have visitors, and being able to tweet so far into it (apparently in plain sight) until being put into jail. so yeah let's acknowledge white privilege/western passport privilege/liberal outroar (MP's all of a sudden speaking about CBSA - um Lucia any of you?) obviously no one should be detained or in prison and i am overall of course glad that she is getting lots of support - as she should - and that the horrific oppressive practices of the CBSA (and prison/detention centers in general) is getting out to those otherwise unaware/shielded from it, but shit i just gotta say, i'm sure every migrant and refugee of colour would be lucky to get one free call out. i know i would have been.
Taking a quick look at that, I can see some immediate differences.

1) Harsha Walia begins her comment by identifying the problem with Edison's treatment.
super messed up and deeply transmisogynist that a transgendered woman was placed into a men's provincial prison by CBSAM
Jsturgill begins by identifying the problem with Avery Edison - that she is not a good poster child for an unspecified movement, and that she is not sympathetic to jsturgill.

Note also that, although Walia highlights specific ways in which Edison is being treated differently from her experience of the treatment of people of color in similar circumstances, she at no point makes a blanket statement that Edison is safe, or that she will leave "in good shape". It's probably useful to contrast "super messed up and deeply transmisogynistic" and 'horrific oppressive practices of the CBSA" with:
She chose to be detained, and the authorities are doing so safely before her hearing. Physically and mentally, she will leave this in good shape unless a guard decides to abuse her
or, later:
Whoever that person is, they should probably get a gold star and a raise. They made the right decision. They're keeping her safe.
Walia also at no point sideroads into the choice stuff. Instead, she talks about the institutional differences between her case (and the case of other immigrants of color) and Edison's case - highlighting white privilege, western passport privilege and Edison's ability to engage liberal sensibilities. That is, she is not talking about Avery Edison's choices here, but rather the choices made by border staff and politicians when a white person with a western passport is imprisoned.

Leading from that, Walia is contrasting the treatment of Edison with the treatment of people of color at the border. She doesn't set Edison up in conceptual conflict against other trans people, or judge her fitness as a champion for better treatment of trans people in the detention system.

And that sort of leads on to another fairly big difference - Walia's statement there doesn't mention Edison's status as a minor celebrity and a person who knows how to use the Internet.

This feels like a pretty big difference. Jsturgill brings in race, education and attractiveness later, but initially the thesis is "Edison is not a good poster child for the equitable treatment of trans people, because her minor celebrity status and Internet savvy are securing benefits that other, unidentified trans* people in the prison system do not get". Walia's thesis is "Edison's treatment is messed up and transmisogynistic, and highlights the transphobia of the border and detention agencies. However, the treatment she is receiving, relative to the treatment I received, highlights that the system is not only transmisogynist, but also racist and discriminatory against non-westerners."

Wadia is speaking from and to direct experience of being a person of color in the immigration system. It's possible that jsturgill is speaking from and to direct experience of being a trans person in the prison system, but if this is the case it is not made explicit, and it would probably have been a useful thing to add to the discussion.

So... yeah. That is a possible answer to the question "how are these statements different". Whether it is just the bizarre rambling of a stroke victim is probably not something I would be competent to judge.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:24 AM on February 14, 2014 [17 favorites]


I agree several people in that thread went so far as to suggest Edison should have expected to be placed in a men's facility. I understand why you might find that distasteful, but it's also a reasonable comment. Something can be unjust and also foreseeable.

One time, years ago, I went to Canada to visit friends. I got off the plane and got in line at passport control and went digging in my bag for my passport....which was still sitting on my dresser back home, on the other side of the continent.

I had to go stand in a special line for stupid people who forgot their passports, or who somehow thought Canada was not a different country from the US and therefore they didn't need anything like a passport; I was surrounded by obnoxious fellow Americans who didn't grok that Whistler is not in the US. I had no idea what to expect. Could they put me on the next bus or plane to the US? Would I have to pay for it? Would I get locked up? Would I have to just sit in an office for a long time? All my other documents said had my name and sex on them; should I have expected to be strip-searched?

The very patient Canada border control person rolled her eyes at me when I explained that yes, I do know Canada is a different country, I am just forgetful and I'm really, really, really sorry. I got a piece of paper saying it was okay for me to be in Canada. Whew.
posted by rtha at 9:25 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think there's an ideal discussion, which did not happen

This isn't aimed at you, specifically, rosf, but actually I think can be applied to practically everyone involved in that thread, from the OP on down: I think interacting with threads on the Blue with the mindset that there is one and only one "ideal discussion" is a bad (and almost inevitably fighty) way to interact with this website.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:30 AM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think interacting with threads on the Blue with the mindset that there is one and only one "ideal discussion" is a bad (and almost inevitably fighty) way to interact with this website.

Pretty much. Once the post is made, it's liable to go in any direction and attempting to police what should and should not be discussed is a exercise in futility in most cases.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:42 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


And it's incumbent on non-trans people not to make MetaFilter a place that is hostile or ignorant or indifferent to the experiences of a percentage of our members, because that's just good citizenship

I agree 100% with this. The problem with the Edison thread, though, was not all on the cis posters. In fact, a lot of what went wrong with that thread was members of the Metafilter trans community, understandably upset about Edison's misgendering by officials, jumping on anyone who did not come in specifically to agree with and support that outrage.

Everyone should know by now that when you (the general you) post a thread, you have no control over where the commenters take that thread. Threads go in weird directions. It happens all the time and only becomes a problem when the commenters refuse to talk about the actual issues in the FPP.

That FPP ALSO dealt with Canadian visa issues because that's why Edison was being detained in the first place. She herself steps,up to say those issues are "100% my fault". It is NOT a derail for anastasiav and others to discuss those immigration issues, especially given that many would expect a woman who had these issues would have either not have tried to get into Canada without addressing them or just been denied entry at the border instead,of being detained.

So, yes, you got anastasiav agreeing that the immigration situation is messed up to begin with and even conjecturing that a situation like Edison's might be a good way to bring attention to that. There is no disrespect to Edison in anastasiav's bringing that up. And that also ties into jsturgill's point that often minorities and marginalized peoples don't get this kind of attention and outpouring of support. I think that is a fair point to make, and would have just been a data point in that thread if jsturgill had not been attacked for suggesting it. Please note, he was NOT equating apples to oranges in a derailing way meant to disparage the subject of the post. We do see that sometimes [an example would be equating people starving in poverty, say, with misgendering and suggesting that since misgendering was not as upsetting as starving, trans people should just be quiet about it]. I think fivefreshfish came closest to insinuating just that, and rather than just FIAMO, already riled up people took out their frustrations on anastasiav and jsturgill.

So I was upset with cortex's note in that thread, because it dealt with the result of the problem and not the cause of it. In my opinion this happens far too often, where user X is responding to outrage filter and targets someone in the thread for expressing an opinion X does not agree with for all that outrage. So X accuses them of saying things they have not said and falsely paraphrases them and all the rest, and other users pile on because they are also riled up and agree with X's outrage, despite X's tactics being ugly and divisive.

And then the targeted party is told to bow out instead of X or the other users, which sucks.

When X deliberately mischaracterizes what someone else has said--and after repeated statements clarifying their position go ignored, it is obviously deliberate--X is the problem. That user who nurses personal grudges and brings up comments, even deleted ones, from weeks, months or years ago in contentious threads? That is X, too.

If you're doing any of this stuff, no matter how just you thnk your cause is or how morally superior you are, you are part of the reason these threads become contentious and Metafilter does not do them well.

Jsturgill patiently repeating and restating himself was a direct result of the ugly mischaracterization and repeated bad faith interpretations of what he had said, not anything he had done wrong. I understand it is easier from the mod position to just pick out jsturgill because he had become the target of the dispute, but it is still the wrong way to go. The bad faith and mischaracterizations should have been called out, whether those users doing them are trans or cis. Being sensitive to the concerns of the trans community should not mean granting them special permission to break the rules with immunity.
posted by misha at 9:47 AM on February 14, 2014 [22 favorites]


I think interacting with threads on the Blue with the mindset that there is one and only one "ideal discussion" is a bad (and almost inevitably fighty) way to interact with this website.

Yeah, that was an ambiguous choice of words, although I think context is relevant here. The full sentence is:

So, point taken. I think there's an ideal discussion, which did not happen, and why it did not happen is kind of why this thread exists, if the aim is not simple recrimination.

So, that comment is in the context of this thread being called "ways a thread goes bad". The "ideal discussion" I was postulating was not one which went along a single acceptable track - it was just one which didn't go bad.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:51 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am honestly a bit startled that this went south the way it did, because when last I poked my head in I thought that thread was going much better than past ones on trans topics.

I mean, there were people who were saying things I really strenuously disagreed with — or whose priorities and sympathies were very obviously in a different place than mine — and that sucks and is hard to hear and it made me frustrated as hell.

But they were saying that stuff in a way that struck me as totally within the bounds of decency, and not derailing the thread into the usual stupid side bullshit. There was none of the "Hey could you answer this question about your preferences? / OMG you people are so strident and demanding" good-cop bad-cop routine. There was no "It's anti-feminist for you people even to exist." There was no "I know you hate being called XYZ but I'm gonna call you an XYZ anyway." I've been pretty loud recently about calling out shit like that, so I was very happy it didn't come up, and then sort of dismayed when shit went haywire anyway.

In particular, jsturgill and anastasiav both started out expressing what sounded like positions I disagreed with intensely. (In fact, I'll be honest, I read both of them as saying stuff I so strongly disagreed with that I had to step away from the thread rather than reply.) But both of them shifted and clarified their way over to positions that I can sympathize with, and did that shifting and clarifying in a pretty damn classy way. And more importantly, I don't see either of them having crossed the line at any point from "point of view I disagree with" to "tactics I find fundamentally hostile and exclusionary."
posted by this is a thing at 9:54 AM on February 14, 2014 [22 favorites]


I understand it is easier from the mod position to just pick out jsturgill because he had become the target of the dispute, but it is still the wrong way to go.

I mentioned jsturgill once, in that thread, in response to a comment he'd just made, while talking more generally about conversational dynamic stuff from a neutral and pretty seriously non-accusatory "this is maybe where the friction is coming from on this" angle. I left three other notes in that thread that mentioned no one by name and encouraged everybody to just chill a little.

So: I wasn't trying to make jsturgill feel singled out per se, and I regret that that's what ended up happening. Our job as mods is always going to be a lot more about keeping threads on keel than making sure no one feels put out, though; like I said, it doesn't always seem personally just or fair, but we don't really have the luxury of making that our top priority on a site with several thousand people popping around on any given day.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:58 AM on February 14, 2014


I think interacting with threads on the Blue with the mindset that there is one and only one "ideal discussion" is a bad (and almost inevitably fighty) way to interact with this website.

I don't think anyone thinks that. Well, not often and not here. Obviously, it's pretty common for OPs to be not so happy with how a thread develops, but that is nowhere near believing that only one ideal discussion should be had. In contrast, I do think that there are a lot of "not-so-useful" ways to interact with a thread, and I tried to outline some of them here. And, actually, a lot of them are at least somewhat tricky -- a comment made by one person may read really badly, while a similar comment made by another does not have that effect (rosf unpacks one example above). I think it would be great if people thought about some of these issues while posting. I'm sure we could draw up a much more comprehensive list, but that's a different MeTa.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:12 AM on February 14, 2014


But I can't support this sort of special pleading where Mefites can be the subject of FPP's, but only comments that specifically advocate for one viewpoint are then acceptable.

Yeah, I think this has some serious issues. It's one of the reasons (as I understand it) that we're not supposed to do FPPs on things our friends did, or our friends of friends, or fellow Mefites that we hang out with - because we can't possibly have an impartial conversation. I think sometimes there's this thing, where people are eager to say "Mefi's Own!" and so they make a pretty thin post, just because the person also posts, or more usually, has posted sporadically, on Metafilter.
posted by corb at 10:16 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


That said: Okay, by the end of the thread I thought it was pretty clear that jsturgill and anastasiav weren't saying "she had it coming" or "I refuse to sympathize with her and here's why" or anything of that sort — but I'm not at all surprised that people read their comments that way initially. I read those comments that way initially too, and was really upset about it, and it's more or less luck that led me to walk away shaking my head rather than reply.

And neither of those users are even people whose names I recognize, much less have any conscious grudge against.

So I do think it's a mistake to assume that anyone was being willfully uncharitable in their reading of those comments.
posted by this is a thing at 10:18 AM on February 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


The problem with the Edison thread, though, was not all on the cis posters. In fact, a lot of what went wrong with that thread was members of the Metafilter trans community, understandably upset about Edison's misgendering by officials, jumping on anyone who did not come in specifically to agree with and support that outrage.

So it's the trans people's fault, is it? Glad to know where we stand.
posted by hoyland at 10:18 AM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


And here we go again. Summarizing people's comments uncharitably.
posted by smackfu at 10:20 AM on February 14, 2014 [29 favorites]


schmod: "hoyland: " rules lawyering"

Not a fan of this particular callout, because it can be levied against virtually any argument, particularly when an emotional argument meets a logical one.

This story seemed to embody that divide rather well -- Avery was apparently being detained in accordance with Canadian law. I think that you could validly make arguments that the law was extremely fucked up, but also that it's a bad precedent for a government to ignore its own laws regarding the treatment of prisoners.
"

As was pointed out, trans people in Canada theoretically have some legal protections that were seemingly trampled in this case. I'm not Canadian, so perhaps the person who mentioned that in the thread was totally off base and I don't know.

But, that's not actually what I was referring to. I was referring to the "It's all okay because it's not a prison", "Uh... it is", "No, really it's not a prison" thing, when that's largely irrelevant, but a convenient way to avoid talking about the actual topic. I was expecting people to concoct long explanations about how why Avery obviously isn't a woman, but that didn't happen.
posted by hoyland at 10:22 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you find yourself feeling the need to tag a 'totally not transphobic' disclaimer on the end of your posts, it might be worth re-examining what it is you're saying exactly as well. At best such a disclaimer is utterly meaningless.

Given that I have been unjustly and erroneously accused of transphobia in the recent past, yes that disclaimer is necessary, because there people--as demonstrated in this very thread--who will immediately look for the most uncharitable interpretation possible, and not bother to think "maybe this person isn't being a jerk like I have decided they are."

I am including you on that uncharitable list, by the way. Tell you what, tomorrow night when I am having dinner with a friend of mine and his boyfriend, who is trans, I'll get him to read what I have posted. I guaranfuckingtee that he won't call me transphobic. Nor would the trans men I have actually dated for God's sake.

Or maybe I should have recorded the conversations I had with staffers at both my MP and MPP's offices on Wednesday expressing my disgust as a Canadian with the misgendering of aedison, and asking pointedly what their positions on the issue are, and what they are going to do to prevent these problems from happening in the future if they wish to continue getting my vote and the votes of my friends.

And with that, I am having nothing more to do with this thread, because I am sick and fucking tired of trying to explain myself and be told that I'm some sort of transphobe when I am the exact opposite.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:23 AM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


smackfu: "And here we go again. Summarizing people's comments uncharitably."

Yep, I'm the problem. Definitely 100% me. Not this BS "Oh if only you trans people didn't complain so much you'd get treated better" shit that we get told over and over again in every single trans thread in MeTa.

The most charitable reading of the thread is that it started to go off the rails when a few people made comments that were easy to misread and then others doubled down to support the misconstrued position.
posted by hoyland at 10:25 AM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


misha, if you mean me, you can say "Corinth." I'm right here (although only for a few minutes). Should I not have mentioned fff's awful deleted post? Probably not. But all the same, this is a thread about how another thread went bad, and both that comment (a light version of which reappeared here) and the climate of anti-whatever sentiment I was establishing with links to past MeTas (unnecessarily, apparently, because now it's here in this one) seemed pretty relevant to me. I can only speak for myself, but that colors how I read claims that this or that contingent (for example, trans people) are the problem. And that's how a thread can go bad.
posted by Corinth at 10:27 AM on February 14, 2014


Wow, you even summarized my comment about summarizing comments uncharitably, uncharitably. Heh.
posted by smackfu at 10:27 AM on February 14, 2014 [24 favorites]


In fact, a lot of what went wrong with that thread was members of the Metafilter trans community, understandably upset about Edison's misgendering by officials, jumping on anyone who did not come in specifically to agree with and support that outrage.

Oh, bullshit. There are a whole lot of comments that read to me (and I seem to not be the only one) as really dismissive of how fucked up the misgendering of Avery is, wholly apart from her role in the visa fuckery. You want links? Here are some links, as well as some quotes. Bold bits are my emphasis.

---

She has been pretty clear on why she's being held (prior visa violation). The outrage here is the misgendering, not so much the detention itself. I'm sort of puzzled why she didn't seem to at least have an inkling that this would be one possible result. She clearly knew (non-refundable tickets, lease, etc.) that she had an outstanding visa "problem".

The lesson here is: get a lawyer and get your visa issues sorted out before you get on the flight. Always.

Maybe I'm just a grouchy old cynic -- and I have no doubt that the wrath of Metafilter (tm) will descend on me for saying this -- but there are much bigger immigration related outrages going on every single day than one female comedian who is being held in safe segregation inside a detention facility for male inmates, especially considering she knew full well she was flying into a country where she could possibly be denied entry.

I really, really wish we could summon up this much internet outrage, twitter campaigns, special hashtags, and organized protest for those people. I'm pretty sure she'll be ok. It's the people who don't have anyone to advocate for them that could really use your help.


---

To be fair, she's by herself - at the men's facility, yes, not the women's, and there is injustice there, but being in solitary is probably not particularly dangerous, and, at least to me, is probably preferable, safety and other-wise, to being in a group detention situation.

---

I understand and agree that it's a travesty to misgender Avery, but it seems the argument is really hinging on the fact that the male criminals in a detention facility are more dangerous than female criminals. That men are more transphobic than women.

That seems problematic.


---

I absolutely want to see this particular problem (misgendering) addressed, but the best thing would be if the entire system were to be reformed in order to be more respectful of basic human rights for all people caught up in it.
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on February 14, 2014 [16 favorites]


smackfu: "Wow, you even summarized my comment about summarizing comments uncharitably, uncharitably."

Well, what was I meant to take from your one sentence sarcastic comment? Apparently I'm too stupid to understand your meaning.
posted by hoyland at 10:29 AM on February 14, 2014


So I do think it's a mistake to assume that anyone was being willfully uncharitable in their reading of those comments.

Certainly the case for a few of my early comments. That's a big part of the reason I decided to stick around and clarify.

So it's the trans people's fault, is it? Glad to know where we stand.

I don't know if that should be your takeaway from that comment. I would call that an uncharitable reading of what misha wrote. Perhaps you're still upset over some part of this, and it's influencing what parts of people's words stand out to you?
posted by jsturgill at 10:29 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jsturgill patiently repeating and restating himself was a direct result of the ugly mischaracterization and repeated bad faith interpretations of what he had said, not anything he had done wrong.

I don't agree 100 percent. Maybe 80 percent. Yes, his comments were mischaracterized. People were being shitty to him. However, that doesn't require him to keep repeating. Those sarcastic paraphrasings suck, but at some point the onus is on you (here, Jsturgill) to accept that you've made your point as best you could, some people may misconstrue it, and readers will navigate the exchange for themselves.

Yep, I'm the problem. Definitely 100% me.

Nobody is 100 percent the problem. But the comment you just quoted wasn't saying trans people are 100 percent the problem ("The problem with the Edison thread, though, was not all on the cis posters" [emphasis added]), yet you sarcastically paraphrased it as if it were. That right there is a problem. It's a problem people have been talking about extensively in this thread. It has nothing to do with "complaining." It's bad-faith interaction.
posted by cribcage at 10:32 AM on February 14, 2014 [26 favorites]


I don't know how to read misha's comment 'charitably'. It's an uncharitable reading of what went on in the thread, and that uncharitability is directed at trans people.
posted by hoyland at 10:33 AM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


The most charitable reading of the thread is that it started to go off the rails when a few people made comments that were easy to misread and then others doubled down to support the misconstrued position.

Somewhat hard to parse the pronouns, but I agree if this is what you mean:

The most charitable reading of the thread is that it started to go off the rails when a some people made comments that were easy to misread (me! I did that) and then other people reacted strongly. Some people clarified their meaning, but other people continued to attack the original misconstrued position that was no longer a tenable reading of what some people were saying.

(bold and itallics, some/other used to clarify the broad groups)

I don't agree 100 percent. Maybe 80 percent.

In some schools, that's a B. I'll take it! :)
posted by jsturgill at 10:36 AM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


hoyland, I feel like, without making an argument one way or the other as to whether it's totally accurate or fair, there's a lot of breathing room between "folks arguing in Avery's defense were being pushy too" and "this is entirely your/trans folks fault". I think the actual case is that it's complicated and people are sort of feeling burnt by that discussion and this one all around and mostly because of the fallout of the crosstalk as people sort of dug in to the argument-about-the-argument.

Which, and again this is meant as a more general statement here and not about any specific person, but I feel like I'm going a little nuts here watching everybody run in circles on this when I think basically all of you genuinely mean well in your heart of hearts and could manage to have a really great discussion with a little more care and some clearing of the slate here. I don't know if practically speaking that's gonna happen right now and right here when folks are still feeling raw and there's a lot of "yeah but you said..." momentum to the covnersation, but goddam I am having trouble understanding the appeal of this constant reiteration of grievances at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:49 AM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


Especially so long after Festivus!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:52 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


The most charitable reading of the thread is that it started to go off the rails when a some people made comments that were easy to misread (me! I did that) and then other people reacted strongly. Some people clarified their meaning, but other people continued to attack the original misconstrued position that was no longer a tenable reading of what some people meant.

This is not what I meant.

The most charitable reading of the thread is that it started to go off the rails when a some people made comments that were easy to misread (me! I did that) and then other people reacted strongly. Some people clarified their meaning, but other people continued to attack the original misconstrued position that was no longer a tenable reading of what some people meant continued to support the position seemingly espoused by the unclear original comment.

To be honest, rereading your part of the thread (which mostly happened after I left), I don't think you were misread. I also don't think that what you were trying to say is an unreasonable argument, but I think you badly misread the room before commenting and then didn't tread as lightly as would have been necessary for it to work. (That said, your initial comment about picking a bad poster child was dreadful. As was the stuff about "It's only 48 hours, she'll be fine.")
posted by hoyland at 10:56 AM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


(To be honest, I think the most charitable reading is largely fictitious. There was an awful lot of doubling down on odious comments going on.)
posted by hoyland at 10:57 AM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


cortex: "hoyland, I feel like, without making an argument one way or the other as to whether it's totally accurate or fair, there's a lot of breathing room between "folks arguing in Avery's defense were being pushy too" and "this is entirely your/trans folks fault"."

I don't think there's as much breathing room there as you're implying, given how things like this have gone in the past.
posted by Corinth at 11:00 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's as much breathing room there as you're implying, given how things like this have gone in the past.

I totally sympathize with this aspect of the dynamic here, but I feel like there's got to be a certain amount of willingness to take threads as they come rather than as proxies for every thread that's gone badly in the past and every shitty discussion that's happened not-on-Metafilter, if we're gonna get somewhere other than total entrenchment in the long run. I know it's not exactly easy to do that and that having skin in the game makes it especially hard, but that's part of the hard work of making stuff work in a community context where people are coming from a bunch of different places on this stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:05 AM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


I don't think there's as much breathing room there as you're implying, given how things like this have gone in the past.

It's entirely possible that this is just a matter of perspective and that as mods we see things in a particular way but for what it's worth this is similar to how I see things.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:05 AM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


He's either having a stroke or engaging with me in a way that is, if not malicious, then certainly bizarre.

It is weird, isn't it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 AM on February 14, 2014


Look, I feel like fff put his cards on the table with that deleted comment (that he restated in a lighter form here), and that reveals a certain mindset behind his posts in the thread that were already crappy. And it calls directly back to shitty conversations we've already had about whether or not trans/progressive/feminist/female/whatever users are ruining Metafilter/pulling the strings behind the curtains/not engaging sincerely/whatever. Apparently fff wasn't aware of that context, so I'm sorry for assuming he was, but the sentiment is mostly the same. And once it's revealed that that mindset is present in the thread, it's hard not to see other people doubling down repeatedly on positions similar to fff's as potentially coming from the same place. And even if that wasn't the place other people were coming from in the FPP, it's certainly where some people are coming from in this MeTa.

Considering how quickly a thread about Facebook unveiling new gender options simultaneously devolved into talking about who does or doesn't want to have sex with trans people and whether that is or is not okay, I really don't know if the problem is just my perspective. Maybe, I guess.
posted by Corinth at 11:36 AM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


werewolves

We prefer lunar challenged peoples (LCP).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:38 AM on February 14, 2014


Really do think the "ha ha, those opressed folk sure do think of some ridiculous terms for themselves" joke is pretty played out. At any rate, it isn't adding anything positive to this discussion.
posted by neroli at 11:49 AM on February 14, 2014 [18 favorites]


I was really surprised that comments about what kind of person any one user prefers to fuck were allowed to stand. Really unnecessary commentary, and in that thread in particular.
posted by agregoli at 11:51 AM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Another thread I managed to avoid. Maybe more people should do the same.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 PM on February 14, 2014


Really do think the "ha ha, those opressed folk sure do think of some ridiculous terms for themselves" joke is pretty played out.

As an AA HDA POC, I would disagree.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on February 14, 2014


Corinth, you have consistently, persistently and, IMO, maliciously mischaracterized my and other's posts and intentions time and time and time again. And again. And again.

I really don't know if the problem is just my perspective. Maybe, I guess.

Ya think?

I suggest you take the same tack as I have with a certain religious nut on MeFi: never, ever respond to the things I write. It would make both of us infinitely happier.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:14 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


neroli: "Really do think the "ha ha, those opressed folk sure do think of some ridiculous terms for themselves" joke is pretty played out. At any rate, it isn't adding anything positive to this discussion."

It's very close to the sort of language used to dehumanise physically disabled people, for example.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:18 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


[Comment removed, I'm really really tired of interpersonal grudge asides just popping up in Metatalk for no good reason and would appreciate people cutting that stuff out especially if it's something we've already talked to 'em about.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:21 PM on February 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


As an AA HDA POC, I would disagree.

Not saying you're not allowed to make that joke -- just saying (a) it's not as funny as you think; (b) it's kinda tone-deaf to drop it in here and now.
posted by neroli at 12:53 PM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


I've made two characterizations in this MeTa. I described the progression of the Facebook thread* in a manner I legitimately thought was more charitable than the mod characterization, and I've described how I interpreted two of fff's posts with detailed explanation as to why and how I read them the way I did. I was drawing on context fff was apparently unaware of, and for that I apologize. But I was aware of that context, and I feel like I've laid out how I connected those dots. You can say I was mistaken to connect the dots, but I really feel like I've bent over backwards to show that it wasn't malicious that I did so, especially given the (apparently coincidentally) similar phrasing between your statements and the past complaints I referenced. If other people aren't seeing the steps I took, I've done a poor job of explaining, and for that I also apologize.

* I haven't been the only one to summarize the ongoing Facebook FPP in this thread.
posted by Corinth at 1:07 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Werewolves. People started talking about fictional creatures because a particular term was used. Along with the the other heated and fighty things that occurred in this thread.

At this point, a bit of humor is probably needed, it not mine then something. 'Cause ..sheesh!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:08 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I described the progression of the Facebook thread* in a manner I legitimately thought was more charitable than the mod characterization,

For what's it's worth, the mod's characterization was awful and unfair too.
posted by spaltavian at 1:15 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Another thread I managed to avoid. Maybe more people should do the same.

Most of the people in this fight, on both sides, are personally invested one way or another in the topic of the thread — either because they're trans themselves, because they're IRL trans allies or part of the larger queer community, or because they're IRL prisoners' rights activists or immigration reform activists.

I'm glad they didn't "manage to avoid" the thread — even those of them who I personally disagree with. It's good and natural for people to speak up about the shit they care about. That isn't the problem here.

I was irked for similar reasons when cribcage made this comment upthread: "There are a handful of users who adopt that as their default voice in these threads... There's at least one whose sole participation on the site is fighting snarkily in these threads. I have no idea if it's a longtime member's sockpuppet, or just a sincere-but-aggro user, or maybe a troll. It doesn't matter. Every snotty, fighty comment pulls that thread down a peg, and in turn every muddy thread pulls the site downward. I don't know if MetaFilter features more gender content than other sites, but it feels that way..."

I can think of a few people he might be talking about there. They're all real, non-sockpuppet trans people, who show up in threads about gender and transgender issues because they're interested in those issues — and who comment most when things get heated because those are the times when they most urgently feel that their perspective is needed.

I do agree that the site would be better if gender threads were less fighty. I suspect cribcage and I would disagree about the best way to bring that about. But one way or another, it's weird to suggest that someone is a sockpuppet or a troll just because they're speaking up largely or exclusively on shit that affects them.

There's a lot more that could be said about how to make threads like this go better. But there really oughta be a better answer than suggesting that (certain) people should just not participate.
posted by this is a thing at 1:21 PM on February 14, 2014 [11 favorites]


Brandon: I totally get your impulse, and I totally sympathize. Just saying that from over here, it looks like: "Here's a fire -- maybe this oil will put it out."
posted by neroli at 1:23 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


At this point, a bit of humor is probably needed, it not mine then something. 'Cause ..sheesh!

I think you misjudged the room. We've talked a lot in MetaTalk, generally and to you, that the "I'm just going to make a joke here to lighten the mood" thing is sometimes actually not a great way to move forward. It's not now. MeTa is optional.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:36 PM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


For what's it's worth, the mod's characterization was awful and unfair too.

I didn't make it as clear as would have been ideal, but that was actually aimed at a comment or two I deleted immediately before leaving that note, which was very much as described.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:37 PM on February 14, 2014


i find vaguely-worded accusations that ~SOMEONE~ ~MIGHT BE~ A FIGHTY SOCK PUPPET, JUST SAYIN' like the one upthread to be really stressful and hurtful and it feels like it should be inappropriate for those kinds of vague accusations to be thrown around. however i am aware that i have an anxiety disorder which may be informing my response.
posted by titus n. owl at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2014 [9 favorites]


So it's the trans people's fault, is it?

Yes, in some cases trans individuals can be wrong about things.

Glad to know where we stand.

And there it is. This is why you are, in this case, wrong. Just because some trans individuals are being wrong and shitty about one thing doesn't necessarily equate to the person calling you out as being a transphobe and/or implying that what is true of said individuals applies to all trans individuals.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:02 PM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


"For what's it's worth, the mod's characterization was awful and unfair too."

As the person who posted the Facebook FPP, I was following it pretty closely yesterday and thus reading new comments within seconds of them being posted. I saw several comments get deleted relatively quickly from that thread (including one of mine, which I flagged myself because I'd posted it before I saw the mod note about the derail) so please don't assume that restless_nomad's note is meant to be a description of the comments that were left standing.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:11 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wonder of wonders, but I agree with corb, and figured I'd just mark the occasion by saying I thought is was a hard and fast Prime Directive Rule Number One around here that you can't make FPPs about people you know well or situations you are part of, and that's a large part of why that thread went south in addition to it being about subjects that are litmus test issues for the World Atheist League or the Atheist World League sides. Not only that, but it was framed as something of a call to action, or at least got taken that way by some commenters, which is against another rule somewhere, I believe, in the style guide.
posted by spitbull at 4:21 PM on February 14, 2014 [15 favorites]


If someone could explain to me why a woman - with a passport that says she is a woman - should reasonably expect to be placed in a men's prison for a visa violation, I would very much like to hear it.
posted by Dysk at 8:13 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


No one thinks that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:16 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm about 95% sure (without going back and reading it again) that position was advanced in the thread. And also that housing her with men was a reasonable state of affiars.
posted by hoyland at 8:23 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mmm... certainly the position that putting her in a men's facility was acceptable was advanced (repeatedly). On reflection, maybe not that she should have expected as much. (She was told to be grateful for it, though.)
posted by hoyland at 8:25 PM on February 14, 2014




You know, I'm sorry. I don't want to get into this. If that's your reading of some of those comments, that's fine. I'm not going to nitpick argue with anyone else about it. It's not my read on it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:46 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I... what? That pretty much says in black and white that it is reasonably foreseeable that Edison would be placed in a men's facility. I am completely failing to see any ambiguity whatsoever in that.
posted by Dysk at 8:48 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


>If someone could explain to me why a woman - with a passport that says she is a woman - should reasonably expect to be placed in a men's prison for a visa violation, I would very much like to hear it.

Because the idea that trans women are women is new to a lot of people--and, more importantly in this case, not fully reflected by bureaucratic institutions even in some of the world's most progressive nations?

I mean, you're 100% right that a trans woman is and should be treated as a woman, but a lot of things that should be aren't, especially in law, penal systems. (And sports. I'm reminded of my college track coach calling us--the men's varsity--"ladies," to which I always wanted to respond "are you intending to insult us or 50% of our species?" but thought better of it because he was ex-NFL, ex-Special Forces, and not-at-all-ex-mean dude. I ended up quitting, though not because of his sexism and invective.) This is not to excuse anything, but to remind (myself as much as anyone else) that institutions are cruel and unjust, especially when crossed (by, for instance, overstaying a visa, something I myself have done and been punished for).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:48 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


This is the first comment in the thread that reads to me like "what did she expect" although it's not entirely clear if that refers to the detention or specifically being detained in a men's facility. As a bonus, it reminds us that this is not so terrible, compared to other things, and also other people have it worse.

This comment, and this one talk about how probably being strip-searched before entering detention is probably why she's at a men's facility, despite what her passport etc. say.

This one, as well, saying that even cursory research that Avery should have done would have revealed the possibility she would end up on the men's side.
posted by rtha at 8:49 PM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]


Joseph Gurl, new to a lot of people or not, when someone has legal documentation saying that they are something, to treat them as if they are not is effectively calling the veracity of that documentation into question - is it seriously reasonable to expect the Canadian government to de facto declare the information contained in British passports null and void for their purposes?
posted by Dysk at 8:51 PM on February 14, 2014


Sure. I even agree. I'm just saying it's not unreasonable (or cruel to say so) to expect unfair treatment from institutions, especially about issues that are relatively new to institutions and the laws that guide them.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:53 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


i don't think it's unreasonable to expect NOT to be treated unfairly
posted by titus n. owl at 8:54 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


So yes, you're saying it's reasonable for the Canadian government to ignore the legal definition of a person as per their British passport. The can of worms that opens up is fucking HUGE, just so you're aware...
posted by Dysk at 8:54 PM on February 14, 2014


I agree, titus.

Dysk, no, I'm not saying that. I'm saying as a citizen (a pawn at the mercy of large powers), I've learned not to expect reasonable or humane treatment from those powers.

Those powers should change and only do so under pressure from activists, so I 100% support aedison and her supporters.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:56 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


"it's reasonable to expect to be treated like shit" is like half a step away from, and very often (though yes, i understand, not on purpose right now while you Joseph Gurl are saying it, but very often overall & in general) paired with, "well, so you were treated like shit, so what? you should have known you would be treated like shit. why are you upset about something you should have expected? so naive"
posted by titus n. owl at 8:57 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


So if it isn't reasonable for the Canadian government to ignore the facts about a British person as stated in their passport, how is it reasonable for a woman, listed as female in their British passport, to expect to be placed in a men's prison? The two statements seem completely at odds to me.
posted by Dysk at 8:58 PM on February 14, 2014


In a thread with so much baddy bad happening as a result of fake quotes and mischaracterization, you should know better than to misquote me like that.

That half step is an important one, and one I'm not making.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:59 PM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think Joseph Gurl is saying it's reasonable to EXPECT (country's) government to behave insensitively when they see one thing in a passport and something else below the belt.

Titus, there is more than a half-step there. You're putting words in someone's mouth. I can expect my government to be assholes about things without going near victim-blaming.
posted by kimberussell at 9:00 PM on February 14, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's not reasonable for a bully to punch me. It's also not reasonable for me to expect I can taunt that bully without being punched. I'm not to blame for that (nor, of course, is aedison for what's happening to her!), but the two things nonetheless coexist.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:00 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


i wasn't trying to misquote you in any way, which is why i explicitly said that i understand that that's NOT what you were saying. i am sorry that i fucked it up.
posted by titus n. owl at 9:02 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


And a big part of life is our difficult and enraging negotiation of the colossal chasm between the way things are and the way they should be. It's hard not to grow reflexively indignant and begin to assume the worst from people, but we must go on trying.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:02 PM on February 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thanks, titus. All better.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:03 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


So it IS reasonable to expect the Canadian government to ignore the facts about a British person as stated in their passport? Or it isn't? You're saying that she could reasonably expect to be treated unfairly - which, given the thing it is in reference to, is the same as saying that it she could reasonably expect the Canadian government to ignore the facts about her person as stated in her British passport.

I'm not asking about what is fair. I'm asking whether it is reasonable to have expected the data in the passport to be so completely ignored in this manner or not. It really seems like you're trying to have it both ways...
posted by Dysk at 9:03 PM on February 14, 2014


No, Dysk. I'm saying it's reasonable (and not cruel) for someone to say that. I'm not saying it myself, just that I understand why someone would.

I'm not trying to have it any ways. Just talkin'.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:05 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Actually, that's not even right. I'm not saying anything about passports at all.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:07 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


But I guess I can. Countries have varying levels of respect for and adherence to each other's laws. That much is (should be?) known. I'm a little shocked that Canada isn't more in line with UK's views--they still have the fucking queen on their money, right?--but not at all shocked that countries don't respect each other's laws, customs, or rights. I'm an expat, after all.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:10 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm an expat. I've been thinking of applying for British citizenship. But if it turns out that it's completely reasonable to expect a British passport not to be worth the paper it's printed on internationally, then I might have to reconsider.
posted by Dysk at 9:12 PM on February 14, 2014


I believe it is reasonable to expect the Canadian government, in February of 2014, to ignore gender-related facts about a British person as stated in their passport. We here on MetaFilter aren't even on the same page yet about gender. Why would we expect a ginormous government bureaucracy to be on the same page as another ginormous government bureaucracy across the ocean?

I know you're not asking if it's fair. Because it's not. It's awful. But it's reasonable to expect this at this point in time, because unfortunately we have a long way to go.
posted by kimberussell at 9:13 PM on February 14, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well said. And yes--it's awful.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:16 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Reasonable" can be defined and inferred in different ways. Saying that someone can "reasonably expect" that other people will be shitty and do something shitty doesn't mean that they person saying that agrees that doing something shitty to someone is the "reasonable" thing to do. You can reasonably expect other people to be unreasonable.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:58 PM on February 14, 2014 [10 favorites]


But if it turns out that it's completely reasonable to expect a British passport not to be worth the paper it's printed on internationally, then I might have to reconsider.

I'd say it's reasonable to expect that *any* passport could end up ignored. That's not *condoning* anything, just an expectation that terrible people/agencies/entities will do terrible things).
posted by CrystalDave at 11:55 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm asking whether it is reasonable to have expected the data in the passport to be so completely ignored in this manner or not.

To put it another way, if I was in a gay couple married in Canada and traveling to the US, I would expect to be treated (at least in some states) as if we were not married, despite our Canadian documentation that we are. Even in some states where gay marriage is legal, I would expect some institutions to have not caught up with the shift in laws. It's not right but it is what I'd expect and would certainly affect choices I'd make about the trip. Were I traveling to Saudi Arabia, I would not expect it to be respected at all and in fact would expect it would put me at risk.
posted by Candleman at 1:32 AM on February 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


It's great to talk about reasonable and unreasonable, but either way, sometimes trans people need to travel. I don't think it's fair to armchair quarterback trans people's totally normal decisions to travel - that is, to place an extra burden on them in the form of considering whether they will or won't be treated like actual human beings at their destination, regardless of visa overstayings or whatever. I mean, I'm never ever going to fly to the UAE, because trans people have gotten straight up arrested for being trans there (and I have read concerned chatter about people planning flights to Thailand for surgery and paying extra to avoid a connection there or in similar places), but there are some people, including trans people, who do have to or want to go there for whatever reason. We are going to fly places we need to fly the same as anybody else is going to fly places they need to fly. When we do these totally normal and mundane things, it seems pretty weird to be like, well, no, you can't expect to be able to do this totally normal and mundane thing unmolested because you are trans. That is the reality, sometimes, and I promise you we are aware of the reality, but what's also reality is that we do the same kinds of things other people do. Like fly to Canada to wrap up affairs there.

What rubs me the wrong way is cis people telling us how to let discrimination govern our actions. People saying Edison should have known she might be horribly misgendered and factored that into her decision to chance a trip to Canada are missing the point. If we factored discimination into every choice we made we'd never leave our houses (in the cases where we have houses). We think about this stuff all the time, and there's not much to do about it other than for the most part just trying to live your life. Occasionally that involves misjudging the severity of overstaying a student visa, which happens to cis people too.

What doesn't happen to cis people is persistent institutional misgendering. There are a lot of things wrong with the justice system that impact everybody terribly, some people worse than others, as Edison mentioned and as bloggers also covered. But this particular story was about a trans person being institutionally misgendered, and I can say from personal experience that if you live your life trying to carefully avoid all possibilities for misgendering you wind up not living much of your life. So far all the tsk-ing that was done, some of us still have to get up in the mornings and go live in the world like this despite the risks. Just like Edison did.
posted by Corinth at 1:40 AM on February 15, 2014 [23 favorites]


I find all of that reasonable and true. Just to be clear, I definitely wasn't "telling [trans people] how to let discrimination govern [their] actions."
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:21 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Joseph Gurl, I'm pretty frustrated with your participation in this thread. I started it largely because I wanted to draw attention to behaviors that lead to not-so-successful conversations rather than ref ight the aedison thread. Your approach has been a pretty textbook example of point 2 ("being analytical and theoretical") and point 3 (doubling down when being challenged). I guess that you also show off point 1 (not reading and engaging with what the thread presents), but given how far down we are, and how the thread has gone, singling you out over that seems unfair. Singling you out in general may be unfair, because this has been a contentious MeTa, and you're not the only person to do some or all of these things. You're just the person whose comments I read when I woke up and found myself regretting creating this MeTa.

I wanted to draw attention to behaviors I've noticed in a lot of threads, behaviors that (in my opinion) badly damage conversations on a lot of topics here, but especially on issues of harassment. Obviously, I can't dictate how the thread will go/went, but I'm upset with myself for opening a venue where a bunch of our members once again feel kicked around.

I apologize to those members. I clearly should have thought a lot longer before posting this MeTa, if I did it at all.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:16 AM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


We've talked a lot in MetaTalk, generally and to you, that the "I'm just going to make a joke here to lighten the mood" thing is sometimes actually not a great way to move forward.

Ok. Then my sincere apologies to all for inappropriate jokes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:36 AM on February 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Comparing passports - documents that exist explicitly and almost exclusively for international purposes - to Canadian marriage certificates is not particularly useful...
posted by Dysk at 3:54 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry, GenjianProust. I'm really just muddling along doing the best I can to learn and express myself. I really really don't want to cause anyone pain or anxiety, and I really do support the struggle of trans people everywhere.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:48 AM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


And on that note, I'll bow out. Genuinely sorry if my participation has made this thread worse. Hugs to everyone who'll take one.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:52 AM on February 15, 2014


being analytical and theoretical

This is how some people understand and relate to the world. I don't know why you get to define this has not a legitimate way to be.

point 3 (doubling down when being challenged)

Somehow, I don't think you would insist that people you agree with just shut up when challenged.

(not reading and engaging with what the thread presents)

This last series of back and forth started entirely to Dysk's question:

>If someone could explain to me why a woman - with a passport that says she is a woman - should reasonably expect to be placed in a men's prison for a visa violation, I would very much like to hear it.

How are Joseph Gurl's comments not reading and engaging with that?
posted by spaltavian at 5:32 AM on February 15, 2014 [18 favorites]


This was based on an outragefilter-y post that would have been much more about supporting a fellow MeFite if it has been reposted to MeTa. This is the third recent MeTa post I can think of which was explicitly a member disagreeing with how a thread went based on their own preference to focus on merely part of what the post encompassed. A MeTa would most likely have been just posts of support and/or outrage; a post on the blue is more likely to start there but also go further afield.

There is also a problem with this idea that if a minority (in this case, trans) is angry, dismissive, rude or even plain wrong about something they're replying to, the burden is always on the other person to prove why that perception is wrong. Posters treating the problems of trans people as abstractions gets called out, but aggressively uncharitable responses - such as Dysk taking Joseph Gurl saying that institutions can be transphobic as them saying that they should be transphobic, or hoyland taking misha's comment that the thread featured bad community behaviour from not just the cis members but also the trans members as meaning that the trans members are to blame for everything that goes wrong ever - are left as to be allowed, acceptable responses.

Yes, there are bigoted comments. No, it's not just the trans members here who engage in such behaviours. Yes, call-outs often can be justified.

But outrage-filter stokes outrage without much else, and where there's outrage there's also an upswing in bad-faith reading of other posters, leaps of assumption about what people secretly really mean in their comments, and straight-up incorrect parsing of what other people have said. Commenters who feel they are so clearly on the side of right and justified that they can behave as poorly as they want to any dissenting view, no matter if they're making that other view point out of only what they think they see.

I mean, that thread seems to have some posters getting angry at others because they're not agreeing with them in the right way. When people disagree with each other, especially as they get into just what each other has said, they can both be wrong. It would be nice to see that recognised more often, rather than that the mere fact a call-out has been made is enough to consider it justified.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:44 AM on February 15, 2014 [21 favorites]


>being analytical and theoretical

This is how some people understand and relate to the world. I don't know why you get to define this has not a legitimate way to be.


This was dealt with by klangklangston way up at the top of the thread, but here's my take. I don't think it's "not a legitimate way to be." Of course it is. I am saying that it is often a deeply ineffective way to approach certain subjects on MetaFilter. Over and over, I have seen people put forward ideas (usually in threads on sexism, classism, racism, harassment, homophobia, and transphobia but elsewhere too) that are clearly arising out of this distanced, analytical, and theoretical stance. It very frequently manages to get a negative response from people who have real lived experience with the particular problem. The counter response of the analytical person is often a hurt and seemingly bewildered "but I was talking theoretically!" which fuels the negativity and usually results in a cycle of "explanation and clarification" and refutation/refusal that goes nowhere. jsturgill in the aedison thread and Joseph Gurl in this one are pretty good examples of the process. I assume that their their original intents in posting were benign, yet (to me and evidently others) the tactic disrupted and damaged the discussion far beyond any light it brought to the issue. Furthermore, no matter how powerful your analysis, without lived experience with the situation being desired, you are lacking critical data, so your conclusions are more likely to be rudimentary or wrong than insightful and ground-breaking. If you want to get away from social issues, you could consider Lord Kelvin's embarrassing foray into geoscience as an example of how analysis without data goes awry (with, admittedly, less bickering in online forums).


>point 3 (doubling down when being challenged)

Somehow, I don't think you would insist that people you agree with just shut up when challenged.


No, I would not, but, with jsturgill and Joseph Gurl as exemplars again, the back and forth went on way too long. If people are not "getting your point," there are a lot of possibilities -- they could be reading in bad faith; they could be stupid; they could not understand your argument; you could have stated your argument poorly; you could be wrong (or, more charitably, have an incompatible idea/approach), and many many more. If you find yourself restating your case or re-entrenching more than two or three times (especially if things are heated), it's probably best to let it go, especially if you are arguing with a lot of people. There are plenty of times when I realize that I am not going to convince anyone of my point, so I stop, even when I know I'm right. There is no point in fighting every battle to the bitter end, and the "last poster standing" is not "the winner." Just letting it go is often the best policy. No doubt there will be another venue to bring it up again, maybe with further reflection.


>(not reading and engaging with what the thread presents)

This last series of back and forth started entirely to Dysk's question:

>If someone could explain to me why a woman - with a passport that says she is a woman - should reasonably expect to be placed in a men's prison for a visa violation, I would very much like to hear it.

How are Joseph Gurl's comments not reading and engaging with that?


I'm not saying that Joseph Gurl was the only person refighting the aedison thread in this thread. I'm a little surprised that we haven't had more moderation on that point, but I suspect that this thread has been difficult to moderate, which I also apologize for. However, I don't think if you go and read what I wrote all the way at the top that you can Joseph Gurl was engaging with the theme of this thread at all. Again, he's not the only person who was doing this -- heck, the bulk of this thread hasn't engaged with the issues I tried to raise at all, but his comments were, to me, a perfect encapsulation of the problem I wanted people to see and led me to make this thread. I didn't want this to be "oh dear, the aedison thread is a trainwreck; discuss." I wanted this to be "The aedison thread is an example of a process that geos poorly on MetaFilter, and maybe we can find a way to do that better." Obviously, as pointed out numerous times, I don't get to define what my thread is about once I hit post, and I guess I did a really bad job of framing the problem, since only klangklangston and running order squabble fest (to my memory) engaged with the themes as I wrote them, so it seems that that is one more thing I should apologize for.

Having stated my point again or, maybe, for the third time, perhaps I should follow my own advice and fall silent on the issue.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:41 AM on February 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm a little surprised that we haven't had more moderation on that point

People are asking direct and specific questions about things here and other people are responding to them. We are trying to be sensitive to specific requests we've had to not silence people during difficult discussions and it's a rare MeTa thread that is moderated for content.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:55 AM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thanks, jessamyn.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:00 AM on February 15, 2014


If what you want from a thread is a lot of posts saying "Wow, that totally sucks and is totally wrong!" then you've made an outragefilter post, and are guaranteed either a lousy discussion or a discussion that doesn't go the way you want it.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:08 AM on February 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


No, I would not, but, with jsturgill and Joseph Gurl as exemplars again, the back and forth went on way too long. If people are not "getting your point," there are a lot of possibilities -- they could be reading in bad faith; they could be stupid; they could not understand your argument; you could have stated your argument poorly; you could be wrong (or, more charitably, have an incompatible idea/approach), and many many more. If you find yourself restating your case or re-entrenching more than two or three times (especially if things are heated), it's probably best to let it go, especially if you are arguing with a lot of people. There are plenty of times when I realize that I am not going to convince anyone of my point, so I stop, even when I know I'm right. There is no point in fighting every battle to the bitter end, and the "last poster standing" is not "the winner." Just letting it go is often the best policy. No doubt there will be another venue to bring it up again, maybe with further reflection.

I feel like that's tantamount to saying, "if people are shouting you down, let them; clearly the fact that people are pissed off proves they are right." You are never ever going to get people to do this, regardless of the nature of the topic people are arguing about.

I agree with you entirely that that when one person takes on all comers it can be a poisonous dynamic, and that often it is better to back away from the thread rather than do so. I just don't think that something you can establish that as policy, because the reason these things happen is that people feel like a) they're right, b) they're being misunderstood and insulted and c) people keep responding to what they post. There is a sense in which walking away is letting the other side win, and when people feel they are right and that they have been misunderstood and insulted they are very, very reluctant to do that. The vast majority of people aren't zen monks, you get their blood up, they want to argue their case.
posted by Diablevert at 7:50 AM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


A couple of things. Firstly, I'm a bit tired of Contentious Trans Threads. I always feel compelled to watch them and to participate because otherwise, it's just left to other trans people* to steer the ship. I think if that's the way it's going to be, I'd just rather not see trans topics on MetaFilter at all. I am tired, a little cranky, pressed for time and don't really want to be posting, so this is going to be pretty throw away but I wanted to add a few things.

Since the UAE was mentioned, recently a pair of women were arrested in Dubai. A lot of commentary around the event came down to, "Well, they should have known!" which makes a lot of wild assumptions about why they were there and what trans people should be allowed to do. It's worth pointing out right away that civil rights are never won anywhere by following rules--the rules are not there for the benefit of oppressed minorities. In any case, whether someone should or shouldn't have known isn't really relevant. Lots of threads on the blue on lots of topics generate lots of comments that seem blind to the fact that the posters are sitting at home, after events, with all the available facts at their fingertips. There's a lot of, "I would've done different" speculation, which is neither very helpful nor very interesting, and in some cases actually hurtful and oblivious. In threads about actual abuse, violence, harassment, etc. it's probably best to just not do this. I understand the impulse to, I think it's a valid way of understanding things, but in certain cases it can be founded on completely wrong assumptions, and that can hurt people who have firsthand experience.

MetaFilter culture can be kind of weird and callous; there's often not a clear line for "posts relevant to the community," "outragefilter," and what makes a post "notable." Case by case moderation is a pretty good fit for wiggly things like that, but on trans topics I think there's still a lot of obliviousness in both moderation and community expectations. Maybe it's looking at this from a more familiar/interested perspective, but I don't think the Avery Edison thread was outragefilter, or something where no discussion is possible. There is a lot to talk about beyond the same trans panics that often happen in these threads. I think discussions of trans topics (especially trans women) just tend to go off the rails into these weird, shitty, dehumanizing tangents that the site doesn't need at all in the name of "covering both sides."

There aren't "sides." I've felt put off and have made snippy criticisms of exactly this kind of ultimatum-presenting, but transphobia is tolerated too much on the site. Arguments that trans people deserve or should expect abuse, that trans people are really [birthsex], that trans people are only [realsex] when they've acquired the surgeries and legal documents that only a minority of trans people can even access and whatever else are not valid opinions that enrich the site. They're transphobia. That they're often packaged as, "well I'm just curious" or "well I'm just worried about cis people's safety" doesn't make them more palatable--it makes them worse, because that's cluelessly and willfully ignorant. Another tactic I hate to see, but you just couldn't get away with posting the kinds of arguments made against trans people on the site if you were discussing any other minority. Transphobia tends to stand on the site because it's pretty much the cultural default--it's accepted, the way homophobia was in English speaking countries up until recently. That makes a lot of us uncomfortable.

It's a general site, I don't expect it to be perfect, I don't expect most posters to be aware of transphobia or how uncomfortable and hurtful it can be, but I think now that it's something that's being talked about, it is an issue the site could do a lot to reflect on. Not the first by any means, but one that's going to persist if the site keeps doing trans topics, and one I would expect to degrade if things just keep going along as they are.

* And, like, a handful of cis people I can count on the knuckles of my first finger.
posted by byanyothername at 7:58 AM on February 15, 2014 [17 favorites]


I agree with you entirely that that when one person takes on all comers it can be a poisonous dynamic, and that often it is better to back away from the thread rather than do so. I just don't think that something you can establish that as policy, because the reason these things happen is that people feel like a) they're right, b) they're being misunderstood and insulted and c) people keep responding to what they post.

It kind of is policy, though, isn't it? I mean, not written in stone, but in terms of the broad set of behaviors that will eventually get a moderator involved. That's what happened in the thread - the member who was taking on all comers was eventually asked to stop doing that, because it was choking the thread to death.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:20 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


"This was dealt with by klangklangston"

Don't accept my silence as an admission that KK and the Mods are correct in this matter.
posted by Ardiril at 8:42 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It kind of is policy, though, isn't it? I mean, not written in stone, but in terms of the broad set of behaviors that will eventually get a moderator involved. That's what happened in the thread - the member who was taking on all comers was eventually asked to stop doing that, because it was choking the thread to death.

There's definitely a point past where a moderator will get involved. But I think Genji is trying to say, "it's unfortunate that things should ever get to that point and we should make sure they don't" and I'm saying "it's inevitable that things will get to that point sometimes, because that's what people are like." A lot of the time it doesn't get so far as to require mod intervention -- sometimes people walk away, sometimes people actually do manage to clarify their point in a manner that mollifies their critics, or at least are succinct enough to respond to several points in one comment so that they're not dominating the thread. But I think the whole dynamic of people posting a comment they didn't think was controversial, attracting controversy, and wanting to respond to that is something that just happens in the nature of humans and discussion.
posted by Diablevert at 9:05 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's certainly something that happens with remarkable consistency in threads about trans women.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:12 AM on February 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


here's the thing about "oh it's reasonable to expect that kind of treatment":

yes, i am totally intellectually aware and understanding of the difference between "it's reasonable to expect to be treated like shit" and "it is not reasonable NOT to expect to be treated like shit"

but what actually is the real live point of coming into a thread about somebody being treated like shit and saying "well it's reasonable to expect to be treated like shit" if it's NOT to point out that the victim should have seen it coming and therefore [victim-blaming goes here]? what is the actual useful practical message being conveyed? why is it at all helpful to point that shit out?
posted by titus n. owl at 9:22 AM on February 15, 2014 [13 favorites]


Well, one could say "This is really about par for the course and people are trying to do x, y and z about it." But that's a distinctly different comment and most emphatically not what the people saying "She should have expected as much" were saying.
posted by hoyland at 9:45 AM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


But that's a distinctly different comment and most emphatically not what the people saying "She should have expected as much" were saying.

So you are a mind reader, are you? That's a neat trick. Can you teach me?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:07 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Poppyseed bagel. Saudi Arabia. One is mundane, the other is insane. If Three Trembling Trout stuffs the bagel in his rucksack and disembarks in Riyahd, it is not ichthyophobic to say he made a foolish decision.

The situation will have multiple dimensions. Simultaneously, Trout is at fault for testing the Saudis, the Saudis ought to change their insane law, Trout shouldn't be overly surprised that Saudi jails are horrific, and an embassy should be involved in extracting him. Everyone gets a bit of the blame.

Sure, maybe it isn't helpful to identify the multiple realities of the situation. Then again, it's not helpful to ignore them, either, and it's the opposite of helpful to assert counter-factual points. "It was reasonable to bring the bagel and expect it to go okay", for instance, is the very worst possible travel advice.

At any rate, no matter how deep you swim with Three Trembling Trout, it should be possible to discuss the actual facts of his case without it devolving into a frenzy of aggressive accusations, uncharitable reading, hyperbolic claims, and calling others ichthyophobic.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Transphobia tends to stand on the site because it's pretty much the cultural default--it's accepted, the way homophobia was in English speaking countries up until recently. That makes a lot of us uncomfortable.

What are you looking for, like specifically? Metafilter is never going to be a transphobia free place, just like it's never going to be a racism free place or a sexism free place. The mods have stated several times, that they're not really going to mod on a social justice angle. They will mod on egregiously prejudiced stuff like "Gay people are going to burn in hell." or "Nice rack" but "I'm not really sure gays should be allowed to adopt" or anything from this list will stay.

Also, not really fond of your analogy as homophobia is still rampant in English speaking countries, despite recent progress.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:14 AM on February 15, 2014


Sarcasm and crazy analogies are not the clearest or most helpful way to forward the discussion.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:16 AM on February 15, 2014 [12 favorites]


So you are a mind reader, are you? That's a neat trick. Can you teach me?

Stop baiting me, please.
posted by hoyland at 10:27 AM on February 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also, not really fond of your analogy as homophobia is still rampant in English speaking countries, despite recent progress.

Right, but most people can recognise it. It's people being able to recognise even slightly subtle transphobia that gets them accused of reading 'uncharitably' or being a mind reader.
posted by hoyland at 10:32 AM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


a frenzy of aggressive accusations, uncharitable reading, hyperbolic claims

I was responding to those who were have shitfits over the prison guards being stereotypical prison guards
Expecting prison guards to be sensitive to trans* pronoun usage is, in a word, Quixotic. Prison guards don't do sensitive. At all.

a frenzy of aggressive accusations, uncharitable reading, hyperbolic claims

You do seem determined to be an uncharitable asshole
...this is the hill you're gonna die on? Absurd.
...a few people wanted control over what others could or should say...

Funny that you bring up multiple realities; I'm surprised your comments can co-exist without reality imploding.
posted by emmtee at 10:32 AM on February 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: "So you are a mind reader, are you? That's a neat trick. Can you teach me?"

I hear all the posters who like to talk about 'outrage' are giving lessons!
posted by emmtee at 10:34 AM on February 15, 2014


I think it's definitely good to give people the benefit of the doubt and to assume good faith when at all plausible. But I also think that sometimes the issue is not that people are deliberately misreading you, but instead, that they are just not convinced by your explanation of how what you said differs meaningfully from how it was received. I think that's an important distinction to make here.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:36 AM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Stop baiting me, please.

I'm not baiting you. I was merely pointing out the fact that you keep assigning intent that only a mind reader could assign. You don't know what people are thinking when they type, which is why you should make an effort to read them in the least shitty way possible. This is metafilter 101.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:48 AM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


there is also a difference between pointing out transphobia and saying that the transphobia was intentional because the person who said the thing is a terrible human being. but pointing out that something is problematic gets called "uncharitable reading". like look i am a trans person and i do not ever say anything transphobic ON PURPOSE but i still am perfectly capable and guilty of saying transphobic things anyway because there is a lot of transphobia in society that i have absorbed without even realizing it was transphobic. pointing out that a given thing is transphobic and why should ideally be possible without the act of pointing it out being taken as being aggressive and uncharitable. that's something that takes willingness-to-listen from people in general just as much as, if not significantly more than, it takes willingness-to-speak-gently from the person pointing the thing out.
posted by titus n. owl at 10:55 AM on February 15, 2014 [12 favorites]


You don't know what people are thinking when they type, which is why you should make an effort to read them in the least shitty way possible.

I'd like this advice to also be pointed at people who come into threads like that/this to inform people that, because they are talking about the particular thing in the thread, they are ignoring larger/worse issues that are really important, and they are wasting their time, and they are just being fair-weather activists who never do anything else with their activism. I'd like that a lot.
posted by rtha at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'd like this advice to also be pointed at people who come into threads like that/this to inform people that, because they are talking about the particular thing in the thread, they are ignoring larger/worse issues that are really important, and they are wasting their time, and they are just being fair-weather activists who never do anything else with their activism.

I think it already has been, if I'm not mistaken, in the original thread and in this meta.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:08 AM on February 15, 2014


And if it hasn't been then you are correct it should be.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:09 AM on February 15, 2014


I was merely pointing out the fact that you keep assigning intent that only a mind reader could assign.

That was not the "least shitty" reading I could find of your previous comment. In fact, it's not a reading of your previous comment I would have even guessed was possible.

I'd also ask you to desist from assuming I'm going around trying to find a 'more shitty' reading of people's comments, as that goes right back to telling me I'm being 'uncharitable'.
posted by hoyland at 11:10 AM on February 15, 2014


I mean, it's totally possible to read someone in good faith and then come to the conclusion that they said something that you disagree with, or something that you think is shitty or racist or classist or whatever (all without accusing the person who posted it of being shitty, racist, or classist). But that's just ordinary reading, not mind-reading. I also don't think it's very helpful to accuse someone of mind-reading and then not elaborate on the difference between how they took your comment and how you meant it.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Funny that you bring up multiple realities; I'm surprised your comments can co-exist without reality imploding.

Oh, such burn. Much ow. Such comparable. Thanks 4 playing.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:24 AM on February 15, 2014


To lay it out plainly: assuming anyone's behaviour on the site has ever been driven by 'outrage' except where explicitly stated, or that FPPs are motivated by it, or that people are actively trying to limit discussion, or any of the other accusations in this and similar threads; these are themselves incredibly aggressive, uncharitable readings of other Mefites' contributions, and in that a number of people have stated that they see this as a problem with Mefi's culture rather than that one thread and thus are applying these uncharitable readings to specific users' contributions (and maybe the contributions of whole groups of users) across the entire site, are a much, much more serious example of precisely the behaviours they're complaining about than any 'bad behaviour' by trans members and allies in that Avery Edison thread.

So yeah, perhaps there is a problem with hyperaggressive, uncharitable misreadings of other users' posts and comments.
posted by emmtee at 11:37 AM on February 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh, such burn. Much ow. Such comparable. Thanks 4 playing.

Maybe you could elaborate on why you think your comments should not or cannot be compared to the comments that you thought were out of line?
posted by en forme de poire at 11:57 AM on February 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


That was not the "least shitty" reading I could find of your previous comment. In fact, it's not a reading of your previous comment I would have even guessed was possible.

I wasn't referring to my comment...whatever, it's pointless to talk to you when all you want to do is interact with knives out. Good day.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:29 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are you looking for, like specifically?
That's a fair question, so I'll just be blunt about it. I want to see transphobia get moderated (I know this won't happen, I don't think it's 'just the way it is' with other -phobias and -isms). The genitalia derail in this thread should've just been deleted. It adds nothing to the site, comes across as kind of threatening to trans people, etc. It's not good. It's a mild example of the sorts of things that happen all the time in trans threads. And I don't think these things are ill-intended a lot of the time; they are nonetheless rooted in and perpetuate transphobia, and take trans threads in directions they don't need to go.

Moderation isn't going to go that far, so I want to see the community educate itself and not go in those directions. I am tired of being A Trans Person in these threads. I am not here to educate anyone, but I do speak up because I think this is one of those rare places on the internet where people actually listen. I'd like to be able to step down at some point, though, and have cisgender people start pointing out what's wrong with transphobic statements, etc. I feel like trans users, along with a small number of cis allies, on the site are on our own. No one really has my back except me; and that's a little too close to real life for me to be comfortable.
Also, not really fond of your analogy as homophobia is still rampant in English speaking countries, despite recent progress.
I'm well aware of that, and one of my more recent posts was about the state of LGB rights globally being...well, dire. Within the US progressive circles, I think there is a tendency to act like LGB rights are won and over because privileged people in NYC can marry, and as someone kind of still on the fringes, that bothers me. At the same time, I have seen firsthand remarkable progress in awareness of homophobia over the past six or so years even here. As I said in the prior post, I don't like to do this because I don't think various kinds of oppression necessarily form parallels, but I thought homophobia would be a decent comparison because I'd expect most people on the site to recognize what it is and know that it's not okay. Not so, transphobia--most people on the site don't recognize it, and pointing to it starts fights. The word "transphobia" starts fights because it's "shrill" and "disingenuous"--but it's accurate. Something I see a lot of people struggling with on MetaFilter (and in wider society) is the idea that having your transphobia pointed out to you makes you a bad person. It doesn't. Transphobia is so pervasive that I can almost guarantee the majority of people in this thread have transphobic attitudes, beliefs or preconceptions; even transgender people sometimes perpetuate transphobic attitudes (though not here, that I've seen any of). And as long as you're good natured about that, and ultimately respond with, "Oh, I guess that was hurtful, I'll change it," that's okay. You're not a Bad Person.

Conversely, knowing not to misgender and drop T-bombs does not make you a super knowledgeable and perfect ally. That's often the issue: transphobia beyond the absolute vilest, basest forms is recognized as legitimate in a way that other forms of oppression wouldn't be. (Or, if they are, I am just out. If folks are allowed to be racist, misogynist homophobes as long as they don't drop NCF bombs, I should find healthier ways to spend my free time than hanging out here.)
posted by byanyothername at 12:39 PM on February 15, 2014 [17 favorites]


Maybe you could elaborate on why you think your comments should not or cannot be compared to the comments that you thought were out of line?

Oh, I do think bits of them can. For instance, "shitfits" does not accurately describe what was expressed by the author of the comment that prompted my writing that tilting at jerky guards is quixotic.

At the same time, the "shitfits" post in the grey doesn't link to and isn't about the prompting blue message or its author: it's about an accusation slagging me for a belief I don't have and behaviour I did not do in the blue.

IOW, I do not think my hyperbolic misuse of "shitfits" is at all comparable to the hyperbolic accusation to which I was responding.

Further, my posts in this thread are almost all toward people who have misrepresented me. Where I have been aggressive is in defense of myself: I have not been calling out others' blue thread posts. In the blue thread itself, I quoted only those things addressed directly to me, and did not aggressively attack anyone for what they were saying.

If you think my behaviour to others has been comparable to, say, Corinth's behaviour to me… well, we will need to agree to disagree.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:54 PM on February 15, 2014


as one of those people with (and for the record, this time my quotation marks DO indicate words that were actually used) "absurd" expectations who was "hav[ing] shitfits" to whom you were responding in the other thread, i feel like you're moving goalposts in order to justify characterizing others' responses uncharitable but your own as totes legit. i appreciate that you're willing to admit that your comment did not accurately describe what was intended but i notice that you don't admit that this was, like, bad or anything when you did it
posted by titus n. owl at 2:08 PM on February 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


I guess I contradict myself in paragraphs one and three. I suppose it's the difference between technically and practically.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:09 PM on February 15, 2014


Titus, I apologize. Describing your response as a "shitfit" is unnecessarily rude and as "absurd" is unnecessarily dismissive.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:25 PM on February 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


>yes, i am totally intellectually aware and understanding of the difference between "it's reasonable to expect to be treated like shit" and "it is not reasonable NOT to expect to be treated like shit"

but what actually is the real live point of coming into a thread about somebody being treated like shit and saying "well it's reasonable to expect to be treated like shit" if it's NOT to point out that the victim should have seen it coming and therefore [victim-blaming goes here]? what is the actual useful practical message being conveyed? why is it at all helpful to point that shit out?


Because somebody asked.

(Also worth noting that my answer explicitly stated it was not to excuse anything, and a later comment explicitly stated "I 100% support aedison and her supporters" and that aedison is not to blame at all. And yet ire, singling out, referred to as part of the problem, etc.)

I've been here a long time and have never regretted my membership and participation. I hope I can still say that when this is done.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:44 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm going to be blunt. "Because the idea that trans women are women is new to a lot of people" isn't a good answer. It just excuses transphobia.

If you happened to know the policy that was employed by Canadian immigration, that would have been helpful, but that seems not to be the case.

In any case, the question was pretty clearly rhetorical.
posted by hoyland at 5:04 PM on February 15, 2014


Right. So the only correct answer was "yeah same grar here!"
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:17 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


(and saying my answer "excuses transphobia" is ridiculous and willfully mischaracterizing--I explicitly stated I was not doing that. And I wasn't lying. I'm also not doing that now. And I'm not lying now.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:20 PM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I didn't say you were intentionally excusing transphobia. titus n. owl talked about this issue earlier.

"Some people just aren't up to speed yet, you know" applies to every single shitty thing someone does to a trans person up to the point of physical violence.
posted by hoyland at 5:39 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yep. Agreed. And all those things are inexcusable, which is why I haven't excused them. Again it seems any disxussion other than grar me too is unacceptable to you. This is a site for discussion, though, is the thing.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:44 PM on February 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


The whole point of changing your gender marker in something like a passport is so that even if a person isn't used to seeing trans women as women, they are legally women, and whatever your intuition is, the legal reality is as defined in the legal documents, and it would not be unreasonable to expect a legal system to recognise that and respond to it. Shitty people are going to be shitty? Yeah, and that's why we have things like passports, and why it's possible to do things like change your legal gender as defined therein - so that there are legal limits to what shitty people can do (at least when acting under the guise of legal authority).
posted by Dysk at 5:56 PM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Again it seems any disxussion other than grar me too is unacceptable to you.

Wait, what is it you wanted to say that wasn't "Yeah, this sucks" and yet wasn't excusing transphobia?

You should note that my previous comment mentioned the sort of thing that would fit the bill.
posted by hoyland at 6:12 PM on February 15, 2014


It seems like some people think that there's a really big difference between "Well, this behavior isn't justified, it's terrible -- but it's going to happen" and "Of course this behavior is going to happen, it's totally the right and proper thing." And I, myself, have thought that in the past. But the fact is, the difference is in direct correlation to how far you are from being a target. In a situation where I have to prepare for persistent harassment despite doing everything possible to avoid it, let me tell you -- there is not really a lot of difference between those two sentiments. Because as long as it's expected and reasonable, it's my problem to deal with; when it's unexpected and unreasonable, then it becomes our problem to fix.

Some people seem to believe that folks are deliberately misreading their statement of case A for case B. But I believe that the point these folks are trying to make is that case A and case B are not as different as you want them to be. That's not mischaracterizing, it's not mindreading, it's not bad faith. It's a valid point.
posted by KathrynT at 6:23 PM on February 15, 2014 [23 favorites]


Describing a bad thing that happens in the world isn't the same thing as excusing it, and it certainly can be bad faith to keep accusing someone of doing the latter when they've been very clear that they're doing the former. There is a particular dynamic I have to deal with at work sometimes because of my gender and there are absolutely people who say "this behavior isn't justified but it's going to happen," and they are on my side. Sometimes they're even me. I agree with KathrynT that there isn't always a big difference, but sometimes there is. If someone here says they're not excusing bad behavior, I think it contributes to the toxicity of these threads to keep insisting on the worst interpretation of what they said.
posted by Mavri at 6:36 PM on February 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Insisting that someone should have been prepared for something unacceptable is part of constructing the reality where that is the case. Much like it isn't really acceptable to say that a woman shouldn't have been walking alone at night (even if you tack the "but it doesn't excuse rape!" caveat on it) because it is, whether intentional or not, de facto victim-blaming, I would argue that it's very hard not to get a similarly problematic vibe from much of the "she should've known better"/"she should have reasonably expected to be put in a gender-inappropriate facility in spite of her paperwork" comments.
posted by Dysk at 6:40 PM on February 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


There's enough hurt and offense occurring in this thread already, I think, without steering deliberately into rape analogies. I'd suggest dropping that.
posted by cribcage at 7:01 PM on February 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


>If someone here says they're not excusing bad behavior, I think it contributes to the toxicity of these threads to keep insisting on the worst interpretation of what they said.

Thank you, Mavri. I appreciate it.

I also agree with cribcage.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:28 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not so, transphobia--most people on the site don't recognize it, and pointing to it starts fights.

I wasn't about much at the time, but the way people talk about sexism in the pre-2008 or so MetaFilter seems to map to this kind of thing. That time lag seems credible - generally, although racism, sexism and homophobia are very much still problems in the world, I think they are better understood and easier (although certainly not always easy) for people to identify.

Transphobia, on the other hand, is invisible to the culture a lot of the time, I think, which has the added complication that it means pointing it out can cause confusion and hostility, and not just from the pointee.

That seemed to be something that got addressed during the end-of-2007 boyzone stuff - men saying "I don't find this offensive, but a number of people are telling me that they _do_ - what's a good workaround for this?"

That's a bottom-up question - the top-down one probably being how moderation plays into this. Which I guess involves a tension between light touch moderation and responding to the fact that a (decent-sized) minority population seems to be fairly frequently unhappy with the way threads involving themselves and their issues are handled. Which again feels like the kind of question that was considered around the "boyzone" discussions...

One of the things that resulted from that was the addition of "sexism/racism" to the "offensive" flag. As I understand it, the advice is to use "offensive" to flag transphobic content, also... does this happen? And do people feel, if/when it does, that it works?
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:30 PM on February 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


I've tried to be better recently about flagging things, and I use the "offensive/sexism/racism" flag along with "noise" and "derail" when the problem is more nascent. It doesn't usually seem to result in action (nor do I expect it to), but we have been asked in recent MeTas to do it keeping in mind that it communicates boundaries we want to see which may give mods more data to work with in the long run. I've stopped assuming that someone else has flagged certain posts with more subtle problems, because I want to make sure at least one person registers an objection.

The past couple of times I've done this have been when I expected certain comments to lead to bad places even if those comments weren't yet themselves the worst iterative end state on the ideas they were introducing. I understand that moderation typically occurs closer to the point of no return than that, but I think I'm pretty accurate in terms of being able to tell what's going to start things turning in a bad direction. Trans discussions - or mainstream reporting, uninformed op-eds, etc. - on and off the internet, when they go bad, tend to go bad in familiar ways, and once you've seen the process hundreds or thousands of times you can recognize when a conversation is coalescing around one of them. That can be very frustrating to watch in slow motion, especially with the ending already spoiled.
posted by Corinth at 12:18 AM on February 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


"I've tried to be better recently about flagging things, and I use the "offensive/sexism/racism" flag along with "noise" and "derail" when the problem is more nascent."

Yeah I used to almost never flag stuff because it felt too much like tattling and also because if I were Dictator of MetaFilter I would allow more of a free-for-all. But over time I've come to realize that inconsistent moderation bugs me a lot more than consistent moderation that is heavier-handed than I might like, and from reading the MeTas over the years I've gleaned that one of the biggest root causes of seemingly inconsistent moderation is that problematic comments aren't brought to the moderators' attention fast enough to excised before a fighty derail.

So lately I've been trying to be the change I want to see and make an effort to flag stuff I recognize as being against established moderation policies and/or MetaFilter community norms even if it doesn't bother me personally. Seeing the flagging function more as a way to page the mods to a developing a situation that might require their attention instead of just as a request for a comment to be deleted has made me a lot more comfortable with using the flagging function.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:42 AM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish, thank you for the apology.

it is starting to get really frustrating going in circles here where trans people and allies repeat over and over that we find it offensively victim-blamey to point out how reasonable it is to expect to be treated like shit, and here are our reasons and explanations as to why we feel that way, and then basically get told that our feelings are objectively wrong and we shouldn't feel that way because it's not intended or whatever
posted by titus n. owl at 3:22 AM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


It was not my intention to draw an analogy between transphobia and rape cribcage, and I apologise if I came across as doing that - I meant to analogise two mechanisms of victim-blaming. But, if it is a problem for anyone (and it seems it is) I am happy to drop it.
posted by Dysk at 4:04 AM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


It seems like some people think that there's a really big difference between "Well, this behavior isn't justified, it's terrible -- but it's going to happen" and "Of course this behavior is going to happen, it's totally the right and proper thing." And I, myself, have thought that in the past. But the fact is, the difference is in direct correlation to how far you are from being a target. In a situation where I have to prepare for persistent harassment despite doing everything possible to avoid it, let me tell you -- there is not really a lot of difference between those two sentiments.

To take a (hopefully) noncontroversial example:

So, back in my madcap days as an organizer, the one thing we would encounter the most was creative police brutality - from being kicked by police horses, to being beat up, to having rubber bullets fired, to accidentally being nowhere while allowing a super right-wing organization to break through the lines and beat us even worse than the cops ever had, to insisting that a barely-conscious brutality victim had to say the words "I want to go to the hospital" when he could barely even focus his eyes. It was fucking awful, and nothing could ever justify it, because it was fucking awful.

At the same time, it was important for us to know, for our own protection, what the worst could happen would be, so we didn't, say, nonhypothetical story, have a guy with a pacemaker in the front lines who then got tazed. So we didn't have any pregnant women or people with certain disabilities in areas likely to get roughed up by the police. And for us, it was really important to know what reasonable expectations were.

When I think of reasonable expectations, particularly back when I was part of a group regularly getting physically brutalized, I think of CBT - (cognitive behavioral therapy) - and the way that you need to evaluate every real world circumstance, particularly your fears, as a probability. "I'm scared the cops are going to beat me up" becomes, "Okay, is that a reasonable fear? What is the likelihood that the cops are going to beat you up? Have they done that before? Are there any mitigating circumstances?" And you wind up with a probability number of your fear being realistic.

For the purposes of planning, for the purposes of being able to live, as a brutalized group, without being completely dominated by your fears and without suffering more brutality, it is important to be able to accurately assess the situation you are likely to encounter. If you're a person who has trouble traveling - which could include, say, being an anarchist or a well known activist, to again stick to noncontroversial examples - it is really a good idea to understand, within reason, what you might be likely to expect.

But that kind of stuff is for the planning beforehand, not the after effect. To stick to the noncontroversial - if I have a friend going to a protest I think might be suppressed, I might warn them of likely consequences and warn them to put my phone number on their arm in marker for when their phones get taken and remind them of how their conditions impact with how cops have been behaving lately. But I'm never going to tell the guy who just got kicked in the face by the horse that he should have planned better. I'm never going to, in the immediate aftermath, say, "You should have reasonably expected that to happen." Because yeah, maybe he could have. But can we really blame people for wanting a world where the awful shit everyone's trying to change doesn't happen? For expecting the best of people? For hoping things will work out? For hoping, just once, they aren't going to be horrifically oppressed?

I think there is a big difference between "This is terrible, but it's going to happen" and "Dulce et decorum est", but that difference does not exist in the immediate aftermath. In the immediate aftermath, if you say the former, you are, at least for the moment, acting on the side of the cops, and on the side of the oppression. It's hard to remember - I probably slip up sometimes myself, because you want to make sure the person is prepared for the next time - but I still think it's important.
posted by corb at 7:33 AM on February 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


The thing is, Metafilter is not in the immediate aftermath.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:45 PM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


In this particular instance, it was while it was still going on.
posted by Dysk at 11:26 PM on February 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


The past couple of times I've done this have been when I expected certain comments to lead to bad places even if those comments weren't yet themselves the worst iterative end state on the ideas they were introducing. I understand that moderation typically occurs closer to the point of no return than that, but I think I'm pretty accurate in terms of being able to tell what's going to start things turning in a bad direction.

Trans discussions - or mainstream reporting, uninformed op-eds, etc. - on and off the internet, when they go bad, tend to go bad in familiar ways, and once you've seen the process hundreds or thousands of times you can recognize when a conversation is coalescing around one of them. That can be very frustrating to watch in slow motion, especially with the ending already spoiled.


Yeah - I think there is a sort of "oh, this cliff again?" feeling, quite often, that might be a lot more obvious if you are closer to the topic. I suspect that more pre-emptive moderation, even when things are looking very much like they are heading south to those familiar with the topic, is not going to happen. But it does lead to this unfortunate situation where knowledgeable participants might see the signs long before they are noticeable/actionable - I suspect like the cotton ceiling derail in the Facebook gender selectivity thread, which was sufficiently egregious that it was addressed earlier than usual, but was still pretty recognizable.

I suspect that contributes to bad feeling in the MetaFilter threads, which then leads MetaTalk threads, which are then derailed in turn by people acting in ways they would be prevented from exploring in the FPP.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:01 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing is, Metafilter is not in the immediate aftermath.

Yeah, if people were expected to treat conversation on Metafilter like they were talking directly to the person referred to, in the immediate aftermath of the events discussed, quite a few threads would go very differently. And be as dull as small talk at a funeral usually is.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:01 AM on February 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


Honestly, some threads on MeFi could stand to be a little duller. More energetic and explosive is not always better.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:19 PM on February 20, 2014 [5 favorites]


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