So What Are You *Really* Trying To Say? July 16, 2014 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Responding to this FPP, KokoRyu makes a point about how there could be demographic parallels between issues in the developing world & New York City c. 1970; namely the large number of young people inhabiting both: "Just as the New York of the 60's and 70's was a violent place because of demographics, the same may be true of the world, with it's young, growing population today."

Despite KokoRyu's point being plain, elizardbits and shakespeherian respond with comments like "Do you mean it was a violent place because of the 63% majority white population? Or are you trying to say something else?" and "Could you clarify what you're referring to here? It's probably my reading comprehension but I am unable to tell," which to me seems willfully obtuse and coyly implying there was something more behind KokoRyu's argument than there really was. KokoRyu may be wrong in their argument regarding age demographics, but other commenters took their comment in good faith and responded in kind. The comments I linked to, and others like it, are just bullshit keejerk noise which cause stupid derails.
posted by Alvy Ampersand to Etiquette/Policy at 10:47 AM (252 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

For what it's worth, I found his point confusing as well. I'm also not pleased by his instant escalation to ad hominem, and I really, really want to see that avoided here if possible.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:50 AM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I find it weird that people are reading into my question the ill intent of reading ill intent into KokoRyu's comment.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:53 AM on July 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


Is there a comment edit history kept? I think there's a lot of ill will happening in that thread because a certain comment was edited in a certain way but I have zero inclination to either name names or make accusations against anyone if the comment was not edited.
posted by griphus at 10:54 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think my FPP was a really cool and interesting topic and I really wanted to see an informed discussion of it because I haven't made up my mind about the issue and Mefites are smart. But its still young!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:55 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was genuinely surprised at how rapidly things escalated.
posted by aramaic at 10:55 AM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I find it weird that people are reading into my question the ill intent of reading ill intent into KokoRyu's comment.

Yeah, I put this together before reading your second comment. Sincere apologies for kneejerkily tarring you with the brush.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:57 AM on July 16, 2014


shakespeherian: "I find it weird that people are reading into my question the ill intent of reading ill intent into KokoRyu's comment."

FWIW, I didn't understand how you and elizardbits could have possibly misread his comment. It seemed quite clear to me.
posted by zarq at 10:58 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm also not pleased by his instant escalation to ad hominem

He didn't "escalate to ad hominem"; he simply quite correctly identified elizardbits comment as an accusation of racism--which it very, very clearly is. I cannot understand why KokoRyu's comment objecting to being accused (baselessly) of racism gets deleted while elizardbits's accusation gets to stand.
posted by yoink at 10:59 AM on July 16, 2014 [37 favorites]


Is there a comment edit history kept? I think there's a lot of ill will happening in that thread because a certain comment was edited in a certain way but I have zero inclination to either name names or make accusations against anyone if the comment was not edited.

There is, and if you want to tell me the comment in question (privately is fine) I'll check it out.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:59 AM on July 16, 2014


I find it weird that people are reading into my question the ill intent of reading ill intent into KokoRyu's comment.

shakes, I find myself agreeing with you far more than with KokoRyu, but that comment did come across as kinda baity (less so than elizardbits's), especially with your agreement that he was talking about age demographics in the remainder of his comment.

And all in all, should we (mods included) be referring to deleted comments?
posted by Etrigan at 11:00 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


that comment was deleted for the nasty attacks at the end of it and the cool kids bs. maybe he could clarify with a cooler head. it's not really hard to see how his comment was misread, though, since demographics mean a broad range of things and it would have been clearer if he had just said age instead of demographics to begin with.
posted by nadawi at 11:00 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I read it (and still do) as saying 'Demographic differences (of some sort) are linked to XYZ in a particular context; therefore this specific demographic difference (age) is probably liked to XYZ in a different context.'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:00 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I sent you a memail with an explanation, r_n. I'd write it in the thread but I don't want to make false accusations.
posted by griphus at 11:01 AM on July 16, 2014


Now that the misunderstanding has been ironed out, I'm basically hoping this doesn't become a super fighty thing that ends in buttoning.
posted by Jpfed at 11:03 AM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


also, since we have this meta can the comments on the blue questioning the deleted comment get deleted as well so that thread might have a chance to flourish on its actual topic?
posted by nadawi at 11:03 AM on July 16, 2014


Also just for the record when you toss out "NYC," "violence," and "demographics," and considering what has happened in NYC between the 70s and today (specifically in the early/mid-90s) the fact that the referred-to demographic is age is really not the most obvious thing.
posted by griphus at 11:03 AM on July 16, 2014 [27 favorites]


(Especially considering the uniform racial demographics of the influx of young people into NYC.)
posted by griphus at 11:04 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


He referred to age in the next friggin' sentence. How is that not incredibly obvious?
posted by zarq at 11:04 AM on July 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


Hm, just to put everyone on the same page, there were indeed some edit shenanigans there that might lead people to be confused about why the clarifying comment was deleted. Investigating further now.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:06 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean seriously, if you read the entire comment, the context is clear. He's talking about population explosions and older vs., younger populations. We don't need to twist ourselves in knots inventing a false narrative about race.
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I couldn't understand his point very clearly as well although it didn't appear to me to be clearly about race, either. I just didn't get it at all.

I didn't feel like elizardbits' question in response deserved the level of shittiness he threw back at her.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:07 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'll agree that it might not entirely be clear (he says "transitory" and "young, growing population", but maybe that's not enough, he also says "more affluent"), but how do you read the comment and think he must mean the majority white population?
posted by ODiV at 11:07 AM on July 16, 2014


because age is just one demographic factor and if he meant age the whole time it would have been less confusing to just use that word and not switch to using a broader word for seemingly no reason. are you questioning that some people were confused? what's obvious to you isn't obvious to everyone, as this situation shows.

i personally read it as "demographics (general, encompassing many things) affected crime in new york - so age, one demographic factor, can be affecting unrest in other places"
posted by nadawi at 11:08 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I said this in the derail MeTa already, but I'm disappointed in yet another "What about America?" derail.
posted by ODiV at 11:10 AM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


I LIED, I'VE NEVER BEEN CONFUSED, NOT EVEN ABOUT THE ENDING TO LOST

TAKE ME AWAY OFFICERS
posted by shakespeherian at 11:11 AM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm not questioning that some people were confused, that's obvious. I'm questioning how we get to "majority white" (which is just one demographic factor) from his comment.
posted by ODiV at 11:12 AM on July 16, 2014


But I'm not American and wasn't around New York at that time, so if it's a dog whistle phrase that he touched on accidentally then I can see it garnering a negative reaction. I'm just not a fan of the "but what do you really mean?" questions because they can be read as actual questions or "we know what you really mean". I don't know what the answer is...
posted by ODiV at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2014


sorry, ODIV, my question about being confused was for zarq. fast moving thread is fast.

as to your second point - i think it's pretty understandable why a non-white person living in nyc, upon reading someone pontificating about crime and demographics in nyc, could wonder if that's a comment about race, since that conversation is often coded in that way. KokoRyu could have responded with "whoops, my bad, when i said demographics up there i specifically meant age," left the attacks off the end of it and then everyone could have moved on.
posted by nadawi at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


His comment is pretty clearly about age.

He says that, explicitly, like 6 times.
posted by kbanas at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


well, to you it's clear. i think that's the whole point, to other people, including a mod, it wasn't clear.
posted by nadawi at 11:17 AM on July 16, 2014


nadawi: "because age is just one demographic factor and if he meant age the whole time it would have been less confusing to just use that word and not switch to using a broader word for seemingly no reason.

If he were specifically referring to racial demographics then something else in the comment would have referenced it. It didn't. The comment did reference affluence and the opportunities it provides, for example.

...are you questioning that some people were confused?

I think elizardbits immediately leaped to the least charitable conclusion for little to no reason, yeah.

what's obvious to you isn't obvious to everyone, as this situation shows.

How one gets from the use of the word "demographics" to "race" is a lot less obvious to me than the actual references to age, population pressures / growth / expansion and affluence in the comment. Which is what I mean by "inventing a false narrative" above.
posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, sorry fast moving thread and also talking about deleted/edited comments are confusing. Sorry to assume you were asking me. Already bowing out due to lacking proper context (see above).
posted by ODiV at 11:18 AM on July 16, 2014


I'm not questioning that some people were confused, that's obvious. I'm questioning how we get to "majority white" (which is just one demographic factor) from his comment.

Because in recent years there's been a huge influx of white people into NYC who are changing the racial demographics of the city because of both their presence and because gentrification is pushing certain minorities out to the edges and then out of the city. That influx correlates with a drop in crime because these white people started coming in droves after Giuliani did what he did and made the city "safe". What Giuliani did affected poor minorities far disproportionately to anyone else.
posted by griphus at 11:18 AM on July 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


He referred to age in the next friggin' sentence. How is that not incredibly obvious?

People probably stopped reading at about 'demographi'
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:19 AM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


And there's some of the aforementioned context! I know gentrification is a thing (I've heard about it here and other places), but I guess I just kind of always thought North American cities including NYC were getting more diverse on the whole. Thanks griphus.
posted by ODiV at 11:20 AM on July 16, 2014


The thing was, KokoRyu's initial comment came across as weird and a bit "urban youths ifyouknowhatimean" because it seemed a bit...diffuse? I mean, the average age of the 9/11 hijackers was 26 (and was planned largely by a bunch of old dudes), and the Arab Spring uprisings seemed to involve a broad spectrum of demographics related more to class and culture than age. And as I pointed out, the most accepted explanations around the decline in crime aren't largely driven by age, and those that do make note of it usually tie it to a rise or decline in environmental factors rather than age itself. That the argument was presented with such surety behind it despite being based on shaky science at best read really weird to me. It certainly doesn't help that there's a noticeable trend in news about violence and crime about how "young people" are more dangerous these days that is really just code for "inner-city POC."
posted by zombieflanders at 11:20 AM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Just to be clear I have no idea what the past or present racial or age demographics of NYC are. I have no idea if the city is becoming more or less diverse than it was in the 70s. But, to me and clearly other people, there was some seriously dog-whistly things in that comment which while they may have not been intended definitely stoked some fires.
posted by griphus at 11:22 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


griphus, according to this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City#Demographics NYC has less "white" people than ever before.
posted by I-baLL at 11:22 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Given that it's a pretty significant tangent, the tangent is pretty heated, and the thread is pretty new with few comments, would this be a case where heavy deletions could clean out the mess in advance of further escalations and digressions? Then this thread could be closed, and we could all go out and get ice cream.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:25 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


griphus: "I have no idea if the city is becoming more or less diverse than it was in the 70s."

The white population is something like half of what it used to be back in the 60's and 70's. There hasn't been a huge influx of white people into all of NYC (including the five boroughs) in the last 50 years. Quite the opposite.

On preview: I-Ball's link has more info.
posted by zarq at 11:26 AM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have been getting pretty seriously into beer floats so let's do that
posted by shakespeherian at 11:26 AM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


zarq - that's how dog whistle work, they look like well intentioned arguments that are actually dressed up bigotry. i totally believe KokoRyu when he says he wasn't using that dog whistle, but before his explanation it wasn't clear to me either (and then with his attacks, it was hard to hear his explanation). if someone were to make a well intentioned comment that talked about a majority jewish neighborhood and money, even if they didn't mean anything by it and just had some clumsy phrasing, i think you'd side eye it - not because you're rushing to find antisemitism in everything, but because you've heard that line of thought before in less well intentioned contexts.
posted by nadawi at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2014 [14 favorites]

i personally read it as "demographics (general, encompassing many things) affected crime in new york - so age, one demographic factor, can be affecting unrest in other places"
That is exactly how I read it too, as another data point.
posted by dfan at 11:30 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Asking for clarification instead of assuming bad faith seems reasonable. Contesting the statement is okay. Baiting is just plain shitty. That never helps a discussion go smoothly.

I really don't see any dog whistle stuff going on. If I thought I did, I would hope I would consider the source carefully before wading in. I have never known Kokoryu to say anything racist.

Racism ought to be called out. We don't want to condone, even implicitly through silence, that it is okay. But implying that a user is a racist without a REALLY good reason backing up that claim? That ought to get called out, too.
posted by misha at 11:31 AM on July 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


I wish all of them would post less. Perhaps not less in actual volume, but in constant rapid fire half-thoughts, anyway.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 11:33 AM on July 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


is a beer float like a root beer float, but with real beer instead of root beer? Why would you do that?

What kind of beer do you use in such a thing?
posted by el io at 11:33 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm saying this for the nth time but pointing out racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. really isn't an attack or besmirching of someone's character because these are the waters we swim in and we are all complicit in these systems to varying degrees so pointing out these things is helpful if someone is willing to listen.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on July 16, 2014 [23 favorites]


stout beer, vanilla bean ice cream.
posted by nadawi at 11:34 AM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


What kind of beer do you use in such a thing?

Barrel-aged beers seem to work best, so far. The thicker and maltier the better. Contrary to what you might except, sweet stouts are pretty terrible with ice cream.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


There hasn't been a huge influx of white people into all of NYC (including the five boroughs) in the last 50 years. Quite the opposite.

I mean I'll concede the point that the city is getting more diverse because the numbers tell me so, but I have no idea how to look for statistics on non-immigrant transplants to NYC who, from my observation -- which may very well be useless and wrong! -- have been coming in with enough numbers to significantly change the racial demographics of numerous neighborhoods.

But this is a derail of a derail of a derail at this point.
posted by griphus at 11:36 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


They were the kind of questions that could be read as good-faith or bad-faith. They were taken as bad-faith because of who was asking them, and in the deleted comment the fact that it was a very personal reaction that was specific to elizardbits was obvious.

OK, some people don't like other people and get defensive when they feel attacked. Sometimes that defensive feeling is mistaken or whatever. That seems pretty standard and not really interesting.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:39 AM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Sorry it took me a bit to get to this thread, the internets did a burp in my office.

I meant to post this in the thread itself but since there is now this meta, it seems the appropriate place to post instead. I did, in fact, misread the content of KokuRyu's comment and incorrectly assumed it was about race rather than age, and I'm sorry for the derail as well as the unpleasant, hasty, and apparently unfounded accusation.

I'm not sure if he's reading this thread or not, and I don't know whether or not it would be deraily to post this same comment in the original thread. Mods, plz let me know!
posted by elizardbits at 11:40 AM on July 16, 2014 [46 favorites]


I should also take this opprotunity to apologize for thinking KokuRyu had two Os in his name, rather than two Us, for the past seven years.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:46 AM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I should also take this opprotunity to apologize for thinking KokuRyu had two Os in his name, rather than two Us, for the past seven years.

Huh. Well, shit.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:49 AM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Even if anyone did want to rake elizardbits over the coals for viewing the comment in an uncharitable light, when her response included "Or are you trying to say something else?" the door is explicitly left open for a reply of, "I actually did mean something else," which should go a long way toward curing whatever ills an initial uncharitable reading creates.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:51 AM on July 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also just for the record when you toss out "NYC," "violence," and "demographics," and considering what has happened in NYC between the 70s and today (specifically in the early/mid-90s) the fact that the referred-to demographic is age is really not the most obvious thing.

Yeah, NYC in the 70s was way more overall white than it is today. If someone was trying to say something shitty about the racial demographics, it would just be...completely wrong AND wrong, if you read me.
posted by corb at 11:51 AM on July 16, 2014


nadawi: "well, to you it's clear. i think that's the whole point, to other people, including a mod, it wasn't clear."

OK.

Having thought about it, I suppose that's understandable for a reason that hasn't yet been mentioned: NYC demographics, and crime rates and yes, racial issues are different than those in other American cities and most of the people in this thread and that one don't actually live here. You don't. The person who posted the comment, KokuRyu, lives in Canada. None of the mods live here. Shakes doesn't either. Griphus and elizardbits do live here. Because of that our perspectives and the conclusions we draw may be different from all of you, and yes, even to each other.

nadawi: "zarq - that's how dog whistle work, they look like well intentioned arguments that are actually dressed up bigotry. i totally believe KokoRyu when he says he wasn't using that dog whistle, but before his explanation it wasn't clear to me either (and then with his attacks, it was hard to hear his explanation).

I didn't see his responses. I spent a lot of time writing a comment in that thread and by the time I previewed this Meta had been posted, so I trashed it.

...if someone were to make a well intentioned comment that talked about a majority jewish neighborhood and money, even if they didn't mean anything by it and just had some clumsy phrasing, i think you'd side eye it - not because you're rushing to find antisemitism in everything, but because you've heard that line of thought before in less well intentioned contexts."

True. That makes a lot of sense.
posted by zarq at 11:51 AM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


MoonOrb: I read "Or are you trying to say something else?" as a gotcha about not knowing the actual demographics of NYC at the time while trying to say something about race.

Kind of funny, looking back, that I automatically took that comment uncharitable light for taking another comment in an uncharitable light.

(I know, I know, I said I wasn't going to talk anymore, I find this interesting, sorry)
posted by ODiV at 11:57 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


griphus: "I mean I'll concede the point that the city is getting more diverse because the numbers tell me so, but I have no idea how to look for statistics on non-immigrant transplants to NYC who, from my observation -- which may very well be useless and wrong! -- have been coming in with enough numbers to significantly change the racial demographics of numerous neighborhoods."

Sometimes? Transplants don't usually stay in one place. They tend to move into Manhattan, Astoria/LIC, north Brooklyn and other areas, then move to cheaper digs within two years (I'm guessing) when they realize they can get bigger apartments and cheaper food for a commute and a lot less money. Population displacement does happen, sure. But changes in individual neighborhood race demographics don't show the whole picture -- many New Yorkers seem to just move to other NYC neighborhoods.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on July 16, 2014


Thanks for taking the time and effort to clarify where you were coming from, elizardbits.
posted by misha at 12:06 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I should also take this opprotunity to apologize for thinking KokuRyu had two Os in his name, rather than two Us, for the past seven years.

Man, Alvy -- me too!
posted by jamjam at 12:07 PM on July 16, 2014


elizardbits: "I did, in fact, misread the content of KokuRyu's comment and incorrectly assumed it was about race rather than age, and I'm sorry for the derail as well as the unpleasant, hasty, and apparently unfounded accusation. "

This was very cool of you to say.
posted by zarq at 12:07 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Remarkably chill overall for a metatalk about demographics and crime!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:12 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm saying this for the nth time but pointing out racism/sexism/homophobia/etc. really isn't an attack or besmirching of someone's character because these are the waters we swim in and we are all complicit in these systems to varying degrees so pointing out these things is helpful if someone is willing to listen.

It can also be like, the platonic threadshit if it's something that could go either way, and it's been clarified that isn't what they meant.

It's something that's pretty hard to defend against, and that if the poster doesn't it's basically derailed the thread at least for a bit. It's like the comment equivalent of "I think you have a drinking problem". Almost every response makes you sound guilty.

Personally, I thought this was a weird comment. But I also thought taking it where it went as a response by defacto making it a racial thing was taking a dump on the thread way more than the original comment. I agree with what you're saying that it's not an attack, but it can totally change the tone and direction of a thread despite the intent of educating and doing good or speaking truth to power or callouts or whatever.

I just wish people would think a little bit harder about trying to fight the good fight on comments that are already sort of a weird sidebar derail in and of themselves, and also pretty grey area. People say tons of blatantly wrong or not even wrong shit on here that deserves it. Maybe leave the weird stuff alone and avoid turning threads into All About That Post more often?

I mean if you look up the numbers at all thinking this post was making some weird dog whistle racist point wouldn't even make sense because they go in reverse of anything that could support that. So if it's Not Even Wrong territory stuff, maybe just leave it?
posted by emptythought at 12:20 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


shakespeherian: "I LIED, I'VE NEVER BEEN CONFUSED, NOT EVEN ABOUT THE ENDING TO LOST "

Me either: I just thought, "This is total bullshit."
posted by boo_radley at 12:21 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Remarkably chill overall for a metatalk about demographics and crime!

well i think it was pretty insensitive for filthy light thief to bring up ice cream when some of us are lactose intolerant

i mean jeez
posted by desjardins at 12:39 PM on July 16, 2014


elizardbits aggressively questioned a part of KokoRyu's comment (which she's apologized for). KokoRyu personally attacked elizardbits a couple of times in response. i hope he extends an apology to her as well, because he was way out of line. i realize not everyone got to read the deleted comments, but maybe consider that if you didn't, you don't really have the full story of what that thread looked like just prior to this meta being opened.
posted by nadawi at 12:42 PM on July 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


MetaFilter has already established that New York of the 60's and 70's was a violent place because of lead paint.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:50 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


The dog-whistle phrases that surround race in America are not always clear to outsiders. "Demographics" is not code in Canada.

I read this as a nasty cultural heterodyne, a misreading of codes that weren't there.
posted by bonehead at 12:54 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


some of us are lactose intolerant

Lack toes intolerant.
posted by phunniemee at 1:05 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have been getting pretty seriously into beer floats so let's do that

waitwaitwaitwait


ice cream in beer? Sounds weird but I'm in. Why has no one told me about this before?
posted by Hoopo at 1:20 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


YES it sounds crazy and the first time you make one you stare at it for a beat going 'Why did I just do that' but they're really good.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:22 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's a coincidence because I've been meaning to find a way to make my drinking even less healthy
posted by Hoopo at 1:23 PM on July 16, 2014 [31 favorites]


elizardbits aggressively questioned a part of KokoRyu's comment (which she's apologized for). KokoRyu personally attacked elizardbits a couple of times in response. i hope he extends an apology to her as well, because he was way out of line. i realize not everyone got to read the deleted comments, but maybe consider that if you didn't, you don't really have the full story of what that thread looked like just prior to this meta being opened.

Yea, i didn't. And i'm still confused as to what happened here entirely, i'll be honest.

Sometimes i really wish that when a MeTa like this was created, there would be a link in it that would let you view the thread WITH all the deleted comments in which you couldn't post replies, maybe with a big red box around them saying "This comment was deleted, please do not respond to it, this is here for context and clarification only".

The main question i have though, is did he attack before or after she apologized? Because to me continuing to fling turds after an apology has been issued is a lot different than responding to a fairly aggressive post that basically goes "so your a bigot".

I don't think you have any requirement to be super nice if someone calls you out like she did in a fairly aggressive way. But as i said, the response before or after the apology makes a difference.

I could also write a little diatribe about how there's certain people on this site(NOT elizardbits, and i'm not snarking) who have repeatedly pulled the drop bomb on thread>oops omg i'm so sorry that's out of line routine and repeatedly get handed cookies for apologizing as if they never did it, but that's neither here no there.

Pretty much, i don't think apologizing makes still being angry out of line, but i do think it matters whether the attack-y posts were made before or after the apology. It's sort of almost a geneva convention of the internet type thing, where it's the difference between an attack that's a declaration of war, and an attack when the other side has asked for a cease fire.
posted by emptythought at 1:32 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


i don't think he had a requirement to be super nice, but i do think there's a difference between calling out a comment (which she did) and attacking a poster (which he did). it might have read to him, and you, and others as her calling him a bigot, but that's not actually what she did, she (again, aggressively) asked for clarification on a comment.

all of this happened well before the apology. he attacked her pretty much directly after her initial comment, then there was some back and forth, then apparently he edited his first attacking comment, and they both had a couple comments removed. then people who only saw the edited comment thought it was unfair that he was deleted, and here we are.
posted by nadawi at 1:41 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


The dog-whistle phrases that surround race in America are not always clear to outsiders. "Demographics" is not code in Canada.

Heh, I had a revelation to that effect yesterday in a thread about wrestling where I brought up how me and my stepbrother used to love Junkyard Dog, and someone pointed out to me that he used to come into the ring with a dog collar around his neck on a chain. Never occurred to me at the time, as a Canadian kid, that this could mean anything other than "well, it's cuz he's junkyard dog and dogs wear collars". But being reminded of that particular detail by an American puts it in context and it's like "oh, riiiiiiight, cuz....Oh dear."
posted by Hoopo at 1:43 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


apparently he edited his first attacking comment, and they both had a couple comments removed. then people who only saw the edited comment thought it was unfair that he was deleted, and here we are.

Not quite what happened - the comment was edited to *add* the attack-y part, which is why he's not enjoying a luxury vacation on the Isle of Temp-Ban. Still not cool, but more confusing than actually abusive of the tool.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:50 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


My first (and to date, only) beer float experience was a Guinness shake, and it was indeed tasty.

To all those who are lactose intolerant, I offer you the figurative fig leaf of a real tofutti cutie, or some other non-dairy cream dessert of your choosing.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:51 PM on July 16, 2014


Is there a fake ice cream (Tofutti, Almond/Rice dream, etc.) that works well for a float? I tried using Lactaid ice cream once and it turned into a bunch of tiny slivers of non-cream ice.
posted by griphus at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I offer you the figurative fig leaf of a real tofutti cutie

I have anaphylaxis to dairy AND soy but don't worry I am still going to get drunk tonight.
posted by kate blank at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


thanks for the clarification, restless_nomad.
posted by nadawi at 1:54 PM on July 16, 2014


I thought that elizardbit's original comment should have been deleted too, because I suppose I am compelled to say "I am not a racist" just because elizardbits, bless her, decides that I am a racist.

I would have stayed to clarify my original comment, but I certainly don't see why I should have to defend myself against imaginary accusations.

The weird thing is that elizardbits even pointed out that the city was majority "white" (I'm not American so I may not necessarily understand the black-white trigger points, sorry), so then why would I be racist if I was talking about the age of a city?

Anyway, as I said it would have been nice if the mods had removed her first comment, but they didn't.

But it pissed me off mightily.

And I would have taken it to MeMail, bu the user in question has disabled his/her MeMail, which leads me to think I am not the only person who has been irritated in the past.

Thank you to the folks explained my side of things in my absence!
posted by KokuRyu at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


Seems like we've gotten really quick around here to call out fellow users for racist, sexist or other purported thought crimes. I've been registered here for seven years now, but the past few months have felt pretty weird to me.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:04 PM on July 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


Yes, the words "thought crimes" totally apply when we're talking about something someone wrote down and published on the internet
posted by en forme de poire at 2:06 PM on July 16, 2014 [30 favorites]


While it's hard to discuss deleted comments, I didn't think it was much of an apology. Calling someone a racist is, by the way, deservedly or not, an ad hominem attack too. I am sorry I lost my temper, but last time I checked, elizardbits is not a mod, so why do I have to answer to him/her? Why the immediate derail?

Anyway, no hard feelings on my end, although it would be nice if people did not assume I am a racist, since I do not think I have tendency to post racist things.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:06 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


she never called you a racist.
posted by nadawi at 2:08 PM on July 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


en forme de poire: "Yes, the words "thought crimes" totally apply when we're talking about something someone wrote down and published on the internet"

Yeah, keep your possibly controversial thoughts to yourselves people!
posted by Big_B at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2014


why do I have to answer to him/her?

Is this just a question you're asking yourself out loud?
posted by Greg Nog at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


down the Memory Hole we go to Room 101, where if you want a picture of the future, you can see a comment stating your freely expressed opinion on the internet ... foreverrrrrr
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Elizardbits is female, btw.
posted by KathrynT at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2014


Yeah, keep your possibly controversial thoughts to yourselves people!

If you don't want anyone else to respond to them, that seems like a pretty good idea.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:17 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


The weird thing is that elizardbits even pointed out that the city was majority "white" (I'm not American so I may not necessarily understand the black-white trigger points, sorry), so then why would I be racist if I was talking about the age of a city?

The assumption is that you would have incorrectly assumed the racial makeup of the city, which a lot of people do when discussing crime, especially in urban areas. There's a pretty long history of it in American politics.

While it's hard to discuss deleted comments, I didn't think it was much of an apology.

Her apology is right here, and it's not a mealy-mouthed "sorry if you were offended" brush-off, either.

And I would have taken it to MeMail, bu the user in question has disabled his/her MeMail, which leads me to think I am not the only person who has been irritated in the past.

There are a million reasons people can disable their MeMail, including the many instances of embarrassment based on (assumed) gender that MeFites have shared in MeTas.

last time I checked, elizardbits is not a mod, so why do I have to answer to him/her?

Out of the same courtesy you were shown here? That would be a good start instead of this dismissive attitude.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:18 PM on July 16, 2014 [25 favorites]


yeah this is bizarre. no one made accusations. no one called anyone a racist.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Calling someone a racist...

Are we seriously about to re-start a fight about the perceived insinuation in a comment in reply to the perceived insinuation of another comment? After almost everyone involved admitted that there was on the whole a big misunderstanding stemming from the different contexts in which people read the comments and their own experiences with the subject matter?

I'd like to think the "no harm no foul" stuff above settled it.
posted by griphus at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


What about the lead theory? I want to believe it cause sometimes it feels like old people are really crazy and I don't understand why.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


the secret is a nitrogenated beer, preferably some version of a stout or porter, so you don't get all 6th grade science fair up in there. I'm a fan of a more roasty / espresso malt stout and maple bacon ice cream, myself.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


she never called you a racist.

So you miss the entire point of this MetaTalk.

Her apology is right here

Sorry, haven't read the entire MetaTalk thread. Thanks for pointing that out. I suppose I will just sound like an arrogant dick if I say "apology accepted." I get why now it might be elizardbits' turn to be mad or not. I am sorry for making it personal, but I suppose I just saw red when I was called a racist.

And I still believe that an ageing global demographic will mean fewer wars in the future, just as violence in New York as decreased.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


scoop in first, beer on top. long handle ice tea spoon.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


....Right, I'mma send around a whole round of bathdaquiris to everyone. Sounds like we need 'em.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


jesus christ dude, you might as well read the thread before you wade back in and start shitting up this one, too.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:27 PM on July 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


KokuRyu: I suppose I will just sound like an arrogant dick if I say "apology accepted."

Only if you preface it with "I suppose I will just sound like an arrogant dick if I say"...

Well, shit.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:27 PM on July 16, 2014 [18 favorites]


she never called you a racist.
So you miss the entire point of this MetaTalk.
Her apology is right here
Sorry, haven't read the entire MetaTalk thread.

posted by shakespeherian at 2:28 PM on July 16, 2014 [33 favorites]


restless_nomad: Not quite what happened - the comment was edited to *add* the attack-y part, which is why he's not enjoying a luxury vacation on the Isle of Temp-Ban. Still not cool, but more confusing than actually abusive of the tool.

I thought this was explicitly against the edit button rules. From the FAQ:

How do I edit or delete my comment? What are the rules about the edit function?
Once you post a comment you'll have five minutes to fix any typos. Click the 'Edit' link in the comment byline to edit your comment. After five minutes, the Edit link no longer appears next to the comment. At that point, you can use the contact form to ask a moderator to make the changes for you.

Please keep in mind that this feature exists to fix typos only. Please do not use the "Edited to add" notation that is used on some other websites. If you need to make changes to the meaning of your comment (including fixing a factually incorrect statement, or just adding another thought), please just post another comment to clarify. (emphasis mine)
posted by Room 641-A at 2:29 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah that helps. Careful Kokuryu, they were just putting the pitchforks away.
posted by Big_B at 2:30 PM on July 16, 2014


Room 641-A: I thought this was explicitly against the edit button rules.

It is, but one can certainly understand why adding the attack later is less of an offense than deleting it from the (public) record. The mods will know the attack is there either way, but in the case of a post with a deleted attack, some will see it and some won't, which causes a lot of confusion.

I'm sure the mods would ban anyone who repeatedly violates the edit guidelines, but I understand the case for a zero-tolerance policy of deleted attacks.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2014


I thought this was explicitly against the edit button rules.

Yes. Pet peeve of mine that I constantly see edits made for content on MetaFilter. It's not like the feature is new and people are still using "edited to add". These should be reverted and repeat offenders should have the feature removed imho.

(I'm probably being too harsh, I know)
posted by ODiV at 2:32 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah the editing-to-remove-an-attack is kinda gaslighty, whereas the editing-to-add-an-attack is just a weird 'Wait I forgot to be an asshole' thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:33 PM on July 16, 2014 [20 favorites]


I'm on record as not being a big supporter of the rules against editing for content, but that is kind of a textbook example of how it can go wrong. This is a generally good poster having a not so good day so hopefully this isn't gonna color our long term opinions here.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:33 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


no matter how many times you repeat it, she never called you a racist. the exact quote is as the top of this thread if you're having trouble remembering it. she aggressively questioned your comment and you personally attacked her. this is what actually happened. i'm not positive that the person who made this metatalk actually saw all of your comments.
posted by nadawi at 2:34 PM on July 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


Big_B: Yeah that helps. Careful Kokuryu, they were just putting the pitchforks away.

I'm not in either camp here, but when I see someone apologizing without reservation as their only comment in a MeTa, I see that as something that should generally be met with acceptance of the apology first. If the whole thread is about an interaction you've had with another mefiite, then you have a responsibility to read the entirety of the thread before bringing up other grievances. If you don't do that first, you deserve every bit of derision you get for doing the exact same thing you're accusing the other party of doing -- popping off without having your facts straight.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2014 [22 favorites]


no matter how many times you repeat it, she never called you a racist.

And no matter how many times you repeat it, others are going to see her comment for what it was - a veiled attempt at calling someone a racist. Which she apologized for.
posted by Big_B at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2014 [25 favorites]


Look, if I deserve a temp-ban, please ban me. If you want to discuss an issue in private, please MeMail me. I acknowledge that elizardbits apologized to me in this thread, and I accept that. I still think the idea of calling someone out for being a racist is not great for MetaFilter. I have been here for a while, and while I am not always super friendly, I am no more racist than anyone else, and try to engage in productive discussion. We can't have discussion if we have to police what we say to guarantee it won't cause someone (generally a popular user with way more social capital than I do) to derail with accusations. This is what I honestly believe what happened.

I regret that I lost my temper, but at the same time I sometimes wish I didn't have to tiptoe through a minefield when discussing anything remotely political. And everything these days, is political on MetaFilter.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


There's a zen koan for our whiz-bang modern times: "If I don't explicitly say you are X, but say something you said was an example or indicative of X, did I really say you were X?"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Drinky Die: What about the lead theory?

I made a post about it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:38 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


You don't deserve a ban KR, but you do kind of deserve a day at a spa and a massage or something so you can relax and take this on with a little perspective I think, just IMO, sorry if it sounds condescending.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Pointing out that something has troubling racist implications does not mean calling the person racist. Complaining that this is a minefield only makes it harder for those of us who are impacted by bigotry to speak up, because our attempts to call attention to it get dismissed as accusations on character.
posted by divabat at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2014 [65 favorites]


I am no more racist than anyone else

I'm gonna try to get out in front of any potential accusations and say I'm WAY WAY WAY more racist than any of you guys. If I ever say something NOT racist, I want you all to be pleasantly surprised.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can we not do the whole "cool kids" thing here? It's whiny, and I'm not even convinced it's valid. I'm sure that there are many people who like and/or admire Elizardbits, but that's true of a lot of different users here. This is not your high school cafeteria. Nobody thinks you sit at the loser table.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:41 PM on July 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


Pointing out that something has troubling racist implications does not mean calling the person racist.

I can only favorite this comment once, so instead I'll requote it for emphasis.
posted by KathrynT at 2:42 PM on July 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


others are going to see her comment for what it was

so she inferred something from his comment, he inferred something from hers, and then he personally attacked her a couple of times, once even editing a comment to make sure to get the insult in. even if she actually had called him a racist (she didn't) his reaction wasn't acceptable. since she didn't actually attack him and he attacked her, i don't really see how you can come down on his side unless you think she deserves the attacks or you didn't see them.
posted by nadawi at 2:43 PM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


It kind of bothers me how an insinuation of racism or sexism is taken as such a huge insult all of the time. I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I will I guess because I think everyone is probably affected by racism, sexism, privileged, etc. subconsciously or whatever - some more than others of course, and when the insinuation of racism is taken as a huge insult it prevents us from uncovering our own racism and sexism or projection of racism and sexism onto others - which seems to be more of the case here. But I guess that kind of 'growth' is just not going to happen in an assholish environment, which means it is not going to happen on the internet, even on MetaFilter.

I suppose I will just sound like an arrogant dick if I say "apology accepted."

It seems to me you owe her more of an apology for the personal attacks.
posted by Golden Eternity at 2:43 PM on July 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


I am sorry for making it personal, but I suppose I just saw red when I was called a racist.

Why would you "see red"? Why is this a good reason for making things personal?

If I don't explicitly say you are X, but say something you said was an example or indicative of X, did I really say you were X?

Let's fill in the blanks: "If I don't explicitly say you are racist, but say something you said was an example or indicative of racism, did I really say you were racist?"

No, saying something racist does not mean you are a *racist*. Try watching this.

"We need to move away from the tonsil paradigm of race discourse towards the dental hygiene of race discourse."
posted by jammy at 2:48 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Given that KokuRyu wrote in his original comment, "the New York of the 60's and 70's was a violent place because of demographics, the same may be true of the world, with it's young, growing population today" and "cataclysmic events like 9/11 or the Arab Spring are really caused by young populations with few opportunities", elizardbits' response, "Do you mean it was a violent place because of the 63% majority white population?" seems like an deliberate misreading and an attempt to get a fight started. There is nothing remotely "ambiguous" about KokuRyu's comment the way shakespeherian and nadawi are claiming. It might have been ambiguous if it was short comment that vaguely referred to "demographics", but it wasn't short, and there was plenty of clarification in the original comment.

A more charitable interpretation of what happened here would be that elizardbits only read the first sentence or so of KokuRyu's comment and then tried to pick a fight with him. But it's still really shitty behavior. I'm appalled that anybody is defending what elizardbits tried to do here.

The kind of creatively fighty reading or non-reading that elizardbits was engaged in here makes MetaFilter a more hostile place to participate in than it needs to be.
posted by nangar at 2:49 PM on July 16, 2014 [41 favorites]


Given the apology and clarifications frpm kokuryu, might be worth considering closing this one up, I think. I have trouble envisaging anything more positive coming from the thread, just more in group out group stuff tiff that it feels like every meta ends in these days.
posted by smoke at 2:49 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I only have squires envisioning positive things coming from this thread so I'll go ahead and call them off
posted by en forme de poire at 2:51 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have yeomen envisaging anything more positive coming from the thread

You have yeomen? Envisaging??
posted by jammy at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


That was an unintentionally hilarious typo now alas corrected.
posted by smoke at 2:53 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


editing shenanigans!

;)
posted by jammy at 2:54 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


You have yeomen? Envisaging??

No,I think smoke has Swype.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:54 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pointing out that something has troubling racist implications does not mean calling the person racist.

And it doesn't mean that the writer of the troubling comment is a bad person, either. I hope that the next time I say something racist (which I inevitably will, though I try to avoid it!) someone will call me out. If I have a racist belief, I want to know that so I can examine my thought process more carefully. If I inadvertently say something that is perceived as racist, I want to know so that I can be more careful with my words. It often feels really shitty in the moment to be called out - especially if I have good intentions - but in the long run, it helps me be a better ally and a better person.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:55 PM on July 16, 2014 [21 favorites]


There is nothing remotely "ambiguous" about KokuRyu's comment the way shakespeherian and nadawi are claiming.

it was ambiguous to me. full stop. i'm not just claiming it. i'm saying absolutely that i was confused about what he was getting at there. i didn't jump straight to race, but, as i said upthread, i read it (as it was posted so i wasn't swayed by any other comment) as "demographics (general, encompassing many things) affected crime in new york - so age, one demographic factor, can be affecting unrest in other places." i think that reading makes perfect sense in context, even if it's not what he intended.
posted by nadawi at 2:57 PM on July 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


I was confused. That's why I asked what he meant.

Maybe it's a character flaw, but that's how I like to use questions.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:58 PM on July 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


There is nothing remotely "ambiguous" about KokuRyu's comment the way shakespeherian and nadawi are claiming. It might have been ambiguous if it was short comment that vaguely referred to "demographics", but it wasn't short, and there was plenty of clarification in the original comment.

Clearly you haven't been around for the international media panics over video games, expensive shoes, the "knockout game," or any of a number of similar instances where age was really code for Those (Young) People.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:00 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Golden Eternity: "It kind of bothers me how an insinuation of racism or sexism is taken as such a huge insult all of the time. I don't want to speak for anyone else, but I will I guess because I think everyone is probably affected by racism, sexism, privileged, etc. subconsciously or whatever - some more than others of course, and when the insinuation of racism is taken as a huge insult it prevents us from uncovering our own racism and sexism or projection of racism and sexism onto others - which seems to be more of the case here. But I guess that kind of 'growth' is just not going to happen in an assholish environment, which means it is not going to happen on the internet, even on MetaFilter."

It's insulting because that person making the accusation has now committed to the concept that you are a racist/bigot/whatever, and others will come to pile on. You can grow without being called an asshole. Honey versus vinegar and all that. That some think it is a "tool" or something so that they can help others examine their true privilege is ridiculous.
posted by Big_B at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is nothing remotely "ambiguous" about KokuRyu's comment the way shakespeherian and nadawi are claiming.

The place he was using as an offhand example is the place where I grew up and live in and the words he used have a certain context here. I'm not saying the context necessarily ambiguates the words, but it can and it did, at the very least for me. I have no problem believing he had no idea the words he wrote could be taken a certain way, but the fact that they could and did remains. As with many things, the more you know about something, the less definitive statements about it become.
posted by griphus at 3:10 PM on July 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


elizardbits' comment was way shitty. It was pretty evident that KokuRyu's "demographics" was a reference to age, not race, and elizardbits was really, really obviously playing the "Hey I'm not saying you're a racist just that you say totally racist things because you believe in racism but don't get upset I'm not calling you a racist" game.

But the more Meta-relevant issue is that the mod deleted KokuRyu's clarification, while leaving elizardbits' shitty insinuation up. So we got the worst of all worlds: a user feels unjustly accused, a comment is left (apparently) unclear, and anyone stopping in will think "Hunh, maybe KokuRyu really is a racist."

This is a running pattern around here: someone makes a fighty accusation, another user responds in kind, and then the mods delete one half of the fight but let the other stand. It's lousy, it creates a lot of bad feeling, and it makes the whole community smell.

Deleting KokuRyu's comment might have been right---I didn't see the attack part before it was cut. But elizardbits' comment definitely should have been deleted, and there's pretty much no excuse for letting it stand.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:12 PM on July 16, 2014 [23 favorites]


A: [Stereotype about ethnic minority]
B: That was actually kind of a racist thing to say.
C: WOW THAT WAS REALLY MEAN
posted by shakespeherian at 3:15 PM on July 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


For fuck's sake, all KokuRyu had to do to combat that perception was explain himself a little bit better. He's since done it, no one needs to worry anymore that he's making racist insinuations. Had he managed to do it right away in the thread without serving it up with a big side order of weird middle school personal attacking, we wouldn't have gotten where we are.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:20 PM on July 16, 2014 [29 favorites]


The only reason people are jumping on these insults is they were 100% caught out as being off-base. Normally they'd never even be considered for deletion. That kind of post is popular here.
posted by michaelh at 3:25 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


You can grow without being called an asshole.

Again, being called out for making a racist comment, or a potentially racist comment, is not the same thing as being called a racist.

Beyond this clarification, there is a larger problem. Being called out for being a racist is not the same as being called out for being an asshole. People *choose* to be assholes. But racism is the water we are all swimming in. And going against the current? It's an ongoing effort. You don't wake up one day and say "Dang, glad I got all that racism out of my system last night! Looks like it's going to be a shiny day!"

As referenced with the linked video from Jay Smooth and the pull quote in my previous comment, I think it is good to regard the effort to not be racist as more a matter of daily practice, of being conscious of race and the role it plays in our world, than as one of representing one's true essence.
posted by jammy at 3:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


KokuRyu: "I still think the idea of calling someone out for being a racist is not great for MetaFilter."

Good lord.

Look, all elizardbits did was ask whether there was a racial implication in what you said. You may take exception to that. You may think the question is presumptuous. You may be offended by what her question might have implied. She has apologized here for not instantly understanding your comment - which was big of her, but probably not necessary.

Again, she did not call you a racist. She did not call you out for being a racist. She asked you if there was a racial implication in something you said.

Appreciate the consequence of your proposal. If it is not permitted even to ask if there's a racial implication in something someone says - and you are apparently suggesting that that should not be permitted - then it would not be possible to talk about race or racism at all on Metafilter.

Doesn't that seem a bit extreme?

People should be allowed to ask questions about the things other people say.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on July 16, 2014 [41 favorites]


shakespeherian: "A: [Stereotype about ethnic minority]
B: That was actually kind of a racist thing to say.
C: WOW THAT WAS REALLY MEAN
"

That's not what happened here.

A: [statement about demographics]
B: That was actually kind of a racist thing to say.
A: Actually I meant age.
B: Oh right, I'm sorry.
C: "A said something racist and then was a jerk when they got called out"
posted by Big_B at 3:30 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was reading the thread when the thing started, and I also read "demographics" as an ambiguous word because it often is. So I don't agree the meaning was obvious.

elizardbits' response was a little sharp, but KokuRyu was perfectly capable of responding "no, I meant age" and going on from there.

And suggesting, even snippily, that a comment might be racist is not the same thing as calling someone racist.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


But, to me and clearly other people, there was some seriously dog-whistly things in that comment which while they may have not been intended definitely stoked some fires.

How is that a "dog whistle"? A dog whistle is a coded message that's not widely understood, but has significance only to a select part of the audience.
posted by John Cohen at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry I once alleged stavros would snatch ice cream from the hands of starving children on portobello beach-it's an apparently unfounded allegation. Once again, it's an apparently unfounded allegation that is apparently unfounded and I hope that he accepts my apology in the most graceful manner. Now who here likes pancakes ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Did you read the thread at all, Big_B? elizardbits never said anything was racist. Not at all. Are people really not allowed to ask questions?
posted by koeselitz at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


You know, I'm totally bewildered as to why this was a MeTa. Alvy, could you help me out, here? Like, what was the goal, here?
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:33 PM on July 16, 2014


Sigh
posted by Big_B at 3:34 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: Not that I think calling out perceived racism needs to have a specific tone, but I didn't read it as an actual, honest question, and reading elizardbits' apology it doesn't look like she intended it that way either.
posted by ODiV at 3:34 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's not what happened here.

A: [statement about demographics]
B: That was actually kind of a racist thing to say.
A: Actually I meant age.
B: Oh right, I'm sorry.
C: "A said something racist and then was a jerk when they got called out"


Being a jerk is going to get called out. And rightfully so. If it only happened because a bright light was shined on the original misunderstanding, them's the breaks. This isn't a fruit of the poisonous tree thing where one is dismissed because the original fact was tainted.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:35 PM on July 16, 2014


That's not what happened here.

A: [statement about demographics]
B: That was actually kind of a racist thing to say.
A: Actually I meant age.
B: Oh right, I'm sorry.
C: "A said something racist and then was a jerk when they got called out"


But that's not what happened here, either.

A: [statement about demographics]
B: [is what I think you meant really what you meant, or is there some other explanation?]
A: Actually, I meant age, and [irrelevant ad hominem attack]
B: [shitty response to ad hominem attack]
A: [further shittiness]
B: Oh right, I'm sorry.
A: [further shittiness and half-assed apology]
A: [much more meaningful engagement in the thread and apology]
C: WHY ARE YOU BEING SO MEAN TO A?
posted by MoonOrb at 3:35 PM on July 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


How is that a "dog whistle"? A dog whistle is a coded message that's not widely understood, but has significance only to a select part of the audience.

Which I guess does not include you. I explained my reasoning for this upthread.
posted by griphus at 3:35 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Big_B: A: [statement about demographics]

Good so far.

B: That was actually kind of a racist thing to say.

Flag on the play. This is a horrible way to interpret "Do you mean it was a violent place because of the 63% majority white population? Or are you trying to say something else?"

A: Actually I meant age.

Here you conveniently leave out the part where he fought back with insults.

B: Oh right, I'm sorry.

Close enough.

C: "A said something racist and then was a jerk when they got called out"

Uh, who's C here?
posted by tonycpsu at 3:36 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


And yeah, if you don't know that youth is often used as a coded way to talk about race, then you may not recognize the dog whistle. This piece talks about how Reagan used this sleight-of-hand effectively, but I'm sure someone who's better-informed than me can find even earlier examples of it.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:40 PM on July 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


The utility of the ABC paraphrase has probably exceeded its limit here but please everyone keep going I am enjoying it/
posted by shakespeherian at 3:40 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


People should be allowed to ask questions about the things other people say.


I believe it was Mark Twain or Abraham Lincoln who said :
'Tis better to remain silent when you think someone is saying something that seems racist and silently stew about forever than to ask them about it and remove all doubt.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:41 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


--Michael Scott
posted by zombieflanders at 3:42 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


ODiV: "koeselitz: Not that I think calling out perceived racism needs to have a specific tone, but I didn't read it as an actual, honest question, and reading elizardbits apology it doesn't look like she intended it that way either."

Uh - that's not what I'm getting from her apology at all. She apologized for being confused. That's fine, and it's nice and conciliatory of her. But it was a confusing comment, and frankly it still doesn't make any sense. I don't know anybody who's ever convincingly argued that crime in New York in the 1960s and 1970s was caused by age differences.

But - I have never known elizardbits to be coy about these things. If she saw a racist comment, she would say "that's a racist comment."

There's this crazy inflationism that happens when we talk about race. People get extraordinarily sensitive. At this point, it appears that you can't even ask questions without being accused of calling someone a racist. I know the question might have been jarring or weird, but it needs to be possible to ask it, damn it. It needs to be possible to ask "uh, do you mean something racial?" - if only because people deserve to have a chance to say "no."

This escalation makes it impossible to talk about race.
posted by koeselitz at 3:42 PM on July 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


shakespeherian: "The utility of the ABC paraphrase has probably exceeded its limit here"

Flowcharts!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:45 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Again, she did not call you a racist. She did not call you out for being a racist. She asked you if there was a racial implication in something you said.

Which was fucking weird given the comment had nothing to do with race.

And suggesting, even snippily, that a comment might be racist is not the same thing as calling someone racist.

That's really cute you guys think that(and I actually agree with you in theory), but it sure as hell isn't how a majority of people are going to take it, as evidenced time and time again. I mean how many examples do you need of this happening before you realize that your qualifications and good intentions don't actually translate into reality.

It needs to be possible to ask "uh, do you mean something racial?"

Or maybe, just maybe, you could use some tact and just ask: "Could you please clarify what you meant by your last comment?" or "Could you please elaborate on your last comment?" or some other such formulation. Give them some rope so to speak. Then when it becomes abundantly clear that what they are saying is in fact racist you can get out the pitchforks and sharpen the knives.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:46 PM on July 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


koeselitz: Yeah, I saw the original comment as a clever response to a comment she saw as racist. She didn't seem confused to me. Maybe I misread it because I am often seeing elizardbits making witty and hilarious comments challenging injustice that you absolutely cannot take at face value.

I agree that we (myself included) should not be so sensitive when talking about race though and that kneejerk reaction can be hard to control.
posted by ODiV at 3:49 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is there any way we can see the deleted comment? I think that would make this all make a lot more sense.
posted by corb at 3:52 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Could you please clarify what you meant by your last comment?" or "Could you please elaborate on your last comment?"

"Do you mean it was a violent place because of the 63% majority white population? Or are you trying to say something else?"

How far off-base do you even think this was?
posted by MoonOrb at 3:52 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or maybe, just maybe, you could use some tact

For those following along at home, we have reached the "Tone" section of this evening's programme. Would those participating please organize your notes and be ready to recite.
posted by griphus at 3:53 PM on July 16, 2014 [29 favorites]


Is there any way we can see the deleted comment?

If the mods would find it helpful to the discussion I have absolutely no problem with having the content of my deleted comment(s) posted in this thread.
posted by elizardbits at 3:54 PM on July 16, 2014


Which was fucking weird given the comment had nothing to do with race.

Maybe to you, but there's plenty of people for whom discussing the intersection of crime, NYC (or urban centers in general), and youth demographics has a lot to do with race. Even if it's unexamined or inadvertent, there's a very good reason for many Americans to look askance when it comes up in a discussion.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:55 PM on July 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


For the record if I say a thing and someone asks if there's a racist element to what I said I either go 'huh I think there was, I'm sorry about that' or 'no I think you misunderstood me because I am referring to this other thing'. Getting super defensive about it is dumb.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:55 PM on July 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: I think you were thinking of Remember, it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt

And of course we all know this was spake by the august sage Lisa Simpson.
posted by jammy at 3:57 PM on July 16, 2014


Which was fucking weird given the comment had nothing to do with race.


Well... while I'm happy to agree that Kokuryu was talking about age, it's a tiny bit more complicated than that.

The "young, growing population" of the world being likened to the population of New York in the 60s and 70s is primarily not-white. In fact, that's precisely the distinction being drawn - the "old" nations where birth rates are at replacement level or below (Europe, the prosperous crescent of the US, Japan I guess?) being relatively peaceful and the "young" nations (in Africa and the Middle East) with growing populations being violent and disruptive. And the cataclysmic events cited - 9/11 and the Arab Spring - are events driven by not-white people from those not-white nations. So, there's that.

This is actually a pretty common argument - that in particular states with a growing population of young men and a tradition of polygyny and nepotism among the wealthy are prone to civil unrest due to a lack of opportunity.

I think you have to kind of cover one eye with a lollipop stick and squint to get to where Kokuryu is taking it, though - that youth and lack of opportunity are the primary cause of violence in society, and that countries with an ageing population are as a result peaceful. Like, the US has been militarily engaged for pretty much the last 12 years non-stop, and has killed a lot of people during that time, directly or indirectly. Is it still a peaceful "old" nation?

So, I think Kokuryu expressed a fairly well-worn proposition badly, and extended its premise to the point where it didn't make a lot of sense. And that lack of sense meant it was possible to see in it an unintended meaning.

If I draw a picture of a duck, and it is a very bad picture of a duck - so bad, in fact, that it looks to someone who has not been told that it is a picture of a duck like a picture of Wolverine - its poor quality does not actually make it a picture of Wolverine. But somebody looking at it and asking if it is a picture of Wolverine is not necessarily accusing me of not being able to draw ducks.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:58 PM on July 16, 2014 [28 favorites]


I mean how many examples do you need of this happening before you realize that your qualifications and good intentions don't actually translate into reality.

I guess... an example would be a good place to start? You seem to be assuming that there is some common knowledge or experience here that is being denied. However, for what it's worth the idea that everyone thinks that being called out for a racist comment = "you are the biggest racist, goodbye" directly contradicts all of my personal experience.

I would say that the vast majority of the time the person who has been called out will defend themselves as though they have been called a racist or whatever, but that's not the same thing. That's just my anecdotal observation, however the point stands that this universal truth you believe may not be so universal.
posted by jess at 3:58 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


For the record if I say a thing and someone asks if there's a racist element to what I said I either go 'huh I think there was, I'm sorry about that' or 'no I think you misunderstood me because I am referring to this other thing'. Getting super defensive about it is dumb.

Yeah, this. I've spent 39 years and change in a deeply racist society, I am accidentally racist all the time. It's like getting spinach caught in your teeth or having a terrible zit or having your fly down, you want someone to TELL you when you're doing it.
posted by KathrynT at 4:00 PM on July 16, 2014 [31 favorites]


Christ, you people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:01 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


For those following along at home, we have reached the "Tone" section of this evening's programme.

It's called strategy. If you don't understand what I am talking about I suggest you start with "Risk" and work you way up to "World in Flames: Global Conflict 1939-1945".

I would say that the vast majority of the time the person who has been called out will defend themselves as though they have been called a racist or whatever, but that's not the same thing.

Functionally it is the same thing.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:01 PM on July 16, 2014


Godwinned so soon?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:03 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Just to clarify I agree that qustioning a comment along racial lines is not the same as calling someone a racist. My point is that most people will take it that way and get all defensive.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:03 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Functionally it is the same thing.
I guess if your primary concern is that no one ever think you did a bad thing, sure.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:05 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify I agree that qustioning a comment along racial lines is not the same as calling someone a racist. My point is that most people will take it that way and get all defensive.

So.. what's the solution? Literally never query anything you are unsure about, in case a) it isn't racist, but b) the person who said it thinks you called them a racist and c) loses their shit?

Are b) and c) not kind of their decision to make, rather than yours?

I don't think trying to anticipate and preempt bad behavior by not saying or doing anything that might provoke it is a good way to try to run this show. Not least because it's very hard to know what's going to set somebody off. QED.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:07 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I guess if your primary concern is that no one ever think you did a bad thing, sure.

My primary concern is that we stop having these stupid metas where mefites start to get into their respective cliques and fight it out. If it wasn't so toxic for the site I would actually find them pretty entertaining.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:08 PM on July 16, 2014


elizardbits, perhaps you could clarify what you meant when you said up thread:

and I'm sorry for the derail as well as the unpleasant, hasty, and apparently unfounded accusation.

I read that as an admission that your comment was intended as a fighty accusation of some sort about KokoRyu, not some sincere clarification about content. I don't ask to attack you. Your apology stands. But a lot of people here are painting you as an innocent victim who was just seeking honest clarification and your apology seems to be in conflict with that sentiment. And I apologize if I am reading your intent all wrong.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:08 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Which clique am I in? Is it the Plastics?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:09 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


My primary concern is that we stop having these stupid metas where mefites start to get into their respective cliques and fight it out. If it wasn't so toxic for the site I would actually find them pretty entertaining.

See, I'll be honest, your responses here read to me more like "people shouldn't call out racist comments because someone will interpret it incorrectly and get upset" than "people shouldn't make racist comments" and that is really approaching the issue from the wrong angle, I think, if we're hoping to promote more civility.
posted by jess at 4:10 PM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


My primary concern is that we stop having these stupid metas...

Would you be open to criticism on how good of a job you are doing at that? I just want to be sure before saying anything.
posted by griphus at 4:11 PM on July 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Which clique am I in? Is it the Plastics?

Wait, is this entire MeTa the result of a biiiig lesbian crush?
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:13 PM on July 16, 2014


"We can't have discussion if we have to police what we say to guarantee it won't cause someone (generally a popular user with way more social capital than I do) to derail with accusations."

That's a ... surprising thing to say in the same breath in which you assert that you were called a racist because elizardbits asked you to clarify.

I understand that some people are less likely to "police what [they] say" to avoid giving offense and that there's a range of politesse that is generally acceptable and that you are on the more provocative end of that range. That can be annoying, sometimes, but most of us have our annoying personality quirks, myself certainly included.

What I have much more trouble accepting about this, though, with you and others like you, is arguing for "less policing what [we] say" and that people should not be so quick to take offense while you, yourself, are consistently relatively quick to take offense.

One or the other. The golden rule is operative here. If you expect others to not be so sensitive about what you say, then you'd damn well better not be so sensitive about what others say to you.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:13 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


So.. what's the solution? Literally never query anything you are unsure about,

I already gave you a solution up thread and it is beautiful in its simplicity. Let them hang themselves. You can ask what a commenter means without letting them know your suspicions, but mefites can never resist an opportunity to build social justice street cred.

See, I'll be honest, your responses here read to me more like "people shouldn't call out racist comments because someone will interpret it incorrectly and get upset" than "people shouldn't make racist comments" and that is really approaching the issue from the wrong angle, I think, if we're hoping to promote more civility.

You are wrong, and should read what I have written. We should call out racist comments, but I guess my point is fight smarter not harder. It would really cut down on the mods having to deal with stupid bullshit.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:13 PM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Christ, you people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 PM on July 16 [+] [!]


Argh, stop hating on me just cause I'm Irish.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:14 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


mefites can never resist an opportunity to build social justice street cred.

My golly what a shitty thing to say.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:16 PM on July 16, 2014 [35 favorites]


My golly what a shitty thing to say.

Well it's fucking true. I include myself in that as well.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:18 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


"golly" why did u say "golly", what a weird word.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:20 PM on July 16, 2014




Christ, you people.

Seconded.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:23 PM on July 16, 2014


Did a comment just get deleted?
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:23 PM on July 16, 2014


Did a comment just get deleted?

Yeah, gman and shakespeherian, you guys need to cool it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


BBC broadcasts man's large bulge during a report about immigration.

I told you to leave me alone BB!
posted by Drinky Die at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I read that as an admission that your comment was intended as a fighty accusation of some sort about KokoRyu, not some sincere clarification about content. I don't ask to attack you. Your apology stands. But a lot of people here are painting you as an innocent victim who was just seeking honest clarification and your apology seems to be in conflict with that sentiment. And I apologize if I am reading your intent all wrong."

As is often the case, people have gotten polarized about both KokuRyu's original comment and elizardbits follow-up comment.

But I think that, were we not all agitated and (to varying degrees) personally invested, then we'd likely mostly agree that KokuRyu's could very easily and naturally be read by some people as a coded reference to race while, also, all the explicit talk about age will naturally lead other people to see it for how he intended it.

Likewise, elizardbits's follow-up could be read as a coded "I think your comment was racist" or as completely neutral; different people will see different things in it. I think that there's good reason, not the least being her apology, to see it as the former and not the latter. But I also don't think we have to insist upon the latter in order to defend her because there's a vast range in how someone might respond to a comment they think was racist, and elizardbits's approach was just about as tactful as it could be. And give that KokuRyu has just argued that people should not bend over backwards to be tactful, and elizardbits's comment was addressed to him, maybe we should conclude that all things considered, KokuRyu has a pretty weak case against her.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


mathowie: Yeah, gman and shakespeherian, you guys need to cool it.

While I enjoyed your link, you're off-base. The line was pulled directly from his user profile and there was no ill will.
posted by gman at 4:29 PM on July 16, 2014


I've spent 39 years and change in a deeply racist society, I am accidentally racist all the time. It's like getting spinach caught in your teeth or having a terrible zit or having your fly down, you want someone to TELL you when you're doing it.

This is a really great way to express the thought I was going to express in this thread. Thanks, KathrynT.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:29 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


While I enjoyed your link, you're off-base. The line was pulled directly from his user profile and their was no ill will.

Pulling things from user profiles is a no-go here, for good reasons I think.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:31 PM on July 16, 2014


The line was pulled directly from his user profile and there was no ill will.

Ah, I see. Still it came off as kind of judgey and the gazillion people that flagged it didn't know it was a direct reference to his user profile.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:31 PM on July 16, 2014


gman, pulling things from people's profile is against the rules, which is why i didn't copy and paste your most recent profile change in the thread it pertained to.
posted by nadawi at 4:32 PM on July 16, 2014


For what it's worth, the thing pulled from my profile was my occupation listing, which shows as 'Occupation: Official faux-feminist-hyper-sensitive-posturing merit badge holder', a direct quote from a threatening MeMail I received a few years ago from a user who has since been banned for, IIRC, sending threatening MeMails to folks. That user was accusing me of saying things in feminist threads for social justice street cred rather than because they were things I believed.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:37 PM on July 16, 2014 [28 favorites]


Jerez, what a cultural construct.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on July 16, 2014


My thoughts as a person who read the thread before the deletions occurred (for what they're worth):

1) KokuRyu's comment caught me off guard for a minute when I first read it. As a Detroiter, I've only ever seen the word "demographic" used as a veiled synonym for "minorities". Similar to the use of "urban market" and "developing area." However, I can also see Canada from my back yard, and know enough Canadians to know that this is a very America-centric view of the word. Given how America-centric Mefi is, I'm not surprised that his comment was misconstrued, or that a Canadian poster used the word with innocent intentions.

2) I generally think that calling someone out on problematic comments, and asking for clarification, is a good thing. People have done it to me, and I've done it to others. It's a thing that's required for society to reorganize itself in a more equal way. Having said that...

3) I dislike tone arguments as much as the next person. Expecting that someone needs to be an orator in order to give their opinion, or that they speak calmly about something that passionately effects their everyday life, is some silencing bullshit. However, I also think that calling an aggressive comment aggressive shouldn't be out of bounds. I, personally, found elizardbits's comment to be an aggressive callout. I didn't know at the time whether or not she was correct, as I had a hard time phrasing KokuRyu's comment as well, but I don't think that it's a social justice sin for people to say when they feel that someone is acting aggressive towards them.
posted by Shouraku at 4:41 PM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


For what it's worth, when people get really offended and defensive about being called racist, my first thought is not "Wow, they must be super not-racist" it's "The lady doth protest too much, methinks". I'm not calling anyone a racist, I'm just telling you how your fervent denials look from where I am standing.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:44 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sweet God, people, I only have so much bubble bath and limes to go around - can some of y'all handle the bath part of your bathdaquiris yourselves?...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:44 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


gman, the point of not pasting from profiles is that profile pages aren't indexed by Google, but comment threads are.
posted by dialetheia at 4:45 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


But we should totally use this as an excuse to make up some cheerleader-style chants for "team mod."
posted by tonycpsu at 4:47 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


some cheerleader-style chants for "team mod."

Bloody Quadropheniacs.
posted by scody at 4:49 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


gman, young rope-rider, and everyone else, please take a step back and chill out a bit. This thread is starting to spiral out into insults and nonsense and is looking like it should be closed rather than continue.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:58 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


However, I can also see Canada from my back yard

Like many Americans, I can't read this without mentally following it up with "...and Russia from my porch!"
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:03 PM on July 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, when people get really offended and defensive about being called racist, my first thought is not "Wow, they must be super not-racist" it's "The lady doth protest too much, methinks". I'm not calling anyone a racist, I'm just telling you how your fervent denials look from where I am standing.

That's probably an uncharitable reading of people defending themselves against what is, among civilized people, one of the worst insults imaginable. The only thing I can think of that smears with a worse brush is calling someone a pedophile.

So, maybe, the next time you see someone defending themselves vehemently against accusations of racism, take a moment first to think about what an egregious insult that is in (most of) society today.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:04 PM on July 16, 2014 [13 favorites]


Gman's comment to nadawi is really shitty, matt.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:04 PM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is this a record for deleted comments in a meta thread?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:06 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Gman's comment to nadawi is really shitty, matt.

Agreed.
posted by KathrynT at 5:06 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


"golly" why did u say "golly", what a weird word.

This is actually an interesting one, and maybe a nice rest stop in between bouts.

"By golly" is one of those (British) English mild swearwords that comes from a corruption of a religious imprecation. So, "zounds" is a mangling of "God's (i.e. Christ's) wounds", "gadzooks" is "God's hooks (i.e. the nails Christ hung on)" and "by golly" is "by God". It's first attested in the late 18th century, but clearly existed in the language before then, so I imagine came over to the Americas with British migrants. I suspect it then got a new lease of life when entertainers - TV, radio and recorded music - were looking for ways to swear that were not immediately identifiable as blasphemous. Thus, "Good Golly Miss Molly"* and "golly gee whizz/ gee whillickers" (that is, "God and Jesus").

Contrariwise, the word golliwogg, and the shortform "golly", is a much later coining - it seems to have been invented by the author Florence Upton specifically at the end of the 19th century, and then came to describe generically a range of dolls created in the image of her creation, which are generally now considered kinda racist.

So, two separate words with totally separate aetiologies that happen to sound and look the same.

Where this maybe intersects in an interesting way with the whole "demographics" thing is that, while "by golly" is not connected etymologically to the offensive dolls, there are almost certainly situations in which it would be inappropriate to say "golly" as an imprecation, or at least where doing so might require an explanation.

Kind of like "niggard", in fact, although the latter is far more likely to cause offense. There's absolutely no etymological connection between that and the hateful term that sounds a lot like it, but enough douches have used it with the specific intent of deniably not-quite N-bombing a person of color that people who have no desire to do that, but wish instead to describe a miserly skinflint, may have to stop and think carefully about their usage and its context.

At this point, someone will often lament that political correctness has ruined this beautiful and useful word for everyone, but I'd say instead that racists have ruined it for everyone, by using it as a substitution cypher for hate speech.

If "demographics" is often used in a similarly deniable way - and my experience-based gut feeling is that this is a thing that happens - I think there's some value in that sensitivity being noted. If that noting is overzealous, I think it's probably a good thing that this is apologized for. So, really, this thread could probably have happy-ended pretty much here.

* Because Heaven forbid that the name of the Lord be taken in vain in a song that is otherwise so pure.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:07 PM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


Betcha By Golly Wow
posted by jonmc at 5:08 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Gman's comment to nadawi is really shitty, matt.

Ok, deleted.

Is this a record for deleted comments in a meta thread?

Maybe? People are snipping at each other and being shitty to one another in a way that is really lame and one person has already quit the site over this thread. So please again, for the love of god, stop being shitty to each other here.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:09 PM on July 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


So, maybe, the next time you see someone defending themselves vehemently against accusations of racism, take a moment first to think about what an egregious insult that is in (most of) society today.

I don't know if you've noticed, but society is pretty fucking racist. It's pretty hard to find someone who hasn't dealt internally with some sort of racism, even amongst those fighting against it (as KathrynT noted upthread). If you can't be bothered for a single second to consider something might be racist, especially when you're talking about a country whose racial politics you are admittedly not entirely familiar with, framed in such a way that it's been used by racists to the point where it's a measurable phenomenon, that's your problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:10 PM on July 16, 2014 [20 favorites]


If "demographics" is often used in a similarly deniable way - and my experience-based gut feeling is that this is a thing that happens - I think there's some value in that sensitivity being noted.

It is in the USA, apparently. I'm not really aware of 'demographics' being used as a dogwhistle here in Canada. And Kokuryu is also Canadian. So there's that.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:11 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I feel like 99% of this could have been avoided if the example was Toronto and not NYC. Live and hopefully learn, I guess.
posted by griphus at 5:15 PM on July 16, 2014


even beyond what demographics can mean in the usa, it's also just a broader term than "age." demographics is a combination of factors. if someone is just discussing one factor, maybe just use that word instead of pulling for the broader term. like, if someone wants to talk about squares and only squares, don't say rectangles.
posted by nadawi at 5:16 PM on July 16, 2014


This thread has really run its course - KokuRyu and elizardbits have both said their piece and it's degenerating into a pile on with an ever-increasing radius of collateral damage. There's really no need to keep it open any longer.
posted by Rumple at 5:16 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


(or wherever else in Canada that was an appropriate example.)
posted by griphus at 5:16 PM on July 16, 2014


A while back I solicited y'alls assistance consuming this here 55 gallon drum of pure grain alcohol.

Well, there's 52.75 gallons remaining and I'm running out of ice.
Ever try to consume 55 gallons of pure grain alcohol before they get to keep the deposit on the drum, by yourself?
Imagine walking into an auditorium where they're projecting Leaving Las Vegas and Groundhog Day, simultaneously, onto the same screen.
Don't get me started on the acoustics in this dump.
Did I mention I'm almost out of ice?

Anyhow, maybe a few of you shirkers could step up and lend a hand.
I'd really like my deposit back.

Thanks,

yr pal Pud.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:16 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders, you took pretty much exactly the wrong meaning from what I wrote, and were insulting to boot, right after mathowie said everyone needs to stop being shitty.

Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?

If you can't be bothered for a single second to consider something might be racist

I did not say or imply this thing. I said maybe it might be a good idea to look at vehement denials not as "methinks the lady doth protest o'ermuch" as the first choice, but to maybe consider that the person in the receiving end is genuinely insulted by the accusation, because--particularly in this case--they're not racist and what they said wasn't racist. Phrased poorly, absolutely. Didn't consider how certain words come across in American English, sure. Subsequent edits to add personal attacks, definitely not okay.

Please re-read what I actually wrote. You are responding to things I never said or implied.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:17 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


(dropped "as opposed to Canadian English" by mistake, there.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:19 PM on July 16, 2014


one person has already quit the site over this thread

Well shit. Here's another vote to close this up.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:19 PM on July 16, 2014


but to maybe consider that the person in the receiving end is genuinely insulted by the accusation, because--particularly in this case--they're not racist and what they said wasn't racist.

And maybe sexists aren't sexist?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:20 PM on July 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is actually an interesting one, and maybe a nice rest stop in between bouts.

Golly, I had no idea. Thanks fest!
posted by Drinky Die at 5:20 PM on July 16, 2014


Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?

In my estimation, as I said before, not even a little. When people tell me I have behaved in a racist manner, I am not angered, I am mortified. Why would I be angry? Like KathrynT said, it's like someone saying you have spinach in your teeth. Maybe it's embarrassing, sure, but it's not an insult.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:20 PM on July 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


"For what it's worth, when people get really offended and defensive about being called racist, my first thought is not 'Wow, they must be super not-racist' it's 'The lady doth protest too much, methinks'. I'm not calling anyone a racist, I'm just telling you how your fervent denials look from where I am standing."

It does look bad, but I've seen enough examples of very defensive reactions from people I otherwise have good reason to believe are much less racist than average to know that the defensiveness is usually about the worry of the stigmatization of being thought a racist than about the veiled existence of severe racism. In other words, defensiveness in this case and many others that are similar (-isms that are now stigmatized) is usually about a strong emotional investment in being seen by others as not that way, and seeing oneself as not that way.

And, the thing is, someone who is extremely non-racist and works very, very hard at not being racist is someone who has good reason to feel threatened by being perceived by others as racist. Because that's an important part of their self-image and social identity.

But if you're really committed to fight these sorts of things in yourself, you'll become aware that this investment in a self-image and a social identity works against eliminating these tendencies in ourselves. So some of us try to train ourselves, often not-entirely-successfully, to use these natural defensive reactions as opportunities for self-improvement. Not because the severity of the reaction indicates the severity of any given problem, but because the reaction usually blocks honest introspection and thus results in missing the opportunity to find that there's a problem there, if one is. So I've tried to train myself to see such defensiveness inspired in me as an opportunity. Both an opportunity to turn it around and be honestly introspective about something; but also as an opportunity to train myself to be less automatically defensive. Which is good because, again, when there really are problems, defensiveness is a powerful obstacle to improvement.

But, yeah, also it just looks bad. Because it's also true that the people who have the most to hide, and who have the strongest investment in being seen as something they are not, will be strongly defensive, as well.

And, finally, as others have pointed out repeatedly, the real problem is that these isms are structural social problems and not primarily character faults. Making them into and seeing them primarily as character faults is actually deeply counter-productive. Not just because it ignores all the stuff that perpetuates it, but also because the implicit message when you make something about character is that you really can't do anything about it.

People sort of see being called a liar or a thief and being called a racist or sexist in all the same ways, which is very, very interesting when you think about it. It's like we're going way out of our way to avoid thinking about social institutions and instead just make it all about bad people being bad. So the fact that there's so much self-image and social identity wrapped up in this is a big clue and very problematic in its own right.

On Preview: "Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?"

As you can see from what I just wrote, I agree that in practice this is often the case and you're quite right that people are naturally sensitive about this. But as you can see from the rest of my comment, that's a natural tendency in ourselves that we have several good reasons to combat and to not accept as inevitable in others.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:21 PM on July 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?

You are incorrect. Or at least your question is vague w/r/t "accused of racism." My wife does not hesitate to call me out if I say something sexist or racist. And I have done so and will continue to because I am a person living in a society full of sexism and racism. That does not mean she thinks I am a racist and she is not calling me a racist.
posted by griphus at 5:21 PM on July 16, 2014 [20 favorites]


Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?

Just another vote that yes, you are incorrect. We're all at least a little racist; the trick is to figure out how and try to improve.
posted by dialetheia at 5:23 PM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


griphus u r a racist tho
posted by shakespeherian at 5:24 PM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Andrew Ti of Yo, Is This Racist? frequently points out that one really good way to find racists is to call people on racism. The generally innocent respond with confusion, apologize, and try to correct the situation while racists lose their shit. So, if you feel you are being accused of being a racist, the worst thing you can do is to go ballistic. An apology and clarification (if necessary and/or appropriate) is a better tactic.

The claims that being called a racist is the worst thing ever that are going on in this thread kind of ignore that even being called a racist (even specifically and directly) on the internet is actually a fair sight nicer than experiencing racism on a daily basis out in the real world.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:24 PM on July 16, 2014 [22 favorites]


the defensiveness is usually about the worry of the stigmatization of being thought a racist

This is a much better explanation of my position than what I was going to write.

Just another vote that yes, you are incorrect. We're all at least a little racist; the trick is to figure out how and try to improve.

So... being called a racist, when one isn't or is actively trying to improve, is not insulting?

Really?

The claims that being called a racist is the worst thing ever

Again, I did not say that. I said it is pretty much the worst insult ever but we've reached the point where people are responding to things I never said so time to leave.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:26 PM on July 16, 2014


For the record if I say a thing and someone asks if there's a racist element to what I said I either go 'huh I think there was, I'm sorry about that' or 'no I think you misunderstood me because I am referring to this other thing'. Getting super defensive about it is dumb.

Let's be honest, though, shakes, your asking for clarification, that was an honest to goodness question. elizardbits' comment was not so much genuinely asking a question as challenging Kokuryu on his demographics statement, which is why she brought in the "63% white" derail. For which elizardbits has since apologized (albeit with an "apparently" thrown in, which I didn't catch at first and yeah, that's not ideal). Anyway, I think it's clear elizardbits was reacting to what she felt Kokuryu meant rather than what he actually wrote.

In a perfect world, you may think no one should feel defensive, and everyone should not only point out unintentional racism or sexism, but the whole experience should be a positive interaction for everyone involved. Sorry, But I think that is naive.

In a perfect world, racism and sexism wouldn't exist. Since they do, and they are ugly, no matter what anyone says, there IS a stigma to the implication that one has said something racist or sexist. Maybe that is why saying n times over that there is no judgment implied is not convincing anyone. It just doesn't jibe with reality.

Sure, if a friend said something that sounded off, I could tease them about it and they would likely acknowledge it good-naturedly and we would all be fine. But that's because we're friends, we know each other, we know nothing ugly was intended, are all on even footing in the relationship.

But this is Metafilter, where users not even involved in the discussion can pop up and call out something another user said, often in an aggressive manner. That kind of approach can blindside you, especially when the person is a stranger, the accusation is unfounded, and from your perspective the accusation itself is way out in left field. In which case, naturally you would find yourself wondering where the hell that came from, and of course you would get defensive!

Add to that the dynamics of the mod/user and user/user relationships in the community. Say the other user's comment stays up, while your reply is deleted. Sure, deletion is not punishment, exactly. But there is an inequality there; one viewpoint is visible while the other disappears. The other user, call him User X, may have more time on the site, more IRL acquaintances in the community. They know User X is a good person. They don't know you. They support User X. Now User X has n supportive online voices, while you have n-10.

You don't think that having ten times the voices arguing that 'Well, it sounded like something [known racist/sexist organization] would say' would bother you? Not to mention that some users have long memories, and often memories are selective. Maybe they make the distinction between unintentional racism/sexism, like you do. Most likely they just store you away in their memories as, 'That guy who got all defensive when [our friend, user X] called him out for racism/sexism!' Or even, less charitably, 'That racist/sexist guy who was mean to [our friend, User X]'.

Seriously, are you sure none of that would make you feel stigmatized?
posted by misha at 5:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?

As a progressive person, it absolutely 100% is not for me. Having my unintentional racism pointed out is something I always appreciate, because my goal is not to never have anyone think I'm racist, but to actually not be racist.
posted by KathrynT at 5:26 PM on July 16, 2014 [20 favorites]


mathowie: and one person has already quit the site over this thread.

One of the good ones too. Shitty.
posted by gman at 5:28 PM on July 16, 2014


zombieflanders, you took pretty much exactly the wrong meaning from what I wrote, and were insulting to boot, right after mathowie said everyone needs to stop being shitty.

I have no idea what this means. Did you think the general/plural "you" was directed at the actual you?

Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?

Others have chimed in with exactly what I was going to say (and better to boot), which boils down to "yes."

I did not say or imply this thing. I said maybe it might be a good idea to look at vehement denials not as "methinks the lady doth protest o'ermuch" as the first choice, but to maybe consider that the person in the receiving end is genuinely insulted by the accusation, because--particularly in this case--they're not racist and what they said wasn't racist. Phrased poorly, absolutely. Didn't consider how certain words come across in American English, sure. Subsequent edits to add personal attacks, definitely not okay.

It wasn't that it was considered an insult, it's that it seemed like there was denial that it could even be construed that way, partly manifested by being nasty and insulting.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:28 PM on July 16, 2014


I have learnt the hard way that so-called progressives who think being called racist, even indirectly, is the worst insult ever, are actually a lot more harmful to people like me than racists who are upfront about it. At least the overt racists are honest and clear.
posted by divabat at 5:30 PM on July 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


all of this arguing about if being called a racist is the worst insult is pretty weird since the actual words we're discussing are "Do you mean it was a violent place because of the 63% majority white population? Or are you trying to say something else?" so apparently not calling someone a racist and giving them an (albeit pointed) chance to rephrase or explain how they were misconstrued is the worst insult?
posted by nadawi at 5:36 PM on July 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


It is in the USA, apparently. I'm not really aware of 'demographics' being used as a dogwhistle here in Canada. And Kokuryu is also Canadian. So there's that.

Absolutely! That's useful information as well - MetaFilter has a majority US-American population, but there are other cultures of English, as a first and second language, used here, and it's useful to be aware of that.

Am I incorrect in saying that for a progressive person, being accused of racism is about as bad an insult as there can be?

I think "you are a racist", or "you are an inveterate racist", or "you are committed to advancing a racist agenda" are really, really big things to say, and it would be a very big thing to say that to anyone, progressive or not.

"Dude, that's racist" - not so much, I think. If I'm dealing with a culture I don't know well, there's a reasonable chance I'll say or do something racially offensive without realizing it, and better I be told by a friend than get my face punched in a bar, or be allowed to continue to dig myself in deeper without knowing it. It's not nice, because who wants to think they've made someone else feel bad? But it's an opportunity to stop, take a mental knee and think about what just happened.

"I'm concerned that the argument you're making is based in part on racist ideas that have been promulgated about New York City in the past" - which is about where we are here? Well, I think everyone chooses how to react to things, but it feels like the start of a dialog rather than the end of one.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:37 PM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


Who left?
posted by divabat at 5:38 PM on July 16, 2014


Seriously, are you sure none of that would make you feel stigmatized?

It might, but I'm self-aware enough to realize that if enough people are reading a thing I said in a certain way, I should probably re-examine what it is that I think I communicated-- either to go 'Wow jeez I can see why people would misread that' or 'Whoa, shit, I can totally see how my thinking here is problematic' or even 'No, I stand by what I said, and here's why.' I might get that stupid adrenaline rush and hear the blood in my ears but that doesn't mean that a shitty and angry response is warranted. Either folks are wrong, in which case, hey, here's why you're wrong, or they're right, and shit! I need to pay more attention to the racism and sexism that I've absorbed from culture.

I also feel embarrassed when people say I have a pimple on my forehead, but that doesn't mean that I should lash out at them. Very few people will just straight-up lie and say I have a forehead pimple when I don't.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:39 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


When I was younger and more self-righteous - say, uh, maybe two years ago - I was called out for saying something that struck people as racist. It was awful for me - how could other people think that about me! How could they! - and I got all upset and angry and shouty and stomped off at the awful, hideous "accusation."

Thing is, they were well within their bounds. And that taught me a lot about perception. Really and truly, caring a lot about what others think of us is a recipe for disaster. People are going to think all kinds of things; it's their right. In this particular case, they happened to be right. They didn't accuse me of being a racist, or paint me as some monster - they just said maybe a thing I said was racist, and I should think about it before saying it.

I think most people who get sensitive about any discussion of racism in the context of their comments aren't racist. They're just worried about what other people think of them - in other words, they're human. That's what humans do: worry about what other people think.

In these situations, I generally just feel like the best thing to do is to point out that people are going to think whatever they want, and as long as they avoid being outright insulting it's better to let that reputational paranoia stuff roll off our backs.
posted by koeselitz at 5:40 PM on July 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


You know, I love the Jay Smooth thing about separating "you are racist" from "what you said is racist". And I love that in discussions like this MeFites are so quick to come in and say "Well, when I get accused of racism, I don't counter the charge, I look inward and try to identify my own racism."

Unfortunately, you know, I cannot think of a single time when I've seen that actually happen on MeFi. Maybe all the "I don't get offended when I get called racist" people never ever say anything on MeFi that leads them to being called racists, so it never comes up. Which, great, but then it sure doesn't mean much to say "I don't get offended when I get called racist". That would be like me bragging that I never cry out from pain when I give childbirth.

Also, I don't really get all the folks saying "elizardbits didn't accuse KokuRyu of being racist". Elizardbits herself, in her classy apology, says "I did, in fact, misread the content of KokuRyu's comment and incorrectly assumed it was about race rather than age, and I'm sorry for the derail as well as the unpleasant, hasty, and apparently unfounded accusation. " Are y'all just assuming she's lying or something?

That said, c'mon, KokuRyu, that was a damn straightforward and proper apology. I get that you're steamed, but relax and accept it fully, not grudgingly.

Also, I'd like to express my deep, deep happiness that one of the expressions I have most hated on MetaFilter has apparently become extinct: "that's very telling". Oh, man, I hated that expression. 5 or 6 years ago that was the go-to way of saying something without saying it. A: "It's because of demographics." B: "What do you mean, 'demographics'?" A: "I mean age." B: "It's very telling that instead of saying 'age' you said 'demographics'". Hot damn I am happy to see that that expression has faded away.
posted by Bugbread at 5:41 PM on July 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I also feel embarrassed when people say I have a pimple on my forehead, but that doesn't mean that I should lash out at them.

If you've got a pimple on your forehead you ought to be poppin' it for everyone's entertainment.

You'll be man of the hour.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:42 PM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't really get all the folks saying "elizardbits didn't accuse KokuRyu of being racist". Elizardbits herself, in her classy apology, says "I did, in fact, misread the content of KokuRyu's comment and incorrectly assumed it was about race rather than age, and I'm sorry for the derail as well as the unpleasant, hasty, and apparently unfounded accusation. " Are y'all just assuming she's lying or something?


Nope (well, with one egregious outlier) - but I think we're reading what she said differently. "Incorrectly assumed it was about race rather than age" is not the same as "accused Kokuryu of being racist".
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Jesus god... threads like this make me wonder why the hell I ever came back. Did everyone take an extra helping of Vitamin Be Shitty today?
posted by palomar at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


Jerez, what a cultural construct.
You woman, fire, or Dangerous Thing


FWIW, I think "deliberately puckish" is the Wrong Thing To Be at the tail end of a nasty-and-getting-nastier MeTa.

(If it's not clear: these are phrases pulled from the profiles of two posters in this thread; and posted shortly after it was noted that reposting profile information is kinda-not-cool.)

One of the good ones too. Shitty.

And FWIW this comes across as the innocent blinking of a cat that's just taken a dump in the shoe closet. OH THAT'S TERRIBLE <blink> WHAT, ME?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Alrighty, I think we've had about enough sniping at each other. I'm closing this up.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:45 PM on July 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


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