Can we stop attacking left-of-Clinton/anti-establishment folks on here? October 14, 2016 5:09 PM   Subscribe

There is no problem with individuals expressing views critical of Sanders, Stein, Snowden, Greenwald etc. The problem is when an echo chamber develops making pro-establishment-ism the only acceptable position and vehemently jumping on views to the contrary with more emotion than reason. It seems to me that MeFi 2016 has become such an echo chamber. This is no doubt due to the very real threat posed by Donald Trump and the Republican Party, and the consequent necessity of a Clinton win, but has developed to the point where it has the effect of recursively self-amplifying a pro-establishment position and silencing more radical/anarchist/antifa or otherwise anti-establishment views.
posted by splitpeasoup to Etiquette/Policy at 5:09 PM (589 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

Before we start, friendly reminder -- this thread needs to not become a proxy political-argument thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:11 PM on October 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Get a job hippie.
posted by ND¢ at 5:27 PM on October 14, 2016 [47 favorites]


I didn't link to specific comment examples because I wasn't sure whether it would be a good idea. If you think it would be helpful let me know.
posted by splitpeasoup at 5:28 PM on October 14, 2016


I guess it comes down to: what are the election threads ultimately for? Liveblogging the madness, or debating policy? If it's for the former, the thread and the mods will collapse if there's also a huge blowup of the latter. That's just my impression.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:33 PM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can see the real possibility of the election threads being an echo chamber. That said, I don't believe it's possible for them to be anything else, given the candidates.

Re-evaluating the primaries is a waste of time, and the question of whether the lesser evil has issues needing to be dealt with is better discussed after the greater evil is put to bed. I can definitely understand people reacting impatiently with attempts to demonstrate equivalence with what is clearly not in any way, make, shape or form and equivalent thing.
posted by Mooski at 6:01 PM on October 14, 2016 [28 favorites]


The only reason I can participate in the politics threads these days is because they are echo chambers. Please do not take that away from me, I beg you.

And I say this as someone who may vote for Jill Stein.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:09 PM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Echo chamber" in MetaTalk.
posted by ignignokt at 6:34 PM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Some examples would actually be helpful here. I'm very definitely to the left of Clinton and didn't vote for her in the primaries but I don't feel like I've seen this kind of thing happening in the election threads. I've seen (and participated in) a critique of people saying that talking about sexual harassment isn't a "real" policy issue, but I don't feel like I've seen much jumping on critique of Clinton from the left.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:34 PM on October 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


As a left-of-Clinton-anti-establishment person who is ALSO an American woman, a dyke, and a person of color, I just want to chime in that I do not feel attacked in election threads. Unless we are talking about anyone who wants to talk about bullshit inside-baseball campaign staff emails and most importantly wants to frame that discussion in terms of "let's stop talking about sex scandals because there are More Important Issues to discuss." Because fuck that.
posted by rtha at 6:35 PM on October 14, 2016 [86 favorites]


Was this MeTa prompted by the monofocused person posting wake up sheeple stuff in the election thread this afternoon?

Because that person was spamming the thread about absolutely nothing substantive.
posted by winna at 6:36 PM on October 14, 2016 [48 favorites]


I think examples would help, yes. Not that we will all agree on what constitutes a valid example of the behavior you're describing, and not that we won't argue about that. But without sufficient examples of what YOU think is problematic, it's nearly impossible to gauge our own views by comparison.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:52 PM on October 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


At least in the specific example I'm thinking of, someone came into the new thread within less than an hour after it was up and was all "how can it be you're not talking about the WikiLeaks emails yet?" when they had been discussed off and on in various threads, just not the new one right that minute.

And the problem with comments like that is that they border on "wake up sheeple" as winna puts it. I think it's great if someone comes into the thread and says "so here's this very specific thing in this email, and here's why it's interesting, and here's what non-crazy people X and Y have to say about it" and we talk about that thing. But when the depth of the participation is just "you should be paying attention to this real scandal" where "this" is a giant dump of mostly uninteresting emails, it's not very constructive.

And when that conversation turns to a tone of "there are more important things to discuss," then it's pretty easy to get angry, because not having a future President who sexually assaults people is pretty damn important to me.

I sincerely hope that, in a few months, we can have lots of threads where we talk about the things President Clinton is doing wrong from the left.
posted by zachlipton at 7:05 PM on October 14, 2016 [37 favorites]


The wikileaks thing was a MeTa complaint posing as a comment. It wasn't "hey, by the way, here are some issues raised in the Wikileaks / Podesta emails..." it was "How can this post not have..." as if blue posts are required to cover a story from all angles, which they aren't. Yes, it's best if framing is neutral, but if that requirement were strictly enforced, we'd have to draft posts on many topics by committee to make sure everyone gets their say. (The funny part is that there actually is a MeTa open right now for election thread logistics that could have been used for that exact purpose in this case.)

It just looked like the entrance of someone who was spoiling for a fight, so no surprise that they got one.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:13 PM on October 14, 2016 [19 favorites]


Here is a recent example:

Greenwald, Trump and Assange are three men who share a common hatred of Hillary Clinton and the Government of the United States. They may have different visions for what comes next but they clearly want to destroy America.
[14 favorites at this time]

The question I'm trying to get at is not whether Greenwald should be supported or opposed. The question is whether the kind of discourse this comment exemplifies (fluffy logic, purple language, vague appeals to patriotism, a general pro-establishment vibe) is healthy.

The trouble is that comments like this one find encouragement rather than discouragement nowadays, making for a self-amplifying collective habit.
posted by splitpeasoup at 7:18 PM on October 14, 2016 [28 favorites]


PS: I'm not familiar with the other issue you are referencing, or who was spoiling for a fight; I think that may have been cleaned up already by the time I got to the thread.
posted by splitpeasoup at 7:23 PM on October 14, 2016


I don't really have an opinion about the Wikileaks comments, but in general my view is that these threads are absolutely echo chambers. I don't really see that this is going to change, so I go in when I feel like hanging out at an online Hillary rally (which is often).

Related: the other day I asked the mods to delete a comment mocking the fear of a rape victim (Broadderick). The comment was made by someone I would not expect to make it and was gathering favorites from people I would not expect to favorite it. So I can understand how these threads can feel...disorienting?
posted by lalex at 7:30 PM on October 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


> The question I'm trying to get at is not whether Greenwald should be supported or opposed.

I think he can be supported in some aspects and opposed in others. He - in my opinion and experience - is not a OH FUCK NO Trump-like auto-oppose-all-the-things person. I can think he is wrong on some shit and right on others. In this instance, I think he is mostly wrong.
posted by rtha at 7:32 PM on October 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sorry, best if we stick to site issues in here and not political/world issues like what to think about Greenwald.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:33 PM on October 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


The question I'm trying to get at is not whether Greenwald should be supported or opposed. The question is whether the kind of discourse this comment exemplifies (fluffy logic, purple language, vague appeals to patriotism, a general pro-establishment vibe) is healthy.

It's absolutely one of the dumbest comments I've seen on the site all election season, but it's so over-the-top ridiculous that I have a hard time including it as part of a general trend as far as mefi's willingness to attack the left. That comment is not healthy, no, but then, it's just one comment.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:39 PM on October 14, 2016 [19 favorites]


It's absolutely one of the dumbest comments I've seen on the site all election season

challenge accepted
posted by poffin boffin at 8:31 PM on October 14, 2016 [93 favorites]


The part of that comment about Glenn Greenwald being an anarcho-capitalist libertarian is not even remotely true for the record.

Re: this meta, I'm surprised people doubt this is happening to the point where they need examples. It's an extremely obvious phenomenon to me. I've been sickened at how discourse is swiftly shut down for anything but a very narrow ideology, and people to the left of that ideology are basically mobbed until they leave the threads. It's one thing when that happens to say, pro-Trump voices - there's no illusions here about MeFi leaning left, and that's perfectly fine - but when it happens to people who are more-or-less just genuinely left-of-US-establishment, it sends chills down my spine and makes me wonder if this is the same site I've frequented for years.
posted by naju at 8:58 PM on October 14, 2016 [37 favorites]


That said, we're at the finish line of the election, so maybe when blood pressures get somewhat back to normal we'll see reasonable discourse and exchange of ideas again, one can hope..
posted by naju at 9:04 PM on October 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


I can see how it looks that way. But after how many multi-thousand-comment threads now? The bar is a bit higher than "Emails, you guys! Also, sexual assault is marginally interesting at best and you are stupid to be talking about it." [paraphrase]

I understand that's not the guy you're talking about. But the one today was so transparent I wanted to post "Nice try, Kellyanne"
posted by ctmf at 9:12 PM on October 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


The election threads are an ongoing conniption fit. They are a gently padded cell into which the inmates are voluntarily admitted. They get to howl as loud as they like in there; in return, they refrain from howling elsewhere on the site. If you want to try and grab the muzzle of the frothing beasts in there and set them chomping on your preferred bone of contention, you're welcome to try, but I hope your fingers aren't precious to you.

MeFi isn't normally like this; come November 10th the fever should break. Until then ya gotta let 'em scream it out.
posted by Diablevert at 9:13 PM on October 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


"but when it happens to people who are more-or-less just genuinely left-of-US-establishment..."

it gets less profitable.
posted by vapidave at 9:22 PM on October 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: a gently padded cell into which the inmates are voluntarily admitted.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:22 PM on October 14, 2016 [15 favorites]


it gets less profitable.

Yes, just like how the declining divorce rate in Maine has pushed down per-capita consumption of margarine.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:35 PM on October 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


They are a gently padded cell into which the inmates are voluntarily admitted. They get to howl as loud as they like in there;

I'll just stay here and scream into my pillow.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:38 PM on October 14, 2016


I wasn't aware there was padding on the walls of the cell. Because I would like padding. I hit my head against the wall many times a day now. I do not feel padding.
posted by zachlipton at 9:41 PM on October 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


I brought up something about Tim Kaine when he was first picked, and someone literally compared me to "when you're all hiking and tired and you're getting bitten by mosquitoes and that one person just won't shut up and stop complaining, and it's like we're all tired and you're just making things worse." That comment got bunch of favorites. Did nobody think that was mean or kind of hurtful?

The primaries were bad enough, but I can't imagine that any of this is really going to change once the election is over. It's made me feel like I'm fundamentally incompatible with this space, and that doesn't mean people are wrong and bad, but it also means that I can't even write this comment without wondering if I'm opening myself up to some snarky hot take about what's wrong with me. I mean, I feel like I can't say anything remotely critical without it being evidence of some deep character flaw, or without being caricatured as some sheeple-rouser. I haven't walked away entirely, and I'm not bringing this up because I think people will be like "oh no, don't let teponaztli leave." It's just - the message I got, loud and clear, was that thinking you're left of Clinton means you're really that annoying whiner who has absolutely nothing substantive to add, and that seems to be the consensus. And I do have feelings, you know.
posted by teponaztli at 9:41 PM on October 14, 2016 [50 favorites]


Okay, here's a question: could we have the election threads, which are really "here's the minutiae of the campaign, plus people panicking a lot" and also have targeted threads for discussing, say, the emails or Clinton's foreign policy history, etc?

These targeted threads could be set up on the premise that they are not for election miscellany and in fact are for specific discussion of the content of the emails, the content of Hillary's speeches, etc. That way, it would not be appropriate to the thread for people to dismiss those concerns.

I would be very interested in something like that.

There's obviously two big issues that do not mix well here - people's feelings about the election writ large and people's feelings about actual policy specifics, and I think that trying to get everyone to feel the same way all the time about what is important in this awful situation is probably a bad idea.
posted by Frowner at 9:44 PM on October 14, 2016 [31 favorites]


It's one thing when that happens to say, pro-Trump voices - there's no illusions here about MeFi leaning left, and that's perfectly fine - but when it happens to people who are more-or-less just genuinely left-of-US-establishment, it sends chills down my spine and makes me wonder if this is the same site I've frequented for years.

The thing is, MeFi can't be the same site that it's been, anymore than the internet can be the same place it's been, not after the last two years. It's like Eternal September but the Hitler Youth got out of school and are setting fire to the place.

Frankly, I'll be surprised if the internet is recognizable as its old self in the next few years. And who knows about MeFi. I do know the folks who frequent the site are stronger together, and the next few weeks until the election might not be the best time to worry about nuances in our political differences.

We need to stick together and see this through. After November 8th (or November 28th, if you're voting Republican), we can go back to arguing which of the leftists around here are really awful.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:46 PM on October 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


That's a pretty good idea, Frowner.
posted by ctmf at 9:48 PM on October 14, 2016


If you want to try and grab the muzzle of the frothing beasts in there and set them chomping on your preferred bone of contention, you're welcome to try  

┬──┬ ¯\_(ツ)


\(`0´)/


凸 (`0´)凸


(ノ`0´)ノ彡┻━┻


┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)


┬─┬    ノ( º _ ºノ)


┬─┬            ノ( º _ ºノ)


┬─┬                    ノ( º _ ºノ)


┬─┬                            (ノ º _ º)ノ


┬─┬
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:49 PM on October 14, 2016 [21 favorites]


If I can continue: I almost think this is a temperament problem more than an ideology problem.

For me, I am freaking the fuck out because a Trump victory would [mean various bad things for me, my family and my neighborhood] and a lot of the time I really cannot with the "but Hillary is terrible", not for any ideological reason but because my brain immediately goes to "and there will be a Medicaid expansion rollback and we will need to find $8000 a year in cash again for my brother's treatment just when we thought we didn't have to do that, OMG".

Other people deal with election stress differently, or experience it differently - I would be experiencing this whole thing differently, for instance, if my family's financial situation were different. Some people deal with the stress by wanting to talk about the emails, some people are dismayed by a Trump victory but not freaking the fuck out, etc.

I think those are all reasonable responses that vary with character and situation, but I also think it's going to be very difficult to cram all those people into one thread without it getting pretty intense and ugly, and to me the solution seems to be to separate the threads.
posted by Frowner at 9:50 PM on October 14, 2016 [52 favorites]


Separate threads for some specific topics is an interesting idea. I like it conceptually, for all the reasons you've stated, but:

The mods have asked that election discussion be corralled into one thread at a time
People who don't like election threads, including some of those not from the US, generally say they want fewer of them and get cranky when the election is all over the front page (which is increasingly already is)
It's very hard to keep a thread on one topic and requires a lot of moderator attention to try to force that to happen
One thread is already oh so painful on its own. Would more threads mean more pain?

Part of the problem is that the emails, as a topic, are super broad and largely uninteresting, especially in the dominant mode, which has been to mine them for alleged scandals. I do think there are some things worth discussing in there, more out of interest for the process contained in the emails than their impact or lack thereof on the horse race. If someone brought some of that up, coming from a place of "this is interesting because it tells us this new thing about Clinton or that new thing about how decisions are made," that would be a lot better way to start than trying to use them to spread a scandal, and I'd hope (but not necessarily expect) that people wouldn't shut that discussion down out of hand.

All that said, the emails are a bit of a weird thing because of who obtained them and how. They hit way too close to Watergate, and a lot of people are going to have a pretty visceral reaction to that, which shuts down any thought of going that much deeper with them.
posted by zachlipton at 10:11 PM on October 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I feel like having multiple election threads going at once runs the risk of breaking the mods entirely, though.

As opposed to the slow erosion of their souls and minds that we all agree is fine.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:14 PM on October 14, 2016 [35 favorites]


There were specific aspects to today's kerfuffle that felt like a hijack-derail.

I think the broader structural issue in election threads is that they've reached a point where they are a sub-MeFi with its own internal rules, and divebombing into a thread from nowhere with a particular position that is not on the ballot and has not been articulated in previous election threads doesn't fit well. That's why there's a degree of engagement towards "conservative but not Trumpist" positions (in part because McMuffin) but less so with "left but not Clinton", because there really isn't an option to vote for that kind of candidate. (Simple polling plus policy positions suggests that Jill Stein is not that person.) That makes political discussions on shades of left in the context of the election moot.

I'd describe my own political evolution as more steadfastly left in terms of principles (certainly leftier than the Dem consensus) but also more resigned to pragmatic approaches to policy goals (having seen what has happened to the UK Labour Party over the past year.) And I think that "perfect is the enemy of the good" is a strand that runs through the election threads, where commenters like myself are articulating honest-to-god socialist policies towards conservative regions but it's not necessarily being done within a socialist-activist framework.
posted by holgate at 10:26 PM on October 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


Would it be possible to frame a thread in such a way that it was not an election thread per se, and such that it wasn't going to be relitigating Assange, etc? I think that if we did have a "nitty gritty of [Obama-era foreign policy in the Americas or whatever]" based thread, it would be much lower traffic than the election thread, and probably less fighty if it were framed correctly.

I mean, I think it's a huge challenge of this election that there is necessary pressure on everyone to consider very seriously supporting Clinton regardless of one's typical views. It's all cognitive dissonance all the way down for me personally, since "let's get behind our leaders" is not my normal viewpoint, and I am sure I'm not the only one.

My assumption is that people who want to have left discussions critical of Clinton are also subject to the social forces of the election - Jill Stein or not, Wikileaks, Russia-but-too-much, etc seem to shape the conversation even though I think that we as a site have much more complex things to say about left-of-Clinton politics.

Would there be a way to frame some kind of conversation on this site now that wasn't basically the same old argument? I feel like a problem in the big threads is that they have so much momentum that there's basically no way to get into them at a level that is more complicated than "but what about Glen Greenwald", and that just ends in tears.
posted by Frowner at 10:35 PM on October 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


The other point worth making is that I was close enough to Occupy to admire the cause and regret many aspects of the execution, which is probably why I'm less idealistic in my middle-age than I was at the start of my posting history. I also have enough west coast radical friends that I'm happy to support their local activism but the national scope of the election threads -- where eastern swing states will be decisive -- is not really tapped into the kind of ideological spectrum on display in west coast cities.
posted by holgate at 10:39 PM on October 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


Would it be possible to frame a thread in such a way

Anything is possible.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:45 PM on October 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Some examples would actually be helpful here.

Well, there was the time when everybody was worrying about Clinton's numbers with Millennials and I suggested that, if the campaign were concerned about the Millenial vote, they should do more targeted outreach because most of the headlines about her from the convention until that point had been focused on the endorsements she'd been receiving from various Republicans. The response to this I thought pretty reasonable point was:
I mean, really. I'm trying not to be pissed off about this kind of shit, but really. If you are looking at this campaign and seeing some sort of centrist Republican-lite thing, that shit is on you because it just fucking isn't. Like, objective fucking fact, the moon is not made of cheese, it just isn't so. At some fucking point it's on you to pull the scales from your own fucking eyes, because God doesn't seem to be doing it this time. Fuck.
113 favorites.

I have to admit, I can't speak to what happened in the thread today or whatever, because the trend of hostility towards even the mildest critique in the election threads (and the mods' demonstrated unwillingness to do anything about it) has been really detrimental to my MeFi experience to the point where I rarely come around anymore. I used to spend hours here each day. And I stuck around longer than a lot of others - if you go back to the earlier election threads and follow them over time, you see a lot of people who started out the primary season spending a lot of time and effort making thoughtful contributions gradually drop out as the months went by.

It's one thing for the site to be generally left-leaning, as it has been for as long as I've been here, and a totally different thing for the community to angrily shout down other people who are also on the left, who have expressed that they will be voting (and volunteering and canvassing etc.) for Clinton, but are nonetheless any less than 100% ecstatic about some aspect of her campaign strategy or foreign policy or whatever. That shit was annoying enough years ago when Ironmouth did it to anyone who had any criticism of Obama, but when it's not a single person but instead a bunch of people all at once, and they're getting dozens of favs every time they drag you, it just makes it feel like you aren't welcome in MeFi political threads anymore.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:55 PM on October 14, 2016 [73 favorites]


I brought up something about Tim Kaine when he was first picked, and someone literally compared me to "when you're all hiking and tired and you're getting bitten by mosquitoes and that one person just won't shut up and stop complaining, and it's like we're all tired and you're just making things worse." That comment got bunch of favorites. Did nobody think that was mean or kind of hurtful? ...
posted by teponaztli at 9:41 PM on October 14 [4 favorites +] [!]

Well, there was the time when everybody was worrying about Clinton's numbers with Millennials and I suggested that, if the campaign were concerned about the Millenial vote, they should do more targeted outreach because most of the headlines about her from the convention until that point had been focused on the endorsements she'd been receiving from various Republicans. The response to this I thought pretty reasonable point was...
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 10:55 PM on October 14 [2 favorites +] [!]


Added links to the full comments in question.
posted by one_bean at 11:17 PM on October 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm not from the USA but I am a bit obsessed with what's going on over there at the moment, so here's my point of view. The time to criticise Clinton is after she's elected, because if she's not then you're fucked and so am I and pretty much the rest of the world. That might seem a bit hyperbolic and if her main opponent was anyone but Trump then it most certainly would be, but he is dangerous and he represents fascism in its most modern form.

I hate the idea of there being more posts to do with the minutiae of this election; I've really appreciated having it all in consecutive posts. I guess it sucks that you don't get to hammer down on certain subjects because the threads have been moving so fast but you'll get your chance after election day.

If you're left of Clinton then you're a million miles away from what Trump represents and you should be doing all you can to get her in so you can have the freedom to criticise what she's actually doing/will be doing/wants to do/has done. Hold her to account, by all means, but get her in. Not him. He's a fucking nightmare and this is incredibly important.
posted by h00py at 11:19 PM on October 14, 2016 [31 favorites]


This is no doubt due to the very real threat posed by Donald Trump and the Republican Party, and the consequent necessity of a Clinton win, but has developed to the point where it has the effect of recursively self-amplifying a pro-establishment position and silencing more radical/anarchist/antifa or otherwise anti-establishment views.

I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, a local news team covered the fact that the popular marijuana initiative on the ballot was not shaping up to be decisive against Trump. Nevada is a swing state, and the spot featured three first time voters in a row who expressed disinterest in voting for anyone for president, even laughing it off, like it was obviously a transgression, or getting their hands dirty. Sanders does the normal and right thing to help Clinton, but I wonder if any primary campaign which appeals to innocence and righteousness leaves inexperienced voters angry and confused afterwards.
posted by Brian B. at 11:21 PM on October 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


So, we aren't having a politics / election fight here. We can't do it. This isn't going to be the proxy thread for that, and we can't deal with more election threads than what we already have – and that's already really pushing it in terms of site resources. If folks want to discuss reasonably about site standards and suggestions for like "hey, maybe keep in mind xyz in the heat of discussion," that's fine, otherwise we'll close this up and direct people to discuss the election in the election thread.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:29 PM on October 14, 2016 [7 favorites]


So, we aren't having a politics / election fight here. We can't do it.

Perhaps we could revisit this after the dust settles? I am in complete agreement with cobra_high_tigers.
posted by futz at 11:36 PM on October 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


I agree with the basic premise of the post -- I can't stand to enter election threads these days, and I find the way that cobra_high_tigers was treated above completely distasteful.

Along these lines: I just noticed that dialetheia, who was a vocal and I think insightful presence back in the primary days, now has a disabled account. I hope they weren't banned.
posted by crazy with stars at 11:40 PM on October 14, 2016 [26 favorites]


I guess my question would be what it is one would expect to be discussing in a thread about an election between two major and three minor candidates? I mean, yes, it's all too clear that Metafilter is a left heavy site and that some people are farther to the left here than others, so they may not be thrilled with Clinton as a candidate. That's fine and I don't really think anyone is objecting to that in itself, but the threads are where people are talking about the election itself, not theoretical political spectrum values.

People have brought up the emails, for example, in multiple threads and each time the "shocking" aspect of them has been briefly discussed, found not all that shocking, and then the discussion died off for other areas of greater interest and concern. Jill Stein has been brought up in multiple threads, and, to little surprise on at least my part, hasn't been accepted as a meaningful candidate because she isn't. Whatever her values, she isn't going to make any headway this year, and many of the people in the thread, including myself, aren't very keen on her whatever values either, so talk about them doesn't go to far since the tide is working against her. Bernie? The primaries are over and the mods, quite reasonably, have asked us not to relitigate them. Bringing that up seems to me to mostly be holier than thouing at this point, which anyone certainly can feel free to believe, but it is only indirectly connected to the continuing election.

Questions about Clinton have come up in each thread, there aren't many takers on answering and there are obviously strong supporters who will argue vociferously against the points, but they do also get some more measured response if the questions being asked are raised in a way that shows some awareness of the conversations. Vague posts along the lines of general dissatifaction or disagreement without any direct examples are indeed being savaged harshly. That isn't ideal, but it's not surprising given the way this election has gone and the values of those involved in the threads. More specific criticisms or potential "problems" fare better when there is some greater context attached to the post explaining what the issue is and why its being brought up. Agreement won't necessarily be easy to come by, but the questions do generally get addressed.

If the issue here is wanting to talk about some areas surrounding the election in a more distanced and unemotional manner, well, I can certainly respect that, but I don't think it's a realistic expectation given what's at stake in the election for so many people here. This just isn't a subject that is well suited for distanced abstracted conversation right now.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:41 PM on October 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


It seems a bit unfair that you'd close the thread because people are (largely) taking it upon themselves to explain political things to us, again, as if we don't know the consequences of this election. We seem to be capable of expressing in fairly vague terms how the dynamic in these threads is hurting us. We're even declining to offer examples, because they'd just be picked apart and used as an excuse to discuss election minutiae. But it's "if you don't have examples, we don't see it" combined with mods saying "if you give examples, we're closing the thread". No win.
posted by naju at 11:43 PM on October 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm not saying "if you give examples, we're closing the thread," but we can't have a thread here for arguing the points all over again.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:53 PM on October 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


cobra_high_tigers, the quote responded to in your example was this:

maybe it would be a good idea for her campaign to do something that appeals to them instead of chasing endorsements from Republican generals and Bush 2.0 admin officials and the rest of her recent efforts to win over the mythical Rational Moderate Republican demo. The polls confirm what leftists have been saying since the convention: that's a stupid strategy that isn't going to work (it hasn't).

It isn't exactly a neutral statement itself, so the response doesn't surprise me, even as I accept it wasn't ideal in terms of tone, but part of that is on your not exactly conflict avoidant phrasing too.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:04 AM on October 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


taz, I hope my post didn't come across as trying to bring that fight in here. I was just trying to give some context about the post I was quoting, not to re-open the original discussion.

gusottertrout: I guess my question would be what it is one would expect to be discussing in a thread about an election between two major and three minor candidates?

Well, one thing I think we should be able to criticize is Clinton's actual campaign strategy and discuss whether it's maximizing her chances of victory (and that of downticket Democrats). I'm speaking in part to h00py's point as well - if we all agree that Clinton must win in November, we need to be open to discussing how to improve the chances of that happening. If the campaign's fucking up, then waiting until after the election to talk about it is too late.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:04 AM on October 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yeah, see, here's an example.

It isn't exactly a neutral statement itself, so the response doesn't surprise me, even as I accept it wasn't ideal in terms of tone, but part of that is on your not exactly conflict avoidant phrasing too.

I wasn't trying to avoid conflict - I thought it should be acceptable to criticize an unsuccessful campaign strategy. Still, I was surprised by the response, since it was an unhinged personal attack which was not only considered cool by the mods, but was also warmly received by the community.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:12 AM on October 15, 2016 [32 favorites]


Well, one thing I think we should be able to criticize is Clinton's actual campaign strategy and discuss whether it's maximizing her chances of victory (and that of downticket Democrats).

I think that can be done, but as I said above, one really has to be cautious with phrasing to avoid getting people riled up thinking you're disagreeing with the larger emotional direction of the threads. Again, that isn't an ideal thing perhaps, though paying attention to phrasing always has benefits, but people are feeling this election is potentially disastrous in a life and death sense, so with that kind of emotion involved, it helps to be more circumspect about how one says things that could potentially be understood as questioning or attacking that sense of importance.

On preview: Which also speaks to your above question too I think, at least my perspective on it.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:21 AM on October 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


So to be clear, you looked back at that interaction and found that the one who really needed to be more cautious with phrasing was me
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 12:36 AM on October 15, 2016 [26 favorites]


Yeah, it's been pretty surprising to see just how Democratic-party-line the threads have gotten. The "now is not the time" response to any criticism of Clinton is pretty creepy, frankly.

We're not on Clinton's payroll. We don't have to be on message.

The implication seems to be that if you say anything negative about Clinton, you're not terrified enough of a Trump presidency. It's specifically because I'm terrified of a Trump presidency that I think it's important to show that the people voting against him are a big tent.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:52 AM on October 15, 2016 [56 favorites]


And God bless corb for continuing to post in these threads at all, when every time she posts, five people swear at her.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:52 AM on October 15, 2016 [55 favorites]


No, not exactly, I suggested the interaction on both sides wasn't ideal, but that in the case of this election the stakes and emotional flow of the threads are going to require extra effort on those who may seem to be trying to push back against the flow given the stakes people believe are involved. For good or bad, it's simply not workable to tell people who feel their safety is at issue to be more cool and distant when discussing that, so those of us who aren't necessarily feeling as immediately at risk need to be aware of those concerns and address our own perspectives with that in mind. This just isn't the kind of discussion that lends itself to balanced neutrality or abstract give and take.

My thinking on it is that while Metafilter is unquestionably a discussion site that seeks to provide a space for reasoned and balanced argument, it is also, even more strongly, a place where social awareness and justice are felt to be cornerstones of respectful conversation. This election, in some instances, is pitting the former belief against the latter in tone at times, but the importance of the latter to the site means those involving themselves in discussion need to take extra care to weigh their words to help provide a safe space for those who might be more vulnerable. We can do both things, but it's up to all of us to simply do the best we can to keep both principles in mind.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:53 AM on October 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


It makes me really, really sad to see the suggestion that those who are dissenting from the majority in these threads aren't as immediately at risk, don't have personal stakes, aren't dealing with life and death consequences. And beyond that, the suggestion that we're potentially violating safe spaces. It sounds like you're assuming a whole hell of a lot.
posted by naju at 1:35 AM on October 15, 2016 [42 favorites]


For good or bad, it's simply not workable to tell people who feel their safety is at issue to be more cool and distant when discussing that, so those of us who aren't necessarily feeling as immediately at risk need to be aware of those concerns and address our own perspectives with that in mind.

I get it. I'm married to a Muslim woman who I love more than anything in this world and couldn't live without. I do a lot of legal work to help undocumented immigrants obtain DACA status so they don't get deported. I'm terrified of what would happen if Trump wins because I understand how serious the stakes are, which is precisely why I don't want the Democrats to fuck this up. Do you think ROU_Xenophobe considered any of this before responding to me? Of course he didn't, and you seem fine with that.

You've presented this false dichotomy where the only people who have criticisms of Clinton or her campaign are the people who aren't personally at risk. You suggest that, for this reason, it's okay for MeFites to respond to anyone who offers criticism with angry invective. You recommend that the people offering criticism "take extra care to weigh their words to help provide a safe space for those who might be more vulnerable," as if they couldn't possibly be vulnerable themselves, so there's no need for others to consider that before responding to them - just go ahead and yell at them, act like they're stupid or actively malicious, and rake in all the faves that egg on that kind of behavior in the future. I made a criticism of a major political party's demonstrably ineffective campaign strategy and then a man talked shit about me, personally and at great length, and you looked at that and concluded that really both sides were "not ideal" in that interaction. This exact attitude is why many of us haven't felt welcome in the politics threads lately.

Anyway, I've said my piece and I already feel like I'm starting to make this thread about me so I'm going to shut up again.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 1:43 AM on October 15, 2016 [89 favorites]


It makes me really, really sad to see the suggestion that those who are dissenting from the majority in these threads aren't as immediately at risk, don't have personal stakes, aren't dealing with life and death consequences.

The Brexit threads are an echo chamber, and I have had comments like the above aimed at me because I am hard left/Trotskyist, I welcome attacks on the EU, and I saw the Brexit vote mainly as a symptom of Europe's ongoing political problems (of which there are many and it's an interesting debate) rather than a new cause of it, borne purely out of insanity and racism.

Relevant to the Greenwald points, I would say it's pointless the way some posters rush to shut down the sources of info/opinion I've linked to in those threads: long-time leftists/groups who are anti-EU and supported the Leave campaign included John Pilger, Tariq Ali, Dennis Skinner, George Galloway, Assange, WSWS, UK Socialist Party, UK SWP, CPGB, the RMT rail union, Counterpunch, Morning Star, Larry Elliott of the Guardian, etc - but if you post a link to one of those about Brexit, someone will step up to do a quick dismissal based on the source, and the thread loses the possibility of engagement with any of the ideas. Perhaps better to just ignore the info than to snark at its author.
posted by Coda Tronca at 2:05 AM on October 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry you took it that way, and you are right I didn't account for feelings of being at risk from other perspectives so I apologize for that, but my point wasn't that angry invective was okay, just that emotions are running high so we all need to be aware of how we are addressing each other. I failed to account for that myself here, so I'm not on a high horse, I'm just suggesting that trying to be aware of how we phrase things matters even more than usual.

As for potentially violating safe spaces, that's what's been said in the threads, I'm not assuming it other than accepting that is the case. I'm not telling anyone what they should or shouldn't be concerned about, just that these elections threads are more fraught with emotions than most Metafilter topics, and because of that, posts which appear to be questioning the general tenor of belief in the threads are going to face pushback. It isn't something I'm advocating, just something that seems inevitable given this election. Personally I have no problem with anyone asking questions or arguing their beliefs and I would hope people are trying to be aware of the dynamic going both ways. I've said more than enough at this point though, so I too will shut up.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:10 AM on October 15, 2016


Right. Fair enough. Well I won't get into it as Taz requested, but I think the threads feel very violative for people MeFites might not have considered - critical black and brown voices are very much a thing, and rest assured they've been silenced in this election. (And note, many feel anguish about both candidates for good reason and are still voting for Clinton. That should merit benefit of the doubt, you'd think, not rejection.)
posted by naju at 2:30 AM on October 15, 2016 [17 favorites]


It's absolutely one of the dumbest comments I've seen on the site all election season
...
challenge accepted


we're gonna need a new subsite
posted by Greg Nog at 5:51 AM on October 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


One vote for the site would be better without most of the election stuff involved. They're practically all outragefilter by this point, with the attendant policing of anything less than complete agreement and where commenters who treat any conversation they disagree with as being in bad faith are regarded as a feature, not a bug.

That it can be regarded as a necessity both that it be an echo chamber and that certain things just can't be said until the election is over should be indication enough; that there's also attempts to justify it because some people have skin in the game, as if (as roll truck roll, for one, points out above) people with differing political positions can't also be personally affected as much as you are, is just more reason why they bring the site down.

There's some argumentative voices in these threads, blue and grey, who react poorly when asked to consider other people - like the idea of not just posting a reaction during a debate, or considering other user's perspectives without immediately shitting all over both the viewpoint and the user having them. I would like them to think more about why they need here, specifically, to express themselves, and why filtering themselves for a community, like how we all are expected to, is something from which they alone are exempt.

And hey, if you need a reminder of the UScentrism that's come up a few times this year, most of the world is to the left of Hillary, let alone the Republicans, though there are loud bigots in every country so Trump isn't quite the unique vulgarian he seems to be treated as. Just because each new election is the most important election ever (not even particularly snarking about that) shouldn't mean MetaFilter should change for the whims of what is really a very, very small, if vocal, part of the userbase.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:59 AM on October 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


There's something else going on here, that I think applies to many examples in this thread. I think a _lot_ of people somewhere on the left have come to realize that, because of toxic misogyny, Clinton has been and continues to be criticized for every single tiny thing she does, no matter what it is, by the media, the right, the left, etc. And most of the criticisms are massively out of proportion to those things, even where they might conceivably merit criticism. We've also over the last months watched the silliest things about Clinton blow up (or at least get heavy coverage) in all sorts of media, while the craziest stuff just slid off of Trump's back.

And we are really, really, really tired of it. Criticizing random thing X about Clinton right now is playing into an incredibly toxic environment. Now _you_ may not have that intent, your criticism may be the special timely one that if everyone just listened to it would change the world for the better -- but it's pretty hard for the rest of the left to differentiate that. If you want to write, in mid-Oct 2016, reasoned & nuanced criticism of Clinton's policy, her email composition, or how Clinton is failing to speak to millenials or whatever*, this is the tightrope you have to walk. I don't particularly think this is a mefi thing, I don't post in the mefi election threads, I didn't pick up this attitude on mefi and I've shut down discussions like this in real life. It's not a good tightrope to be walking or an easy tightrope to be walking. BUT there's a simpler solution -- all you have to do is one simple thing. Wait 3.5 weeks! Your idea will keep!**

I'm not trying to shut down discussion per se, but I don't see how this confluence of factors could lead to anything but the conclusion from someone who wants to successfully and productively communicate about things like the nuances of policy that now just isn't the time. As a matter of mefi policy it doesn't seem like banning walking the Clinton-criticism tightrope would be a good idea, but I'm sort of impressed at people who don't seem to realize that it's there, and get singed when they don't execute it perfectly.

* eurgh this particular claim gives me really unpleasant flashbacks to the spring, where the left was fully joined in on the "attack clinton for every little thing" game, phase 1 of this toxic environment we have now; I'm not very surprised reactions were disproportionate.
** well, not if it's about campaign strategy, but your campaign strategy idea doesn't matter to anyone right now. Does it seem like _rational strategy_ of all things is a factor in this campaign?
posted by advil at 7:37 AM on October 15, 2016 [50 favorites]


the whims of what is really a very, very small, if vocal, part of the userbase.

Not snarking at all here, but I honestly do wonder if Americans who care about the American election are a very small piece of the userbase.
posted by lalex at 7:38 AM on October 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think of the current election threads of being for a very limited purpose--sharing outrage, glee, fear, and schadenfraude with others opposed to Trump. They really aren't threads for any other purpose. As long as people hew to that narrow path, the threads are great. But there really is not room for much disagreement. The primary and more immediate post-primary season was a terrible time for me on MeFi and I managed it through a combination of avoiding the threads completely or not participating on the site. Returning to the site has been a somewhat surreal experience: the site seems less interesting, less vibrant, and gives me the feeling of walking through a mall built in the 1970s or 1980s. There are still stores, but there are hardly any people in them, and not many are that interesting. But then all of a sudden you pop into Hickory Farms or Buster Brown or some other store you never wanted to go into before and there is a party going on and everyone you know is there. That is what the site feels like to me during this election season. I will be immensely pleased when the site loses its US election focus. But in the meantime, if I want to participate in the election threads I'm going to shade my comments to avoid shitting up the thread with criticism of HRC from the left, even if I may have a lot of it.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:31 AM on October 15, 2016 [18 favorites]


Not snarking at all here, but I honestly do wonder if Americans who care about the American election are a very small piece of the userbase.

I would agree, insofar as it is evidence that their concerns are neutralized by various thought reforms, and not out of some self-examined prospect. It raises the urgency rather than dampens it. If one goes to middle America and looks at any local rape case involving a set of popular teen boys, for example, they will typically find a community in denial, most of them blaming the victims and often running their families out of town. Those very old battle lines are the current US election, and it ironically has nothing to do with Trump or Clinton, or else we would care that he usually cheats his subcontractors as revenge for trusting him.
posted by Brian B. at 8:50 AM on October 15, 2016


One of the basic MeFi rules of thumb is to "read the room" before commenting. "The room" during the primaries and on into the general election has some unique features as compared to other elections, and even as compared to past American elections. This has led to an escalating dynamic of sensitivity toward comments that seem to play on well-worn tropes about Hillary Clinton -- not just misogyny (although that's a large part of it) but also related to the decades-long campaign to smear the entire Clinton family from the right, and the equal but opposite effort on the part of self-styled leftists to characterize her as a Republican and diminish her progressive accomplishments.

You can argue that people ought not be so sensitive about this history, but you can't just wish it away. It is not a "get out of jail free" card for people to attack you, but it certainly does contextualize why, after many months of "is Hillary really a Democrat" during the primaries, coming in with a hot take about "chasing endorsements from Republican generals and Bush 2.0 administration officials" might ping some peoples' radars as not coming from the right place, even if it was.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:51 AM on October 15, 2016 [29 favorites]


People also need to regulate their own behavior in these threads. The comment cobra_high_tigers made was a pretty mild criticism of HRC's then-current campaign strategy, not a "hot take" from the primaries. The response was totally off the rails and I'm surprised it wasn't deleted.
posted by lalex at 9:09 AM on October 15, 2016 [33 favorites]


What's the difference between a leftist and self-styled leftist?
posted by Coda Tronca at 9:15 AM on October 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Not snarking at all here, but I honestly do wonder if Americans who care about the American election are a very small piece of the userbase.

that was honestly given in good faith? because identifying the echo-chamber of mefi election threads with such a wide demographic sounds like rhetoric to me.

people other than your small group do care. you don't represent everyone. the idea that you do is what people are pushing back against here.
posted by andrewcooke at 9:16 AM on October 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


And we are really, really, really tired of it. Criticizing random thing X about Clinton right now is playing into an incredibly toxic environment. Now _you_ may not have that intent, your criticism may be the special timely one that if everyone just listened to it would change the world for the better -- but it's pretty hard for the rest of the left to differentiate that. If you want to write, in mid-Oct 2016, reasoned & nuanced criticism of Clinton's policy, her email composition, or how Clinton is failing to speak to millenials or whatever*, this is the tightrope you have to walk. . . . BUT there's a simpler solution -- all you have to do is one simple thing. Wait 3.5 weeks! Your idea will keep!

This is a pretty good example of what is wrong with the election threads. When someone feels the need to speak as we, claiming for themselves the role of spokesperson for a whole group (in this case, "the rest of the left"), it's usually unwarranted. In this case it absolutely does pressure left-of-Clinton voices to be silent, regardless of how much you later disavow that intent.

Speaking only for myself, I am really tired of the rally-round-the-flag cheerleading for Clinton. It was a major characteristic of discussions even before the primaries, and it's only gotten worse. Those who can't allow the slightest whisper of criticism of her in those threads (unless some nebulous tightrope is walked) are the reason I mostly don't go there any more. I'm not alone. Most of the alternative voices that were seen in early election threads are now silent. Mission Accomplished, apparently.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:36 AM on October 15, 2016 [49 favorites]


I was dismayed to see this exchange recently:
comment:
My husband and I agree, after the vice-presidential debate:
Get rid of Hillary and Donald and put Tim Kaine and Mike Pence in.
I haven't heard from my daughters yet (one isn't voting, the other is... voting her conscious.)

We will still probably cancel each other out, but we both would be more sure of our votes.
I like Kaine.

entirely reasonable response:

What positions does Kaine hold that you like, that Clinton doesn't?

dismissive snark presuming bad faith:
What positions does Kaine hold that you like, that Clinton doesn't?

A penis.
posted by lalex at 9:46 AM on October 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't remember which user it was who linked to photos of dead children, but I hope they aren't in this MeTa complaining about the rhetorical pitch of the election threads.
posted by fleacircus at 9:54 AM on October 15, 2016


I have been told, point blank, that the only reason I could possibly prefer Sanders' policy on something over Clinton's was because I was holding her to a sexist double standard. I have seen a thousand comments saying that people only criticize her because she is a woman, or because they're buying republican propaganda and they're too young and naive to remember when it all started, and God, when will you people learn.

Honestly, I do not believe for a second that this dynamic is going to go away after the election is over, because it's become accepted as fact that pretty much any criticism you have of her is unrelated to her actual politics. The election threads operate so differently from the rest of the site, and are people really going to do a quick 180 and suddenly behave totally differently? Maybe I'm totally wrong about this and they will, but it's hard for me to really see that happening, and meanwhile more than a few people have buttoned over this in the past year.
posted by teponaztli at 10:29 AM on October 15, 2016 [36 favorites]


Mission Accomplished, apparently.

That sort of presumes a level of rational intent which seems notably absent from the election threads, in my experience. It's dozens to hundreds of nervous, frustrated, upset, excitable people having a nervous, frustrated, upset, excitable arguement. For days and days on end. Whatever abstract, ideal goals people might have for the tenor of the site, you've got a situation where a sizable chunk of the membership on the site is working on their last nerve when it comes to this whole topic, and lack a real life outlet in which to express their fear/outrage nervousness. The problem of how to moderate a thread so that minority viewpoints can be safely expressed without the person expressing them having to fend off ripostes from a dozen directions at once is a longstanding one on Mefi, precisely because there is no one solution which is wholly satisfactory to all parties. In this particular case, I think trying to get the mods to lower the temperature by force would be like asking them to put their hands over the kettlespout in order to stop the steam from getting out.
posted by Diablevert at 10:30 AM on October 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


I've just given up on the election threads at this point. It really does feel like they're sucking the air out of the room.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


A trend I see in election threads is that comments often will fall into one of two general categories. Some treat the thread as casual conversation while others interact with it as if it's an extension of the campaign itself somehow. This creates a situation where a comment treating it as a conversation will mention an idea which others see as a point that needs to be refuted for the record. This creates a situation of basically talking past one another, which can be frustrating all around, but at the same time, both perspectives seem pretty legitimate.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:50 AM on October 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

entirely reasonable response:
What positions does Kaine hold that you like, that Clinton doesn't?

dismissive snark presuming bad faith:
What positions does Kaine hold that you like, that Clinton doesn't?
a penis
I remember that exchange, and I remember in context taking those two responses as the same. That first one had so much unspoken "what the fuck they are exactly the same thing I'm going to ask the one question that puts the pin in your smug balloon" lurking behind it that the second one felt like ruining the joke by overexplaining. So "entirely reasonable response" is a bit over-simplified.

But that's the beauty of sarcasm (and why contentious topics are the exact time sarcasm doesn't work) - it doesn't literally say that and I could have been assuming bad faith when none existed. The author can play "what me? it was just an honest question!" And you know what? Maybe it was.

tl;somewhat off topic: let's avoid sarcasm in these threads. It's hard enough already.
posted by ctmf at 10:58 AM on October 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I do not believe for a second that this dynamic is going to go away after the election is over, because it's become accepted as fact that pretty much any criticism you have of her is unrelated to her actual politics.

Perhaps. I do think that will be a less potent argument when we speak about President Clinton versus candidate Clinton.
posted by Mooski at 10:58 AM on October 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is much like the many previous MeTa threads from people that thought MetaFilter was a left wing echo chamber and should be more tolerant of pro-capitalist, pro-Republican comments instead of jumping all over them. The answer is the same: No one is trying to create an echo chamber. Correct or sheeple, this is what people here think. These are their honest reactions to Assange, Jill Stein, etc.
posted by ignignokt at 11:01 AM on October 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Damn, I'm having a wrestling match with correcting that comment's formatting. Sorry.
posted by ctmf at 11:01 AM on October 15, 2016


Correct or sheeple

This sort of sentiment is why people are saying there's a lot of hostility that goes beyond just honest disagreement.
posted by teponaztli at 11:04 AM on October 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Those who can't allow the slightest whisper of criticism of her in those threads (unless some nebulous tightrope is walked) are the reason I mostly don't go there any more. (bold mine)

I think this is where I get tripped up. None of us has the power to not allow anything. People are responding to speech with more speech, and sometimes it's speech that disagrees with the speech in strong terms. When the terms on either side get to be too strong or too personal, the mods step in. But for the most part, it seems that this is an example of a conversation going more according to the way the majority wants it to go than a minority wants it to go, which seems... kind of natural and inevitable. It *feels* like piling on, but each individual disagreeing with the 'criticizer' is actually just another individual expressing their view individually.

It seems to me that people expressing their alienation here want to preserve their right to their criticisms, in the place and time they want to express them, without themselves risking receiving pushback, criticism, or judgment for it. The room should receive them just as they would like to be received.

(And also without recognizing that they are not the only ones 'holding themselves back.' The bar on re-litigating the primaries applies to 'both sides', and I guess as many Clinton supporters as Sanders supporters are exercising restraint).
posted by Salamandrous at 11:07 AM on October 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


Correct or sheeple, this is what people here think.

Of course people should say what they think (although I guess some people here are arguing that folks critical of Hillary should not say what they think?) but it doesn't have to be chock full of snark or seething invective.
posted by lalex at 11:07 AM on October 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


( one isn't voting, the other is... voting her conscious.)

Concious voting would.work if everyone. voted while concious. Certainly better than not voting while conscious.
posted by y2karl at 11:13 AM on October 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


the trend of hostility towards even the mildest critique in the election threads (and the mods' demonstrated unwillingness to do anything about it) has been really detrimental to my MeFi experience to the point where I rarely come around anymore

Just chiming in to agree. I'm not buttoning or anything but my desire to engage with MeFi has radically decreased because of the intense knee-jerk hostility to left-of-Clinton politics on display in the election threads. It's not a brand-new phenomenon or anything — the modal Metafilter commenter has always had a default sympathy to US-liberal politics and a certain level of bafflement about positions to its left — but it's calcified this year into an extraordinary level of anxious, emotional, instant gang-piling on even very mildly expressed left dissent that really makes it not worth the effort to engage with politics discussions here at all. And it palpably spills over to the rest of the site, too. I am halfway out the door on this place at this point as a result; there are places elsewhere online where discussion of any view to the left of the DLC feels a lot more enjoyable and welcome than it does here.

Honestly I think it would've been a much better decision for the health of the site culture to simply make the election completely off-limits as a subject, rather than effectively allowing one political faction to make everyone else's discussion of the subject off-limits via the heckler's-veto combination of mod exhaustion and anxious aggression.
posted by RogerB at 11:16 AM on October 15, 2016 [35 favorites]


I'm social democrat and supported Sanders during the primaries. I've gotten a lot hateful, often class-bigoted, abuse from moderate and conservative Democrats during the campaign, as I think have all progressive Democrats who supported Sanders and ventured online. MetaFilter hasn't been that bad. We have a good moderation team that have kept the personal attacks and the really nutso shit in check. I know it's been a lot of work for the moderators. I really appreciate their efforts to keep the this site relatively sane, and create an environment where we can have actual conversations.
posted by nangar at 11:22 AM on October 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


Most of the alternative voices that were seen in early election threads are now silent. Mission Accomplished, apparently.

That is (mostly) the nature of American elections conducted on a national scale. For better or worse, everything narrows down to a fight for votes in a few places, and in 2016 it happens to be mapped very directly to the city-suburban-rural divides I see in the ten-mile radius around me.

I can sympathise with the frustration of people (particularly those in west-coast cities) for whom the left edge of their close-at-hand political spectrum became less relevant to the national election six months ago. How they vote in local and state races (and propositions) will feed back into the national conversation very quickly once the election is over.
posted by holgate at 11:23 AM on October 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I know people are expressing their honest beliefs, but it's shutting out anything that strays from a particular line of thought, and it's happening in a really hurtful, insulting way. You see a user comment somewhere and you're like "oh look, it's that person who called me an idiot for thinking I had something new to add on a subject that has apparently been discussed elsewhere; here's what they think about ducks wearing tiny hats." The outcome of this election is obviously terrifying, but it seems to be justifying a lot of personal attacks and insults that don't get labeled as such because "well, these threads are a release valve, and people go there to express themselves."

It seems to me that people expressing their alienation here want to preserve their right to their criticisms, in the place and time they want to express them, without themselves risking receiving pushback, criticism, or judgment for it. The room should receive them just as they would like to be received.

I wouldn't post comments here if I thought it would just be high fives all the time. But it's one thing for people to disagree, and it's another entirely for them to say "God, I am so sick of having to babysit Sandernistas who just can't accept that he lost and Clinton won for a reason, and right now we need to focus on beating Trump and you're not helping with that by trying to wake up the sheeple..." Every single time, from a dozen people. I wouldn't be offering criticism/pushback/judgment if I thought it didn't belong in the room. But every time I've said "man, there's some really nasty invective" the answer is "well, you just want to be able to say whatever you want without people reacting, and here's our reactions."

I know people need this site as a release valve. I only went to the election threads in the first place because I wanted to do what everyone else is doing there and express my frustrations and fears and anxieties. And I stopped because I was told I was just making things worse for everyone. So... I don't really have anywhere to go, and maybe that's my problem, but it sucks either way. And now every time I see a comment by user X I remember that time they explained to me why I'm an sexist idiot for wanting to "wake up the sheeple" over TPP or something. Maybe there was always an element of that on this site, but it's definitely happened a lot more to me, and a lot more pointedly, in the past year.
posted by teponaztli at 11:27 AM on October 15, 2016 [31 favorites]


The election threads operate so differently from the rest of the site, and are people really going to do a quick 180 and suddenly behave totally differently? Maybe I'm totally wrong about this and they will, but it's hard for me to really see that happening

I sympathize with that worry, though I am more sanguine about the situation mostly on the strength of a long view of multiple election cycles on the site over the last many years. It's always weird, it's always tiring, it always feels like something has shifted. And then...it reverts. Things relax more toward their normal shape.

I've said this a couple times—in MetaTalk, on the podcast chatting with jessamyn—but I find myself thinking a lot about past election cycles on the site. I worked here for 2008 and 2012, and one of the things I took from 2008 is just what a goddam mess trying to make US election work on the site could be; the primaries sucked, then general was a bit better but still a mess and a pile of stress for everyone and it culminated a lot at the end in just the way you might expect stress and worry and anxiousness to do.

And then it was over, and for all the throughline of political nonsense after, it really did get better.

We braced hard for 2012, spent months tensed for the other shoe to drop, and...it was actually pretty mild, by comparison. No Dem primaries helped. Fairly goofy GOP primary season, without a monstrous twist at the end, helped a little too. Still a pain, still fractious at times, still plenty of threads that went bumpy and MetaTalk worries and people left feeling lop-sided and unhappy by the situation and the rhetoric and the toll of the drawn-out process. But not what we'd been trained by 2008 to worry about. The shoe basically never dropped. And then things got better.

It's been fucking raining shoes this cycle. It's an exceptional clusterfuck, burying past high-water marks deep in uncharted waters of Trumpian fuckery. I bring this up not because I have any interest in turning this discussion toward Trump or toward the election itself in general but because I think it's impractical to entirely separate the shitty context of the election, of (as I said earlier today in another thread) the massively weird externalities in play that the site and the country and the world are being steeped in, from any sense of how things are going. This election cycle is a bad one, worse than 2008 and really solid proof that 2012 wasn't just easier because we'd gotten better at managing elections on the site but because it was in fact just plain less bad.

And I think everybody is stressed. And tired. And angry. And dispirited. There's been so much shit in so many ways this cycle, and that it has managed to continue to escalate in the actual race on the coattails of Trump's lunacy and vileness has meant no one's really gotten a break unless they actively self-imposed it. Which isn't a bad idea, but also isn't always totally manageable for a variety of reasons.

But it will get better. Things get bad, again, and they'll revert, again. And I cannot sufficiently express how much I am looking forward to that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:33 AM on October 15, 2016 [57 favorites]


Thanks cortex. Here's hoping!

Honestly, it helps a lot that this MeTa was posted, because -- and I'm sure someone will roll their eyes at this -- I have felt sort of alone on this site during the election. It has seemed like everyone thinks my political views are not just wrong, but are symptoms of some deep character flaws on my part. It's really done a lot to make me want to shut up and not talk about politics with anyone, both on this site and elsewhere. I know that sounds dramatic, but politics can be so personal, and I've really started to feel pretty isolated and unwelcome, as if my views are simply not worth sharing. It's kind of nice knowing that other people have been frustrated for the same or similar reasons -- if only because it means, maybe, that I don't need to feel quite so disconnected.
posted by teponaztli at 12:03 PM on October 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


MetaFilter hasn't been that bad

This has been my impression. Which is not to silence those who are really struggling, but the relative awfulness of MeFi vs. the rest of the internet is really interesting to me. And I basically self-buttoned from election threads because I know my particular political opinions are unlikely to go well in a general discussion and I have Shit To Do in this election (running for a small local office as a JP and working the polls all day on election day) and had to decide this was just one of those things I wasn't going to talk to MeFi about, just like I don't talk to my Mom about certain things and just like I don't talk to the mailman about certain things.

I envy people who have a community where they feel like they can talk about anything but I think for most people MeFi isn't that community on some topic, it just happens that for a lot of people it's that about politics right now. I gave a talk at a large university last week about library things but with some library-politics tossed in. After I was done, a lady from the audience basically buttonholed me because she said I sounded like a "Sanders voter" and wanted me to basically swear fealty to Hillary because I made her nervous.

I politely got out of that conversation without a "Let me tell you why you are so full of shit" response of my own. I think having a comfort and confidence in your own beliefs can make this sort of thing go more easily, and I sympathize and offer hugs to people who are feeling more adrift at this point in time especially.

It's just an extrapolation of the general idea that we all get to make our choices in the world and how we want to live it, and that general idea (of personal choice, based on personal priorities) sits better with some people than with others, but that doesn't necessarily shake out along political lines, however much we might want to pretend that it does.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:10 PM on October 15, 2016 [34 favorites]


I think center-to right people here have it far far far worse. I mean, isn't it crazy that we have had one conservative person participating in the elections posts?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2016 [18 favorites]


*we haven't had one conservative person*
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2016


I mean, isn't it crazy that we have had one conservative person participating in the elections posts?

Honestly, no. Walking into a bar full of Yankees fans wearing a BoSox hat isn't done every day. At the risk of sounding like a corb fanboy, I'm in awe.
posted by Mooski at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


*we haven't had one conservative person*

We do have one! And God bless her, because the reward she often gets for enriching all of us with different perspectives is a fuckton of snark.
posted by lalex at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2016 [37 favorites]


Those who can't allow the slightest whisper of criticism of her in those threads (unless some nebulous tightrope is walked)

I'm not trying to allow or disallow anything, and I don't think anyone is here. But I think it is foolish to deny that the tightrope is pretty real. Here's another way of putting it: our informational environment right now is saturated with criticism of Clinton. There's just an unbelievable amount of it covering all sorts of things from all sorts of perspectives, most of it baseless and a distraction, but a lot of it contributing, apparently, to reasons why people on the right are still considering voting for Trump. Add to this that, recently, a lot of people have had to come to terms with the fact that they had just implicitly accepted all sorts of false or baseless beliefs about her over the last 20 years or so. Now we have the storm of madness and insanity that is the current state of the election. It is this environment that you (hypothetical) are putting your own special snowflake criticisms of Clinton. Should anyone really be surprised that the reaction you get right now, mid-Oct, isn't one of calmly and careful evaluating the criticism on a logical basis is if it is independent of everything else, as opposed to reacting to the fact that any criticism is almost unavoidably playing into this saturation? I agree with tonycpsu, this is a major failure to read the room.
posted by advil at 12:57 PM on October 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


the reward she often gets for enriching all of us with different perspectives

And some people remember exactly what those "different perspectives" are.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:06 PM on October 15, 2016 [33 favorites]


Yeah, consider me as one of the people unnerved at the way a lot of MeFites have put their pet "lone conservative" on a pedestal, especially when there's some fucked-up explanation or defense of people like Paul Ryan that gets pushback.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2016 [32 favorites]


Sometimes it comes off as really condescending, actually, even when it doesn't try to hand-wave away a valid critique.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


And some people remember exactly what those "different perspectives" are.

I must not be some people because I don't know what you're hinting at with this scare quote innuendo. Maybe you're trying not to make this another corb referendum, in which case, better luck next time.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 1:21 PM on October 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


advil - the hatred, sexism, and accusations against Clinton won't turn off like a lightswitch on November 9. There's talk of Trump's base being so incited by a "stolen" election that there will be violence. Do you really think there will ever be a time when the fuckheads give it a rest, when they have a president Clinton? And so my question is, will there ever be a time when one can "read the room" and decide that a valid policy or strategy criticism is allowed to be aired?
posted by naju at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Hi! I am a left person who used to be quite active on Metafilter for a number of years, but deleted my original account this summer after what I felt was a really hostile and uncharitable interaction in an election thread, then underscored by what I considered a very un-evenhanded mod response. The political dynamic here over the past year or so has deeply changed the way I feel about the MeFi community, which has probably been good for my free time but bad for my heart.
posted by zokni at 1:23 PM on October 15, 2016 [43 favorites]


advil - the hatred, sexism, and accusations against Clinton won't turn off like a lightswitch on November 9. There's talk of Trump's base being so incited by a "stolen" election that there will be violence. Do you really think there will ever be a time when the fuckheads give it a rest, when they have a president Clinton? And so my question is, will there ever be a time when one can "read the room" and decide that a valid policy or strategy criticism is allowed to be aired?

I do think it will make a difference when she is elected because the fear that she won't will be gone. Sure there will be fuckheads and possibly messed up crap coming from them around her being elected but the stuff they're spewing won't have the same consequences, eg convincing enough people to vote for Trump instead.

I know I'm sure looking forward to feeling like I have more space to talk about actual policy. Same thing happen here in Canada last election, not nearly to the same extent but it was there. When the Cons went all right-wing, report your neighbors, hijab fear mongering it was scary because it was oh crap it's starting here now too. I know so many people that the reason they got fired up and voted as they did was to primarily say 'no siree, not here you're not' and they voted Liberal because that's who they saw as having the best chance to get Harper to shove it. Now they're back to gladly critiquing and discussing what the Libs are actually doing.
posted by Jalliah at 1:58 PM on October 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


I just wrote a longish thing in the current election thread that touches on this subject in some ways, in which I discuss how, especially this year, criticism from sufficiently far left starts to sound, for reasons that have everything to do with Trump and the alt-right and fascism and much less to do with the left, way too close for comfort to criticism from the right, and that's got a lot of people's defense mechanisms turned up to 11.

That's not at all fair or even a good thing for democracy and debate, but I spent a while last night reading neo-Nazis praise their candidate as "literally Hitler" for his "big banks" conspiracy speech, so a lot of left criticisms are, not particularly fairly, pretty tainted in my mind right now.
posted by zachlipton at 2:27 PM on October 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


I was on the thread as it got hot yesterday. Just noticed the metatalk today. I will say this; I in no way meant to shut anyone else down, if it came across that way. I was irritated that the current discussion was dismissed. It's an emotional election, and some very touchy subjects came up.

The person in question had comments removed, several times. Cortex was on it! Thanks.

I would like to send the moderators something to thank them, after this election is up. Y'all have been amazing.
posted by annsunny at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am an anarchist communist, and have mostly had a decent experience in election threads do to my tendency to self-edit, because there is a weird thing among American conservatives and liberals alike to feel they can be inordinately ugly to anyone outside their spectrum. Maybe it's from a lack of a multi party system or something, I dunno and won't speculate.

It's sad that this is the reality but the there it is.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:30 PM on October 15, 2016 [28 favorites]


advil: I'm not trying to allow or disallow anything, and I don't think anyone is here.
lmao, you literally told people not to post anything critical for 3.5 weeks because "now is not the time." Two posts later, someone said that "I think of the current election threads of being for a very limited purpose--sharing outrage, glee, fear, and schadenfraude with others opposed to Trump. ... [T]here really is not room for much disagreement." Earlier in the thread, someone said that any criticism of Hillary not from conservatives be considered "moot," and other people proposing that we open separate threads for non-echo chamber discussion. (An idea which the mods have already rightly shut down.)

Whether you like it or not, the mods channel all discussion of American politics into the election threads. So when the community shuts down all discussion of certain viewpoints in the election threads, it's a de facto policy that they aren't welcome anywhere on the site.

[T]his is a major failure to read the room.
No, we're reading the room very clearly and noticing that it's a toxic environment for anyone who falls outside of the same narrow POV. You're saying we should deal with it, we disagree, which is why this thread was opened in the first place.

In this very thread asking politely if the community can stop attacking certain people for their dissenting viewpoints, you can't refrain from attacking them yourself, talking shit about people's "special snowflake criticisms" as a way of dismissing the idea that anyone should have a right to make them on here. Seriously, fuck that attitude. There are things I would LOVE to be able to talk about on here - for instance, the intense concern I share with my Iranian in-laws, some of whom are registered Republicans and some of whom have never voted before but all of whom are voting for Clinton and yet still concerned about her rhetoric and record about their home nation, where they lived most of their lives and still have family and friends. I'd love to be able to talk about my own stress and fears on this issue with other like-minded, intelligent people on this site, where I am anonymous unlike on Facebook or Twitter or in my workplace, the same way others in those threads talk about their own stress and fears and concerns. But only certain types of concerns are okay to talk about; others (of what you have deemed the "special snowflake" variety) justify getting piled on because apparently you aren't surprised that the assholes who've been getting away with that shit for months would do it again. Well, at this point I'm not surprised either, the same way I'm not surprised when a bunch of shitty predictable things happen. I just don't think that simply because it's predictable that these threads have become safe spaces for certain people to act like assholes means that we shouldn't try to change that.

Salamandrous: It seems to me that people expressing their alienation here want to preserve their right to their criticisms, in the place and time they want to express them, without themselves risking receiving pushback, criticism, or judgment for it. The room should receive them just as they would like to be received.
Well, then you aren't listening to what anyone in here is actually saying. We're not complaining about disagreement, we're complaining about the fact that toxic and abusive behavior is given a pass when it's in response to dissenting comments.

People are responding to speech with more speech, and sometimes it's speech that disagrees with the speech in strong terms. When the terms on either side get to be too strong or too personal, the mods step in.
Or, more typically, it's speech that attacks and demeans the original poster. And it's not true that the mods step in whenever it goes off the rails, as many people have posted in this thread to agree. I learned this myself in July, when I had to get in a MeMail argument with a mod to get a comment taken down that said people wouldn't have been Sanders voters unless they were white guys who wanted to shout down black people. In July, well into the "don't relitigate the primaries" era. If the mods had been removing aggressive comments and personal attacks, this thread wouldn't be here.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 3:34 PM on October 15, 2016 [45 favorites]


I learned this myself in July, when I had to get in a MeMail argument with a mod to get a comment taken down that said people wouldn't have been Sanders voters unless they were white guys who wanted to shout down black people.

I don't understand why this would have to be an argument or why the response cobra_tiger discusses above wouldn't be deleted.
posted by lalex at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I had to take a long break from election threads after taking some personal abuse. (And actually buttoned for a while because of it.) I had a comment that was repeatedly mocked, taken wildly out of context, and then somehow got used as a weird proxy for some shitty thing Wil Wheaton said on Twitter. I called out that behavior multiple times in the thread, but it still continued unchecked. Ironically, it was a comment about unity. And that's just one example. I'm extra careful not to rock the boat if I do post in an election thread now. I didn't even want to post in this thread to be honest, but then I felt cowardly for letting other people do the work while I just quietly favorited.
posted by Ruki at 4:18 PM on October 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


There is no problem with individuals expressing views critical of Sanders

Seriously? Because a while back I made a comment about my discomfort with the way Sanders was presenting himself, and my throat was jumped down with multiple comments that I thought were not only harsh but verged on the personal. It made me extremely wary of posting anything at all in political threads.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:23 PM on October 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


I wondered when this topic was going to come up.

I think it's undeniable that, as many have attested in this thread, Metafilter has become a very unwelcome place for left-of-partisan-Democrat views to be aired since Hillary won the Democratic presidential nomination. I've also dialed back my participation in election threads since about then, since there didn't seem to be much point putting forth left-of-partisan-Democrat views -- or even posting links to stories that didn't reflect well on Clinton -- in that environment. (Not to mention the technical challenge of successfully participating in the conversation when hundreds of comments are flying by.)

But I don't view this as an aberration for Metafilter; it's more of an intensification of its character. By far the dominant political orientation on Metafilter is liberal/Democrat. The same perspectives that get pushback during non-election season are the ones that get yuge pushback during election season. Obama is just as much of a hero and Nader/Assange/Greenwald (let's not even mention, say, Lenin) are just as villainous the rest of the year in Metafilter discussions; there are just (thankfully) fewer people posting. Protesting that Metafilter isn't being friendly to radicals is like protesting that libcom or revleft isn't being friendly to liberals.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I would love it if there was a better reception to radical politics on here, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 4:44 PM on October 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


"why the response cobra_tiger discusses above wouldn't be deleted."

Well, sometimes comments are coming in literally faster than a human can read, so as we're reading up to the moment we're looking for really super-red-flag stuff that's a guaranteed shitstorm. Otherwise we rely fairly heavily on users flagging comments to draw our attention to problem comments. That comment got exactly one flag, a couple hours and 200 comments after it was initially posted and had been responded to (which always makes it more complicated to delete since you have to find and delete all responses). I have no recollection of seeing it, and I'm a pretty devoted election thread reader.

Something not being deleted isn't an indication that mods "approve" of that discourse; it's often an indication that nobody flagged it or that by the time it was flagged it had been thoroughly discussed in-thread and was impossible to delete.

When people comment that while they were going to the bathroom the election thread got 60 more comments, and while they try to read down to the bottom, it got another 40 -- that's what we're dealing with, only we have a dozen other tabs open and are keeping up with a dozen threads that are hot/tense/fighty, and responding to e-mails and memails, and so on. And sometimes we do have to pee.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:47 PM on October 15, 2016 [20 favorites]


(Just briefly addressing the other comment cobra_high_tigers talked about - The comment about Sanders supporters wanting to shout down black people was deleted. But it stood for a while because it was made during the Democratic convention, when some Sanders supporters were literally shouting over black speakers -- so it was one of those things where it's an overstatement but understandable because of the extraordinary behavior it was reacting to.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:57 PM on October 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


I have no idea how y'all manage to keep up even as well as you do. More than once I've wondered how the mods can possibly be dealing with this; I can't even keep up with these threads and all I'm doing is reading them. I can't imagine reading them and trying to moderate them, on top of all the normal moderation work that you always have to do even in a non-election year. But you're doing an excellent job and we couldn't have these threads without you.

You're doing incredible work. I know it's been said by lots of people already, but I really, seriously appreciate what you do. Thank you.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:42 PM on October 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


Election threads are the Worst of the Web.

Have at them, of course, but they're awful.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:49 PM on October 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Earlier in the thread, someone said that any criticism of Hillary not from conservatives be considered "moot,"

That would be me; you missed my qualifier "in the context of the election" and my reasons for that qualifier, and that kind of selective reading seems intent upon missing the point.

Within the context of the election, I'll agree that certain kinds of concerns and positions are difficult to discuss. US elections are about people and not party or ideology, and for those wanting to have an affirmative role in the outcome, there is no such thing as a pure vote. I don't like "politics as sport" analogies, but the presidential election in October is as close as it gets to a tournament, with formal rules. if people show up to say that all the competing teams should lose and how the establishment stiffed their team by preventing it from participating, that comes across as a derail.
posted by holgate at 5:56 PM on October 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


holgate, I might be misunderstanding your use of the term "pure vote," but I have heard an awful lot of criticism of "ideological purity," and it's a misunderstanding of what people are saying. Those children who petulantly demand ideological purity, refusing to vote for anything but perfection, don't they know that real politics requires compromise?

It's a caricature and a straw man, and that's what people respond to if you have anything remotely critical to say. "I don't like Cltinon's rhetoric on Syria" becomes "I don't want her to win because of her views on Syria." That's not what people are saying, and it's exhausting trying to convince people of that.
posted by teponaztli at 6:30 PM on October 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


if people show up to say that all the competing teams should lose and how the establishment stiffed their team by preventing it from participating, that comes across as a derail.

Well, y'know, every College Football National Championship discussion I used to read turned into that.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:30 PM on October 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


[A couple deleted. LM and taz were pretty clear this is not a place to have an argument about political issues that were deleted as derails from the election thread. If that's a problem for you, hit the contact form.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:36 PM on October 15, 2016


Just adding my voice to the chorus of people saying that the vitriol in the election threads is alienating and makes me want to not spend time here, which is ridiculous because
a) I love Metafilter and
b) I am a total government & politics nerd. I watch C-SPAN for fun, ffs.

I also love the mods and feel terribly that this is such a clusterfuck for them. It's worth pointing out that the reason the nasty comments may not be getting flagged is because many of the people they're the most hurtful towards can't keep up with the discussion. I usually take a timid peek at an election thread once a week, and there's inevitably inappropriately nasty comments, but they're hundreds of comments old and flagging would be pointless.
posted by zeusianfog at 6:52 PM on October 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


holgate, my intention was only to summarize since my comment was already very long, not to misrepresent what you said, and rather than assuming bad faith and suggesting to the community that I was somehow "intent upon missing the point," could you explain what this:
That makes political discussions on shades of left in the context of the election moot.
is supposed to mean other than "there is no reason to have political discussions on shades of the left in the context of the election?' Your reason was that there isn't a candidate on the ballot who represents leftier positions, which IMO isn't a reason not to have a discussion, especially given Clinton's record of moving to the left in response to pressure already over the course of this very campaign. Moreover, who cares that there isn't a candidate with that exact view on the ballot? Why should that be a reason to run off any discussion of it? You say because it's "moot," but apparently you meant something different, so I apologize for misunderstanding you. It wasn't intentional.

LobsterMitten: The comment about Sanders supporters wanting to shout down black people was deleted. But it stood for a while because it was made during the Democratic convention, when some Sanders supporters were literally shouting over black speakers -- so it was one of those things where it's an overstatement but understandable because of the extraordinary behavior it was reacting to.

The person said people would not be Sanders supporters unless they wanted to shout down black people. They didn't say "wow, those Sanders supporters who are shouting down the current speaker are assholes, fuck them." That would have been understandable. What they said was that everyone who had supported Sanders was motivated by active racism against black people. I don't consider that an "understandable" "overstatement."

Around one of the several times during the primary season when Black Lives Matter activists tried to interrupt Hillary appearances or fundraising events and were shut down by Clinton's staff and supporters, would it have been understandable to say "People wouldn't be Clinton supporters unless they wanted to silence black women!"? Given that I've had insanely less inflammatory posts deleted almost instantly this year, somehow I suspect not! I cannot understand how this was even a close call.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 6:56 PM on October 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


And let me just say, because I know I've been contentious in here, that I know that trying to moderate those threads must be extraordinarily demanding and I appreciate the mods' dedication to trying to make it possible to have these discussions at all. I just think that the lines you've drawn allow a lot of bad behavior that alienates a chunk of MeFites, as many other people have come forward in this thread to confirm.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 7:01 PM on October 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


While we're all here, I want to mention that I flagged this comment when it was posted.

Mostly because the last line - "Maybe try r/the_donald? With an average age of 15 they might find this information more interesting?" - is unnecessarily obnoxious, but also because this is a (pretty mild, I mentioned upthread that I emailed to have a rape victim-mocking comment deleted) example of something I've seen a lot of worse incidences of: the minimization of the sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Clinton.

You want to argue that they're irrelevant, or that they don't belong in threads related to Hillary Clinton's campaign, that's reasonable and fine. I actually wouldn't care if the topic is declared off-limits. But minimizing them, disparaging the women or dismissing the credible stories of rape or predatory behavior (I am thinking of Broadderick and Lewinsky) is surprising to see when I come to MetaFilter.

I mentioned that I'm having a bit of a tough time with the barrage of accusations against Donald Trump, and the Clinton stuff is kind of hard to see too. I'm not like, mad at anyone, just pointing it out as something folks might want to be mindful of.
posted by lalex at 7:12 PM on October 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


I flagged that comment when it was posted too lalex, because I thought the last line was unnecessarily rude. I also don't think the comment it was responding to was particularly constructive or helpful.
posted by zachlipton at 7:19 PM on October 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I pretty much come to the table in election threads expecting really good and insightful commentary and updates. I come for the well spoken snark and calling out of bullshit for them that deserves it, and boy does the GOP deserve it this year.

Sadly, I also come to the table expecting, much as others have said more eloquently than me (which is, yet again, why I love this place), the echo chamber and righteousness levels to be set to damn near the max.

This isn't unexpected, nor is it entirely unreasonable due to the piles of shit D's and Hillary in particular has had to wade through, but it is tiresome and, more or less, saddening. Both because I very much appreciate hearing any calls of bullshit where it indeed is bullshit and I also felt like, as this thread has confirmed, many voices or ideals that I was expecting to be seeing on the commentary just simply were not there.

This is all less than crucial for me since I, for the most part, grok and don't deviate much from the baseline stance of Democrats these days. Sure I'd lean more protectionist on the environmental front, more sane (but not necessarily restrictive for it's own sake) on 2nd Ammendment stuff, more isolationist on the trade and military fronts, and god knows I'd do everything possible to have sunlight shining in all directions regarding our business and governmental actions... but I know I can't have all these things and eat my cake too.

That doesn't mean intelligent discussion of those same things should be anathema to be shouted down or, and this is the worst, assumed to be put forth in bad faith.

Thanks for this post.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:26 PM on October 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Your reason was that there isn't a candidate on the ballot who represents leftier positions, which IMO isn't a reason not to have a discussion

Let's agree to differ, then. By the time an election gets to October (after a looooooong campaign) I think that ideological discussions that aren't contingent on specific candidates -- or on choosing not to vote -- don't integrate well with discussion of ongoing campaigns with zero-sum outcomes. In national list-based electoral systems (such as the one in the Netherlands) the distinctions are somewhat depersonalised and there is a broader political spectrum where you can vote your conscience with fewer compromises. That's also true in preferential-vote systems. In the US context, you're essentially pushed towards "I have these particular positions and to my regret they're not well represented by the candidates in this particular election, therefore..." whatever your choice is.

In short, there's something similar to Conway's Law on display: the discussion of campaign politics reflects the way elections themselves are structured.

Republicans in California have to choose between two Democrats for the Senate (or not vote at all) because of the jungle primary system adopted by the state. Would a hypothetical discussion on that election be improved by having conservatives (or left-wingers) punctuate it with "this is why jungle primaries suck" and "look at the range of opinion that's being ignored"?
posted by holgate at 8:07 PM on October 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


In short, there's something similar to Conway's Law on display:

I was sure this was going to be about Kellyanne.
posted by lalex at 9:00 PM on October 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's pretty clear that even if you cite evidence of malicious behavior by a political or religious entity, that there is a guideline on this site that a certain point of view must be presented no matter what it takes — even deleting citations that show the consequences of certain political entities gaining power. It could be about supporting Bernie Sanders as much as criticizing any candidates other than Trump — neither view outside that narrow range is permissible.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:54 PM on October 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


And by citations, I mean cites from a newspaper of record. That's not allowed, if it presents a view outside of supporting the current popular candidate.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:56 PM on October 15, 2016


Citations can't show the consequences of anything because citations can't predict future events.

I saw your deleted comment, and I honestly don't see how it has anything to do with "attacking left-of-Clinton/anti-establishment folks." If you have a sad about your deleted comment, start your own MeTa.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:04 PM on October 15, 2016


dragon, not only had your link had already been posted and discussed, but you framed it as anti-Mormon fearmongering and religion-baiting. It was a pretty clear-cut deletion and not in the same realm of "difficulty in the airing of reasonable political viewpoints" that others in this thread are discussing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:07 PM on October 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


you framed it

I cited a newspaper on record as to the serious consequences of bringing politicians to power who have ulterior motives. Just as when I have expressed support for people like Sanders and Greenwald, it is a view that, despite being based on troubling facts on record, cannot be tolerated.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:14 PM on October 15, 2016


I cited a newspaper on record as to the serious consequences of bringing politicians to power who have ulterior motives.

There's no limit to how this same logic can be used, against any politician that has any strongly-held view on anything. It could be used to block Catholic candidates because they might have allegiance to the pope, or Jewish candidates because they might have allegiance to Israel. Trying to connect it to the topic of this MeTa is a shameful attempt to capitalize on a legitimate point of contention in the community to justify using gross generalizations against people/groups you don't like.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:18 PM on October 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I flagged your comment pretty much immediately, a lungful of dragon, for basically the reasons Eyebrows lists above. It's a bit of a delicate area, since yes, there are those videos (which you yourself posted the same article about a few days ago and got 40 favorites, so nobody is trying to silence you to protect Mormon secrets), but your comment now crossed way over the line into catastrophizing at the idea of any Mormon president, no matter who they are or what they think, and that's not really ok. It's possible to talk about concerns with the Mormon Church's role in politics as an organization (and I have many such concerns) without getting into fear-mongering over how dangerous it would be to have any Mormon at all in office.

As for the idea that expressing support for Sanders cannot be tolerated here, were you here during the "litigate the primaries" phase of the election when a significant number of people were doing just that?
posted by zachlipton at 10:24 PM on October 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


As for the idea that expressing support for Sanders cannot be tolerated here, were you here during the "litigate the primaries" phase of the election when a significant number of people were doing just that?

For the record, I am glad to see this discussion finally happen. It is part and parcel of how a minority of users here, myself included, have been treated when people like Sanders and Greenwald and others report or discuss unpleasant facts on record or political issues that are otherwise discouraged because those facts do not align with what the moderators and the majority want to push as a "reasonable" point of view, which boils down to whatever arbitrary standards of "acceptability" that those people want.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 10:27 PM on October 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


lungful of dragon, I think that's enough on your derail here and if you want to continue this discussion, you can bring it to the contact form or start a separate MeTa. I'd appreciate you allowing others the space to continue their discussion about echo chambers and reasonable political points of view, instead of shoehorning in your unrelated complaint about having a comment clearly outside the rules deleted. Thanks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:30 PM on October 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Could the mods turn off favorites in the election threads? I think they encourage the kind of snowballing pile-on effect people are describing in this thread.
posted by Joe Chip at 11:27 PM on October 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


We don't have a function like that, no. However, members can control their own view via preferences by going to "Comment favorites style" and selecting either "show 'has favorites'" (lets you know something has favorites without showing the count) or "Hide Favorites."

Not what you were getting at, I understand, but thought I'd mention it.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:47 PM on October 15, 2016


The tendency of some here on this site to assume their beliefs are objectively true and correct and should be treated as such is a big problem. Corb gets strung up for being a standard Republican and a bunch of liberals forming a support group in the election threads is horrible but of course Greenwald and Assange are heroes and this site was never a Sanders echo chamber between December-July, that was just people speaking common sense! Well, not everyone sees much heroic in Greenwald or Assange just like not everyone sees Obama or Clinton as heroic figures. And no, I'm sure not everyone liked the Sanders echo chamber anymore then than they do the Clinton echo chamber now. Once Clinton is elected I am sure this will go back to a more diverse view because I am old enough to remember how it worked with Obama and Clinton is less charming and has way more baggage.

And this will be my only comment in this thread because this is just about everything I hate in Metafilter in one place and why I lurked so long before throwing down money. Asking for a safe space from other opinions while also presuming your own opinions are objectively true? Calling out comments you didn't like but of course not when they're posted so the person you are calling out wouldn't know unless they happened to wander over here. Complaining when other comments get favorites? Are we supposed to be shaming people for liking things we didn't?

Metatalk encourages some childish behavior which is part of the reason I love it because it's a hilarious trainwreck. But if we're being honest, I'm not sure it always helps. And if I'm being really honest- because when am I not - sometimes I feel the modding contributes to the calling out and the petty sniping. What is the point of having private messaging if even some of the mods don't use it? Is it just to give people a thrill when they see the naughty kid get yelled at in class? Because I don't really need to know [insert user here] has been given a time out for being a bad boy. I'm sure it's done with the best intentions of being transparent or whatever but it's clear some folks think some users are easy punching bags and unintentionally highlighting that is not a good idea.

Either comment and take the lumps or flag the comments you find offensive and move on. And likewise, mods just need to delete, pm the offenders, and move on. Anything else just encourages more in-fighting and some other weird behavior.
posted by asteria at 1:22 AM on October 16, 2016 [24 favorites]


Reading these posts suggesting that left opposing viewpoints are "tainted" in people's minds due to their occasional resemblance to opposing viewpoints coming from the far right, the phrase that keeps popping into my head is fellow traveller.

Radicals and leftists are by no means unacquainted with guilt by association arguments or smear tactics as means of discrediting or (further) marginalising them. But over the last year or so, these rhetorical tactics have become utterly pervasive and toxic in online spaces. And it's not just here, and it's not just Clinton vs Sanders. It's not much fun being a Corbyn supporter here either. Or having non-party-line takes on Brexit, as mentioned above. I was and very much am a remain supporter, but the straight out abuse repeatedly aimed at Brits who've criticised the EU from a left perspective I've found pretty awful.

The horse race has legitimised a number of abusive rhetorical tactics online this season. There's the basic ad hominem: the conclusion, often by a wilful misreading, that a particular left position "really" springs from some form of social pathology or intolerance. See the liberal pushback against class analysis as being "really" a stalking horse for something else, for instance. The point of the ad hominem isn't to have an honest argument, of course; rather, it's to deligitimise the speaker being attacked and force them out of the conversation.

There's the smear tactic, whereby a certain form of political speech or speaker is attacked because it "sounds like" (to the hot-taker) the kind of rhetoric usually associated with another, stigmatised group. And then there's the closely related guilt by association tactic, whereby a candidate is attacked due to the apparent behaviour of his or her worst supporters. So random people on Twitter become the reason why certain liberals "can't even anymore" with left-leaning candidates, as though the offending tweets had actually been sent by their campaigns.

This is by no means a complete anatomy of the hostile liberal rhetoric aimed at the left flank in the US and the U.K. lately. Coupled with the unconsidered tendency to speak on behalf of the oppressed discussed above, and the pervasive use of uncharitable "hot take" readings to disquailfy particular dissenting voices on moral grounds, they make occupying any form of dissenting left position difficult and increasingly not worth it in terms of time taken and being made to feel constantly like shit. What makes it worse, of course, is that all of these attacks are usually made from a position of assumed moral righteousness.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:40 AM on October 16, 2016 [53 favorites]


^ this is very astute
posted by naju at 3:59 AM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


The tendency of some here on this site to assume their beliefs are objectively true and correct and should be treated as such is a big problem.

That's not really a site problem, that's a humanity problem. The site's problem is that it has selected an Overton window within which there is stuff Mefi Does Well. Opinions falling within the window are protected, outside the window they are fair game for hostile critique or deletion, should the mods judge the volume of hostile critique will be such as to derail the thread. They can be expressed, and if you've got some Cicero level rhetorical chops and the hide of an rhino you might even get an interesting discussion out of it. But there be dragons.

Since MeFi is a fairly lefty site, people on the left are unaccustomed to finding themselves outside the window. I'm sure being outside the window on this particular topic is especially difficult, given the society-wide levels of hostility being generated by this election. On the other hand, from what I can tell the majority of posters highly value having a window and having its perimeters vigorously policed, because what they like about Mefi is coming here to have discussions with likeminded people, and they don't really enjoy having to spend much of their time arguing with people whose minds they don't like.
posted by Diablevert at 5:02 AM on October 16, 2016 [16 favorites]


what they like about Mefi is coming here to have discussions with likeminded people, and they don't really enjoy having to spend much of their time arguing with people whose minds they don't like.
I think you have made a good point there. However there are those of us outside the USA who will also be affected by this election and although we do not have a vote our concerns are still valid.
A lot of the outside world is apalled that the world´s self appointed policeman with it´s imperialistic tendencies has narrowed its choice of leadership to a contest between a vulgar braggart with an accute narcistic personality defect order and a proven warmonger with uncomfortably close ties to wall street.
Further this is the green and not the blue and comments are being removed before they are replied to and with only a cursary note left some time after the event.
This is in itself a change in site policy which has not been discussed.
posted by adamvasco at 6:16 AM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


They can be expressed, and if you've got some Cicero level rhetorical chops and the hide of an rhino you might even get an interesting discussion out of it. But there be dragons.

I agree with much of what's being said here in the thread and can easily see why people are upset about being shouted down, which does happen frequently, and feeling like they're outsiders when their belief set runs even modestly counter to the majority here on contentious issues, which I've felt and which kept me from joining for a long time.

I highlighted the quote above, not because I think it's wrong exactly, but to suggest that much of the problem is often more tied to how thoughts are expressed rather than what thoughts are expressed. Not always of course, just often.

Many of the posts people find most problematic aren't due to the disagreement itself, but how the posters are expressing their disagreement. The feelings of hostility are from the posts reading as more hostile than good faith efforts to communicate with each other. Way too many posts ending with "zingers", intensifiers mean not to persuade, but to show distaste or dismiss other viewpoints. I've stood up for the value of sarcasm on the site before, but I think there is a difference between dealing with large scope problems that are beyond the reach of most individuals where sarcasm can be a useful coping technique, and in talking to other individuals where sarcasm is mostly a technique of diminishment of the person you are addressing or the position they hold.

One can stand up for values firmly without devaluing the people one disagrees with. Asking legitimate questions goes farther than making assumption based on the worst case readings of other's viewpoints. Neutral phrasing keeps conversations less personalized, allowing for talk of the views rather than making everything feel like an attack. I think people often allow the act of writing and ideas of argument as defining disagreements to push their conversation to fit certain norms of how ideas "should be" expressed for most power. There are other ways to disagree that don't rely on adversarial opposition, but assume a shared desire to find common ground or better understanding. These approaches are not used as much as they could be on the site and that is troublesome.

On so many of the specific issues where hard feelings have arisen over posts, there doesn't seem to really be that much actual disagreement. Criticizing Clinton on foreign policy, for example, is something I gather many, maybe even most of the people here could accept as reasonable in the abstract usually even based on their own beliefs. So the arguments that arise seem to be less about the act of questioning than the appropriateness of the timing and the manner of the approach.

There seems to be a split here between people who want to mostly talk about the "realities" of political choices and those who want to address the "ideals" of the choices, (where each are both mainly concerned about the reality outside the conversation). Add to that a second sort of split between those who do not like negative talk about those they support, for reasons I assume could be partly superstition at time and partly fear of bad influence potentially having some effect on others, and those who feel questioning is itself important at any time to keep perspectives in line. This makes the dynamic of conversation difficult even though many underlying values are often largely shared.

I think a lot of these problems would be minimized if there was more effort being placed into thinking about how we are communicating to each other as apart from the issues being discussed rather than focusing so much on the act of disagreeing whenever some post just strikes us the wrong way. To be sure, there will still be disagreements, but working towards commonality of interest, even if just in the value of discussion on this site, will go a long way to improving the situation.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:23 AM on October 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


None of this is unique to Clinton voters, or Democrats, or liberals, or Americans. Early on, I stayed out of any Assange discussion because any skepticism was treated as practically an admission that you were CIA. (That's changed a bit since he's revealed himself to be so obviously a friend of the Alex Jones right.) Criticisms of anarchism aren't welcome in discussions of anarchism. Reservations about the usefulness of "cultural appropriation" as a concept is treated as tantamount to being racist or imperialist. And I don't even read the Brexit discussions because it's dispiriting to watch left Leavers gamely try to apologize for flushing their country down the toilet and besides it isn't my country anyway.

There's nothing to be done about this. It's simply the nature of a forum like metafilter that on any given topic vital to the lives of the hundreds or thousands of readers who want to participate that some will want to confess, some exhort, or evangelize, or criticize, or satirize, or joke, raise consciousness, seek solidarity, what have you, in ways that are bound to offend others, even assuming everyone's best faith. If it's an "echo chamber" it's one that nearly everyone has wanted it to be at one point or another. I have no idea how it could be something else, satisfying to everyone.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:38 AM on October 16, 2016 [13 favorites]


That's changed a bit since he's revealed himself to be so obviously a friend of the Alex Jones right.

This is an excellent example of what Sonny Jim was referring to above as a "fellow traveller" smear that has become unfortunately common lately.

It's a shame, because it mars what was otherwise an insightful comment.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:50 AM on October 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


And this
...it's dispiriting to watch left Leavers gamely try to apologize for flushing their country down the toilet ...
is begging a question while not displaying much respect for the good faith of those people.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:00 AM on October 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


And I don't even read the Brexit discussions because it's dispiriting to watch left Leavers gamely try to apologize for flushing their country down the toilet and besides it isn't my country anyway.

There are only two left leavers active on the entire site, and I'm giving up as a result of this thread, so you should be fine.
posted by Coda Tronca at 8:40 AM on October 16, 2016


Further this is the green and not the blue and comments are being removed before they are replied to and with only a cursary note left some time after the event.
This is in itself a change in site policy which has not been discussed.


We have discussed, a bunch of times, the fact that we will sometimes delete stuff in MetaTalk, or more accurately will do so these days even for things that aren't the worst sort of nuclear-grade slur-flinging or meltdowns that had already been deleteable in the past. It's been addressed repeatedly over a series of years, and we've talked a lot about the rationale, which comes in significant part down to not wanting this to be the worst sort of anything-goes thunderdome it had sometimes been in earlier days.

We have also never claimed that every deletion will get a note, anywhere on the site. We've been very clear, for a very long time, that the opposite is so. We often trust people to just pay attention and take a hint. It mostly works, and when it doesn't we'll leave a note after all.

You got something deleted elsewhere, brought it over here where it wasn't at all appropriate, got that deleted, posted complaints about that deletion when you've been here long enough and then some to know better, and are now complaining that we weren't quick enough about leaving the note about those deletions that we should not have had to deal with in the first place. I don't really care if you're not up to speed on MetaTalk policy, but that's up to you to do the reading or not; flatly asserting that we haven't talked about the very thing we've talked about a whole bunch is a pretty crappy foundation for a complaint.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on October 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


I have to confess that I'm more than a little cynical about this thread, because it wasn't six months ago that the election threads were dominated by leftists going on and on about how awful Clinton was: Syria, she's really a Republican, she won't keep her promises, emails, etc. etc. etc. Often backed by barely concealed loathing.

And NOW they're complaining that there's an echo chamber, and people aren't being nice. It would have been nice to have had that happen last fall.
posted by happyroach at 9:20 AM on October 16, 2016 [44 favorites]


Could the mods turn off favorites in the election threads? I think they encourage the kind of snowballing pile-on effect people are describing in this thread.

Quite the opposite, I think. We very rarely get "+1", "me too" type responses around here. There is the "QFT" variant, but it's much rarer, and I think favorites (which of course aren't upvotes but are sometimes used for that purpose) are a big reason why. If I disagree with someone and I've already seen a comment making the same point I was going to, I can simply Favorite It And Move On. I am certain that I do this multiple times per day. If there were no mechanism, however subtle, to communicate one's agreement with the sentiment of another member's point, we'd probably see a much lower signal-to-noise ratio in these fast-moving threads.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:20 AM on October 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


I argue that it contributes to the echo chamber effect when you come into a thread and a comment with opposing views to your own expressed in an attacking way has 100+ favorites, if you read the room as is suggested you basically self select out of the discussion.

The "me too" comments could be dealt with the same way as the live reaction "WTF?" comments; deleted as a matter of policy if they don't actually add to the discussion.
posted by Joe Chip at 9:40 AM on October 16, 2016


It's funny. Metafilter is the only place where I feel safe discussing my support for Clinton. I'm surrounded by people on the left who can't stand her or people who can't stand the US at all. In all my other online discussions of politics, I feel like I have to be very circumspect about my own views. So I appreciate this echo chamber. I agree that it is one, but there was a good long stretch at the beginning of this year when the echo chamber was anti-Clinton.
posted by bardophile at 9:48 AM on October 16, 2016 [35 favorites]


I argue that it contributes to the echo chamber effect when you come into a thread and a comment with opposing views to your own expressed in an attacking way has 100+ favorites, if you read the room as is suggested you basically self select out of the discussion.

The "expressed in an attacking way" bit is supposed to be dealt with via flags and deletions. Folks above have noted instances where they felt certain comments crossed the line, and mods have weighed in with an acknowledgement that they don't always get them all, especially if people aren't flagging, as seems to have been the case with one of the comments in question.

Assuming for the sake of argument we could do better in pruning obviously nasty comments, the simple mathematical fact of more people being one one side of an issue and fewer being on another is going to lead to (a) more comments in favor of the more popular position, and (b) more favorites on those comments. If that's intimidating to you, you can disable favorites for your account as has been mentioned many times before. That doesn't deal with (a), but I think favorites being enabled site-wide does put downward pressure on it. Still, minority positions are minority positions -- they deserve to be heard, but so do the responses from others who feel those positions are wrong.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:56 AM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


not wanting this to be the worst sort of anything-goes thunderdome it had sometimes been

Awwww...... popcorn futures just dropped a couple points.
posted by sammyo at 10:27 AM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have to confess that I'm more than a little cynical about this thread, because it wasn't six months ago that the election threads were dominated by leftists going on and on about how awful Clinton was: Syria, she's really a Republican, she won't keep her promises, emails, etc. etc. etc. Often backed by barely concealed loathing.

Cosigned.

Early in the primary cycle, I noticed multiple Clinton supporters buttoning (at least temporarily) after what felt shitty, super-personalized attacks from the leftier-than-thou brigade. I myself was one of those temporary buttoners, in fact.

It's pretty fucking rich that this contingent (I believe some of those same folks have commented in this very thread) that was so aggressive--and often outright hostile--at the beginning of the year are now all like "SILENCED ALL MY LIFE!!!1!!!1!"
posted by dersins at 10:31 AM on October 16, 2016 [34 favorites]


Is it too late far into the discussion to re-raise the issue that a single election thread is problematic? I agree it's become an echo chamber of the same points over and over. And comments are so rapidly added that it's difficult for new discussions to gain traction.

In other words, where would one post to have a reasoned discussion about how not to lose momentum these next few weeks as voters begin to finalize stances? And about the comment re Obama's likely cabinet choices being known to insiders prior to elections-where is the discussion about Clinton's likely cabinet and first actions?
posted by beaning at 10:36 AM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have to confess that I'm more than a little cynical about this thread, because it wasn't six months ago that the election threads were dominated by leftists going on and on about how awful Clinton was

...

It's pretty fucking rich that this contingent (I believe some of those same folks have commented in this very thread) that was so aggressive--and often outright hostile--at the beginning of the year are now all like "SILENCED ALL MY LIFE!!!1!!!1!"

I never got that sense at all. It seemed like the opposite to me, like you couldn't say anything critical without people piling on and telling you to shut up, or telling you what was wrong with you for buying into propaganda, etc. I'm not trying to say you're wrong about this, but none of us has a neutral, objective perspective on this. No one is saying there weren't nasty Sanders supporters, and there weren't people making nasty comments about Clinton, because obviously there were. But -- I'll say this for like the millionth time this year -- they don't speak for all of us, and their presence doesn't mean that those of us who feel shut out from the conversation are just pouting because we used to dominate the conversation and now we don't. I mean, really.

I've thought this was a problem for a long time, and it has had an effect on my participation on this site. Can we please not have the whole "silenced all my life" caricature be a part of this? Making nonspecific callouts and saying this thread is "pretty fucking rich" is kind of hurtful and doesn't really help move things forward?
posted by teponaztli at 10:39 AM on October 16, 2016 [26 favorites]


And NOW they're complaining that there's an echo chamber, and people aren't being nice. It would have been nice to have had that happen last fall.

I agree that it is one, but there was a good long stretch at the beginning of this year when the echo chamber was anti-Clinton.

I'm glad you folks are bringing this up, because I just went back to a few of the earlier election threads (early on in the primary season) and eyeballed things with a Greasemonkey script that highlights comments that get more favorites, and it does look like the feel of those "rooms" was very much skewed toward a pro-Sanders position. The threads start to look more balanced as Super Tuesday approached, and by the time of the DNC, things definitely got harder for someone who wanted to criticize Clinton, as one might expect when the outcome is already decided but the losing candidate is still attacking the party he campaigned for the nomination of.

In addition to the natural shift that's to be expected as people rally around the nominee, much of this shift can be accounted for by the departure of dialetheia, who was among the most prolific posters in these threads, and almost always supported her case with strong citations. After she left, there simply weren't as many Sanders loyalists / Clinton skeptics willing or able to put the kind of time and effort she did into her defenses, so the tone of the threads really shifted. There were other great comments from Clinton skeptics, and there were other high volume posters from that side, but it's really freaking hard to put in as much work as she did on both quality and quantity, so I feel like that was a decisive factor in the tone shift of those threads.

These shifts can be hard to pick up on in real time, because as the ground is shifting beneath us, we're also being convinced by different arguments. I was of course aware of people rallying behind the nominee, but I didn't remember how hostile things were to Clinton supporters earlier in the primary season, possibly because I was supporting Sanders at the time and had some of my own skepticism toward Clinton, some of which I still hold, some of which has been addressed by her moves toward bringing the Sanders wing of the party into the tent, and some of which I've concluded was just me buying into some of the bullshit attacks. It's good to look back now and then to see how things have shifted, and I concur that this is one of those cases where the shoe is now on the other foot.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:41 AM on October 16, 2016 [29 favorites]


I get where many of you are coming from, so I would just like to share my perspective on why the election threads are the way they are.

Quite honestly, the election threads are one of the few things that have kept me sane this election season. It has honestly felt like one of the few places where actual admiration of Clinton could be expressed, without being faced with both-sides-are-badism and false equivalence. Some of you have been saying that you wish that the threads were not there or that American politics discussion were not allowed on the site - I could not more strongly disagree. The fact is, the American election is hugely consequential and many of us are following it obsessively. Having a place to discuss what is going on with the polls and the latest news stories in a relatively safe environment has been invaluable to me and I'm sure many others.

This election has really scared me. I consider myself relatively privileged, yet I am an immigrant woman from a South Asian country. The crazy rhetoric, racism and sexism I have seen during this election cycle is like nothing I have experienced before. I am honestly terrified of a world where Donald Trump is US President. I had nightmares thinking about him having access to the nuclear codes, whether he would start requiring religious tests at the US border, about the outbreak of racism that would follow if he became President, about his further crushing the poor in this country. Which is to say - this is about as far from theoretical as it can be for me.

Thus I do have a tendency to think about all statements and actions through the lens of: is this increasing the chances that Donald Trump will become President? When someone posts something about how both Clinton and Trump are awful, I wonder if there are people reading that who are becoming convinced to vote third party in a swing state. When someone makes an argument for why they are not voting, I think they are increasing the chance that Trump will be President. And you can argue that that's a narrow viewpoint - but just understand, that is the level of panic I feel about this election. If Bernie had been the Democratic nominee, I would have felt the exact same way about criticism leveled at him. Even the fact that Trump has a 15% chance to win feels so high - like Russian roulette.

At another level, I really deeply wish that the American electorate could find it in themselves to deliver a landslide victory so as to firmly repudiate Trump's racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric and stances. I wonder why we are arguing about theoretical problems with Clinton's policies or her backroom rhetoric, when we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to deliver a Democratic victory up and down the ballot. What could be more important for progressive causes than to have a Democratic President, Senate and Congress? What is it that you are practically trying to achieve by bringing up something she said once in some speech or wrote in some email?

I also fundamentally disagree with the premise that those who are criticizing Clinton are inherently speaking from a more left-wing position than those who do not. I might have extremely left-wing ideals, but still believe that the need of the hour is to get Clinton elected, and be impatient with arguments that seem to not understand that.
posted by peacheater at 10:51 AM on October 16, 2016 [48 favorites]


It seems to me that the major complaints people are making have to do with 1) being talked to or about in an abusive manner and b) being made to feel that their opinions are so obviously wrong or dangerous that just bringing them up is offensive to everyone here, at least at this critical time. Any responses that are like, Wellllll, people do have the right to disagree with you/You're just gonna have to deal with some pushback sometimes/Sit down and let me explain how it works when you're in what's known as "the minority" seem beside the point to me.

Also, I don't usually do this but I really wish dialetheia hadn't left and that she would come back.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:53 AM on October 16, 2016 [33 favorites]


It seems to me that the major complaints people are making have to do with 1) being talked to or about in an abusive manner and b) being made to feel that their opinions are so obviously wrong or dangerous that just bringing them up is offensive to everyone here, at least at this critical time.

this this this
posted by lalex at 10:56 AM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just went back to a few of the earlier election threads (early on in the primary season) and eyeballed things with a Greasemonkey script that highlights comments that get more favorites, and it does look like the feel of those "rooms" was very much skewed toward a pro-Sanders position

It sounds like dialetheia posted a ton of comments with lots of links in them, and they got lots of favorites, and then she left and there were fewer highly-favorited pro-Sanders comments. Which makes sense if they were mostly dialetheia? Who buttoned, by the way, after getting some really rough and nasty treatment.

So let's say we can quantify support, and there was a clear bias toward Sanders a year ago. That means, what, that there's nothing to complain about now because the shoe is on the other foot and those of us who are critical of anything about Clinton now deserve whatever we get -- because it's really just our own team's bad behavior being thrown back at us? The primaries were incredibly nasty and hostile, and I absolutely hated them. Yeah, there were some super hostile Sanders supporters, and I hated every comment they made. And there were some super hostile Clinton supporters, and they were the ones who told me how my support for Sanders illustrated everything that is wrong with my character - my sexism, my ignorance, my inability to think critically. Is that what we want now? Because all we're getting by saying this "is pretty fucking rich" is saying that people like me have nothing to complain about, because look at how shitty Sanders supporters used to be.

I want to be able to participate on this site without people feeling like they have license to treat me like shit because Sanders supporters were nasty back in January, or because the stakes of this election are high. I don't want to be treated like I deserve to be personally insulted, smacked down, made fun of, and humiliated because I'm critical of something and it sounds just enough like something someone said five weeks ago. I get that there's been anti-Clinton users who make really broad, negative comments, but even if I look like one of those at first glance, and even if you think someone might read a criticism and not vote for Clinton -- you can still think I'm wrong without having to shoot me down with zingers and assessments of character flaws, because it hurts and it's not the disagreement I care about so much as the way it's thrown at you here.

Ugh, feeling like you have to say that is just depressing. This is why I don't really like it here anymore.
posted by teponaztli at 11:03 AM on October 16, 2016 [19 favorites]


Jesus Christ, how many times are people going to come in here and smugly post some shit about people just not wanting to hear any criticism of their opinions when over and over again in this thread we've been trying to make it clear that the problem is not disagreement but instead abusive behavior like personal attacks, smears, pile-ons, and the like that are being tolerated by the community
because it wasn't six months ago that the election threads were dominated by leftists going on and on about how awful Clinton was: Syria, she's really a Republican, she won't keep her promises, emails, etc. etc. etc. Often backed by barely concealed loathing.
So I appreciate this echo chamber. I agree that it is one, but there was a good long stretch at the beginning of this year when the echo chamber was anti-Clinton.
Cool so were people attacking you as a person or just not supporting Clinton as strongly as you wanted? Because if the former, I'm very sorry that happened to you. I hope those comments were dealt with by the mods - something that too often these days is not happening in the election threads - and I don't want to throw around the "h" word but it seems like you should support this kind of action being taken now that the tables are turned. If it was the latter, I'm sorry that many people criticized your favorite candidate but you understand that's not the subject of this MeTa, right?
The "expressed in an attacking way" bit is supposed to be dealt with via flags and deletions. Folks above have noted instances where they felt certain comments crossed the line, and mods have weighed in with an acknowledgement that they don't always get them all, especially if people aren't flagging, as seems to have been the case with one of the comments in question.
Yes so maybe if the problem is that the mods aren't seeing personal attacks because they aren't getting flagged in a fast-moving thread, maybe you guys could make an effort to either (a) encourage other people to quit being personally shitty to other MeFites, or (b) flag the offending comments yourselves, instead of favoriting them, even if you agree with the political POV of the person posting them? This is a good idea, we should probably start a MeTa post to discuss this proposal, maybe call it something along the lines of "Can we stop attacking left-of-Clinton/anti-establishment folks on h--OH WAIT

Pretty sad that we're 150+ comments deep and there's still plenty of pushback from the community against the removal of, and apathy of the moderators towards, toxic comments like personal attacks, mocking misrepresentations of other posters' views, smearing people as racists, and the like! I remember a time when posters like Optimus Chyme got tons of his comments nuked and lots of mod condemnation for this type of behavior but now it seems like, eh, a lot of the people still left seem to like the comments so if the flag to fav ratio is too low then who gives a shit? I note that the comment that several people in this very thread have recently admitted to flagging didn't get deleted despite the general condescending tone, the puerile fellow traveller tag at the end, etc., so hey, I guess try flagging again next time guys. Maybe it'll work then! Of course given the mods' past record of responding to flags on such comments and their general attitude toward the complaints in this thread (mainly policing derails, otherwise silence except for a couple of comments saying "you're right that's a shit comment sucked but it didn't get the magical mystery number of flags" or "this will correct itself," no acknowledgment of the specific trend that a lot of people in here have said happened to them and pushed them away from Metafilter)... I wouldn't hold your breath.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:06 AM on October 16, 2016 [23 favorites]


It sounds like dialetheia posted a ton of comments with lots of links in them, and they got lots of favorites, and then she left and there were fewer highly-favorited pro-Sanders comments. Which makes sense if they were mostly dialetheia? Who buttoned, by the way, after getting some really rough and nasty treatment.

I was looking at all of the comments, not just ones with links in them, or ones posted by a particular poster.

So let's say we can quantify support, and there was a clear bias toward Sanders a year ago. That means, what, that there's nothing to complain about now because the shoe is on the other foot and those of us who are critical of anything about Clinton now deserve whatever we get

No, it means that there were people posting like assholes then, and there are people posting like assholes now, but this MeTa isn't about how some people post like assholes, because that's a site problem that already has a remedy, it's about how there are people posting like assholes who are particularly hostile toward "left-of-Clinton/anti-establishment" folks. I don't take issue with trying to cut the number of nasty comments, I take issue with trying to characterize it as a particular problem for a small subset of people with particular beliefs based on, from what I can see, two hostile comments, one of which was deleted and one of which got a single flag.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:12 AM on October 16, 2016 [15 favorites]


I didn't link to specific comment examples because I wasn't sure whether it would be a good idea. If you think it would be helpful let me know.
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:28 PM on October 14 [+] [!]


Can we get some mod guidance on linking to/calling out individual comments/people in MeTa? I've been a little confused about the consensus on this for quite some time.
posted by lalex at 11:22 AM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


No, it means that there were people posting like assholes then, and there are people posting like assholes now, but this MeTa isn't about how some people post like assholes, because that's a site problem that already has a remedy, it's about how there are people posting like assholes who are particularly hostile toward "left-of-Clinton/anti-establishment" folks. I don't take issue with trying to cut the number of nasty comments, I take issue with trying to characterize it as a particular problem for a small subset of people with particular beliefs based on, from what I can see, two hostile comments, one of which was deleted and one of which got a single flag.

But people are saying that the remedy isn't working in this case, and that these comments aren't getting deleted because the mods are overworked and the threads move really fast.

More to the point, I'm not going to play the game of pulling out every example of bad behavior from 60,000 election thread comments just to prove that it's a real problem. There's a couple examples, but I, for one, am reluctant go through and dig up everything bad that has ever been said to me -- and then have it be picked apart and be like "well, that one got 61 favorites, but this other insult only got 7, so that one doesn't really count as evidence of a pile-on." I'm not going to argue about this being a real problem, because a number of people have said they noticed it too. Either we all made it up (d/t being big babies who can't handle disagreement, right?) or we're all picking up on something that you might not notice if it doesn't affect you the same way it affects us.
posted by teponaztli at 11:29 AM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


octobersurprise has it in that it's not like this is a problem limited to just those to the left of Clinton, but something the site struggles with on a number of angles. And peacheater's comment, I think, really embodies a key problem, in that to her this is such an important event that anything that could even potentially be seen as not wholeheartedly supporting Clinton is too close to helping Trump get elected in some capacity. Which, understandable though it is, also gives rise to a number of the behaviours this MeTa is about.

People are being shitty to other users, being shitty community members, because they care so much that the need to not be an arsehole is overwritten by how important and personal the topic is. And beyond a subsite of PoliticsFilter, which won't happen, and another iteration of Flag It And Move On, which isn't enough, I think there could be more moderation of comments and commenters who are too close to an issue to follow the site's guidelines. Because even if you fear a Trumpageddon, you're still engaging in shitty behaviour on a community website.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:41 AM on October 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


But people are saying that the remedy isn't working in this case, and that these comments aren't getting deleted because the mods are overworked and the threads move really fast.

So, i'm not even working now, and wasn't working when the comment cobra_high_tigers mentions was posted, but I don't know if I'd delete that even if it weren't 200 comments later, and that's because it's sometimes difficult to parse "you." If I'm modding and see a comment that is clearly addressing another member and making it personal, I delete. If it seems like "if you [GROUP] cannot understand this, then you suck" (or similar) in which the group has been referenced earlier in the comment, I will often leave it because it seems more like it's addressing the group, not a specific poster personally. Most of the time it's fairly clear, but definitely not always, and I run into this issue of parsing the "you" more than I'd like, and have definitely made mistakes. One time I left it, but contacted the commenter and they were like, "no, totally meant that to be about [the other member]." Le sigh. But it's a thing that I have to try to decipher fairly often.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:43 AM on October 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


I've read all but one of the election threads, start to finish. My take is there has been ire, piling-on, inappropriate personal insults, and downright rudeness and immaturity throughout, but it's because people are lashing out out of passion and increasing fear and anxiety. During the primaries, discussion was dominated by Sanders fans who did a lot of shouting-down of Clinton supporters (sometimes with shades of "lol dumb centrist sheeple" and - yes - sexism) to the point of Clinton fans ending participation in the threads; after it became clear Sanders had no chance anymore, the Clinton fans took over / came back, vented a lot of buried (imo misplaced) anger at Sanders and Sanders fans (which led to some of them leaving), and then began to dominate the discussion (including their own shouting-down and sometimes with shades of "ha ha you lost go away" and "lol radicals").

Being a grumpy, critical, snarky person in general, and not much of a fan of either Sanders or Clinton in particular, I've criticized both of them more than I've praised them and gotten a lot of clapbacks as a result (including both shitty, dumb ones and very fair and accurate ones! that actually ended up expanding my mind!). Just like the personal is political, the political is really, deeply personal. And a lot of Mefites, like a lot of people, are prone to ridiculous hyperbole when they're scared. We're all really fucking scared. And that brings me to my point, which is on balance I think these threads saved my mind this election cycle, honestly. I'm sorry they were on balance negative experiences for some people (and I'm glad you spoke up); for a lot us, even those who agree these included a ton of bad behavior, they were net positive.

My one tip is, if you start counting faves and taking it personally ("Why are people liking that shitty comment someone said about me! Let me check again and see who liked it!"), turn. off. your. dang. favorites.
posted by sallybrown at 11:43 AM on October 16, 2016 [29 favorites]


two hostile comments, one of which was deleted and one of which got a single flag.

1) There are more than two, come on now.

2) at least one got 2 flags and I still think it should have been deleted with a request for rephrase or something.

3) you can't have known this, of course, but I did email the mods about the comment I posted here. I was told it was not crossing a line which...I just disagree. It's such a fucking crappy and unfounded reaction, to the point that I actually looked at the original commenter's activity to see whether they had some kind of history of sexist statements. Nope, but they are a Hillary fan!

I was pretty neutral in the primaries but I didn't really hang out in those MeFi threads (because, actually, I thought they were super-vicious to Bernie supporters, especially as his path to the nomination narrowed), so I will take you at your word that bad things were said to Hillary supporters. Let's try to solve the problem of hostile and abusive behavior anyway.
posted by lalex at 11:44 AM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh, something I forgot - I have noticed there is much more passive aggression in the election threads than is the norm for Metafilter. (The Kaine example above is the kind of thing I'm talking about, but it's far from the only one. Instead of asking sincerely why the poster liked Kaine but disliked Clinton so much, the poster drew an inference and then set a bit of a trap.) I think this is due to generalized fear. People are passive aggressive when they are scared to be straightforward. It's very unpleasant but I think also a sign of the times, USA politics-wise.
posted by sallybrown at 11:48 AM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, i'm not even working now, and wasn't working when the comment cobra_high_tigers mentions was posted, but I don't know if I'd delete that even if it weren't 200 comments later, and that's because it's sometimes difficult to parse "you."

Wait, are you talking about this comment? The comment which specifically quotes cobra_high_tigers and goes on to say

If you are looking at this campaign and seeing some sort of centrist Republican-lite thing, that shit is on you because it just fucking isn't. Like, objective fucking fact, the moon is not made of cheese, it just isn't so. At some fucking point it's on you to pull the scales from your own fucking eyes, because God doesn't seem to be doing it this time. Fuck.

Is this the comment you're talking about?
posted by lalex at 11:49 AM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Instead of asking sincerely why the poster liked Kaine but disliked Clinton so much, the poster drew an inference and then set a bit of a trap.)

It's not obvious from the comment I linked, so I just want to point out that the poster likes Hillary! Which makes the whole rush to get one's SICK BURN in a bit more grotesque.
posted by lalex at 12:15 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not obvious from the comment I linked, so I just want to point out that the poster likes Hillary! Which makes the whole rush to get one's SICK BURN in a bit more grotesque.

This is kind of what I was referencing by saying there has been bad behavior all around. Inherent in that exchange is that the poster being passive aggressive supports Clinton (they are drawing a trap for the person who likes Kaine but not Clinton by making it seem as if the only possible reason for this is sexism). You feeling the need to extra-re-clarify that this is a --> CLINTON SUPPORTER <-- and that makes it "more grotesque" is something that happens a lot in the threads - trying to paint the poster with the bad qualities of the candidate and trying to paint the candidate with the bad qualities of the poster. I don't mean to unfairly single you out because you are far far far far from alone, it's one of the most comment issues I notice in the threads. People have a hard time keeping their dislike of a candidate from bleeding over into the way they treat other Mefites.
posted by sallybrown at 12:27 PM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


(And thank god we have no Trump supporters on these threads, because I know I could not keep myself from doing that exact same thing.)
posted by sallybrown at 12:28 PM on October 16, 2016


sallybrown, I think what lalex meant was that the person being called out was also a Clinton supporter. lalex wasn't trying to highlight that it was a Clinton supporter being really bad and passive aggressive, they were saying this person got treated like a rabidly anti-Clinton person in spite of their stated support.
posted by teponaztli at 12:43 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh I see - my apologies for the misread, lalex!
posted by sallybrown at 12:44 PM on October 16, 2016


Haha! I am a fan of yours, sallybrown, so I was definitely trying to parse out what you were saying!
posted by lalex at 12:45 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can we get some mod guidance on linking to/calling out individual comments/people in MeTa?

In general, if you're using something as an example of the kind of discourse under discussion in a thread, that's fine and helpful. Singling out a person's (rather than the community's) pattern of behavior is best done directly with us, and we're pretty down on whole threads about a person, these days. Those were always more ugly than helpful.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:02 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't usually do this but I really wish dialetheia hadn't left and that she would come back.

Same here. Talked to her a bit yesterday, and she said she felt extremely unwelcome, and felt driven out. Honestly when we have someone so unusually perceptive and informative in election threads feeling that way, it's clear there's a serious problem.
posted by naju at 1:16 PM on October 16, 2016 [40 favorites]


> Is this the comment you're talking about?

yes, that's the one. I don't know if this is supposed to be talking only about cobra_high_tigers or people who think Clinton is "chasing endorsements from Republican generals and Bush 2.0 admin officials" instead of appealing to millennial voters. I also don't see a specifically *personal* attack as opposed to just really unpleasantly aggressive wording.

I'm seriously, seriously not a fan of the sort of "Jesus H fucking Christ on a popsicle stick" creative dramarama commenting on stuff, which really makes it harder to just get to the point of the statement and raises hackles unnecessarily, or sprinkling liberal "fuck"s and "fucking" in everywhere (raises my blood pressure, and probably the same for others), but that seems kind of a lost issue at this point, all around, as this is apparently the way everyone is talking about everything, fine okay, blah blah whatever, and doesn't *automatically* make something a personal attack (or otherwise, boy, would you all be seeing a ton of deletes, most of which nobody would be happy about).

The sorts of comments (along these lines) I immediately delete are usually distinctly personal, referencing specific things about the other member, but some other things I have to work through as much as possible to make some sort of "is it a personal attack or a wider comment on the issue / some group?" decision are less clear. Generally, I'd love it if the whole fucking fuck fuck kind of language weren't so popular here because I personally find it often really trite and empty, hostile, raising the temperature of the discussion, frequently without much substance, but it's super common on the site, and everywhere else. The question for me will be is this "fuck you, [member]"? (delete, and tempban or permaban, depending), or "fuck this idea from you, [member]"? (requires much more in-depth evaluation about various aspects).

Also, there are many cases where my head is fuzzy or I'm not feeling particularly decisive, or I'm missing something obvious, and flags absolutely will focus the lens for me and let me know that even if I'm not really seeing the problem issue with some comment, other people are, and I can work it out from there. In this case, it was only flagged once, by cobra_high_tigers (which is fine! but also not unusual for the only flag on something to be from someone who is having an immediate in-thread disagreement with the commenter).

So, I still say, if it were on my shift would be one I'd have to mull over. It was overly aggressively phrased, but it wasn't obviously specifically personal in the way that's an autodelete to me, and not in a way unlike the way many people post about issues with general "you." It's not a big deal, because a mod can delete and contact the poster and say, "hey, if you didn't mean this to sound like "fuck you, [member]" could you please repost and make it less ambiguous about that?" But this is not so much an option in a fast moving thread with lots going on, a couple of hundred comments later.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:39 PM on October 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


People can run out of evens but in the case of fucks the number is evidently infinite.
posted by y2karl at 2:01 PM on October 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I agree that it is one, but there was a good long stretch at the beginning of this year when the echo chamber was anti-Clinton.

Yes, as someone's who at least has browsed every one of the election threads since August/September, it's gradually tipped from anti-Clinton to pro-Clinton. But speaking as a Clinton supporting person for the whole time, I think it wasn't as bad at the beginning of the year, simply because I could still check out of the the primaries for a day or a week and go do something else in the wider world without being confronted with it (and I have to remind myself this is a luxury of living in a non-early primary and non-battleground state). And I could still engage with the election but not having to argue with Sanders supporters by just burying myself in the Republican primary with Donald Trump articles and coverage (which looking back I would not recommend to anyone).

And now, all of us (especially in the US) are saturated in it. And because the election has gone on for so, so long and some people have lived it for all this time, a hardening of views occurs to the point where it feels like people aren't listening or we start fighting and being reminded of previously bitter arguments and folks start getting angry and frustrated which leads to people being dismissive and impatient which then leads to personal attacks. And that's not even getting into the coarsening of the dialogue caused by Trump (and someone mentioned above about the fear of Prez Trump also contributing to some of this).

And before where maybe most of us could step back and go do something else, that doesn't exist for a lot of people anymore. Because the election is everywhere.
posted by FJT at 2:06 PM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would like to humbly submit that some of the piling on is due to the nature of what left-of-Clinton posters are bringing up? The threads are very much focused on What Is Happening Now in the election, the news of the day, the latest things said, etc.

When you want to talk about what ISN'T happening now, or what no one is talking about, I think people somewhat naturally push back against that. A lot of the more left commenters I've seen have jumped into the conversation with something along the lines of "why isn't anyone talking about ?" And the responses are mostly because it isn't news. Either it's old news that was discussed months ago, or it's vague rumor mongering, or there isn't really much to talk about there (emails.)

So I feel like there is some frustration from the Left that the things they care about aren't more important in the news cycle or this election cycle, but I think getting mad at Mefites for that is a little pointless.

(The issue about tone and wording and attacking language is, IMO, a separate one that maybe needs to be had at greater length. But emotions are running really high for entirely understandable reasons.)

posted by threeturtles at 3:00 PM on October 16, 2016 [21 favorites]


I was of course aware of people rallying behind the nominee, but I didn't remember how hostile things were to Clinton supporters earlier in the primary season

Yeah it was awful. I'm sure it feels pretty bad to be anti-Clinton now. I don't think that there needs to be any particular change in policy here, though, since being a giant raging dbag is already likely to get your comment deleted.
posted by Justinian at 3:46 PM on October 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh, as to the broader question of whether there's going to be a cessation of strong pushback against left-of-Clinton anti-establishment folks, which is a different thing than dbaggery, the answer is almost certainly no.
posted by Justinian at 3:50 PM on October 16, 2016


I realize the toothpaste is well out of the barn at this point but I 100% do not understand the purpose of the perpetual election thread thing, still.
posted by beerperson at 3:57 PM on October 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


I am a centrist-leftie Clinton supporter (who nonetheless voted Sanders in the primary "for the kids") who does not participate much in the threads but I read them all. I try not to use favorites as upvotes and I have had them turned off for myself personally as long as that has been an option, but I feel like the elections threads have turned me more into an upvote-favoriter. Which, this is a good reminder that I need to stop that.

I want to remind people that some of us are strong Clinton supporters not *just* because of wide-eyed fear of Trump (though of course we share that fear.) Some of us actually are more pragmatic/centrists and I personally have not felt much of a safe space to express that viewpoint. For example, I would never call myself a hawk but compared to most here I guess I am because I'm not a complete non-interventionist pacifist. So even in the current Clinton love-fest threads, there's a lot of "despite being a warmonger" and "we'll deal with that after the elections" prefacing the positive Clinton comments that make me feel out of place. It probably doesn't feel that way to those to the far left, I know, but there it is.

BUT, the actual point I wanted to make with my comment here is this: to y'all from the far left who feel bad about how the recent election threads have turned - this MeTa has opened my eyes to some shitty behavior in the election threads that I haven't really noticed or critiqued, because it was shitty behavior that reinforced my opinions or made me feel better as a Clinton supporter. And that's not okay, so I'm going to be flagging a bit more even if it's a feel-good (to me) zinger or whatever. IDK if that helps at all, but I just thought y'all should know. I'm sorry this site hasn't been better to you, but I'll try to help.
posted by misskaz at 4:05 PM on October 16, 2016 [45 favorites]


misskaz, thanks for saying that. I'll cosign to that. It's a bit of a reflex for me to upvote things that strike me as funny and I could see why a bunch of upvotes for a zinger-ish response to something you said could be felt as a rebuke. I will definitely try to be more cognizant of that going forward.
posted by peacheater at 4:35 PM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Look, I voted for Bernie in the primary. In a swing state. We can debate all kinds of policy differences till the cows come home, but it boils down to - no one cares right now. There's 4 years of futility from not til 2020 for that. It can wait.

We don't have the leisure of debating between free college tuition and reducing the interest rates on student loan borrowers when there's an actual fascist on the ballot who would happily end the entire Department of Ed, much less something like PLSF or even student loans themselves. And that's just a milquetoast personal example, much less the more national security implications regularly brought into question by *this* Republican nominee.

I don't feel discriminated against in election threads. There's policy arguments to be made, fine, make them, I might even agree and back you up. But no one can escape the overarching cloud of menace that colors every single conversation from now until Nov 8th, and asking the Meta community as a whole to ignore it is pretty unrealistic.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:08 PM on October 16, 2016 [16 favorites]


Yeah, as just some general thoughts (because this is my day off and so of course I'm catching up on a MetaTalk anyway but at least I'll try to keep it relatively short):

- Flagging is helpful, even if it doesn't always seem to "work". It gives us valuable extra info to work with, which can be all the more helpful when slogging through a very busy thread.

- Contact form is also sometimes a good way to go on top of or in lieu of flagging, if you want to to be sure that we don't just see a flag or flags but know where you're coming from. In a fast moving thread stuff can slip right by us, or get deprioritized because three other things are also happening, and a note with a quick description of an issue can help there.

- Refraining from going for the angry or zingerish response to other folks is basically always going to make for a better thread and better site health long-term, however much it may feel like the satisfying Oh Snap thing in the moment. I feel like half the shittiness that happens in these discussions happens not even because it started with outright shittiness but because little arms races of snappy or jerky framing or reflexive responses escalate a step at a time. Stopping that escalation at the beginning is a good way to help improve things.

- Fatigue is a very real issue on like seven different fronts, here. For community members who have lost their patience over the long march of months, for mods who have been riding this slog as well as we can but are really really feeling it at this point. It's been an incredibly emotionally tiring election cycle, and that has had a tendency both to bring out the worst in people at times and to empty out the reserves of forbearance and empathy that we'd all otherwise rely on to route around those worst moments and back to better interactions. I don't have a solution for that, other than just trying to be self-aware about it and just, I guess, trying to the extent that you can.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:12 PM on October 16, 2016 [13 favorites]


This election has been bruising on a lot of fronts. I was one of those who felt really uncomfortable during the primaries because it seemed impossible to say you supported HRC without many jumping on me to tell me how cynical/old/wrong I was. It was a terrible feeling then, and I don't want people to feel that way now.

I'm also conscious that I'm very angry at the Green party right now, and many others are as well. And I wonder if that's part of what you feel as unwelcoming to the left? I genuinely don't feel it that way, since I find the US Green party has little in common with the Greens in Europe (who I have worked for and respected during my years in NL). At least from my side, my anger towards Stein/US Greens comes from pretty deep disappointment and not any kind of anti-left position.

This said-- and this is a genuine question-- what kind of election thread do you want to have? Serious question. I have really valued the comments which have been "Here's how we can win the young Sanders voters over" (and I'm sorry to hear that those have been attacked!) but I find I have little time, patience or energy to deal with comments which just feel as though they're uselessly pointing out that the poster thinks Sanders would have made the better candidate. What points do you wish we could discuss which we are not discussing?
posted by frumiousb at 5:30 PM on October 16, 2016 [18 favorites]


Slight derail re the changing moderation of metatalk.... Have we actually ever had a meta or community discussion about this change, and if so could someone kindly point me towards it. Also, my memory is a bit fuzzy, but what was the community discussion like surrounding the implementation of the metatalk que?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:43 PM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Here are all the meTas tagged with queue and here's the original announcement of its full-time implementation.
posted by rtha at 5:59 PM on October 16, 2016


cortex commented on the evolution of moderation in MetaTalk in June 2015. The May discussion referenced in that comment was the "Tramp stamps" and boyzones thread. Not explicitly about MetaTalk modersation but there's another comment from cortex there on the trend away from MeTa-as-Thunderdome. Gradual shift, I'm not aware of a dedicated discussion.
posted by Lorin at 6:16 PM on October 16, 2016


This is a harder case for efficient searching than a lot of topics would be since the key vocab involved—comments, deletion, MetaTalk, moderation—aren't at all unique to the topic. I did a little searching around on a couple bits of recurring habitual jargon, thunderdome and nuclear, to try and pull out a couple of spots where it's been discussed, though I'm certain there's more examples that I'm not lucking into finding on a quick search.

That includes the threads/comments Lorin pulled out (betting a donut you tried "thunderdome" too, but if not I'm totally curious what your search process was!); a bit of discussion from Nov 2015, see e.g. my comment here; another from the same month here. And here's one from jessamyn in 2011, talking generally about that attempt already actively underway to sort of unfuck MetaTalk as a useful community resource.

I'll see if I can round up more. There hasn't been as far as I can recall any big ATTENTION METATALK, WE ARE CHANGING MODERATION POLICY posts on the front page, because it hasn't been a big sudden move; it's been years of evolution, and a pretty mild one for all that. It's only the old mythology that Nothing Ever Gets Deleted In MetaTalk that even makes it possible for routine and still-lighter-than-other-subsites comment deletion to even sound striking. So it tends more to come up in the context of other MetaTalk threads, and get discussed as a sidebar part of those.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:43 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


At the very, very least, I think it'd be cool if people could drop the whole "hurf durf vaccines and Russia" jokes any time Jill Stein's name is invoked. It's one thing to disagree with her political platform (like I do, for the record), it's another to write her off with dismissive "bwahahaha she's a goofy spacey kind of liberal" jokes. Especially when they've been disproven.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:53 PM on October 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


Thanks rtha, Lorin, and cortex.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:59 PM on October 16, 2016


Since apparently I'm in rabbit hole mode tonight anyway, I have indeed managed to track down a few more examples of where it's come up in one context or another over the last five years or so:

- May 2011
- Oct 2011
- June 2012
- May 2013
- February 2014
- October 2014
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:08 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Especially when they've been disproven.

They haven't, actually -- this Kos post points out, Snopes really whiffed on that post. No need to dig into this any further here, though.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:09 PM on October 16, 2016 [13 favorites]


betting a donut you tried "thunderdome" too

Haha, exactly! Now why am I reading MetaTalk threads from 2007, surely there are more productive uses of my time.
posted by Lorin at 7:16 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Still, minority positions are minority positions -- they deserve to be heard, but so do the responses from others who feel those positions are wrong."

I agree, for example you once told me "why do you hate democracy" for posting some good stuff. No flag, no favorites. After I asked you what you meant, you apologized and everthing moved on. I appreciated that and I think this a good way to handle situations.
posted by clavdivs at 7:34 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


This said-- and this is a genuine question-- what kind of election thread do you want to have? Serious question. I have really valued the comments which have been "Here's how we can win the young Sanders voters over" (and I'm sorry to hear that those have been attacked!) but I find I have little time, patience or energy to deal with comments which just feel as though they're uselessly pointing out that the poster thinks Sanders would have made the better candidate. What points do you wish we could discuss which we are not discussing?

Honestly, I would like to be able to comment in an election thread and say I don't like Clinton's response to a question about policy, without having to hedge and say that I'm still planning on voting for her, without having to be told, through in-jokes and snappy putdowns, that my objection is nothing new, it's not special, it's super stupid, and it's been discussed to death already, and it doesn't matter if I didn't see that part of the 100,000 comments on the election where that discussion happened, because it happened and everyone is just so sick of it, OK? Or to be able to say that I'm worried some new development signals an attempt to appeal to the right -- without being told that no one wants to hear it because I'm just being that whiner who has nothing useful to add, because everyone knows what I'm saying and it's just not helping anything.

Do you see what I'm driving at? I'm not bothered that people disagree with me. I'm not bothered that people could be as far left as I am (on the totally-concrete spectrum of political opinion) and disagree with me. All that matters to me is that I don't trust that I won't become fair game -- that people won't take out whatever frustrations on me, whatever anger and high emotions they're feeling, as soon as I mark myself as not committed enough to the cause. I want Clinton to win! I just don't want to forget that these issues are coming up now, because they matter to me -- and I don't want the fact that they matter to me to be a reason to treat me and other people badly. And that seems to be the case now.

I feel like I'm sticking my neck out by saying this much (cue eye roll, I'm sure), but that's as specific as I want to get. I shouldn't have to justify having reactions to things without wondering if people are going to laugh them off -- not only disagree, but make a joke about them, make some cathartic comment at my expense. I'd be much happier just being ignored.
posted by teponaztli at 7:55 PM on October 16, 2016 [30 favorites]


It seems like to most people it's really that the house is on fire and maybe we can wait to talk about the best practices for smoke detectors and the firemen trampling the flower beds later.

I don't see how at this point theoretical and wonky policy discussion are any different than any other "well actually" comments on sensitive topics (I think that's right, I'm not very good with my internet slogans). There are lots of discussions like this on MF. There are plenty of topics were dispassionate analysis, wrong or right, is completely unwelcome and shut down because there are actual people who are hurt by the conversation. There are lots of discussions about the problems of one group of where introducing the problems of another group is seen as rude and dismissive.

This election is incredibly personal and traumatizing for a lot of people. The threads are about the election, this election happening right now, not politics in general or the abstract.
posted by bongo_x at 8:17 PM on October 16, 2016 [17 favorites]


You don't have to justify your reaction to things but you probably should have recommendations for how you wish things were different moving forward if you wish things were different moving forward. Although I see you aren't the OP of this post so that probably doesn't apply; it's OP who should have an idea of how he or she wishes things were different, specifically, since it's their post.
posted by Justinian at 8:17 PM on October 16, 2016


Oh, unless you meant in the actual election thread, teponaztli, in which case I agree. We could all do with having to post fewer justifications about OF COURSE I'M VOTING FOR CLINTON BUT... in order to make a comment.
posted by Justinian at 8:19 PM on October 16, 2016


I think the broader structural issue in election threads is that they've reached a point where they are a sub-MeFi with its own internal rules, and divebombing into a thread from nowhere with a particular position that is not on the ballot and has not been articulated in previous election threads doesn't fit well.

I think this is really a thing that could use more thought. I've been talking in MeTa here and there about this - about how Election Threads and the rest of the blue are often so different that it's actually jarring sometimes.

Election Threads, the way they are right now, are pretty hard to break into, and much easier to deal with if you have read literally every other election thread out there, which is an astonishing amount of us, but these threads are really, really long. Longer than all the GoT books combined.

And that's - that's kind of weird in the context of MeFi, right, because you have these two different cultural expectations that are clashing. The first one is - if you're a member, you can jump onto any thread and post, without an expectation of having read other threads. The second one, which is much more this-election-specific, is "you need to have read all the other election posts in order to comment appropriately on this." And there is kind of a push-back. Because the election threads are moving so fast, that even things that happened a week ago are often too old and have already been discussed.

So I think, aside from any hostility to left-of-center or right-of-center viewpoints, which does occasionally exist, I do see a little hostility to people who aren't consuming the thread in the same way that many are. There's kind of a "This was discussed on Day 33" thing that happens sometimes, and I don't really know a good resolution to it - because on the one hand, it was discussed on Day 33 and maybe even took up 500 comments, but on the other hand, the person coming into the thread is usually coming in good faith and just maybe doesn't have the mental health space to obsessively consume the election the way some of us are.

I think it's also harder for a lot of people to be kind to each other when this election is so scary - it's a thing I see sometimes and it's hard to remember, but I think maybe it's a thing that's useful to try really hard to remember - that the people who are being really snark-stabby at other members about things are very few compared to most of the posts, and they may just be scared.
posted by corb at 8:33 PM on October 16, 2016 [24 favorites]


I'm backing Clinton all the way, but I sure understand the frustration of seeing stuff you strongly disagree with become gospel around here. When the echo chamber gets loud enough, it's like trying to argue with the Borg. I wish we had options beyond just hitting "favorite" or report. A down vote/thumbs down/sad face emoji/whatever would be a way of saying, "I sure don't like this, but I don't want to get into a flame war over it."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:42 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


The first one is - if you're a member, you can jump onto any thread and post, without an expectation of having read other threads.

That's only somewhat true. It's been established that you really can't do that for threads on, say, trans issues. Some cultural appropriation stuff. Basically anything that lends itself to controversy, heat, and privilege or lack thereof. Because you get people jumping in that don't have the history and repeating the same beaten-dead-horse retread topics over and over.

Election threads are more like those sorts of threads than "here are some pictures of cats in scanners" kind of threads.
posted by Justinian at 8:50 PM on October 16, 2016 [13 favorites]


So I am actually really frustrated and tired with the leftist critiques of Hillary, and that one comment that's being litigated here so far* was expressing a frustration that I agree with, and at the time I read it I was like "yes for real seriously people"

So this thread has made me think in some uncomfortable ways and made me see those comments in a new light. People are feeling unwelcome; that should stop, full stop.

I think there's actually a line, and it's pretty clear. There's a lot more vitriol in that example than corb usually gets (sorry, corb). I think that's like objectively true. And I think the leftist critiques we've talked about should get as least as much respect as the few Republican viewpoints that show up.

On the other hand, the comments like this:
If you think more should be enthusiastically supporting Clinton, maybe it would be a good idea for her campaign to do something that appeals to them instead of chasing endorsements from Republican generals and Bush 2.0 admin officials and the rest of her recent efforts to win over the mythical Rational Moderate Republican demo. The polls confirm what leftists have been saying since the convention: that's a stupid strategy that isn't going to work
There's something in there that feels a little obnoxious, and it gets my hackles up in ways that corb's posts do not. (sorry) And then there's this:
But you can just stick your fingers in your ears and deny that those differences exist and whine some more too about how entitled your candidate is to their votes, that's cool too I guess.
and also yeah, everyone IRL is way more obnoxious than that about Clinton. I can't discuss politics at the political campaign where I'm volunteering because all these Bernie supporters think Clinton should be indicted. For something.

BUT that's not really relevant to whether we respect each other here at Metafilter.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 9:22 PM on October 16, 2016 [12 favorites]


Agreeing with misskaz and Rainbo Vagrant. We should be good to each other even when we disagree vehemently.
posted by bardophile at 9:42 PM on October 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


but I sure understand the frustration of seeing stuff you strongly disagree with become gospel around here.

But we are (most of us, I think?) not talking about strong disagreement or even disagreement at all. It's the fact that you cannot bring up any topic about hrc that isn't cheerleading her. This is politics. People are flawed. Criticism of hrc is not always sexism and also doesn't mean that I don't support her.
posted by futz at 9:54 PM on October 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think it would be helpful if people didn't take out their rage at all these Bernie supporters* that they know in real life or see elsewhere on the internet on the actual people here, on this site. I've been saying this since the spring. React to the comment as it was written. Yeah, some are shitty and should be called out (anything that uses the words sheeple or Killary, for example) but not every comment is that, and it's problematic when a good faith comment from someone on your own side is treated with the same vitriol just because it doesn't fit in the echo chamber.

*I've unfollowed the Busters I know IRL on Facebook, along with the worst of the Trumpists. I get the frustration. Just don't paint everyone to the left of you with the same big brush. We've become capable as a community to realize that not everyone to the right of us is a monster. I think we can be capable of treating those on the left with a little more kindness, or at the very least, with a little less snark.
posted by Ruki at 9:54 PM on October 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


corb: I do see a little hostility to people who aren't consuming the thread in the same way that many are.

I do think it's a microcosm of newbie vs oldbie that I've experienced in various configurations since omg I'm such an oldbie, so I'd agree with Justinian's comment here. Long-time election threadders have been in the forum equivalent of a bomb shelter huddled together for a few months, and when they've reach the point of needing their own FAQ they inevitably recapitulate some of the "read the effing FAQ" mentality that emerged in a lot of Usenet groups. That's not a good look.

teponaztli: I want Clinton to win! I just don't want to forget that these issues are coming up now, because they matter to me

I still think that those issues are difficult to discuss in campaign-driven threads partly because fuck me 2016 is a hard year to live through and because the election process in the US works by narrowing the national conversation. There's no structural way to signal the mandate of one's vote, outside of weird vestigial state politics where voting for Hillary on the Working Families ticket in NY or for Trump on the AIP ticket in California sends a different ideological message than a vote on the Dem or Rep ticket respectively.

There have been some good and detailed conversations in the ETs on domestic/economic policy as perceived on an individual basis, particularly on managing local decline and addressing demographic changes in the context of self-selected segregation. I think there are conversations not happening on things like foreign policy because the candidates with a real chance of winning are defined by a spectrum from "a bit more hawkish than the incumbent and the national mood" to "omg we'll nuke someone because of a snarky tweet".

I honestly think that once the votes are counted there'll be more space for discussion of issues abstracted from candidates, and there won't be a perpetuated judginess when that happens. (For instance, I don't have a solid positive position on Syria, but I do have a position on how the length of the campaign has tied the hands of the incumbent executive branch and kicked the can down the road in ways that allowed thousands of people to suffer or be killed.) I still think there's space to raise the issues that the electoral process has shut down because post-election there's a reckoning on which of the winning candidate's positions received a clear mandate.
posted by holgate at 10:09 PM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Fellow leftists, please stick around after November 8. The discourse is always at its worst in election years; as holgate and others have said, things will get better once the votes are counted. But that only works if y'all don't give up on this place.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 11:46 PM on October 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


I agree with the general concern here - personally I've just decided certain discussions in the election threads are Not For Me Right Now and that a lot of it is just driven by people freaking out and that's understandable and fine. But I didn't know that dialetheia had actually left over it and I find that very sad.
posted by atoxyl at 11:56 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think if there actually were a separate place for people to express serious criticism of Democrats and friends outside of the context of Trump's latest repugnance it would take some pressure off. I don't know what that place would be though - for me it has just been "not this website." (But then three weeks passing will also take some pressure off.)
posted by atoxyl at 12:15 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think if there actually were a separate place for people to express serious criticism of Democrats

Do any leftists here recommend any other sites that allow Clinton discussion? Crooked Timber is good.
posted by Coda Tronca at 1:24 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Do any leftists here recommend any other sites that allow Clinton discussion?

I don't really think there are any (perhaps someone can prove me wrong) for a few reasons. First, I would say that many people on the hard left don't really consider the election that important -- the Republicans and Democrats are both bourgeois parties, just two slightly different factions of the ruling class, and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is still going to be in power, whoever wins. Even if they do consider it important, it's mainly to siphon off leftish supporters of R/D candidates for the purpose of recruitment, not actually to provide support for one candidate or the other. Also, I think most leftists had the perspective all along that the possibility of Trump winning was so remote that that contingency wasn't worth contemplating anyways (see, for instance, this article).

Secondly, any left-of-center public election discussion site of note is dominated or would be dominated soon by Hillary supporters, both because of their overwhelming numerical superiority and because they have a political interest in not allowing independent discussion on the subject. The threads would be flooded with the kitchen sink Hillary argument -- what, you want Trump to win? you're not a sexist, are you? look at her experience! think of the supreme court justices! you're wasting your vote if you vote otherwise (especially for an antivaxxer)! not the time or place for wavering, unite behind the Democrats now! -- and in that environment people lose enthusiasm about participating (see: this thread).

Third, I think lots of political discussion generally has moved onto Facebook. It's a way of restricting the circle of people one discusses things with to like-minded individuals. In that way, it's more preferable and more productive for political discussion than a public site, especially for somewhat fringe ideologies. Many hard left groups are so small anyways that everyone connecting with a single person on Facebook whose wall hosts the discussion isn't a logistical hurdle.

All that being said, there are some good election discussions on Facebook pages of people who are left but not left enough to think talking about the details of the election are a waste of time. Doug Henwood's (of My Turn fame) Facebook page is pretty good (but, alas, requires a Facebook account to view).
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:08 AM on October 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


You don't have to be far right or anti-Clinton to want to read election threads where people aren't raising the temperature by being jerks or dropping hot takes on people who are voting for Clinton.

I do see a little hostility to people who aren't consuming the thread in the same way that many are. There's kind of a "This was discussed on Day 33" thing that happens sometimes,

Yes, which effectively means only people who have the time and spoons to spend hours a day keeping up with the threads are valid participants.

It's been established that you really can't do that for threads on, say, trans issues. Some cultural appropriation stuff. Basically anything that lends itself to controversy, heat, and privilege or lack thereof.

So who is a member of the in-group here, and how much homework are they required to do before being allowed to participate? As a Jewish woman I have a lot at stake. Does that mean I can be a day behind while a white male should have read t wiki and be caught up within 20 minutes of the latest comment? That's not snark, I honestly don't see how that rule of thumb would apply to this situation.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:11 AM on October 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


But we are (most of us, I think?) not talking about strong disagreement or even disagreement at all.

I was referring to the OP's comment: "The problem is when an echo chamber develops making pro-establishment-ism the only acceptable position and vehemently jumping on views to the contrary with more emotion than reason." If you dare to disagree with one of Metafilter's "only acceptable positions" you're probably in for a long, exhausting and pointless fight.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:16 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oops, I meant far left.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:01 AM on October 17, 2016


It's the fact that you cannot bring up any topic about hrc that isn't cheerleading her.

I strongly disagree with this. I do this. I notice the strong (and in many cases obnoxious) pushback happening when (a) the critique of Clinton comes mixed with non-substantive critiques or assumptions about her as a person or her supporters as people (see the example above, which literally calls her strategy "stupid" and acts like she's living in a fantasy world for trying to bring Republicans into the fold!); and (b) when the critique of Clinton is something that's already been discussed ad nauseum in the election threads. corb is dead-on right that one aspect of the issue is thread completists mixing with people who dip a toe into the threads once in a while. The thread completists feel like "oh great we have to go over and re-litigate this problematic thing from last week about Clinton that we've already worked through that has a bunch of different counter-arguments." The toe-dippers feel like "it's completely unreasonable to expect any person to have read 3498539 threads that are 459834895723 posts long each before they can critique Clinton."

But - I have brought up a bunch of topics about HRC that don't cheerlead her - that express concern and (sometimes) dismay with her stances and choices. People don't always engage, but I haven't had anyone shooting darts at me or anything. Part of that is because I'm a thread completist; part of that is because I try really hard to keep contemptuousness, patronizing language, etc out of my comments. I think it's unfair to portray these threads as making that impossible.
posted by sallybrown at 6:02 AM on October 17, 2016 [26 favorites]


I dunno, one of the things I notice about the election threads is that they've become quite a lot about women's experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and I feel very uneasy with the narrative in this thread that the election threads should be regarded as flawed, useless and alienating. They've obviously not alienating to a lot of women mefites for whom the election is bringing up gendered bad memories and trauma. Some of the other sites - I will name no names - where one might discuss the election generally have a history of real, serious, entrenched misogyny and have driven out many former women posters; I used to read and occasionally post at one until that got to be too much.

I'm not saying that this makes the election threads perfect - god forbid we should have another election like this one, but if we do I hope the site can figure out something different, because I feel like I would normally be asking questions about what people think of Clinton's foreign policy and there's really no space for that - but I have not seen anything about the gendered experience of the posters on the election thread raised here.
posted by Frowner at 6:12 AM on October 17, 2016 [28 favorites]


There was absolutely a pro Sanders atmosphere in the election threads during the primaries, especially around January/February. I was genuinely split between Clinton and Sanders and felt like my questions about Sanders were met with overt hostility. I was asked why I was scared of the movement Sanders was building.

We were also asked not to be happy about Clinton's primary wins because "people were hurting."

I feel like there's a sense that no "real" people are excited about a Clinton presidency. All the "real" people are misunderstood poor whites who support Trump because of economic anxiety, or Sanders people who are voting for Clinton because they don't like Trump.

I don't think anyone should be attacked, but I've definitely been mocked by third party people for being an idiot or whatever because of my enthusiasm for Clinton. Gross.
posted by zutalors! at 6:27 AM on October 17, 2016 [35 favorites]


I have to confess that I'm more than a little cynical about this thread, because it wasn't six months ago that the election threads were dominated by leftists going on and on about how awful Clinton was: Syria, she's really a Republican, she won't keep her promises, emails, etc. etc. etc. Often backed by barely concealed loathing.

And NOW they're complaining that there's an echo chamber, and people aren't being nice.


There were plenty of complaints over the last year or more on both sides that people weren't being nice to each other or assuming good faith. Clinton supporters such as myself took a lot of shit for asking question, voicing criticisms and asking that people not be assholes to one another. There were Sanders supporters who dealt with the same, including having to field endless accusations that by supporting their candidate, they would guarantee a Republican victory and be personally responsible for American minorities losing a large number of hard-earned civil rights.

It would have been nice to have had that happen last fall.

Sure. But it didn't. And now many of us know exactly how it feels to be personally targeted, ranted at and unfairly accused of all sorts of stuff. So, it behooves us to learn from those experiences and not behave that way to others. And further, it would be nice if we worked as a group to defuse pile-ons and outrage where possible. Many of us share the same fears and worries about Trump. Remembering that is important.
posted by zarq at 6:29 AM on October 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


It would have been nice to have had that happen last fall.

I agree, although of course anyone can open a MeTa. I almost did a couple times but the queue, blah blah blah.
posted by lalex at 7:35 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


dialethia's contributions were generally excellent, but her entry into the thread that led to her buttoning was some straight up disingenuous trolling that stuck with me because it was so out of character.

(I have never understood the point of the button; it just seems like a drama facilitator that solves no problem)
posted by Kwine at 7:47 AM on October 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


I appreciated that and I think this a good way to handle situations.

Yeah, I just went back and looked at that exchange, and wow, was my initial response to you in that thread a perfect example of what we need less of around here. I was engaging with some other people who were posting uninformed anti-union comments in that thread around the time you posted, and instead of treating your comment as a separate contribution to the thread, I jumped to the conclusion that it was related to those interactions in some way.

It was really cool of you to not respond to that escalation with more escalation, and eventually I recognized my mistake, but it doesn't always work out that way. I can totally understand why someone might just respond to that by noping out instead of continuing to engage after an exchange like that. I guess the takeaway that's relevant to this MeTa would be to treat each interaction with a new participant as its own thing and don't try to do too much connecting of dots to other high-intensity conversations happening in the same thread.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:53 AM on October 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


I agree with sallybrown above. I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me, and that's it. It's not that nasty in itself, certainly not deletion-worthy, but it's of a piece with some much nastier bullshit against Clinton.
The tendency of some here on this site to assume their beliefs are objectively true and correct and should be treated as such is a big problem.
Someone posted this above talking about the Bernie supporters and other leftists, but it applies to the Clinton cheerleaders just as much, myself included.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 8:23 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I dunno, one of the things I notice about the election threads is that they've become quite a lot about women's experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and I feel very uneasy with the narrative in this thread that the election threads should be regarded as flawed, useless and alienating.

I just want to be clear that I haven't for a second thought anyone was saying these threads are useless. Obviously a lot of good has come out of them, and lots of people have said how important they are. Who has said otherwise.

All I am asking is that people consider whether their treatment of other users there would be acceptable in another context. I keep hearing about how high the stakes are, and how emotional this year has been, and I get that because it has been for me too. It's just the way people escalate conflicts, smack each other down, and expect a total immersion in tens of thousands of comments as a prerequisite for participating that creates an alienating space. And I don't think we'd be ok with that in another context. It's maybe even a sitewide problem, but it's pronounced there. I don't want these spaces to disappear, or for people to stay quiet. I just want people to be aware that these problems do exist, and that they do have an effect.

I'm willing to say that I probably haven't lived up to the standards of what I'm asking for, especially during the primaries. I am willing to apologize for contributing to a hostile environment. I don't want to be in a position where my bad behavior is acceptable and understandable because I was right, or where it all has to be the fault of everyone else. I just want this kind of hostile dynamic to stop being a problem here, and right now it's a problem, especially in the election threads. I don't expect it to be solved overnight, but it's a problem.
posted by teponaztli at 9:02 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


No-one has said useless. But suggesting that, beyond any criticisms of Clinton being only rooted in sexism, that criticising the threads discussing the election, is coming from people uncomfortable with women sharing their experiences? That's some next-level meta-concern trolling.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:43 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


But suggesting that, beyond any criticisms of Clinton being only rooted in sexism, that criticising the threads discussing the election, is coming from people uncomfortable with women sharing their experiences?

I don't think Frowner is really suggesting that. I took it to mean that there is a discussion about the uselessness of election threads on the blue (which has definitely happened in this MeTa), but that some people are finding value in the discussions from and about women within the election threads.

That's some next-level meta-concern trolling.

This is a pretty heavy accusation to throw around.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:56 AM on October 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


dialethia's contributions were generally excellent, but her entry into the thread that led to her buttoning was some straight up disingenuous trolling that stuck with me because it was so out of character.

That's arguable, and it's unfair to throw around an accusation like that when the person in question is not even here to defend themself.
posted by indubitable at 10:04 AM on October 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


It's so interesting that when I say "I'm not saying the election threads are perfect, but no one here has acknowledged that women discussing their experiences of abuse and harassment have often said that they're getting a lot from the threads", it's framed as concern trolling.

This thread has been about how alienating a lot of people find the election thread, and my impression is that the commenters here are mostly men. I feel like there's a lack of recognition of one of the big pull factors in the election thread, and that this pull factor drives big chunks of the thread.

This is one of the reasons that I think it would be better to have a thread that could be devoted to experience/feelings and the election and a thread that could be devoted to policy.

I mean, one of the whole problems with this election is that it is legit feelings-heavy because there's a national split about whether, basically, POC and women are regular humans. That's intensely traumatic for many, many people, and it's not even remotely conducive to sitting there and parsing out the implications of Clinton's policy statements on Iran.

Far more than any election I've ever seen, this one has two real, meaningful and extremely hard to reconcile aspects. Both are really serious - Clinton's foreign policy history is pretty disturbing, and the nationwide "sexual assault and police killings are actually sort of okay much of the time" thing is pretty disturbing too. I feel as though we're expecting a general-purpose election thread to be made up of Rational Man talking to Rational Man - no real emotional engagement and therefore able to pivot from "sexual assault is bad" to "and let's not forget, bombing Yemen is also bad!" on a dime.
posted by Frowner at 10:10 AM on October 17, 2016 [33 favorites]


This is one of the reasons that I think it would be better to have a thread that could be devoted to experience/feelings and the election and a thread that could be devoted to policy.

i would be so much happier this way. i've found the threads extremely alienating and frustrating as a woman and a leftist, especially with all the HRC fanfic. i get that it's exciting for a lot of folks that a woman will be president (it is really cool! although hillary is not the woman i would have chosen, given my druthers), but i really really dislike all the projecting that people are doing onto her and the weird "politicians are my friends!" thing that seems to be going on a lot of the time. i would SO much rather be able to separate that out from policy debates, and i feel like this election especially has conflated the two in a really awful way.
posted by burgerrr at 10:22 AM on October 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


Also, I'm not sure I'd say "sexism" and "not recognizing the force of something for someone with a different experience" are the same thing.

I don't think it's "sexist" - to use an illustrative example - for a man not to understand at a visceral level how disturbing Trump's rape apologetics are. If you haven't lived with that stuff targeted at you, you can get it intellectually but it isn't going to feel the same. That's not sexism; it's the way experience works.

It's not sexism not to feel that pull-factor in the election thread, but the pull-factor is there and explains a chunk of the thread dynamics.
posted by Frowner at 10:27 AM on October 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


No-one has said useless.

This is remarkably pedantic given what you said above:
Election threads are the Worst of the Web.

Have at them, of course, but they're awful.
and what others have said:
the site would be better without most of the election stuff involved. They're practically all outragefilter by this point
...
I realize the toothpaste is well out of the barn at this point but I 100% do not understand the purpose of the perpetual election thread thing, still.
Perhaps "useless" is an incomplete summary of your feelings on the matter, but you're not the only participant here, and the clear message from a number of people is that the threads have no redeeming value.

That's some next-level meta-concern trolling.

Baseless accusations of bad faith would not seem to be the most productive direction for this MeTa to go, especially in the midst of what seemed like an emerging consensus about ways to bring down the temperature level in these threads.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:41 AM on October 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm stumped about what the solution to this would be, honestly.

I'll admit I've pushed back on Clinton critique a couple times, but not because I think Clinton is beyond reproach - I was a Sanders supporter during the primaries, in fact. The reason I'm pushing back now, though, is because I'm afraid I don't see what these discussions of Clinton's record would be achieving at this specific point in time. Discussing Hillary's flaws when the general election is still up for grabs strikes me as akin to discussing how the door in the living room is falling off its hinges when the house is in the act of burning down. It's like, "okay, yeah, I hear you on the Wall Street stuff, but can we table that until after we've saved the country from Mister HayToupee first?"

But that can absolutely come across as dismissive, and I acknowledge that - but don't know how to fix it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on October 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


but i really really dislike all the projecting that people are doing onto her and the weird "politicians are my friends!" thing that seems to be going on a lot of the time

This seems (imo) an extremely inaccurate characterization of what goes on "a lot of the time" in the election threads. If anything, most of the discussion revolves around Trump and his surrogates and supporters, not Clinton at all.

This idea of "separate out the emotional from the policy" also reinforces the trope of women for Clinton who want "all the HRC fanfic" (not even sure what that means, honestly - I don't recall any fanfic) versus other people who are interested in policy, in a way that perpetuates this idea that fans of Clinton aren't focused primarily on policy. That doesn't match the reality of the threads I have been participating in.
posted by sallybrown at 10:47 AM on October 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


but i really really dislike all the projecting that people are doing onto her and the weird "politicians are my friends!" thing that seems to be going on a lot of the time.

The way I read a lot of that stuff is in the sense of that "I have never been pandered to so effectively before!" response that came from someone watching one of her videos. I feel like most if not all people participating in the election threads realize Hillary isn't actually her friend, but that it's nice to finally have their interests represented in a major political campaign. That has to be a good feeling for someone who hasn't had it before.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:49 AM on October 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


...but don't know how to fix it.

The threads accumulate ~3000 comments every 3 days.

It's always okay to ignore comments that bother us and simply talk about other on-topic things.

In a thread that is moving so quickly, chances are good that we're already not responding to many comments and there's little danger that any single one will still turn into a gigantic derail.
posted by zarq at 10:53 AM on October 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'll admit I've pushed back on Clinton critique a couple times

Can't speak for everyone, but I think pushback is fine. In fact, as a person who is 100% voting for Hillary but has some critiques of her, I enjoy the pushback because I really, really want to feel enthusiastic about voting for her.

So substantive pushback seems fine to me, it's the hostile and abusive behavior that needs to be curtailed.
posted by lalex at 10:57 AM on October 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


This idea of "separate out the emotional from the policy" also reinforces the trope of women for Clinton who want "all the HRC fanfic"

I think "separate out the emotional from the policy" was a bad way to frame what I'm saying, for precisely the reason you articulate - it's not like when people are talking about rape culture instead of Iran that's "emotional".

I think what I was trying to say was more "a thread for live responses to the election that can encompass many responses" and "a restricted-topic thread or threads for 'here are some things about [Clinton's foreign policy or other specific aspect of her government service or proposals], how can we parse them regardless of how we feel about Clinton'".

For me, if I'm saying "I don't like Clinton's support for [thing], here is what she has said about it", it's frustrating to have that brought back to "but Trump would be worse" even though I think that's true.

Similarly, if someone is saying "OMG, if Trump wins and the Medicaid expansion is rolled back, my sister will lose her vital medical coverage and could die, I don't even know how to handle this", I feel like a huge asshole for coming in there and saying "yeah, well, Berta Caceres is dead" or something, even though that is also true.
posted by Frowner at 10:58 AM on October 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Sorry to keep jumping back in here, but the big hard-to-bridge divides I notice that cause fights in the election thread in the last couple months are the people who've read all/most threads vs people who read/participate more sparingly (as has been brought up a couple times) and people who want to discuss the election itself vs people who want to discuss the policy post-election (I think this somewhat explains the policy/emotion tension issue).
posted by sallybrown at 11:00 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think it would be better to have a thread that could be devoted to experience/feelings and the election and a thread that could be devoted to policy.

But mixing in people's experiences and feelings with the 'dry' stuff is part of the community. Regarding the Brexit threads, it's part of the site's role to respond when for example someone talks about their fears about being an EU immigrant in the current climate. That's totally different from someone chiming in with 'you've flushed your country down the toilet' - no links, no ideas, no respect.
posted by Coda Tronca at 11:30 AM on October 17, 2016


Popping in, very gingerly, because to be frank the centrality of the election threads is probably the biggest reason I have dialed my participation here way the fuck back in the past four or five months:

It's so interesting that when I say "I'm not saying the election threads are perfect, but no one here has acknowledged that women discussing their experiences of abuse and harassment have often said that they're getting a lot from the threads", it's framed as concern trolling.

This thread has been about how alienating a lot of people find the election thread, and my impression is that the commenters here are mostly men. I feel like there's a lack of recognition of one of the big pull factors in the election thread, and that this pull factor drives big chunks of the thread.

This is one of the reasons that I think it would be better to have a thread that could be devoted to experience/feelings and the election and a thread that could be devoted to policy.


That might actually be a conversation I might be willing to try to come into. I walked away in part because I got sick of being 'splained to in the last election thread I participated in, regardless of whatever hedges I put in place. I have a lot of emotions about this election, as does basically everyone around me except maybe the one cis white straight dude in my personal circles. I've been going to local movie theaters to watch the debates and talk about them on twitter and ranting on my Imzy about what the debates mean to me on an emotional level--and that's totally separate from my opinions on Clinton's politics, I might add, it's not the same thing.

I don't know. I am interested in having discussions about the emotional fallout and wear and the... call it the emotional ramifications of this election. I'm not interested in policy discussions at all right now, in part because they feel irrelevant to me at this stage of the game in favor of trying to get people to vote, period. The thing that Frowner said here, about the sheer trauma of the rhetoric going up and around right now, that resonates with me. I'm scared enough and emotional enough that I don't actually want to dicker about policy or the details of different potential policy shifts or whatever; I just want to talk through and process what I'm feeling and have a conversation about that--and it's not as simple as uncomplicated "go Hillary my bestie best friend 4eva"--without having to run the risk of someone pushing back on my opinions because of specific policy details. I am sufficiently off balance that policy debates are not currently fun for me, and the possibility of dealing with someone who does want to push to talk about that is enough to make me nope out of the conversation. But I still want people to sit with and process with, and hey, I hear MeFi ain't that right now.... so I've largely gone elsewhere to think out loud about that.

I will probably continue to avoid the debate threads, but I do want to point out that--well. I suspect another part of the problem y'all are seeing is that people like me have gone quiet and hermited up here because the election is just consuming the site, and because there's only one real place to discuss it, if you don't feel up to wading through policy stuff to connect with the community on this big central thing, you just have to pack it all up and leave for a bit. (Even before the Presidential debates, I felt that the mods were so distracted and drained by the election threads that the remaining parts of the community were suffering, which was another incentive to me to withdraw for a little bit.)

I wonder if relaxing the one-thread rule would allow more people to find niches of conversation that lets them feel more comfortable? I have no idea, though.
posted by sciatrix at 11:33 AM on October 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


We were also asked not to be happy about Clinton's primary wins because "people were hurting."

Great, thanks for bringing this up, because this is exactly what I mean about not reading something in good faith and it's been specifically talked about in other metas. When you continue to bring MY comment up, it starts to feel a little personal.

That thread was awful all around. Lots of people hadn't even voted yet and I was sad because the race was MeFi called for HRC that night. That's also the thread that got me mocked repeatedly. And where Sanders supporters here literally got lumped in with Redditors over things MeFites didn't even say.

I don't even discuss policy in election threads anymore. I would if there was a separate thread, because for me, policy IS a distraction from the trauma of this race, and I'm a Jewish woman with a non-gender binary kid so yes, the thought of a Trump presidency is traumatic to me, too.

Everyone needs a hug.
posted by Ruki at 11:56 AM on October 17, 2016 [18 favorites]


I am interested in having discussions about the emotional fallout and wear and the... call it the emotional ramifications of this election. I'm not interested in policy discussions at all right now, in part because they feel irrelevant to me at this stage of the game in favor of trying to get people to vote, period.

I think - man, I'm torn on this one. Because on the one hand, I do genuinely think these policy discussions are important - in a way, I feel like it's one of the many, many negative consequences of this election, that we can't even talk about or think about policies, that there's no way the American people will be able to choose policies, that there will be no pushback or pull on policies, that Clinton will take office having no idea what the American people like or dislike about her other than her emails and the fact that she's not Donald Trump.

At the same time, Metafilter just went down for me, for what in any other time period would be an inconsequential period of time. Less than five minutes. Maybe three. And I was incredibly agitated - not because I wouldn't be able to talk about policy in election threads, but because the Metafilter threads are really the only place I'm safely able to process my feelings about this election, because even when the fighting gets bad, it's not nearly as horrible as, say, finding out which new member of my relatives thinks women are liars, or what have you.
posted by corb at 12:33 PM on October 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


I'm not sure it can be underestimated, the amount of relief Clinton supporters felt at the primary, when it was finally safe to support her out loud without being shouted down, patronized, called names, and accused of either ignorance or complacency. I'm not talking just MeFi, where it was *relatively* benign, but also in real life and on social media. I personally knew of several closed, secret Facebook groups where hundreds of women went to talk about our candidate without getting buried in a flood of pro-Sanders, anti-Clinton vitriol. And of course not all of it was sexist, but ENOUGH of it WAS that we didn't feel comfortable engaging because we knew how it would end.

So, maybe the enthusiasm of Clinton supporters can be a bit much. But it's partly because it had to be kept under wraps for so long - I sincerely believe part of it is the floodgate effect.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:17 PM on October 17, 2016 [31 favorites]


By no means do I mean to throw in with the "enough about politician's sex lives" guy - that comment was way off-base where Trump is concerned and in the context of that thread. The things that bug me are much like the ones splitpeasoup cited - scapegoating of voices which continue with principled criticism of HRC/the Democrats from the left, dismissal of the possibility that certain policy concerns are legitimately focal voting issues for some people, dismissal of the possibility that e.g. things coming out of the DNC might be seen as a little shady even if they aren't Trump shady, selective suspension of skepticism. (To be fair I know not everybody on MeFi is on exactly the same page about, say, foreign policy and intelligence questions to begin with.)

I wouldn't characterize this is a "policy versus emotion" issue at all. If anything I feel like there's some empathy missing for

a.) people who care sincerely (you know, emotionally) about issues that are not your own and
b.) the complicated feelings some of us have due to our own formative experiences with politics - people with 2000 burned in their brain forever vs. people who got genuinely excited in 2008 and are disillusioned with some of the outcomes and so on.

I mean I am in practice a very strategic voter - I wasn't old enough to vote in 2000 but I am old enough to remember it pretty well - but I just find it quite offputting personally when people seem to suggest that something is wrong with me for not being able to muster enthusiasm for their preferred candidate, you know? (I also do not mean to suggest that failures of empathy only go one direction, here - the comment directly above me is noted.)
posted by atoxyl at 2:12 PM on October 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Great, thanks for bringing this up, because this is exactly what I mean about not reading something in good faith and it's been specifically talked about in other metas. When you continue to bring MY comment up, it starts to feel a little personal.


Omg yes! This happened before. It wasn't then and isn't now personal, i don't even really know your username. It also wasn't just you saying "stop celebrating type stuff." Honestly for real not personal, though you seem weirdly convinced that it is.
posted by zutalors! at 2:43 PM on October 17, 2016


I declared election megapost bankruptcy weeks ago, and get by through a combination of the Popular Comments RSS and GraphFi. They seem mostly agreeable to my (skimming) eye, but as a veteran of 2008 and 2012 I know how backbitey things can get even in the best of times. Three more weeks.

(Speaking of favorites, here's a data point: tehhund, perhaps the most dogged reader of election threads we have, hasn't favorited anything from said threads for two weeks now... but has favorited 88 comments in this thread.)
posted by Rhaomi at 3:04 PM on October 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Zutalors!, saying "weirdly" isn't really helping, is it?
posted by agregoli at 3:04 PM on October 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


Yea I think it's a bit weird honestly.
posted by zutalors! at 3:42 PM on October 17, 2016


I'm going back and reading through the election threads, and specifically looking for one or two of the nastier exchanges that I remember. Without trying to pick on anyone, here's one:

While I think Ruki's point is fair about not blaming everyone on the site for Busters outside the site, I think this is a pretty good example of what makes at least me (and maybe others too?) jumpy, and it continues to exist on mefi too:

Starts with an interesting discussion about appealing to the millennials, with references to policy
HRC gets called names or is labelled with invectives as though they were self evident: "warhawk" or corrupt
Descends into accusations about her stealing the election (the thread I posted had those, but the mods deleted)
Vote for Stein because HRC corrupt neoliberal
rinse, repeat

This example strikes me as a really unhelpful line of discussion right now, and I would argue it doesn't belong in the election threads. It also feels personally quite hurtful since it has a lot of the same energy that the primaries had for me. I cannot tell you how many times I heard condescending, nasty criticism for supporting HRC in the primaries. Even here, it was literally explained to me over and over that it was *self evident* that the Sanders movement was Good and Hillary was Bad. And MeFi was one of the better sites. For weeks, I literally couldn't venture on the Internets without some (usually) genx man shouting about Bernie over literally every discussion. I realise many of you Sanders supporters felt the same way, but this is my experience I am talking about.

I honestly believe that I might (cannot speak for others) get my hackles up automatically when I hear something which sounds like it is going down that road. So I clearly need to check my discussion because I do want discussion about policy.

I dislike or disagree with many aspects of HRC policy, but one of the reasons I support her is I believe she can be moved by both discussion and pressure so I *want* policy discussions to happen.

On the other hand, maybe be conscious that if you are using reflexively nasty language about HRC (and not just the obvious Killary or Shrillary or whatever twist you give her name) then it is pretty likely that people are going to react, especially if it seems that the only point you are going to make is that we should all vote Stein because HRC stole the election.

I don't know if this helps, but I wanted to give an example of at least why I can be reactive. But I will try to be more conscious of it.
posted by frumiousb at 4:28 PM on October 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


I mean, one of the whole problems with this election is that it is legit feelings-heavy because there's a national split about whether, basically, POC and women are regular humans. That's intensely traumatic for many, many people, and it's not even remotely conducive to sitting there and parsing out the implications of Clinton's policy statements on Iran.

Can I just say that Iran and foreign policy etc. are really fucking emotional and visceral for some of us in a way that they are not for others? It seems like we're gearing up for a binary where some things are just abstract policy wonking and others are worthy of being considered very affecting and devastating. I am not happy with where that line would likely be drawn on this site.
posted by naju at 4:57 PM on October 17, 2016 [38 favorites]


Zutalors!, my point is your comment was very nice until you added the opinion of that poster's take on things. It's these casual snide bits that I wish people would leave out of their comments here towards other users.
posted by agregoli at 5:08 PM on October 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


Honestly, that double down made me very sad right now so I won't be back in this thread.
posted by agregoli at 5:10 PM on October 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah exactly naju - I don't like anybody's attempt to draw a line like that. People do care about things, sincerely, and they care about different things.
posted by atoxyl at 5:25 PM on October 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, naju put it really well. I want to talk about this stuff because it matters a lot to me on an emotional level. It's not something I want to discuss dispassionately. I am very aware of the stakes of this election, and talking about policy here and now is how I cope with my fears. It might not be relatable to everybody, but it's a way for me to feel like I have a handle on what's at stake and what the boundaries are. I get that it can have the opposite effect on some people, but it's not a lack of emotional investment on my part that motivates the way I approach these topics.
posted by teponaztli at 5:52 PM on October 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


The world exists outside the boundaries of this election, and while there are important feelings to have about the election, there are also important feelings to have about the implications of the policy that will be enacted as a result of this election. It's reductive and fairly offensive to imply that, on the one hand feelings of women and PoC in the United States are the only things that matter, and on the other hand that the feelings of women and PoC are so internally focused and important and singular that we can't consider more than just our fear when we talk about the consequences of our election. I'm voting for Hillary, and I'm terrified of what a Trump presidency might look like, but that doesn't mean I get to throw my hands in the air crazily and talk over the voices and concerns of people who are pointing out the broader implications of policy.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:52 PM on October 17, 2016 [19 favorites]


corb: I think - man, I'm torn on this one. Because on the one hand, I do genuinely think these policy discussions are important - in a way, I feel like it's one of the many, many negative consequences of this election, that we can't even talk about or think about policies, that there's no way the American people will be able to choose policies, that there will be no pushback or pull on policies, that Clinton will take office having no idea what the American people like or dislike about her other than her emails and the fact that she's not Donald Trump.

I don't know if this helps, but on a policy angle I really have been enjoying Clinton's web site. One of the things which started bringing me over to her (I started fairly neutral) was the "Listening Tour" she did which was a larger echo of the one she did before running for Senate in New York. The sheer amount of content which she's clearly thought about and has policies for is astonishing, and her record in New York shows that what she learns there often makes its way into policy. Obama had a good record for following through on his campaign promises (even the ones I disagreed with him on) and I think Clinton will too.

She also is building a record of taking critique from left groups and not just responding to them but incorporating the people making the critique into her organization so that their critique can happen earlier and more smoothly. I personally think this is not only a good model for a leader, it's also a way for her to get more accurate information and a broader range of opinions to correct for how narrow and polarized the media tends to be in terms of feedback. She has a history of reaching out to and listening to people who are usually disregarded, and that offers me some comfort in terms of reconciling with her as a President for the entire country. I won't agree with everything she does any more than I agree with everything Obama did (much as I adore him and his wife), but I'm confident in her care and dedication.

Also, I've been considering putting together a long email of "these are the things I think you're missing" and sending it her way if she's elected - I feel like she'd listen. I'd encourage anyone concerned that she's over-focused on the media response to her to do the same.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:43 PM on October 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


To go further, the policy is very much a part of the election for me. This is why I bristle when people suggest that I wait until after the election to bring it up - I can understand why they ask that, especially thanks to this MeTa, but I feel like I'm not being understood if people think it's about being Rational Man and talking over everyone else with truth bombs about stuff that isn't even relevant. The point is that this stuff is really important and relevant to some of us now, and the response seems to be that we don't grasp the full gravity of the situation if our priorities don't line up with yours (the general "yours"). And then it's not really that big a deal if we're treated badly, because we're behaving badly by bringing this stuff up in the first place.

All that said, I understand where people are coming from, and like I said, I've been staying out of the election threads because it's pretty clear no one wants to hear what I have to say. Except it seems like maybe some people do, and we have no place to talk about this stuff right now. We're not all trying to talk about "Killary," and I, for one, don't have any place where I feel comfortable talking about this stuff. I'm sure lots of Clinton supporters can relate in some way. I'm not asking anyone to be convinced that I'm right, I just don't want to have to defend myself on a basic level for having criticism of a presidential candidate and wanting to talk about it.
posted by teponaztli at 6:57 PM on October 17, 2016 [14 favorites]


I mean

She also is building a record of taking critique from left groups and not just responding to them but incorporating the people making the critique into her organization so that their critique can happen earlier and more smoothly.

This is why it matters to me that we can criticize this stuff now.
posted by teponaztli at 7:01 PM on October 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Based on the Wikileaks of the emails around the AIDS gaffe in March, direct contact to the Clinton team by activists was what triggered the quick response; it's part of what's making me think direct contact is the best way to issue critique they'll respond to and hopefully incorporate.

I'm wondering if the policy-focused people might be best served by bringing up really policy specific things as they come up. At least part of what seems to trigger aggressive interactions is the combination of general and flip discussions of policy. I suspect something more detailed will have a different effect.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:19 PM on October 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


I stand by my assessment.

Thing being, there's the Discuss crowd and the Share crowd. Both are good and useful and part of the site, but their different approaches don't always mesh well. And increasingly, and as happened in this thread, if you want to discuss something but a user or users have decided it's a sharing space instead? Even if you're sharing, but just on something different from what they regard as the focus? Then you're a Bad Person. Usually euphemised to Redditor, or Rational Man, or just 'this is a really important issue for POC and women' with the blaring subtext of 'your disagreement shows you clearly don't care about their lives'.

It's a way of making people defensive while maintaining plausible deniability. After all, you didn't say they were sexist, just that you feel they're ignoring and dismissive of how women feel. It's what leads to people always having to declare themselves first, as a Clinton voter or PoC or woman or what 'allows' them to say what they're about to say, or indeed as has also been shown in this thread, to say anything at all.

I like Clinton and desperately hope she wins - I don't know that should properly validate or invalidate my opinion, but there it is. I think there was a lot of toxic behaviour towards her supporters during the primaries, and there's some coming from them now as the election draws nearer, but that a Trump presidency is, indeed, something to fear and fight against - and Clinton is actually in many ways worth fighting for.

But I don't think feeling differently to me should automatically get you dismissed, which a lot of the snarky responses and 'I can't with this' and 'well I'm personally affected (unlike you)' comments do. They make the thread all about how you are overwhelmed, and you are personally affected, and everyone else has to deal with how it means you can't even because it's not up for discussion this is too important.

And I don't think that whether you feel more worried or more scared means you're the thread baseline - either in a 'I'm terrified so it matters more to me', or 'I'm terrified so this can't touch on anything that might make things worse' way. And it's where I think the sharing becomes toxic, when it becomes entirely about how we can only talk about how we all feel the same. Because if you don't feel the same? Even only similar? Then not only is the thread Not For You, but if you don't feel the same way we don't want you here at all.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2016 [22 favorites]


I feel like I'm not being understood if people think it's about being Rational Man and talking over everyone else with truth bombs about stuff that isn't even relevant

What I was trying to get at about Rational Man upthread wasn't so much "here I am dropping truthbombs because I am so awesome" as the ability to pivot effectively from one charged conversation to another without spillover of feelings and content. That's what I see, personally, going wrong in the big threads.

I admit that trying to say "this is emotion" and "this is policy" wasn't a good way to get at what I was trying to express, but I feel like a lot of what is happening in the big threads is "we are having a really charged discussion about [X] and someone hops in with a charged observation about [23], and then things blow up". It seems like in the big threads, X is often trauma around the election and 23 is often very concrete stuff like contents of the emails, Hillary's history as SoS, etc.

I just feel like it's Not How People Work to say that we're going to have a super-charged conversation about rape culture which should then smoothly turn into a super-charged conversation about whether the emails are bad or not. This just isn't how people work, and it is absolutely why I would like to see more niche election threads rather than one mega-thread.

It seemed to me like one way to do this would be " stuff about the election as a process" versus "content of arguments about the candidates", but maybe there's lots of other ways to do it.

I mean, maybe it's just me, maybe I'm the weird one - when I am all worked up about a potential Medicaid rollback (or, for that matter, the haunting notion of someone bombing Iran, where friends' families live - that's why I keep using Iran as an example, Clinton's policy on Iran affects people I know) I find it really, really hard to move to a radically different topic in a calm, effective way. I get cathected on whatever the first topic is because I've put a lot of emotional energy into thinking and writing about it.

I mean, I am personally happy to talk about the emails, but I find it hard to talk about the emails right after I've just been reading a fellow mefite's story about her friend's kid getting racial abuse at school by peers parroting Trump.
posted by Frowner at 8:04 PM on October 17, 2016 [19 favorites]


At this point, so close to the election, maybe it would be worth it to have a policy thread. The emotion threads fill up quick, and just keep coming, but I think we could stretch one policy thread until the election. (I know emotion and policy aren't the precise words, but I think it's a shorthand people in this thread understand by now.)
posted by Ruki at 8:14 PM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think that would be an absolute nightmare to moderate.
posted by sallybrown at 8:18 PM on October 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


(Partly because we haven't even been able to come up for shorthand descriptions of the different threads other than "emotion" and "policy," which most people agree is not the correct framing. It feels more like people are interested in a thread to talk out the potential pitfalls of a Clinton presidency separate from others who are celebrating Clinton in the interest of avoiding the camps getting pissed off at each other due to election stress and/or other things. But an unclear division like that will lead to a lot of nitpicking over what belongs in which thread and don't bring that in here, etc.)
posted by sallybrown at 8:22 PM on October 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


The idea of separate election threads is DOA. Policy is personal. Unless, I suppose, you're talking about... I dunno... naming a state pasta dish?
posted by Justinian at 8:36 PM on October 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


(Partly because we haven't even been able to come up for shorthand descriptions of the different threads other than "emotion" and "policy," which most people agree is not the correct framing.

"Liveblogging" vs. "policy"?

Policy debates in the election thread feel like, I don't know, trying to argue about doping and policies regarding gender identity at the Olympics in the middle of a running event. Like, I can see why people care about these things, and they might be important to discuss, but they're orthogonal to talking about the people who are literally winning the 100m dash right now.
posted by steady-state strawberry at 8:37 PM on October 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


To go further, the policy is very much a part of the election for me. This is why I bristle when people suggest that I wait until after the election to bring it up

The US constitution doesn't grant an absolute policy mandate to the president, regardless of the extent of victory in a presidential election. (This is the Youngstown Steel precedent.) Voting is structurally a combination of near-enough and fingers-crossed: that's why I said it's never pure.

Let me put it this way: as a white, English-speaking, non-citizen immigrant resident, I have watched as every campaign year's discussion of immigration quickly regresses into two premises: that I'm probably an "illegal" for not being a US citizen or that I'm an "oh, you're not one of those immigrants." Election campaigns are the worst possible times for a policy discussion on immigration, because most voters are Springsteen-Americans who have no damn clue how the US immigration system actually works and vote on generalised misconceptions (on the right and the left) and candidates on both sides have to work with that electorate. This is why detailed policy arguments on immigration shut down during election season and open up again once the votes are counted.

Circling back to the OP and the question of "pro-establishment", it's hard to avoid the way in which anti-establishment thinking is being expressed in very absolute terms by a candidate on the ballot (and his surrogates) claiming that the election is rigged and that a peaceful transition of executive power shouldn't be taken for granted. That's a toxic appropriation of what "establishment" means, of course, but with three weeks to an election, and early voting already underway, that's where we are.
posted by holgate at 11:35 PM on October 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


I stand by my assessment.

I was really hoping you'd apologize to Frowner for the accusation of concern trolling.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:48 AM on October 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


The idea of separate election threads is DOA. Policy is personal. Unless, I suppose, you're talking about... I dunno... naming a state pasta dish?

We can get into shouting matches over plates of beans. You think pasta won't get personal?

:)
posted by cooker girl at 6:59 AM on October 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Heck, you only need two people who share a deep interest into something but with opposing views to make it personal. I mean, I can go Brock Samson intense over some completely trivial topics.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:21 AM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


You think pasta won't get personal?

Ziti or GTFO

Policy is personal.

It is. And we're all affected by it to one degree or another.
posted by zarq at 7:59 AM on October 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ziti or GTFO

WOW this is really embarrassing coming from someone who really should know about campanelle
posted by beerperson at 8:19 AM on October 18, 2016 [8 favorites]



Zutalors!, my point is your comment was very nice until you added the opinion of that poster's take on things. It's these casual snide bits that I wish people would leave out of their comments here towards other users.


I'm genuinely stunned that my pushback against someone who insists, without any real claim (linking, using their name, anything else) that I am saying something personal about them when I talk about disliking certain activity during the primary is considered 'snark' and 'doubling down' just because I used the word "weird."

I'm sorry if people are offended but I would like to be able to discuss things here without that sort of accusation, seriously. I really dislike this accusation that I am snarky double downing because I am uncomfortable with this repeated insistence that I am not speaking from my heart on how I felt about the primary behavior, but attacking one user personally, snarkily, "double downing," bad faith, etc.
posted by zutalors! at 8:24 AM on October 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Your objection has been noted, zutalors!, and I don't think you're helping your case at this point.
posted by Etrigan at 8:32 AM on October 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


thanks for the tip.
posted by zutalors! at 8:34 AM on October 18, 2016


I mean if we're trying to cut back on snark, the "noted" stuff could probably stop.
posted by zutalors! at 8:35 AM on October 18, 2016


UBIK -- now with Tasmanian Devils milk!
posted by y2karl at 9:03 AM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Are we trying to cut back on snark? I'm not
posted by Greg Nog at 9:03 AM on October 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


it's snark week on the discovery channel
posted by beerperson at 9:21 AM on October 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Are we trying to cut back on snark? I'm not

I am, if only because the notion of being mean to each other right now when there's this existential crisis of horror fills me with sads.
posted by corb at 9:25 AM on October 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


I'm sorry if people are offended but I would like to be able to discuss things here without that sort of accusation, seriously.

I thought that the whole point of this thread was that you shouldn't be able to do that.

In the future, just smile and nod. Just smile and nod.
posted by happyroach at 9:27 AM on October 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Huh? I linked. To my comment, to where it was called out before. Don't know what my name has to do with anything. I've been using the same one here since the beginning.

You read my (linked) comment in bad faith, called it out before, then brought it up months later. Cool, it's not personal, thanks. But I don't think it was weird of me to think so when it kept coming up. There's a difference between don't gloat and don't be happy, which is where the bad faith part comes in, just to be super clear.

But it doesn't even matter. I appreciate the thoughtful discussion but since it's clear that policy can't be discusssed in election threads and it can't have its own thread, I'll just repeat my request for a little more kindness and bow out now.
posted by Ruki at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


But it doesn't even matter. I appreciate the thoughtful discussion but since it's clear that policy can't be discusssed in election threads....

This is not at all clear to me. Many people have been discussing policy in those threads.

If someone goes into a thread and says, "How can this post not have any references to Wikileaks or the Podesta emails, in either the main post or any of the comments?

Trumps sex scandals are hardly the only scandals rocking America at the moment."


...then the subsequent pushback it receives shouldn't be surprising.
posted by zarq at 10:43 AM on October 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah people generally don't like "why hasn't anyone talked about x shame on you" type comments
posted by zutalors! at 10:51 AM on October 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah people generally don't like "why hasn't anyone talked about x shame on you" type comments

People above have cited other instances where the critique was more policy-focused and the pushback should probably have been less extreme. I agree that some of those examples show bad behavior, while some others I think are fine. We don't have to come to a consensus on each and every one of those to agree to try harder to not be mean-spirited, even when we think the person we're responding to is trying to shit in our punch bowl.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:03 AM on October 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


To be clear, my comment about the emails complaint has nothing to do with an assumption of hidden intent.

I agree that we should all try harder to be kinder to each other.
posted by zarq at 11:22 AM on October 18, 2016


[Couple deleted. In the name of keeping this thread for site/meta issues, probably better to take the naked Clinton statuary over to the main thread, she said with a weary sigh.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:01 PM on October 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


While things get better between elections, I think there's still a bit of an echo-chamber establishment advocacy going on. There's always some crisis of political calculus on the table to make some issues untouchable, and I gave up on policy threads sometime between elections a few years back when the untouchable was marriage equality and ENDA. Curiously, Daily Kos has, at times, been more friendly to the notion that one can punch a straight-ticket Democrat ballot, and disagree with administration policy, and engage in social-change activism. I suspect the voice of the Reverend William Barber II, a man who's in the third generation of the civil rights ground game has something to do with that.

(And my straight-ticket Democrat ballot was punched earlier today, just to head off accusations that I'm shilling for a third-party or no-party vote.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:40 PM on October 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Policy debates in the election thread feel like, I don't know, trying to argue about doping and policies regarding gender identity at the Olympics in the middle of a running event. Like, I can see why people care about these things, and they might be important to discuss, but they're orthogonal to talking about the people who are literally winning the 100m dash right now.

At the same time, policy debates are more like how MetaFilter usually works. The election threads seem like a really uncharacteristic use of the site, with the emphasis on general liveblogging or emotional processing and much less focus on any one actual topic. (Unless it's risotto, which somehow became the in-joke du jour while I was away for a couple of days.) Has there been a parallel uptick in use of MetaChat around the election, I'm curious?
posted by psoas at 12:46 PM on October 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


CBrachyrhynchos: (And my straight-ticket Democrat ballot was punched earlier today, just to head off accusations that I'm shilling for a third-party or no-party vote.)

Not to pick on you CBrachyrhynchos, but it seems ridiculous that there is some implicit rule that we have to apologize for supporting anything other than the 2 major parties on MeFi (I've seen many others do it).

IMO this is another symptom of the unspoken conformity that we're discussing here, where even the most well-meaning user has to add a disclaimer that yes they are one of the "good" folk.
posted by kyp at 12:50 PM on October 18, 2016 [17 favorites]


When I concluded that the most favorable of the reasonably probable outcomes of electing Trump is a military coup, criticizing Hillary lost all appeal.
posted by jamjam at 1:46 PM on October 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Questioning Clinton's stances on foreign policy or economic policy or whatever is not automatically advocating for Trump, nor is it going to make him more likely to win. The continued behavior as if it is those things is not sensible. Do you actually believe that even one person reading a comment on Metafilter that's critical of Clinton is going to vote for Trump because of it? I don't.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:10 PM on October 18, 2016 [24 favorites]


When I concluded that the most favorable of the reasonably probable outcomes of electing Trump is a military coup, criticizing Hillary lost all appeal.

And how is this appropriately salient to leftist issues? Left critique is different than vulgar criticism, but somehow it's okay to unreflectively jump into a meta thread about leftist experiences with a non-leftist perception of a dynamic that itself is not necessarily the case. In feminism we call this mansplaining. This is precisely the constricting behavior that some people have been calling out.
posted by polymodus at 2:18 PM on October 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


The continued behavior as if it is those things is not sensible.

Behaving as if people don't post criticisms of other candidates with the hope that they'll persuade others is equally senseless. The issues matter to us, candidates have stances on those issues, and we vote for the candidates. An empirical study would likely conclude that nobody's vote hinged on what someone on MetaFilter thought, but that doesn't mean that we're just discussing these ideas for philosophical shits and giggles.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:27 PM on October 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Actually, I conceded too much there, because I've seen a few people posting in the election threads saying they've decided to support Clinton because of the arguments in her favor that they read on the blue. Whether they would have been convinced by someone else or come around on their own is an open question, but I take those people at their word.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:34 PM on October 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Policy debates in the election thread feel like, I don't know, trying to argue about doping and policies regarding gender identity at the Olympics in the middle of a running event. Like, I can see why people care about these things, and they might be important to discuss, but they're orthogonal to talking about the people who are literally winning the 100m dash right now.

Yeah. I'm really sorry about that. Trump rallies in all honestly are a constant gish gallop of every increasing intensity so for 45 minutes it's like a firehose of shit that you're trying stop from going over the place but after it subsides you look at the scene and think "well fuck I'm not going near that". Once he started to run out of new material it's tended towards more after the fact though.
posted by Talez at 2:36 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've seen a few people posting in the election threads saying they've decided to support Clinton because of the arguments in her favor that they read on the blue. Whether they would have been convinced by someone else or come around on their own is an open question, but I take those people at their word.


I've had people memail me about the Blue threads influencing their support for Clinton. They felt like they'd be attacked if they wrote about it in the threads.
posted by zutalors! at 2:39 PM on October 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Nobody memails me :'(
posted by Talez at 2:54 PM on October 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


While things get better between elections, I think there's still a bit of an echo-chamber establishment advocacy going on.

Public disagreement is the opposite of an echo chamber.

People vehemently arguing that a certain point of view is the right one against people arguing that a different point of view is the right one is the opposite of an echo chamber. Their side being mean or snide doesn't make it any more an echo chamber. Even mods coming in and saying "enough, all sides have said their peace" doesn't make it an echo chamber.

We ARE an anti-Trump echo chamber, however, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


In response, how about suppose that part of the echo chamber aspect is this immediate refocusing on whether there absolutely is/isn't an echo chamber instead of confronting the harder question of establishment advocacy, which was part of the commenter's concern if not more so? This again raises and illustrates very well what a majority, hegemonic thought process is like.
posted by polymodus at 3:38 PM on October 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am a WAY left of Sanders type person from another country. I think the decision in the US election is a very, very easy one. I have MAJOR misgivings about Clinton, but to quote her opponent's favourite song, "You can't always get what you want, but..." She'll get what you need. It's not as if the Left voting for a third-party candidate is going to have better results.

I am just fine with echo chambers, if only as a comfortable refuge where you know what's what (whether you agree with it or not), away from the random chaos of wherever else. I wouldn't recommend anyone spend all their time in just one, but then I don't think a whole lot of people do.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:27 PM on October 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


My understanding is that Metafilter proper is intended as a discussion site, not as an advocacy site for specifically promoting any particular causes/candidates. A number of comments in this thread, which are some variant of, (paraphrasing) "The important thing right now is making sure Trump doesn't get elected, we can worry about flaws in Clinton's policies/candidacy after she wins", feel like a direct contradiction to the very purpose of this site where users are supposed to contribute interesting links they found online and other users then discuss them, the only limitation being keeping within the accepted rules of etiquette in engaging with other members.

Essentially asking other members to table discussion that doesn't actively promote Clinton's candidacy until after the election or gauging the quality of election posts by how many users have successfully been converted into Clinton voters is not a Metafilter that I recognize or care to (even as a Clinton voter myself).
posted by The Gooch at 5:09 PM on October 18, 2016 [28 favorites]


instead of confronting the harder question of establishment advocacy

We did cover that above, quite a bit actually, but did not achieve a consensus, and I'm not sure what other ground there is to cover. There does seem to be general agreement that, at various times, advocates for more leftist and more centrist policy (or advocates for Sanders and Clinton specifically) have been shouted down / treated in a nasty way. There also seems to be wide agreement that it skewed more in the pro-Sanders direction early in the election season but has trended toward support of Clinton and unpleasantness/snark toward Sanders supporters.

Beyond that, a lot of this debate hinges on what exactly "establishment" is, and how that relates to advancing leftist goals. Many people reject the voter-as-consumer model, and say that incremental progress in the form of electing Hillary does more to advance those goals than does a vote for a third-party candidate that can't win the election. Other people make arguments that it's the job of candidates to earn the votes, not the job of the voters to pick the lesser of two evils.

It's also not clear to me how well the left/right spectrum (itself a gross simplification) maps to the establishment/anti-establishment axis, so I question lumping together the "left-of-Clinton" and "anti-establishment" labels. There's some relationship there, but it's not a direct one, and different beliefs on tactics can lead to very different conclusions about which candidates move us in a more leftist or anti-establishment direction.

So, like, if confronting establishment advocacy is what you want, please add something to the discussion that we haven't already covered. Otherwise, I'm not sure what the complaint is.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:09 PM on October 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Public disagreement is the opposite of an echo chamber.

It depends. The argument that policy decisions and law should not be criticized at all because something something something Nader apocalypse at an election 14 months away is a call for an echo chamber.

Alternatively, you can have a dominant group with apparently endless energy to grind an axe and an unwillingness to agree to disagree.

Then you have topics that devolve into the same old flamewars between two entrenched positions. I think it's a good thing that we don't do religion on the blue.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:01 PM on October 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think it's a good thing that we don't do religion on the blue

Since when?
posted by zarq at 6:54 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Has there been a parallel uptick in use of MetaChat around the election, I'm curious?

I am curious about this too.
posted by futz at 7:02 PM on October 18, 2016


No, Metachat is quiet, no large uptick in activity there. I think Twitter took a lot of steam out of Metachat's sails.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:39 PM on October 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


And Deoridhe, the sentence you quoted quite explicitly and plainly says something other than your interpretation, something further elaborated on in the following sentences. We're not on twitter, some of us do write in paragraphs.

To be explicitly clear, there's a long history on metafilter of demands that key movements on the left shut ourselves up to avoid creating bad PR for Democratic politicians, coupled with an absurd logic that those movements are paradoxically responsible for what the Republicans do. After a few dozen rounds of "shut up," I decided to, at least on metafilter.

zarq: Since when?

My apology, a qualifying clause got cut in editing that last post. I've noticed fewer and fewer religious-focused posts lately. Given what went down in the last major atheist thread, I say good riddance. If I want to have a civil interfaith discussion, there are many better places to go, and I'm very reluctant to bring relevant work here for discussion.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:45 PM on October 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Has there been a parallel uptick in use of MetaChat around the election, I'm curious?

Sadly MeCha's basically dead. Ten years ago it had over a thousand posts a month, now it's down to a dozen or so.
posted by octothorpe at 8:03 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


"The important thing right now is making sure Trump doesn't get elected, we can worry about flaws in Clinton's policies/candidacy after she wins", feel like a direct contradiction to the very purpose of this site where users are supposed to contribute interesting links they found online and other users then discuss them, the only limitation being keeping within the accepted rules of etiquette in engaging with other members.

This makes me yearn for the time (maybe I have rose colored glasses) that there was an understanding that it was actually possible to have more than one discussion in a thread, even if they didn't mesh with each other. It's literally possible to carry on more than one discussion in a thread, and ignore the ones that we don't agree with, don't mesh with, don't like for any particular reason. I feel as if that was a virtue of the site, and now we are losing it because it's literally a bad thing to even allow a platform to certain ideas the majority can't handle well, lest they feel like a derail from Truth and Righteousness. It's less an issue of moderation, I think, and more an issue of self-control over a lack of trust in people being able to engage their own thought process to a good conclusion.

I get the 101 level concerns that seem like trolling at times, but I also think that it's a convenient sort of framing that creates a power dynamic that can dismiss things we don't like by couching them as ignorant, not helpful, or (god help us) dangerous. More than saying "this thread can't be about that, because it's really important right now that it's not," I'm way more concerned that we can't consider a thread to be talking about more than one thing, or that some people don't seem to have the self control to simply not participate in things that they don't agree with or bother them. Good discussions about important things can still happen while other sorts of discussions swirl around them.

It's not a virtue of the site if we cater to shaming or silencing as the answer to ideologically bothersome differences. I get that it's annoying and even troubling to hear ideas that we think are troubling, but it sure can make for a sucky discussion environment, depending on which ideas have the most sway at the time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:31 PM on October 18, 2016 [26 favorites]


So, like, if confronting establishment advocacy is what you want, please add something to the discussion that we haven't already covered. Otherwise, I'm not sure what the complaint is.

Excuse me? Have you considered maybe this is because you didn't demonstrably follow the context of my response. I'll go over it again because there were several steps involved:

First CBrachyrhynchos said:
While things get better between elections, I think there's still a bit of an echo-chamber establishment advocacy going on. There's always some crisis of political calculus on the table to make some issues untouchable ...
(And my straight-ticket Democrat ballot was punched earlier today, just to head off accusations that I'm shilling for a third-party or no-party vote.)


Then Deoridhe quoted CBrachyrhynchos and disagreed saying:
"While things get better between elections, I think there's still a bit of an echo-chamber establishment advocacy going on."

Public disagreement is the opposite of an echo chamber. / People vehemently arguing that a certain point of view is the right one against people arguing that a different point of view is the right one is the opposite of an echo chamber. Their side being mean or snide doesn't make it any more an echo chamber. Even mods coming in and saying "enough, all sides have said their peace" doesn't make it an echo chamber.
We ARE an anti-Trump echo chamber, however, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

In response to one commenter's latching onto another's terminology, I said:
In response, how about suppose that part of the echo chamber aspect is this immediate refocusing on whether there absolutely is/isn't an echo chamber instead of confronting the harder question of establishment advocacy, which was part of the commenter's concern if not more so? This again raises and illustrates very well what a majority, hegemonic thought process is like.

All this paragraph should suggest is that let's suppose that in replying, it was Deoridhe's responsibility and opportunity to attend to a more significant part of CBrachyrhynchos's comment. That's part of the skill of giving a fair reading of what someone said. And I finished by saying that hegemonic processes tend to engender this sort of poor-faith reading of people's concerns. This is one of the ways in which the dynamics for the majority and the minority are not equivalent at all; these are like intellectual micro-aggressions experienced by the minority group--understandably unintentional, but having a cost (because, microaggressions) that the minority group is implicitly made to bear.

And frankly, that all of this existed and happened outside of your perceptual field (using Derald Wing Sue's term), this phenomenon of me having to explain all this is reflective of that dynamic yet again.
posted by polymodus at 1:19 AM on October 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


On a mathematical note:

I'm glad you folks are bringing this up, because I just went back to a few of the earlier election threads (early on in the primary season) and eyeballed things with a Greasemonkey script that highlights comments that get more favorites, and it does look like the feel of those "rooms" was very much skewed toward a pro-Sanders position. The threads start to look more balanced as Super Tuesday approached, and by the time of the DNC, things definitely got harder for someone who wanted to criticize Clinton, as one might expect when the outcome is already decided but the losing candidate is still attacking the party he campaigned for the nomination of.


Has no one yet called out the statistical illiteracy embedded in this reasoning? It is a classic false equivalence to say Sanders and Hillary discussions are on somehow equal terms, when the characteristics of such discourse are differentiated by two critical factors: a) size i.e. Democrats overwhelm the other progressives by an order of magnitude, and b) non-Democrats vs Democrats have very different priorities, political behaviors/attitudes, which as one corollary leads them to comment and participate at different times. Factors a) and b) means "all things being equal" is not a valid assumption; so this talk of "skewed" is already biased.

The conclusion drawn, that there was a "shift" that transpired between two demographics, thereby things are fair and square and both sides have dominated threads, is inappropriate from an analytic standpoint because it is an argument constructed on data without its original context and all the problems that accounting for context entails. So while it's laudable to attempt ad-hoc sentiment analysis or any other sort of evidence-based sociological analysis using metafilter corpus, my reason for expecting structured research that has a sound theory section is that that would avoid exactly this sort of pitfall.
posted by polymodus at 2:28 AM on October 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is the way it always is.

The Republicans are always pushing a supervillian and everyone gets told they have to hold the line by supporting some status quo-preserving Democrat.
If you don't then you're a traitor.
posted by yonega at 3:15 AM on October 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


As a foreigner, I wouldn't call you a traitor for it. But unless you have some magic wand that can produce a viable alternative better than the status quo at this stage of the election cycle, I'd certainly call you plenty of other things you won't like.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:26 AM on October 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


the system's been set up so there won't be a viable alternative better than the status quo
posted by pyramid termite at 3:29 AM on October 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's literally possible to carry on more than one discussion in a thread, and ignore the ones that we don't agree with, don't mesh with, don't like for any particular reason.

This is very much going on in the election threads. They are thousands of posts long. They contain multitudes.

I'm seeing in this thread a lot of characterizations of what the election threads are, what happens in them, and who participates in them that don't match my experience of the more recent election threads at all. I wonder the extent to which peoples' impressions are based on earlier in the year, during the primary season? It makes sense to say "I noped out of the election threads because they were like X at that time, and I found that problematic." But if you don't participate in the election threads currently, how do you know what they are like now? It's not fair to lump them all together and act as if the same problems persist when you haven't been in them in months.

The discussion around the length and frequency of the threads and the expectations that creates for participation becoming a barrier to entry is a really important critique (imo, the thing that makes them un-Metafilter like). But it's very different than the critique in this thread.
posted by sallybrown at 4:03 AM on October 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


Also meant to add - I have really been enjoying the recent state-specific policy and election posts on the Blue.
posted by sallybrown at 4:24 AM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


it was Deoridhe's responsibility
[...]
the skill of giving a fair reading
[...]
And frankly, that all of this existed and happened outside of your perceptual field
[...]
Has no one yet called out the statistical illiteracy embedded in this reasoning?
[...]

Using academic language to cloak and / or soften the fact that you're acting dickishly and that you're calling people stupid, is still acting dickishly and calling people stupid.

these are like intellectual micro-aggressions experienced by the minority group

People disagreeing--no matter how rudely--with your opinions about politics is not a microaggression, at least not in the way that I understand the term or its use. I'm not convinced that having an unpopular opinion about politics is at all the same as being a member of a socially marginalized group, even if the opinion-holder feels marginalized.

In fact, trying to place someone's opinions in the same category as their race, gender, SES, etc. feels kind of gross to me.
posted by dersins at 6:34 AM on October 19, 2016 [20 favorites]


Yeah, there has been a lot of calling people stupid, and the "statistical illiteracy" comment is just the latest example.
posted by zutalors! at 6:51 AM on October 19, 2016


Also meant to add - I have really been enjoying the recent state-specific policy and election posts on the Blue.

I've liked those as well, and I think it's an example of something in the election context that is sufficiently severable from the overall national general/presidential election that the threads work without needing constant multiplied efforts by the mod on staff to essentially wrangle multiple Trump-laden discussions at once.

Has no one yet called out the statistical illiteracy embedded in this reasoning?

Honestly I think you get to a point where you say "yes but I'm using math to prove that your figurative explanation of the feel of the room is wrong" and you're mostly just making math look bad. This isn't a discussion of hard stats, it's folks talking about general and varyingly personal assessments of the trends and patterns they've seen in discussions on the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:16 AM on October 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


People disagreeing--no matter how rudely--with your opinions about politics is not a microaggression, at least not in the way that I understand the term or its use. I'm not convinced that having an unpopular opinion about politics is at all the same as being a member of a socially marginalized group, even if the opinion-holder feels marginalized.

True, but pointing the finger at allies and saying that we're useful idiots for conservative Republicans and Naderites (on the left side) or that they're corporate tools (on the moderate side) isn't really disagreement either. It's a thought-terminating cliche that skips over the disagreement to a slippery slope hypothetical.

Also, I think rudeness should be open for discussion here because escalation of rudeness has the result of pushing out people who don't feel like putting up with it. Some of those people agree with you.

Another thing that isn't really good-faith disagreement is the practice of quoting fragments for the purpose of constructing your own argument. You may be correct (and I think you are in this case), you may even be right, but it's a dick-move that's sadly become a norm on Metafilter.

I'll be the first to admit that righteous outrage is one hell of a drug that I'm working on kicking. But this thing of treating communication as a rhetorical combat sport of mixing the artfully edited soundbite with the incisive callout isn't creating more effective coalitions. It's killed journalism. It's made other sites unreadable cesspits of harassment. Metafilter isn't as bad as sites that monetize that stuff, but it's not good either.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:58 AM on October 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


Have you considered maybe this is because you didn't demonstrably follow the context of my response. I'll go over it again

You didn't go over it in the first place. You jumped into a long thread without bothering to quote the comment you were responding to. From context and positioning in the thread I assumed it was the one immediately before, but the pro move if you're going to make a nuanced point that requires following "several steps" is to include enough context that the average reader can follow.

If I misunderstood the thrust of your argument, it was not intentional -- that should go without saying, but with you lobbing accusations of "poor-faith" and trying to connect what you perceive to be sloppy argumentation and reasoning to a systematic attempt to stifle dissent, I feel I should state it for the record.

All this paragraph should suggest is that let's suppose that in replying, it was Deoridhe's responsibility and opportunity to attend to a more significant part of CBrachyrhynchos's comment.

As far as I can tell, a MeFiite's "responsibility" involves little more than participating in good faith and adhering to the community guidelines. I'm not aware of any rule that requires responding to every point another member makes. If someone neglects to respond to some key linchpin of someone else's argument in a way that you feel mischaracterizes what was said, there are ways to raise that objection without accusing others of intentional foul play.

Has no one yet called out the statistical illiteracy embedded in this reasoning?

First, let me echo what others have said about using accusations of "statistical illiteracy" to poke holes in an analysis that was explicitly described as "eyeballed." I did not claim to make a detailed empirical case. Some people said the earlier threads were more difficult for Clinton supporters. I was a Sanders supporter at that time, so I went back to see if my own blind spots kept me from noticing how much of a pro-Sanders feel there was to those threads, and my general sense from reading them for about a half hour was that these claims of a tough environment for Clinton supporters have merit.

But if you're going to accuse me of innumeracy, I have to ask where you're coming up with this claim that "Democrats overwhelm the other progressives by an order of magnitude". "Progressive", like a lot of other ideological labels, has no widely agreed-upon definition, and has the problem of overlapping enough with "liberal" that it polls rarely distinguish between the two. This one from 2009 does, and shows about 1/6th of the electorate identifies as "progressive", and another 1/6th as "liberal." I frankly find trying to distinguish between these two labels rather pointless, but unless you're using some very narrow definition of progressive that describes something other than self-reported ideology (and, if so, your demands for precision from others would seem to be made from inside a glass house), it's clear that progressives represent far more than the sliver of the electorate that could be correctly described as "an order of magnitude" smaller than the number of Democrats, which, unlike these other labels, is very easily countable.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:01 AM on October 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


Tony, it was a one-paragraph, one-point post. The point was that the same intra-community silencing rhetoric that appears in election threads has also appeared in policy threads between elections.

Whether that mischaracterization was intentional, sloppy, or just that we're using conflicting modes of online English, it's something that's disturbing me with more and more frequency, not just here on Metafilter but in the larger online culture. And I think we need to have a conversation about why we quote and paraphrase, if we should, and how.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:47 AM on October 19, 2016


I'm not convinced that having an unpopular opinion about politics is at all the same as being a member of a socially marginalized group, even if the opinion-holder feels marginalized.

I hear what you're saying, but I think it's also worth noting that some of the furthest left among us in particular, which I think this MeTa originally started off talking about, are often actually in a socially marginalized and vulnerable group by virtue of their politics alone. When I got involved in anti-war activism (and married my husband), for example, I was flat-out shocked by how violent and discriminatory the police felt it was acceptable to be to anarchists, because no one would defend them. They would let the other groups pass by, and then wade into the anarchist section and start grabbing away. They would get denied bail when everyone else was released.

I don't want to speak for them, because I'm obviously not a member of the far left myself, but it's my understanding that people who are routinely saying "the entire concept of a capitalist state is corrupt and I refuse to participate in it" are not really in the same grouping of 'unpopular politics' as, say, "People who thought Martin O'Malley should have beaten Clinton" (to try to come up with one we don't have) or what have you. Just because Metafilter doesn't routinely discriminate against them doesn't mean they haven't experienced that in the wider world.
posted by corb at 9:03 AM on October 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm still puzzled how exactly we go about deciding who can be counted as "the furthest left among us." If we're stepping away from using Clinton/Sanders support as a proxy to instead talk about support for specific issues, we get into the very dicey proposition of everyone having to come to the table willing to share their leftist bona fides, and to decide which positions on which issues qualifies one as leftist enough. I don't think that's where we want to be.

We're all relying on self-identification here, and some people who support Clinton still consider themselves leftist, but with different ideas on how to put their ideals into practice. Conflating opposition to Hillary with leftism, and in turn conflating leftism with being anti-establishment (I hear the right side of the spectrum has their own anti-establishment movement, too) leads to erasure of these perspectives.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:10 AM on October 19, 2016 [13 favorites]

I'll be the first to admit that righteous outrage is one hell of a drug that I'm working on kicking. But this thing of treating communication as a rhetorical combat sport of mixing the artfully edited soundbite with the incisive callout isn't creating more effective coalitions. It's killed journalism. It's made other sites unreadable cesspits of harassment. Metafilter isn't as bad as sites that monetize that stuff, but it's not good either.
I was watching HyperNormalisation again last night, and the quote that caught me was "angry people click more." But yeah: the weaponisation of the call-out and the assumption of bad faith and bigotry in those you disagree with politically basically just kills trust. Which is bad in the long run for community websites like this one. Add to that the usefulness of broadcast and social media for spreading negative stereotypes ("berniebros!" "racist uncles!") that can then be projected onto and used to smear any given rhetorical opponent, it's a short step to considering bullying, abuse, and mobbing as a form of useful political work—a blow for tolerance and diversity, even. I seriously blame Twitter. It's given people great practice at titrating their hate into 140 characters or less and directing it with pinpoint accuracy onto those they want to silence and intimidate.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:33 AM on October 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


I guess I'm still puzzled how exactly we go about deciding who can be counted as "the furthest left among us." If we're stepping away from using Clinton/Sanders support as a proxy to instead talk about support for specific issues, we get into the very dicey proposition of everyone having to come to the table willing to share their leftist bona fides, and to decide which positions on which issues qualifies one as leftist enough. I don't think that's where we want to be.

Yeah, I have to second this. The last thing we need around here is litmus tests which people have to pass before being allowed to comment on an issue without being attacked.
posted by zarq at 10:33 AM on October 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, are we out anything if we just try not attacking all the other members of our community?
posted by corb at 10:44 AM on October 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


I mean, are we out anything if we just try not attacking all the other members of our community?

Not at all. I thought we had achieved consensus to redouble our efforts on that front.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:46 AM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, that's great, and I apologize if I misread where things seemed to be going. This election season seems to have my blood pressure permanently somewhat elevated.
posted by corb at 11:00 AM on October 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I mean, are we out anything if we just try not attacking all the other members of our community?

As we've been discussing, for most of us the lines between political issues and the personal are blurred. For one thing, various political policies will affect people personally to varying degrees. Political discussions can turn personal for that reason. And in those discussions, personal experience and anecdotes and explanations of how someone is being affected are features, not bugs. We don't want to lose those because they add so much to the conversation.

Not attacking people is a good general rule. One of the things we are discussing here is what happens when one of us brings up a topic and someone else feels attacked. Which is less easily predicted.
posted by zarq at 11:03 AM on October 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, that's great, and I apologize if I misread where things seemed to be going.

Well, the unresolved portion of the question is the part that hinges on what leftist/anti-establishment is, but I kinda feel like leaving that one unresolved since we're unlikely to agree, and there's no harm in trying to be cooler to everyone regardless of what their ideology is.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:04 AM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yea I kind of wish this OP had been an unqualified call to attack less, rather than singling out one group as the victims.
posted by zutalors! at 11:05 AM on October 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think it's clear that people expressing hostility toward Hillary or toward positions identified with her (hawkishness, etc.) have probably had a rougher go than most lately, so I'm okay with people saying it's particularly hard for them now in the election threads. It was a blind spot for me, now it's something I'll think about as I read the threads.

I just don't like the idea to connect that uptick in hostility to opposition to progressive/liberal/leftist policy, depending on which adjective is being used at the time. That's a much more sweeping statement that requires much more precision about what these labels mean and who they apply to.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:15 AM on October 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


tonycpsu: I just don't like the idea to connect that uptick in hostility to opposition to progressive/liberal/leftist policy, depending on which adjective is being used at the time. That's a much more sweeping statement that requires much more precision about what these labels mean and who they apply to.

By the same token, the precision also needs to be applied to the source of the hostility, because otherwise we're assuming a monolithic bloc of opposition. There are examples of left vs left, center vs left, center vs right, and so on and so forth.
posted by kyp at 11:43 AM on October 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Honestly I think you get to a point where you say "yes but I'm using math to prove that your figurative explanation of the feel of the room is wrong" and you're mostly just making math look bad. This isn't a discussion of hard stats, it's folks talking about general and varyingly personal assessments of the trends and patterns they've seen in discussions on the site.

Cortex, I think you're mistaken about what I meant and what I said above. Someone else used a Greasemonkey script to perform an informal sentiment analysis to make their point. My concern was that when that is done, without more carefully examining the assumptions behind that, it can lead to wrong interpretations and confirmation bias. Specifically, I gave reasons why this easily creates a false equivalence argument in the context of political discussion.

My background is in computer science research, so my intuitions and lens is perhaps different. To me, someone bringing in an argument like "favorite counts show that Sanders vs Clinton discourse has certain property" is a mathematical argument. My intent was to criticize that, that they are doing it in a way that does not shed themselves of ideology. Folks talking about trends and patterns also means answering whether how they're going about doing it is valid and grounded.

If someone else is employing a mathematical tool, and people are just "going, aha, yes that's so right", I think it's totally fair to question that especially if one genuinely sees a problem in how they drew a conclusion from data. I think it's fair to engage on mathematical terms. I don't think it was that technical, it was still a qualitative discussion. If my phrasing was emotionally harsh for the person I was addressing, then I recognize and don't feel too good about that and that's something I'm willing to improve on my part. But it would greatly help if other members would perhaps check themselves when they're saying kinda patronizing things (for example, suggesting I haven't read the thread and aren't contributing something and related problematic statements), which replays the same dynamic that frustrated the OP.
posted by polymodus at 1:11 AM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and just to nip this prejudice in the bud:

Microaggressions can be based upon any group that is marginalized in this society. Religion, disability, and social class may also reflect the manifestation of microaggressions.

This is from the living expert on microaggression theory, Derald Sue at Columbia.

For myself, it took a long time to figure out this nonobvious connection/generalization. For those who denied or resisted this, it's an understandable reaction. For what it's worth, it's an interesting topic and sociological lens, albeit one that provokes discomfort and disagreement.
posted by polymodus at 1:30 AM on October 20, 2016


Using academic language to cloak and / or soften the fact that you're acting dickishly and that you're calling people stupid, is still acting dickishly and calling people stupid.

Sure. If you want to point out that I was being unnecessarily hostile or allowing my anger to come across as condescending or rude, then one thing you could do is to not just claim but also justify how I'm doing that. I think that would be more fair than making point-blank assertions and reductions about behavior. I've at times complained that others have been condescending or diminishing of/regarding my comments, but I think I've done my part in not overly focusing on just that. (Another useful thing I was taught, that's easier said than done at least, is understanding that when people are angry or upset, blood literally rushes away from their heads which affects how well we think and communicate; to me that means we should try, try, try to cut one another slack, on the personal level.)

On the other hand, when someone says that sort of one-liner about language and behavior, I tend to perceive that as an instance of tone policing. Part of the message I receive is that ideas, issues, and problems expressed in anger can be disregarded without considering their legitimacy. That's tone policing. And here's the sticky part, t's when we experience this as part of the repeated ways in which marginalization of groups is reinforced. For understandable reasons, of course, and which to me goes towards explaining why political contact is so fraught. Look, I don't know the answer, but awareness and consideration of these dynamics might help towards answering the question of what kind of interaction would be okay with most people in this space? Which is one way to generalize the OP's question in a more productive way than the simple "Yes/No" that it asked (After all, we're not seriously entertaining can we "not" stop attacking others?).

Here's an example. One of the radical aspects of microaggression theory and research on implicit biases was that they could be extended to all minorities and marginalized groups in a neutral way. So what does it say when there's a prevailing attitude where it's okay to say that some political identities are not even a valid category? What does that remind you of?
posted by polymodus at 4:23 AM on October 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Especially when so much effort from liberals and self-described "centrists" over the past year or two has gone into trying to dismiss those who espouse specifically left-wing politics on categorical grounds. I'm talking about the efforts to smear class politics as being implicitly crypto-racist or crypto-sexist, as they (supposedly) occlude or negate women and minorities. Or the efforts to amplify and distort recent historical studies that implicate New Deal politics in the politics of Jim Crow, the point of which was to imply that the new "New Deal" being offered by Sanders was somehow similarly racist. Or the efforts to blanket-smear, mob, and silence supporters of Corbyn in a thread so dispiriting I don't even want to talk about it.

There are literally hundreds of comments from liberals making these accusations in political threads, the effect of which was to make those spaces incredibly hostile and threatening for anyone taking a left position, as the implication created by those "hot take" arguments was that the reason anyone would take a left-wing position in the first place was because they were somehow bigoted. If those forms of concern-trolls came up, you (as a leftist) simply had to button, the assumption being that you were guilty. I simply cannot believe that people still can't see the problem and are now making honest-to-god "all lives matter" statements in this thread. I mean, seriously: how oblivious to the consequences of your actions can you possibly be?

I note also that teponaztli has left the site sometime over the last couple of days.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:58 AM on October 20, 2016 [14 favorites]


I simply cannot believe that people still can't see the problem and are now making honest-to-god "all lives matter" statements in this thread

where?
posted by zutalors! at 6:42 AM on October 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Microaggressions can be based upon any group that is marginalized in this society. Religion, disability, and social class may also reflect the manifestation of microaggressions.
Huh. Are you claiming that leftists on metafilter actually are more likely to be marginalized by social class, or that they're marginalized by virtue of their ideological relationship to social class, regardless of their actual lived experience of class? Because I would have to see evidence that metafilter leftists actually are from more-marginalized class backgrounds than "establishment" mefites. And I'm pretty sure that the available evidence suggests that Bernie votes and Hillary voters had roughly similar average incomes.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:55 AM on October 20, 2016 [9 favorites]


I note also that teponaztli has left the site sometime over the last couple of days.

Hasn't he left and returned several times already? I'm reminded of Senator Ernest Hollings' remark upon learning that Senator Strom Thurmond had fallen on the Senate floor, "I know. He'll get up."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 AM on October 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


One hopes so. I'd really miss him if he stayed off the site permanently.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:10 AM on October 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I guess I'm a little confused by the whole "bright line between leftists and Hillary supporters" thing.

I'm really hoping for a Hillary win (live in the Muslim part of town, family member has healthcare from Medicaid expansion, visibly queer person, do not want my union destroyed by important case that will come up before the Supremes in the next year or so) and yet my non-metafilter life is pretty left by US standards and I have literally been doing what Americans tend to designate as "radical" political activism since I was fifteen.

If there's anything that has made this election really hard for me, it's been the relentless narrative in my social group (of people whose families are healthy, who are straight and who are not union members) about how no true leftist can possibly stomach a Hillary win. I'm sitting here wondering how the hell my family will go back to finding the $8000 a year in cash to pay for my family member's treatment and what will happen when my job basically de-unionizes because of the end of fair-share and everyone else rabbits on about how terrible it is for anyone to want Hillary to win.
posted by Frowner at 7:37 AM on October 20, 2016 [36 favorites]


I'm talking about the efforts to smear class politics as being implicitly crypto-racist or crypto-sexist, as they (supposedly) occlude or negate women and minorities. Or the efforts to amplify and distort recent historical studies that implicate New Deal politics in the politics of Jim Crow, the point of which was to imply that the new "New Deal" being offered by Sanders was somehow similarly racist. Or the efforts to blanket-smear, mob, and silence supporters of Corbyn in a thread so dispiriting I don't even want to talk about it.

There are literally hundreds of comments from liberals making these accusations in political threads


While we're talking about rhetorical devices designed to shut down conversations and police language and tone, I'd like to ask we stop doing stuff like this. Let me break it down:

The first sentence assumes objective fact in place of subjective opinion. There are plenty of good arguments that a focus on class politics has, in many cases, displaced gender and racial discussion, and vice versa. Indeed, that's what intersectional discussions are about. The modern left (from center to far) in the US has been discussing this for decades, with entire schools of thought devoted to each aspect, and many that encompass several or all of them. It would be completely incorrect to state that class politics is largely free of racist or sexist arguments, so critiques coming from those aspects are completely valid. These are actually discussions we've had on MetaTalk, and to paint them with the broad brush of "smears" does a discredit to those making points on either side.

I'm not even sure where the second sentence is coming from. That the New Deal contained massively racist political implications, many of which were tied into Jim Crow-type policies, shouldn't really be open to argument. A lot of the evidence is right there in the legislation. But the politics of it aside, I can't recall seeing even a single comment anywhere in the months of election discussion that implied that any economic plan of Sanders' was a New Deal that came complete with the racist policies of the 1930s and 40s. Maybe I just missed them, but I would be surprised if there were even a handful, let alone "literally hundreds." In any case, this seems to be both another case of mixing the objective and subjective, combined with an assertion that, without some sort of background, becomes indistinguishable from hyperbole.

Which brings me to the third sentence and the beginning of the next paragraph. I'm not sure what value an accusation that can't even pinpoint the general topic of conversation has. Was it a Brexit discussion? Was it the allegations of anti-Semitism among some leftist MPs? Who knows? We're not meant to know. It's just a content- and context-free accusation, which is immediately followed up by an allegation that hundreds of said comments exist. From a rhetorical standpoint, that shuts down any discussion, because the argument will change based on what the accuser says.

If you want to have clear, non-aggressive discussions about this kind of thing, at least be direct and honest about your concerns. You can't couch these things in evasive or vague language, or ascribe motive where there is no evidence, or make broad accusations with no factual basis. You certainly shouldn't be painting others with those brushes while you're doing all the same things yourself, or at least not without coming off as hypocritical and/or overly defensive. It's certainly just as toxic, if not moreso, to political conversation from a tone and language point of view than the accusations being made here.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:53 AM on October 20, 2016 [15 favorites]


My background is in computer science research, so my intuitions and lens is perhaps different.

I'm not so sure how different our lenses are, actually. I'm a CS practitioner who works with CS PhDs and other data scientists by day. I have but a lowly Masters, and don't claim to be a data scientist myself, but I've been doing this stuff for many years, and understand the importance of precision when using data to make an empirical case. If I don't do that well, I'm unemployed.

On the other hand, here is what I actually said:

I just went back to a few of the earlier election threads (early on in the primary season) and eyeballed things with a Greasemonkey script that highlights comments that get more favorites, and it does look like the feel of those "rooms" was very much skewed toward a pro-Sanders position. The threads start to look more balanced as Super Tuesday approached, and by the time of the DNC, things definitely got harder for someone who wanted to criticize Clinton, as one might expect when the outcome is already decided but the losing candidate is still attacking the party he campaigned for the nomination of.

I've bold-faced the words that show that I was not trying to put my comment forth as anything other than a subjective analysis. I did not try to quantify how vicious the attacks from each side were. I did not email the mods to obtain deleted comments, which would be among the most vicious, and would therefore confound my analysis if I didn't include them. I did not try to record the ideological positioning of each commenter over time. I did not publish data to make it available for peer review.

I never put this analysis forth as anything other than my subjective take, using very blunt instruments to get a sense of a number of threads throughout the campaign. You're free to disagree, or to do a more exhaustive quantitative analysis, or to simply note the potential biases inherent in my analysis, even though I noted them myself.

Instead, you accused me of "statistical illiteracy" and false equivalence, and in doing so, made an error yourself in using "order of magnitude" to describe the difference in size between two labels, only one of which can be measured with any amount of precision.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:02 AM on October 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


I note also that teponaztli has left the site sometime over the last couple of days.

cobra_high_tigers also seems to have buttoned, which sucks.
posted by lalex at 9:16 AM on October 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm sorry cobra_high_tigers is gone; it's a shame because intelligent, honest criticism of the Clinton campaign designed to improve the campaign's effectiveness is in fact very helpful and useful to anyone seeking to fight against dishonest criticism of the Clinton campaign designed to undermine it. I'm not finding a lot of that kind of criticism on here, and given what cobra_high_tigers complained about, I'm thoroughly unsurprised. What's wrong with Trump and the risible Trump campaign is not hard to find on here and everywhere else in the world, and besides, it's obvious to the naked eye. But what's legitimately wrong with Clinton and what the actual problems with the Clinton campaign might be is all impossible to tease out because the opposition's criticism is almost entirely mendacious breitbartianisms, and the campaign's supporters aren't willing to be critical of the candidate or the campaign. For instance. That wikileaked speech transcript Mike Wallace's kid cited last night about the "open borders." Did wikileaks, as implied on NPR this a.m., leak only part of the speech so that Wallace and Trump are taking that phrase out of context? They didn't really say. it's like that "if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns" thing: If nobody sympathetic to Clinton is looking at and interpreting the wikileaks infodump, then everybody looking at and interpreting the wikileaks infodump is unsympathetic to Clinton. Obviously that's a problem, because I can't trust Drudge to point out flaws. Do I trust the wikileaks stuff? What do I say to people who do trust the wikileaks stuff? If it is wrong, why is it wrong?

I myself am way-yay-yay left of Hillary, but I'm superdelighted she won the primary over Sanders. In 2000 I voted for Nader and I suffered for it much more and for much longer than I should have had to (because ass hidebound social-hierarchy-reifying two-party system is ass). In the 2008 primary I went for Obama, mostly because I thought probably he wouldn't win because he was black, while Hillary, though admittedly a woman, was a white person. I just guessed wrong on the "which does reactionary America consider the worse character flaw" question. I chose strategically the one I thought would lose because I wanted to be able to say I voted for both historic peopletypes because I thought the chance would never come again in my lifetime. "Oh my god... oh my god! I can vote for a BLACK PERSON for PRESIDENT! and then she'll win the primary because of fear of a black planet and I can vote for a WOMAN for PRESIDENT!" (sad trombone. otoh, he actually WON, and then he won the GENERAL--does everybody remember how amazing that was at all and how great it felt and how we cried helplessly from happiness because I do--so I got to vote for a black person for president twice in 2008, so triumphant guitar riff.) In the democratic primary this year I did honestly and heavily favor Sanders, but I also, just as in 2008, voted for the one I was pretty sure would lose because I wanted a chance to vote for both of them, and this time I guessed right: "oh my god... oh my god! I can vote for a SOCIALIST for PRESIDENT and he'll lose because pinkos make baby jesus cry blahblahblah and then at last I'll get to vote for a WOMAN! I will get to vote for a WOMAN for PRESIDENT!"

Now I find myself in a world I could never have imagined when I was sitting there with my black marker hovering over my ballot in the 2008 primary. If both she and I manage to survive until November 8, I will vote for Clinton, and I will have the hat trick. Bammers, Bern, and Hills. All people I would honestly like to have a beer with. All legit--and viable!--candidates for president in my country. And I got to vote for all of them. I never thought I'd see the day.

I anticipate that Hillary will break my heart, just as Obama has, and just as Nader would have and Sanders would have. They all will break your heart. The job is impossibly hard and you have to be somewhat ruthless and something of a sellout to do it. I am convinced that if you don't start out that way, you get that way. (And I think Clinton already is that way, big league, would necessarily have to be, to have endured this long.) But Clinton, in addition to being probably the tearjerker pridevote of my life, also isn't intolerably stupid or venal, so she won't make me sick to my stomach for eight years as did a certain deplorable administration I'll leave unnamed. 2008 and 2012 did much to vanquish the undeserved pain I got from that Nader vote, but this year is going to knock it out entirely.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:31 PM on October 20, 2016 [16 favorites]


It seems to me like a lot of anti Clinton stuff involves a lot of hectoring and sarcasm about what a bunch of dummies we are for not seeing the same things/not commenting the way the left would like us to. Probably without that stuff the commentary would be received better.
posted by zutalors! at 1:36 PM on October 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


their ideological relationship to social class, regardless of their actual lived experience of class

I could be wrong in how I read it, but it seemed to me to be suggesting that political orientation is in fact a class marker in some cases, which is controversial, but certainly a real theory of class understanding. That as a class marker, it is subject to the stigmatization that negative class markers often receive.

And I think this is particularly true on the extreme edges of political identity and ideology. For better or worse, people with high levels of personal property and investment in the system tend to be gradualists, while those with less to lose and more to gain tend to be more revolutionary.

I think we're seeing this disputes hit so much to the heart because Clinton is the exemplification of a gradualist, but will likely be very successful at it. So old dynamics between the two ideologies are coming up. From what I've seen, it's not so much about "how left are you", but more about "how do you want to get where you're going?"
posted by corb at 3:10 PM on October 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


My purely subjective opinion, from the drive by readings of the election threads, is that the one safe position is support Clinton but you should be be a bit disappointed by how centrist she is*. Anything else can be greeted with snark or expressions of frustration, probably by a dozen posters given the volume and mood. So like zutalors! I would be less ambivalent about a general "be more open to diverse viewpoints" plea.

Which has a purpose too given the demographics of people who actually contribute here. But I'm struck how, despite the many comments against "echo chambers" or in favor "discussion not advocacy" the OP and most of the follow on comments are more or less explicitly about moving MeFi's Overton window left, not expanding it.


*For example, "I'm glad Bernie got her to flip on TPP" is fine. I can't imagine a comment that was along the lines of "I'm voting for Clinton but I hope she sticks to her original $11/hour minimum wage policy" would be engaged with universal respect and charity.

FWIW I'm saying this as someone to the left of Clinton on perhaps 90% of the issues, including minimum wage. But I'm not playing devil's advocate--I really have minimal respect for two of the four public figures mentioned in the OP so yeah, it does feel like the idea is you can still speak my mind about John McCain or Paul Ryan but not figures attractive to anyone on the left.

posted by mark k at 11:48 PM on October 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


But I'm struck how, despite the many comments against "echo chambers" or in favor "discussion not advocacy" the OP and most of the follow on comments are more or less explicitly about moving MeFi's Overton window left, not expanding it.

I have to say that I would love to see more right-of-center voices on MeFi, but I think I'm in the minority and I don't see how it's going to happen.
posted by lalex at 8:32 AM on October 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have to say that I would love to see more right-of-center voices on MeFi

I wouldn't. The associations with people being actively bigoted to me and mine on the right are too damn strong, particularly with the rise of Trump. My personal limit, right now, is the Republicans I know who have wholeheartedly fled the broken shell of their party upon realizing what it has been incubating for decades. Everyone else can go to hell.
posted by sciatrix at 9:46 AM on October 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think we do have right of center or more conservative voices. They just manifest differently than "I think Paul Ryan is really great and here's why." It comes through in economic conversations, family topics, and especially around race. Basically a lot of people put "left" or "liberal" on paper and don't think through a lot of their other beliefs and behavior.
posted by zutalors! at 9:52 AM on October 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


I did mean, and should have specified, that I'd like to see more right-of-center voices in political threads, but that's a very good point zutalors!.
posted by lalex at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think that's a fair thing to want to see lalex. I'm also not sure exactly how to make that happen.
posted by zutalors! at 11:11 AM on October 21, 2016


Over the last decade, some of our most prominent right wing voices have triggered some of the nastiest, angriest metatalk arguments on a wide range of topics including religion, poverty, society, history, sexism, minorities, harassment, women's rights, etc.

A greater diversity of viewpoints and opinions would be nice. Simultaneously avoiding all of the above would be better for the health of the community.
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on October 21, 2016 [11 favorites]


The question is whether the kind of discourse this comment exemplifies (fluffy logic, purple language, vague appeals to patriotism, a general pro-establishment vibe) is healthy.

As opposed to vague appeals to the underground, an an anti-establishment vibe, and quoting / linking the purple prose and fluffy logic of controversial pundits -- that's healthy?
posted by humanfont at 4:18 AM on October 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

And I think this is particularly true on the extreme edges of political identity and ideology. For better or worse, people with high levels of personal property and investment in the system tend to be gradualists, while those with less to lose and more to gain tend to be more revolutionary.
I can think of plenty of famous counterexamples to that, for what it's worth. Many of the Weather Underground people were from upper-middle-class to upper-class backgrounds. Bill Ayers's father was CEO of ComEd and a mainstay of establishment Chicago philanthropy. There's a dorm at Northwestern named after him. Jill Stein has never worried about paying a bill in her life: not as a young woman growing up in a wealthy North Shore suburb of Chicago, not as an undergrad or med student at Harvard, and not as a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School or when she had a lucrative private practice. Jeremy Corbyn's parents were radicals, but they were middle-class radicals: his father was an electrical engineer, and his mother was a teacher. This is his childhood home, which has been converted into a guest house that rents for £2,820 (about $3500) for a weekend. (There's not an extra 0 there.) I'm sure it has been upgraded since it was the Corbyn family home, but there's nothing about that structure that speaks to marginal class status to me.

And it also hasn't been my personal experience. Obviously, not all American radicals are from elite class backgrounds, but I've run into plenty of people whose activist lifestyles were being funded by the Bank of Mom and Dad, or at least who didn't worry too much about their financial security because they knew there were fallbacks if the shit ever hit the fan. I've actually found that fantasies of radical social change appeal a lot to people who can afford to deal in the realm of fantasy. When you have stuff at stake, you care about what you can actually accomplish, and you worry more about unintended consequences.

At any rate, I don't see any evidence that lefties on Metafilter are marginalized by social class. That seems like a claim that would require support.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:10 AM on October 22, 2016 [17 favorites]


....being funded by the Bank of Mom and Dad...

At last, a bank open on Christmas.
posted by y2karl at 7:47 AM on October 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


But you can definitely point to people whose radical politics derive from their marginalization - those people are actually often marginalized within the radical left, because their particular radical politics and experience are so different from those of middle class radicals.

I am not sure that framing this as a "microaggression" really gets at what's going on, and I'm not sure it's the best way to talk about what happens on metafilter.

It's also worth noting that many, many of the leaders of mass radical struggles have been middle class or members of the elite, from Thomas Muntzer to Subcommandante Marcos. (As admirable as both those men were.) This doesn't discredit radical struggle but complexifies its process. But how could it not? Any radical struggle that is going to gain traction is going to have to incorporate people from multiple class backgrounds - you have only to look at the fate of, say, the Welfare Rights Committee to realize that total disconnection from people with more social power just makes you easier to smash or ignore, unless you're out in the backcountry somewhere with some kind of numerical/geographical advantage.
posted by Frowner at 9:15 AM on October 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


But you can definitely point to people whose radical politics derive from their marginalization - those people are actually often marginalized within the radical left,

I've seen that quite a bit, including here, with people being told that their struggles with sexism and racism are not important, the revolutionary class struggle is what should be focused on. It's why I've concluded that Feminism and the Left aren't inherent allies.
posted by happyroach at 10:25 AM on October 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


I am not sure that framing this as a "microaggression" really gets at what's going on.

Frowner I get your concern, but a perfect illustration of that happened right here. I've had people in this very thread explode at me just because my hostility and anger seeped through in my critique and criticism. That is an example of a microaggression dynamic: hegemonic fragility in parallel to the white fragility that mefites are supposed to be more familiar with.

And it's easy to deny that social psychologists do include socio-political marginalization within the umbrella of microaggressions, as I've cited above. How should that cognitive dissonance be resolved? By denying it? Further, it seems to escape many commenters here, but to me, there's a profound irony when Mefites use these sociological tools without a cognizance that these intersectional concepts come from a Marxist legacy; just look at the Frankfurt school as one single instance of where basically the entire field of modern sociology actually came from.

Alternatively, anyone who has some passing familiarity with McCarthyism, or have read any Orwell or The Crucible during high school, then they should have some awareness of the kinds of verbal interactions that happen in relation to political repression. One does not need to be an academic expert to access this basic level of understanding and sensitivity. I see it as a rich mistake to assume a default that these dynamics do not continue in modern forms of political prejudice, right here.
posted by polymodus at 2:19 PM on October 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


At any rate, I don't see any evidence that lefties on Metafilter are marginalized by social class. That seems like a claim that would require support.

The basic problem with your argument is that you conflate forms of material wealth with the criterion of marginalization. The rationale that you give assumes that but you didn't examine it. Part of intersectionality is that there's no calculus for determining who is objectively "in sum" more marginalized than another.

I think the act of re-focusing on famous leftists who get material support diverts the problem away from leftists' experiences here, and that your doing so is again problematic. For example, I've had relative claim: "liberals are liberals because they are economically well-off". It's the same sort of cognitive trap. You should consider also relative privation fallacy and how that plays into ideology.

At this point I feel like I'm having to disabuse those who "politically disagree" of so many misconceptions and myths. This is really taxing.
posted by polymodus at 2:46 PM on October 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Instead, you accused me of "statistical illiteracy" and false equivalence, and in doing so, made an error yourself in using "order of magnitude" to describe the difference in size between two labels, only one of which can be measured with any amount of precision.

I didn't accuse you. It seems I have made you really upset, which was not my intent. But I thought I was clear in pointing out that it was the reasoning that I had a problem with, not you. I've read many of your other comments in other threads before and honestly I bear no ill will towards you, regardless what other people have angrily said I was doing. Me lapsing into hyperbole and sarcasm about "statistical illiteracy", and using the phrase "call out" was just me assuming people would have understood that I was getting kind of annoyed at the time. I've been sad that people latched onto my emotional expression as a way to dismiss the content of what I'd been offering. They could have criticized my rhetorical pathos without being dismissive of my logos, and vice versa in their responses. That would have helped. Meanwhile if my words put you on the spot in an inappropriate way for you, I'm sorry about that.

I respectfully disagree that just because you work in a similar field as I means we have necessarily similar or consistent views. That's a type of false positive argument and doesn't contradict what I said there. When I said my background was different, the intent was to appeal being aware of different cognitive styles and approaches. That's what I meant by certain intuitions, etc.

I think it's innocuous to suppose that on Metafilter, leftists are a minority by a large factor. "Order of magnitude" has a casual meaning in that sense; are you trying to convey to me the possibility leftists are not generally a minority here, because as far I as I can tell, that's really the case in all other social groups online or offline that I'm part of? Does putting it this way help clarify our differences on this subject?

And finally, "false equivalence" really had nothing to do with you. It is a philosophical term and I would have expected you to attend to whether or not your argument contains a logical mistake or not. The way you're saying it now sounds like you really think I'm using this to somehow attack you. In short, an analysis that omits the temporal distinction . Actually, that's what the a) and b) factors were alluding to when I used it; I am surprised that you didn't follow the content of the argument and either checked it or developed it further. I think it has been a mistake on your part to latch onto false equivalence as part of a personal attack, when I'd explicitly given two reasons why it may be so. And if there was perceived heat in my response instead of the intended sarcasm, that resulted you or others in ignoring the technical content of what I provided, then I'm sorry I played a part in that. I would have preferred that people here listening to the experiences of various leftists here could have taken some of the heated moments in stride.
posted by polymodus at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2016


*Sentence typo above: In short, an analysis that omits the temporal distinction/factor (see a), b) previously) means that the interpretation will be biased, a false equivalence in the sense that two statistical groups are apparently on equal footing, but actually they aren't, in crucial respects. It's the intuition that we can use data to reinforce our beliefs, if we don't first check and articulate the assumptions behind methodology and interpretation. Going back, I previously made a big deal about this, because of the simple observation that nobody else bothered to point out--I saw that itself as a symptom.
posted by polymodus at 3:39 PM on October 22, 2016


After a lot of thought, I have to admit that I do tend to be automatically defensive of HRC. My entire adult life, I've witnessed her being the object of such out of proportion rancor and mudslinging; so many baseless accusations that are treated as gospel truth even after being disproved; and such toxic levels of sexism, both blatant and veiled, from both men and women; that it's become difficult for me to immediately sort out sincere constructive criticism from the general background levels of sniping I've grown accustomed to over the decades.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:44 PM on October 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


At any rate, I don't see any evidence that lefties

As yet another piece of evidence of subtle marginalization, can I just say that I identify as a leftist.

Repeat after me, Leftist.

Please refrain from using derogatory and psychologically diminishing terms. If you know Star Trek, you know that "Trekkie" is the pejorative label, and it's easy to remember by similarity because they rhyme. Use the name that we want to use.
posted by polymodus at 3:50 PM on October 22, 2016


Oh my god, polymodus, go to bed.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 4:06 PM on October 22, 2016 [25 favorites]

The basic problem with your argument is that you conflate forms of material wealth with the criterion of marginalization. The rationale that you give assumes that but you didn't examine it. Part of intersectionality is that there's no calculus for determining who is objectively "in sum" more marginalized than another.
Yeah, no. You used the word microaggression about aggressions against people with particular political views, and you cited this quote to support that usage:
Microaggressions can be based upon any group that is marginalized in this society. Religion, disability, and social class may also reflect the manifestation of microaggressions.
(Emphasis in the original.) I said that political stance wasn't the same as social class, which is manifestly true. If anyone is falsely conflating things, it's you. And frankly, I am really not a fan of the idea of applying the concept of microaggression to things that hurt people on political grounds, because I see that idea coming from people on the right much, much more often than I see it coming from people on the left.

I am sorry that you find me tiring, though. I find you remarkably unpleasant and condescending, so I guess we can call it even.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:14 PM on October 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


polymodus, this is an example of the Reading the Room thing here. You're kind of being exhausting although I can also tell, I think, that you're very earnest about all of this.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:20 PM on October 22, 2016


Wait has the Trekker/Trekkie joke become a real thing now? Cause in my Trek obsessed late adolescence of the 80s that was just some shit we used to use to haze newcomers. Usually it was to wait for the new person to refer to fandom by one term or the other and then pretend they had committed some huge insult.
posted by humanfont at 5:59 PM on October 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't care, both kinds are trying to destroy America.
posted by grobstein at 6:03 PM on October 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Alternatively, anyone who has some passing familiarity with McCarthyism, or have read any Orwell or The Crucible during high school,


seriously?
posted by dersins at 9:33 PM on October 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would have preferred that people here listening to the experiences of various leftists here could have taken some of the heated moments in stride.

Let me see if I understand your position here. You want a pass when it comes to your own hostility and sarcasm toward others in a MeTa that's asking for less hostility and sarcasm toward people who self-identify a certain way politically. Simultaneously, you're demanding precision from others -- that they respond to each one of your claims without being frustrated by your condescending and style of argumentation, and that they show their work when it's clear they're speaking about their own impressions -- but seem to bristle at being held to that same standard when your own argument is imprecise.

Can you see why this approach isn't going over well?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:15 PM on October 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


Leftie has always meant left-handed person to me. As in "Hey you're a leftie, too! High five!"
posted by bardophile at 12:50 AM on October 23, 2016


As opposed to vague appeals to the underground, an an anti-establishment vibe, and quoting / linking the purple prose and fluffy logic of controversial pundits -- that's healthy?

I pretty much think it is, actually. The reason some sources of info are accused of purple prose and fluffy logic are often because their arguments can't be countered within the window of discourse that the establishment has authorised. These might be Marxist voices or they might be ones more associated with race and gender issues. If quotes or links like that can't be at least tolerated here then it is indeed no surprise that many leftists are buttoning while billions of comments about how much people like Hillary Clinton roll by.
posted by Coda Tronca at 2:19 AM on October 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah. I think part of the bitterness and retreat into sarcasm from self-identified leftists here is that we realise that we have lost. Post-2008, there was a sense that the old order was tottering. After 30 years of pandering to elite economic and financial interests while pretending to represent the masses, the established liberal and formerly social-democratic parties were being called on their bullshit. The right was dissolving into screaming, incoherent factions. Left-wing politics looked relevant again in a way it hadn't in generations. Then, well: occupy went nowhere; in the UK, the enormous popular energy mobilised to oppose the Iraq War and tuition fees and public-sector cuts was allowed to atrophy into helplessness and apathy; the candidates who seemed to embody the left's resurgence (Sanders; Corbyn) put up a good fight but ultimately failed. Meanwhile, the Trump disaster has been both the reductio ad absurdum of the old "lesser evil" argument for compelling leftists to caucus with liberals and its salvation. Whatever moral authority the DNC squandered over the last two or three decades of third-way pandering, Trump has given back. In spades. That third-way gum you like is back in style, and the rest of us? I guess we can shuffle off back to dusty irrelevance, like that shelf of the university library where they keep the collected Marx and Engels.

I don't think anyone who's posted in this thread wants Clinton to lose this election. Me included. But having said that, the world is ending anyway. We face massive, global emergencies: climate change; deforestation and environmental degradation; displaced people; food insecurity; chronic conflict and misery; the return of cold-war-style global tensions. And I really don't think the old liberal repertoire of incremental market-based solutions and interest group politics, combined with military interventionism in the Middle East and North Africa and standard-issue sneering at green issues, is going to do anything at all to address them. It just all feels so hopeless. The cheering over Clinton's impending victory seems depressingly beside the point.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:02 AM on October 23, 2016 [15 favorites]


Corbyn hasn't failed yet though; some Syriza-style sequence may yet unfold in the U.K.
posted by Coda Tronca at 4:17 AM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


My concern about using "microaggression" to describe any negative interaction between any majority group and any minority group is that it takes all the urgency out of the word and renders it merely descriptive. In popular discourse (around here at least) microaggressions are serious business - one does not want to commit them, describing something as a microaggression is a powerful way to point out its effects, etc.

However, if we decide we want to use the term as merely descriptive, it loses its urgency. Microaggressions against Star Trek fans (calling them Trekkies instead of Trekkers, if that's really a thing) might be kind of jerky, but I would not drop a friend over them. Microaggresions against vegetarians, science fiction fans and anarchists (all groups to which I belong) are varying degrees of irritating, but they just don't impact my life that much, certainly not the way that microaggressions against queer people impact my life, or microaggressions against POC impact their lives.

If we want to use "microaggression" in the mere descriptive sense (and we can, that's fine!) we can't expect it to have the political power or urgency that it has when used to describe the experiences of people who are marginalized in more powerful and significant ways. Either way, I don't think it's a politically useful term to describe negative interactions among different political formations on metafilter.

~~~~
On another note, I am impressed that anyone was optimistic in 2008.

For me, part of the Clinton situation is a temperament thing. I don't think I've actually been optimistic about the long term future of the world....well, ever (because I grew up in the Cold War), but I would say that that I have been long-term pessimistic in a serious adult way since I became a serious adult, so since about 2001. All I really hope for at this point is the least-worst wind-down of human affairs, and that my own life isn't too horrible. I don't see anything else that seems remotely possible - the "best" option I can see is that horrible, venal people like Elon Musk succeed in creating a wonderful robot world for the 1%, who will live for hundreds of years. That world will never include me and it just makes me sad to think about, so I try to focus on what's actually possible.

Hence, I'm pretty much on the side of "of two imperial rulers, one is going to be a puppet of the far right and is both stupid and unpredictable, while the other is hawkish but consistient, and I'm going to choose option B with a kind of enthusiasm, because I'm excited that the wind-down of humanity is going to be moderately less horrible".
posted by Frowner at 7:03 AM on October 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


They could have criticized my rhetorical pathos without being dismissive of my logos, and vice versa...

Easy for you to say.
posted by y2karl at 11:09 AM on October 23, 2016


If quotes or links like that can't be at least tolerated here then it is indeed no surprise that many leftists are buttoning while billions of comments about how much people like Hillary Clinton roll by.

I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I agree with what others have said above about the need to "read the room" in a thread of Democrats being a structural constraint against introducing radical views. I also agree with what others have said about how many Democrats' refusal to engage with any link by an author on the de facto unfriendly-to-Hillary blacklist (e.g. Jonathan Turley, Glenn Greenwald, etc.) reinforces a particular viewpoint in threads.

On the other hand, I don't begrudge anyone -- indeed, I welcome -- those who would hold someone espousing a left-wing viewpoint to a high factual standard; not only because it keeps us honest, but because it's the same rigor that I would expect anyone else to abide by on this site. People on the hard left should not be afraid of facts. The facts are on our side.

I guess we can shuffle off back to dusty irrelevance, like that shelf of the university library where they keep the collected Marx and Engels.

The Collected Works may not be well read, but The Marx-Engels Reader and The Communist Manifesto have to be some of the most-assigned books in universities (and, I might add, are not dusty but digitized and quite easy to find on the web). There's definitely been a resurgence of interest in hard left views since the Great Recession and, given the ongoing difficulties that capitalism is having, I only expect that to continue. Some of my political colleagues are quite optimistic, relatively speaking (and not in that delusional "revolution is around the corner!" way). The Sanders campaign, Obama, Syriza, the French Socialist Party's failures, etc. are underscoring both that there's a great reserve of discontent among the (especially, but not exclusively, young) populace and that existing social-democratic means of resolving problems are insufficient to the tasks at hand. One thing that forever keeps me hopeful (or, at least not totally despondent) is that history shows that political winds can take radical, sharp, unexpected turns. And we have even seen some of those in our lifetime -- the Arab Spring, for instance. The way things are going, we can certainly expect more of those in the future, of course not playing out identically to anything that has happened in the past. One has to be ready to take advantage of those opportunities, since they don't come often. The world has almost always sucked, politically. The point, as Marx reminded us, is to change it.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Calling Hillary Clinton or other politicians you disagree with as evil, or lessor of two evils is a massive insult. Maybe you should start there if you want a more accommodating and open place for discussion.
posted by humanfont at 11:51 AM on October 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Er, if that's directed at me, I'm an atheist and I don't actually believe in evil, nor do I make a habit of going around calling people I disagree with "evil," because what would be the point? I'm talking about the rhetorical "lesser of two evils" principle (Wikipedia), and the sense leftists in various countries have of constantly feeling pressured to vote for centrist or liberal candidates they don't support in order to stop the election of their right-wing opponents. Here's Chomsky on the issue. (NOTE: neither he, Daniel Davies, Wikipedia, nor I are literally calling democrats "evil" by invoking the principle.)
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:47 PM on October 23, 2016 [13 favorites]


Yeah that becomes tricky. I get why to some people it's a massive insult. I also get how it's a colloquial phrase like how Google saying they were not going to be evil was more about them not acting badly, not literally supernaturally immoral. So some of what we do on MetaFilter is talk about normative ways of interacting with and experiencing language. I don't particularly like the "Hillary with horns" type of shit which I think is histrionic and not great for debate but "lesser of two evils" is, to me, a different thing to say than calling someone evil though I suppose people could make a slippery slope argument about it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:59 PM on October 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yeah it's a weird but true usage fact that calling something or someone "an evil" (a possible inference from "lesser of two evils") is way less intense than calling them "evil."
posted by grobstein at 1:38 PM on October 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


It is a possible inference from the expression, but it's not an inference that a reasonable person would normally make. It looks like extreme sensitivity, and is reminiscent of the kind of deliberate misinterpretation that the rabid Right is so fond of.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:04 PM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


It may be less intense, but I think it remains insulting and offensive, or at minimum extremely obnoxious to use this phrasing to frame our choice. Even if you remove the word evil and reduce to a dictionary meaning where one is choosing the least harmful, the least bad, the least of two unpleasant options. The phrase "lesser of two evils" is also not without a context in US politics.
posted by humanfont at 3:34 PM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, if we really forget about the special stink of the word "evil", as you say, and reduce the meaning to "choosing the least harmful, the least bad, the least of two unpleasant options," why is that "insulting and offensive"?

Doesn't political difference just mean that you and I have different views about what is harmful or bad?
posted by grobstein at 5:00 PM on October 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


I mean, if I think Hillary is harmful, there might be ways of stating my view that would be so hyperbolic as to be insulting and offensive, if not downright goofy. For example, I could say that Hillary is the lesser of two evils but she still clearly wants to destroy America.

But I don't think merely saying she's the lesser of two evils rises to that level.
posted by grobstein at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Doesn't political difference just mean that you and I have different views about what is harmful or bad?

Sure. But a lot of what's being asked has to do with respect for all positions. It's easier to get respect if you start from a position of respect. What's continually amazing to me is how many of the people who say they are espousing leftist arguments begin with personal attacks at Clinton. And then they don't get why the receiver finds that personally disrespectful or insulting to their point of view. I haven't seen anyone pushing voices out of the room when they are discussing *issues*, but when it has to do with the individual candidate it gets fairly tricky.

I mean, I haven't lived in the US for 20 years. By most US political standards, I'm well to the left of Sanders. However, in this case, I am supporting Clinton for President since I believe a more central candidate is the best way to defeat the deplorables (note: not because she's the lesser of two evils. even when I don't agree with HRC, then I have a lot of respect for her.). I also don't think Sanders' revolution is over at all-- I think Chairman of the Budget committee is in many ways a much more powerful position for him to be in and if his base mobilises it allows us to flip the Senate. If we really want change, the Senate is a much more important target.

I accept that you might not agree with my logic. That's great! I love disagreement. But when you start your disagreement with attacks on HRC as a person which essentially imply that anyone who could respect her could not possibly be a leftist (or-- hell-- not even a lefty), then I read you as extremely disrespectful to me. And that's where this "both candidates equally bad" lands for me when I hear it. Can you take issue with the positions without letting the bitterness about the primaries bleed into the discussion?
posted by frumiousb at 5:15 PM on October 23, 2016 [16 favorites]



I mean, if I think Hillary is harmful, there might be ways of stating my view that would be so hyperbolic as to be insulting and offensive, if not downright goofy. For example, I could say that Hillary is the lesser of two evils but she still clearly wants to destroy America.

But I don't think merely saying she's the lesser of two evils rises to that level.


(and note, I do not think you are saying anything near that hyperbolic.)
posted by frumiousb at 5:16 PM on October 23, 2016


> Calling Hillary Clinton or other politicians you disagree with as evil, or lessor of two evils is a massive insult.

no it's not, you're twisting the meaning of a common phrase to take strategic insult. it's a cheap trick, and all too common round here.
posted by andrewcooke at 5:52 PM on October 23, 2016 [27 favorites]


At some point one has to take responsibility for how their words are received. Is there not a different way to say "lesser of two evils" that doesn't evoke "She's only acceptable because the other one is so much worse"?
posted by Drumhellz at 6:15 PM on October 23, 2016


At some point one has to take responsibility for how their words are received. Is there not a different way to say "lesser of two evils" that doesn't evoke "She's only acceptable because the other one is so much worse"?

Maybe the "lesser of two evils" users don't mean this, but: isn't it okay to express that "She's only acceptable because the other one is so much worse"?

Many people don't share this opinion, obviously, but I don't see that it's somehow beyond the bounds of civil discourse. Conversely, if it is an allowable opinion, then I don't see why one would need to make sure one's words aren't received as expressing it.
posted by grobstein at 6:27 PM on October 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


no it's not, you're twisting the meaning of a common phrase to take strategic insult. it's a cheap trick, and all too common round here.

I think you are ignoring the use of this common phrase in the context of political discussions. For example google searches for the phrase "voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil." yields a large number of articles and webpages. In fact there is even a Bumper sticker claiming a variation of this phrase for Ralph Nader
posted by humanfont at 6:45 PM on October 23, 2016


isn't it okay to express that "She's only acceptable because the other one is so much worse"?

Again, sure. But there are ways to say that which focus on policy disagreement, and don't imply this is the only valid leftist opinion.
posted by frumiousb at 6:48 PM on October 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


The US has essentially a two-party system, and there's been a lot of conversation over the years about how some people can't bring themselves to vote for a specific candidate, which other users are quick to point out has the effect of supporting, or at least not fighting against, the other candidate.

I've found that it's very rare for a politician to support all my views, which means voting for the one who is closer, or in some cases voting for the one who will beat the person who I want to keep from power at all costs. The lesser of two evils, in this case. To take it to mean 'they're both evil, literally evil', is to be overly literal about one of language's countless turns of phrase, and really does come across as an aggressive attempt to take offence. Just because something has been used in a way you don't like elsewhere doesn't mean everyone has to agree it's become tainted language.

And of course The Simpsons had the great quote from an election of Mayor Quimby vs. Sideshow Bob:
BART: Vote Quimby!

LISA: This time he's the lesser of two evils!
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:49 PM on October 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't find the word "evil" particularly useful in a secular, adult context, but there are decisions that Clinton-- like most similarly powerful people-- has been involved in making decisions that I think are among the most reprehensible things a person could authorize; it's not always productive, socially acceptable, or politically useful to bring these into every conversation about her, but if we're literally already on the topic of the idiom "lesser of two evils", I think it's somewhat bizarre to imply that using this phrase is necessarily a grievous, beyond the pale slander.
posted by zokni at 4:49 PM on October 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Is there not a different way to say "lesser of two evils" that doesn't evoke "She's only acceptable because the other one is so much worse"?

I can't believe no one has invoked 'the evil of two lessers', so there, done.
posted by jamjam at 7:58 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


This friend of mine, Tony, creates specialty garments for animals at the National Zoo for use after an animal has had fur removed for a procedure. At lunch with the gang Tony told us all about a recent case. A pair of weasals had gotten mange and he had to make something quick. Tony went to Target and got some wool socks and fashioned them into kind of weasel turtlenecks, err weaselnecks I guess.

After lunch we start playing some new German board game and we have to divide up into teams. This other friend Josh and I get picked as captains and start alternating our picks. I get the last pick and it was down to Tony and Bob. Bob is probably a stronger player; but in the end I decided to go with Tony because he was the dresser of two weasals.
posted by humanfont at 9:09 PM on October 26, 2016 [15 favorites]


humanfont, that totally reminds me of this traveling preacher I used to know. There was this one time he was wandering through the Southern US, strolling through a cotton field, when he happened upon a cotton bud with a couple of beetles on it. Always kind to even God's most lowly creatures, he said a prayer for the pair of insects.

Yeah, that's right. He was the blesser of two weevils.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:15 PM on October 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


That reminds me of my friend who used to rent equipment to art students. He was the lessor of two easels.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:03 PM on October 26, 2016 [14 favorites]


Since we're tracking the departure of non-conforming leftists, I thought I'd note that marienbad appears to have left the site too.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:22 AM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I dunno, it looked to me like marienbad recently had a pretty strong xenophobic, anti-immigrant (to the UK), and Islamophobic streak that they were putting on display, one that was not coming from a particularly leftist perspective. Some of their comments in prior threads had edged up right against those lines, and I'm pretty sure at least some comments were deleted for actually crossing the lines.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:14 AM on October 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


He, as far as I know, identified as a leftist (and a lexiter). He attracted a lot of (to my mind) uncharitable pushback from US commenters who, respectfully, tend to know very little about UK culture, society, and politics. The labels "xenophobic," "anti-immigrant," and "Islamophobic" are extraordinarily strong ones, and would have to be backed up with pretty solid evidence, as they would be legally actionable slurs in certain legal contexts.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:28 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


The labels "xenophobic," "anti-immigrant," and "Islamophobic" are extraordinarily strong ones

What I remember most strongly is his rants about the Polish, and Polish immigrants in particular, that were so bad and so numerous that the mods had to step in. They were the kind of thing that in the US would sound exactly like someone's racist relatives complaining about Mexicans. He also posted some click-baity SLBBC post about spoooooky jihadis coming from Iraq with absolutely no context whatsoever, which is the kind of FPP that's almost designed to start fights. So maybe he was a leftist on some axes, but certainly not on others.

and would have to be backed up with pretty solid evidence, as they would be legally actionable slurs in certain legal contexts

Haha, what? For someone who's so gung-ho about calling out people you claim trying to shut down discussion, breaking out a line about threatening legal action--the nuclear option of conversation-enders--is the height of hypocrisy.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:48 AM on October 27, 2016 [15 favorites]


Calling Hillary Clinton or other politicians you disagree with as evil, or lessor of two evils is a massive insult. Maybe you should start there if you want a more accommodating and open place for discussion.

"The lesser of two evils" is actually the much lesser of two evils compared to "a left-wing pundit I dislike wants to destroy America."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:49 AM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


I just as frequently see "lesser of evils" used by advocates for voting WITHIN the two-party system.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:45 AM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Very few of marienbad's comments were negative about Polish immigrants and it's more shittiness to now characterise him as such after he's buttoned. It's a fact that there used to be many, many more leftist voices on here.
posted by Coda Tronca at 6:01 AM on October 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Haha, what? For someone who's so gung-ho about calling out people you claim trying to shut down discussion, breaking out a line about threatening legal action--the nuclear option of conversation-enders--is the height of hypocrisy.
I'm not "threatening legal action," zombieflanders. I don't know how you would even get that reading from my comment. But anyway, marienbad—one of the few actually working-class voices here—has gone. What I remember most strongly about him are comments like this one:
The working class has been under attack for a long time now, even Blair hated us, and did whatever he could to fuck us over. Everything that has been done seems to have been done to ensure the wealth stays at the top and we stay at the bottom. There is no way out now, for working class people, we have gone back to Victorian ways, with an elite and masses of poor people with no future. Homelessness is on the increase, personal debt has gone up, people struggle to eat and pay for over-priced gas and electric. Council tax continues to rise despite massive cuts to services. We are well and truly fucked.

The NHS is being privatised bit by bit, and now all schools are to be made into academies, and hence come outside LEA control, and then taken over by private companies, and hence, privatised. Seriously, what can Labour do about any of this?

Everything is being sold, fucking everything. The Royal Mail (at a loss to taxpayers), the oil pipeline, even things like the Ordinance Survey are gonna be sold off. There will be so little state soon, it will all be ran by corporations, which can then be taken over by US corporations under TTIP, and we will be truly fucked for ever then.
Note the "us." But I guess it's much more comforting, from a liberal perspective, to focus on those aspects of his posting history here that we can look down on and dismiss from a position of absolute moral superiority and ignore the left critique.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:10 AM on October 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


Very few of marienbad's comments were negative about Polish immigrants and it's more shittiness to now characterise him as such after he's buttoned.

Ah, so this was one of those stupid fucking gotcha games. If I hadn't said anything, you would have said nothing happened. When I did, you minimize it. You got me, I totally lost your game where you make and change the rules so that you can never lose!

I'm not "threatening legal action," zombieflanders. I don't know how you would even get that reading from my comment.

From the part where you said what I felt were bigoted comments based were "legally actionable slurs in certain legal contexts." Your words, not mine. I can think of no other reason to bring up the word "legal" (twice in a single sentence!) other than the invoke the specter of there being repercussions to my speech that the courts would have a chance of imposing on me.

But anyway, marienbad—one of the few actually working-class voices here—has gone.

Huh, by the classical leftist definition, pretty much everybody on this site is working-class. And almost all of them manage to go about their way without bringing up negative stereotypes of Eastern Europeans, Muslims, and immigrants. As far as I can tell, most of the UK leftist, working-class participants on this site, and in UK-centric threads in particular, weren't particularly enamored with what marienbad was saying either. Many of them wrote long comments refuting his assertions and challenging his sources. Others professed dismay or anger at his characterizations of the innocent targets of his rhetoric.

But I guess it's much more comforting, from a liberal perspective, to focus on those aspects of his posting history here that we can look down on and dismiss from a position of absolute moral superiority and ignore the left critique.

So sorry that my insistence that the intersectionality of class with a number of other factors has a bearing on why I feel your definition of "leftist" and "working class" is more an arbitrary and exclusionary goalpost to be moved at your discretion. If you want to throw around accusations about looking down on people and moral superiority while engaging in pretty much every single behavior you decry, that's your call. You want to grab the mantle of the "true leftists," be my guest. If the way you want to approach leftism, by minimizing and dismissing stuff that only fits your narrow and ever-changing definition of it, good luck with that. It's kind of become your calling card, honestly, and nothing I say is going to change that. But don't expect that you won't be challenged on it, and certainly don't expect to be taken seriously when you attempt to smear people with the same tactics you accuse them of being bad guys for allegedly using.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:46 AM on October 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


Huh, by the classical leftist definition, pretty much everybody on this site is working-class.

Well I'm not for a start, and this statement seems totally false.

Marienbad's contribution was more than a couple of comments about Poles was all I meant.
posted by Coda Tronca at 7:11 AM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dissecting marienbad's politics post-departure is probably not going to improve anything here. He had some very bad posting and commenting instincts in terms of bringing weird axegrinding/shittiness into threads and had made a ton of people uncomfortable over the years as a result while being pretty unresponsive to mod nudging about trying to do better. We recently put it to him much more explicitly to rein it in, he declined to, and that was that.

I don't care what his personal politics are, and I think that bringing in his absence as a cudgel for this discussion isn't really a great idea in general. He had behavioral problems on MeFi, and it got him, after a whole lot of forbearance, banned when they didn't get better. I'd rather folks left it at that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:11 AM on October 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


zombieflanders, just want to say thanks for those recent contributions. I do feel like the American/Western/etc left does feel like they can ignore intersectionality and then express shock that they don't have more support outside certain groups of white men.
posted by zutalors! at 7:14 AM on October 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


There are still opportunities for a few other really terrible "lesser of two evils" puns (possibly involving stressors? Measles?) if anyone else is as desperate as I am to move off of the "referendum on banned user" discussion as I am. TIA.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:19 AM on October 27, 2016 [2 favorites]




There are two churches near my home a Methodist and a Presbyterian. Can you determine which one through logic or are you [pun redacted]
posted by humanfont at 7:52 AM on October 27, 2016


RULES FOR RADICALS

• be working class

that's it, that's all the rules
posted by beerperson at 8:51 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't care what his personal politics are, and I think that bringing in his absence as a cudgel for this discussion isn't really a great idea in general. He had behavioral problems on MeFi, and it got him, after a whole lot of forbearance, banned when they didn't get better. I'd rather folks left it at that.

"Cudgel"?

We don't get a little newsletter about everyone you ban. All we see is that the account is "disabled." In this thread we are talking about the hostile climate for left commenters, and have marked the fresh departure of several of the most vocal left commenters.

It was right on topic to note that marienbad was gone, too -- for all we knew, he buttoned.

What wasn't welcome was a discussion of the history of an absent (in fact banned) user purportedly showing that he wasn't a real leftist* based on an apparently ugly part of his voluminous comment history, a discussion of his character that he had no possible opportunity to speak to.

---
*The real leftist is Hillary Clinton.
posted by grobstein at 8:56 AM on October 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


What wasn't welcome was a discussion of the history of an absent (in fact banned) user

Pretty much could have stopped there, as far as some are concerned.
posted by Etrigan at 9:02 AM on October 27, 2016


To me the fact that much "leftist" participation here isn't very intersectional and in fact really hostile to people with a more inclusive view does speak a lot to the fact that they might get pushback.
posted by zutalors! at 9:05 AM on October 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


The guesser of two steeples
posted by humanfont at 9:30 AM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


zutalors, asking genuinely, what is an example of a leftist being hostile to someone with 'a more inclusive view'?
posted by Coda Tronca at 9:31 AM on October 27, 2016


something something guy who does product testing at a toy factory, punchline: stressor of two Weebles
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:40 AM on October 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


a discussion of his character that he had no possible opportunity to speak to.

Which is what bringing him up in the first place as a notional victim of self-imposed buttoning was doing by implication as well. If someone is absent and not going to be able to respond, using them as a prop in an argument is not great basically always, regardless of whether you're trying to use that prop sympathetically or otherwise. Here we had it going both ways, and I think that's kind of crappy and folks should leave it alone because it puts multiple parties in a weird fucking position. If you don't like cudgel, then shuttlecock; that was absolutely folks volleying around an absent third party for the sake of an argument and I'd really rather it stopped.

We don't get a little newsletter about everyone you ban.

You also don't get stonewalled for asking. Asking is a way better plan than saying "I don't know what happened, so for the purpose of backing my argument let's assume that what happened was x", for all values of x. I'm frustrated that that's the direction it went in here, which is why I asked folks to leave that specific thing be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:52 AM on October 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Wow, that's too bad. I came at the Brexit threads from an American OMG WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY DOING perspective and marienbad's voice was instrumental in helping me understand what was going on with the pro-Brexit faction.
posted by lalex at 2:25 PM on October 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of annoyed right now. People say "stop attacking left of Clinton anti-establisment folks" and then ennui.bz comes in and threadshits a steamer smack in the middle of the ongoing thread.
posted by Talez at 5:51 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I saw that as more general obnoxiousness than anything particularly left of Clinton / anti-establishment. Disagreement isn't the same as attacking someone.
posted by humanfont at 6:44 PM on October 28, 2016


I'm kind of annoyed right now. People say "stop attacking left of Clinton anti-establisment folks" and then ennui.bz comes in and threadshits a steamer smack in the middle of the ongoing thread.

It was a single comment with a different take from the room, followed by a dozen comments batting it down wth varying degrees of bile. Seems like the same dynamic as always.
posted by naju at 7:11 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


It was a single comment with a different take from the room,

It was threadshitting. It's the same thing ennui.bz always does: the world's most incompetently veiled "I told you so".
posted by Talez at 7:20 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


naju, did you really see it like that? I ask because I find myself agreeing with you more often than not. What I saw was a heavily biased attack which seemed to imply privileged knowledge about why Clinton set up her own email server. It was presented as a fact, and not an opinion, and it ignored any and all evidence to the contrary. I didn't see it as a harmless "different take".
posted by frumiousb at 7:22 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hey, I'm not super familiar with that user, but I feel like these threads always go poorly when they turn into a referendum on "X User: Good Or Bad?" Maybe we could just keep to the behavior?/
posted by corb at 7:22 PM on October 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


I literally know nothing about ennui.bz as a user, so maybe he has a pattern of trolling. Just saw him/her expressing a view - however unpopular or thin on facts. But it was heavily and thoroughly countered - any user would've fled the room in the face of the response. What's the problem exactly?
posted by naju at 7:26 PM on October 28, 2016


It was the contemptuousness of their "but none of you want to hear this" signoff that stuck in people's craws, I think, more than anything else. It would have been possible to say the things he said without getting the response he got. People would still have disagreed, but they wouldn't have been so irritable if they didn't feel like their intelligence had been called into question.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:52 PM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Presenting oneself as a brave lone truth-teller among a crowd of self-deluding people is not a good look. Or smell.
posted by holgate at 8:02 PM on October 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


Another user was in there earlier presenting an unpopular view of the email situation and got deleted and a day off for "digging in". It's an almost impossible tightrope to walk.
posted by lalex at 8:09 PM on October 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Coming out at a thousand miles an hour like that wasn't really anywhere near any notional tightrope. I feel a little for that user to the extent that they don't participate much and so I think just don't even have basic site discourse stuff dialed in very well, but it was a terrible way to interact with a thread and shouldn't be held up as an example of anything that's particularly difficult about conversation on the site. It's generally exceedingly easy to not do that sort of in-thread performance.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:14 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Another user was in there earlier presenting an unpopular view of the email situation and got deleted and a day off for "digging in". It's an almost impossible tightrope to walk.

I feel for ennui.bz, though "but none of you want to hear this" is not a good frame for a comment, but the other user you mention was a very different case. That was someone, who didn't participate in at least the last couple election threads, who came in bringing up Neera Tanden statements out of context from leaked emails, many of which we had discussed before, while everyone else was very much in "OMG THE FIRE IT BURNS" mode today. It was an extremely poor reading of the room.

That user also stated, as part of the "digging in," that they think both candidates are unsuitable and they aren't an American. I love and appreciate all the non-US MeFites who have participated in the election threads and am thankful for their different perspectives. That said, bursting into a discussion at an extremely contentious moment, starting that stuff, and then dropping a comment that effectively amounts to "anyway, a plague on all your houses, it's all academic to me anyway" is not going to go over well.

And did I mention it was a really horrible time to be bringing up other old emails? Like, the worst possible moment for that.

Fairly or not, I've found the burden to be clear, careful, and meticulous with facts and research is increasingly higher the farther you get from the broad general consensus of the room, to the extent there is such a thing. Just dropping in with a two-sentence hit about something that sounds like it comes from Drudge Report isn't likely to go over so well, not least because it gets everyone's defense mechanisms all riled up. It's not necessarily fair, but the reaction seems to go far better to comments with more unpopular views the more they are well thought out expressions of views and your own thoughts, along with references to supporting facts, rather than just a bare repeat of a talking point.
posted by zachlipton at 8:36 PM on October 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


Another user was in there earlier presenting an unpopular view of the email situation and got deleted and a day off for "digging in". It's an almost impossible tightrope to walk.

It's not a tightrope. Don't argue in bad faith. Don't keep going just for the sake of having the last word.

Some people on the edges come into these threads literally grinding their axes. How the hell do you have a reasonable conversation with someone when they have literally no intention of reasonably participating. They're just there to gloat about how we all fucked up in the primary or that their Mary Poppins isn't on the ticket.
posted by Talez at 8:42 PM on October 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

The Doug Band emails show exactly how the Clintons used the foundation to make over 150 million dollars in ten years by cultivating consulting contacts and speeches for the very rich people making donations.

but none of you want to hear this.
Like even if you take that statement seriously what do you even legit say in response to that? What response are they even looking for? "Oh well Hillary's not perfect I guess it's the racist, sexist, crypto-fascist for us"? "Oh well Hillary's not perfect I guess I go for a batshit insane third party that won't win"?

There's literally not a conversation to pick up from that other than "well you sure told us I wish we had a fucking time machine and could warn the sheeple".
posted by Talez at 8:48 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's really not as cool as some people think it is to be a cynical git all the god damned time.
posted by Talez at 8:50 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


a dozen comments batting it down wth varying degrees of bile

In this case, as far as I can tell, those degrees vary within the narrow range of no bile at all to about as dyspeptic as the original comment.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:57 PM on October 28, 2016


I'm frustrated by the repetition of the complaint / argument in that it seems to ignore the conversation and counter arguments raised in previous threads. It doesn't feel like a conversation.
posted by humanfont at 9:02 PM on October 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I mean, "I guess it's the racist, sexist, crypto-fascist for us" could be a response to any criticism of Clinton of any kind, and nobody's thinks all criticism of any kind should be banned from the thread.

But if you want to fairly and reasonably discuss Doug Band and Teneo, which is a part of the Clinton history I'm not particularly happy about or comfortable with, that requires more than a single sentence attack and a "silenced all my life" closing. There's some nuance there between things that are improper, things that look bad, things I would prefer the world worked differently, things that are fine, and things that are good for the world. Sorting all that out isn't easy; there are a lot of parts of the story that I don't like because I don't like CEOs getting paid $50M a year and ex-Presidents getting paid $500K for speeches, but my general dislike for those things doesn't mean there's wrongdoing. And that discussion also calls for more deep dives into Chelsea's concerns and the factors that led Band to cut ties with the foundation.

In short, there's a bunch to discuss here, but the middle of the Great Email Disaster Day of 2016 isn't a good time for it, and a single sentence attack isn't a good way to start it. There was at least a bit of discussion of that as recently as yesterday and the reaction was much better, because people put more thought and effort into their comments on the issue.
posted by zachlipton at 9:08 PM on October 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's just such a fully one-sided dynamic that I don't see why there are complaints at all. Re: "you don't want to hear this," people have acknowledged as much so I didn't read that as riling up. But whether in this thread or that one, any disagreement seems to be futile. It's all met with variations on "read the room" or don't word things too strongly or don't be heavily biased (?) or cite more facts, or today's the wrong day, etc., so there's no point in fighting it.
posted by naju at 9:13 PM on October 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


(Both the "3 emails" and "overheard an FBI agent on the plane" stuff going around today were the strains-credibility stuff we regularly mock FOX viewers for, by the way, so I wouldn't assume the majority has a monopoly on objective factual inquiry or anything)
posted by naju at 10:38 PM on October 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


I do see a problem with people, especially today, giving some variant of "Do you want the other guy?" when someone is criticizing Clinton, which isn't really fair. I don't think there's a single person on Metafilter who wants Trump to win, and I think using it as an angry challenge doesn't help keep the thread cool.
posted by corb at 12:47 AM on October 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Thinking about this "read the room, or —" dynamic, I'm reminded of something Adam Curtis said in 2015 about the effect of social media community curation on online discourse:
Twitter – and other social media – passes lots of information around. But it tends to be the kind of information that people know that others in that particular network will like and approve of. So what you get is a kind of mutual grooming. One person sends on information that they know others will respond to in accepted ways. And then, in return, those others will like the person who gave them that piece of information.

So information becomes a currency through which you buy friends and become accepted into the system. That makes it very difficult for bits of information that challenge the accepted views to get into the system. They tend to get squeezed out.

I think the thing that proves my point dramatically are the waves of shaming that wash through social media ... It's what happens when someone says something, or does something, that disturbs the agreed protocols of the system. The other parts react furiously and try to eject that destabilising fragment and regain stability.
Jon Ronson in Conversation with Adam Curtis, Vice (15 January 2015).
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:04 AM on October 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


But if you want to fairly and reasonably discuss Doug Band and Teneo, which is a part of the Clinton history I'm not particularly happy about or comfortable with, that requires more than a single sentence attack and a "silenced all my life" closing.

The unwritten rule of the site is that one-liners are allowed if they amplify the majority 'read the room' view. It's fair enough but when the thing you're discussing is politicians and the stuff they do, I don't think the occasional doomed sardonic gesture is the same as thread-shitting.
posted by Coda Tronca at 2:51 AM on October 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think the thing that proves my point dramatically are the waves of shaming that wash through social media ... It's what happens when someone says something, or does something, that disturbs the agreed protocols of the system. The other parts react furiously and try to eject that destabilising fragment and regain stability.

Well. yes, that is one way to help imbue better behaviors in a society. It existed long before social media, they called it etiquette back in the day and it still has some value. It's one of the ways that Metafilter is different than 4chan and a lot more welcoming to people used to being silenced by bigotry or who are just tired of dealing with it. That kind of behavior is harmful if it is in fact keeping out better information, something I have not seen often on the site.

The "read the room' talk is more about tone and respect than it is information or ideas, and from the opposing side, those asking the room to be more inclusive are looking for respect and a change in tone themselves.

The problem is in first coming to consistent agreement on what is or isn't appropriate tone for a given subject and each participant following through on those ideals while also coming to grips with different topics having slightly different sets of standards towards what constitutes useful discussion. Not every discussion can restart from scratch at the entry of a new participant, so in that sense, reading the room is necessary since we certainly aren't going to argue the same points forever one way or the other.

The second question about tone is in how one is presenting their information to others and whether that presentation is a good way to maintain or generate useful discussion. Most of the examples given either cross the line for useful give and take or run right up to the line and get knock back and forth with comments up at the line from any opposing view point. The more people involved in a discussion there are, the more likely a comment at the line will find another offering equal resistance, which then cam lead to the thread deteriorating from ever increasing cross fire.

Keep the comments neutral in tone, especially in a tense room, and have some sense of what's already been discussed at length or ask and the conversation will be fine. I've seen it. Other than anyone openly supporting Trump there have been conversations about most of the contested topics without problem. Good information and knowledge of the subject or humility and openness go a long way as well since I can virtually guarantee someone else here will know as much more about almost anything than you. If you act otherwise and sell yourself as "the" source of good info and things won't go well.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:27 AM on October 29, 2016


When the room we're supposed to read consists of many multi-thousand-comment threads, and 80% of those comments appear to be about people's feelings of joy about Clinton or dread of Trump, it's unreasonable to expect somebody to read all of that before commenting. I personally don't have the stomach for it. As for tone, not so long ago, people were being told in threads on other subjects that their arguments were invalid because they were "tone arguments," so once again it looks like centrists expecting that their views will get special treatment. Clinton herself is obviously much tougher than that. I wish her supporters here were, too.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:01 AM on October 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


I know! Right? We're trying to stop fascism and the far left wants to be respected for shitting on Heinrich Brüning. Like it's not constructive or anything. They just want to come and shit on it because "LOL CENTRISTS". But that's ok because fighting misinformation and intellectual dishonesty from the right and the far left at the same time, it's a barrel of fucking laughs.
posted by Talez at 7:39 AM on October 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


There you go again. Expressing a different viewpoint is shitting to you.


Also, just as I clicked on the timestamp to answer, there was a Mod comment that said "Before we get started let's try and remember [more words]" that promptly disappeared. I think they're trying to gaslight me.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:11 AM on October 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


We're trying to stop fascism

It's at the very least highly debatable whether that's what Hillary Clinton is trying to do, but it is what leftists try to do, and certainly not something centrists/Democrats can angrily claim a righteous monopoly on. Generally speaking fascists realise this very early on and which is why you'll get silenced or murdered for being a communist long before they get round to supporters of the one of the two big Wall St parties.
posted by Coda Tronca at 8:16 AM on October 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


The way the tail end of this thread has gone leaves me very much feeling like the answer to the OP is an emphatic 'No.'

I think that has to do with the practicalities of trying to moderate a fast-moving thread in a situation where there is a lot of tension and anxiety and a lot less with the endorsement of any particular viewpoint. But the consequence of this is that, right now, you have the license to use nearly any level of vitriol to express your viewpoint if it is in concert with the pro-HRC sentiment, but if you have a contrary point of view, you can express it only if you choose your words extra-carefully. That's a really frustrating dynamic when you don't find the comment you want to make aligned with the rest of the group, but it is an unavoidable one in difficult-to-moderate threads with multiple comments showing up in a single minute.

It sucks, and it reminds me of something I've often thought when this topic comes up, which is even if the site attempts to be viewpoint neutral in its moderation, the moderation will nevertheless have a disparate impact on groups who find themselves not belonging to the majority in these tense, hard to manage threads.

Short of not permitting ElectionFilter (I can dream) in the first place or hiring dozens more moderators, we're stuck with this, and the only solution is to tell people "read the room."

The decision tree for this is kind of like:

Is comment aligned with majority view?

Yes: you can say nearly anything

No: think about not saying it at all, but if you say it, your comment has to be perfectly crafted to avoid upsetting people and causing a derail.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:37 AM on October 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


OK, I'm not being gaslighted. The mod comment is the one by Lobster Mitten at the top of the thread, and as soon as it loads, the view jumps down to the bottom of the page. Never mind.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:49 AM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


> I know! Right? We're trying to stop fascism and the far left wants to be respected for shitting on Heinrich Brüning. Like it's not constructive or anything. They just want to come and shit on it because "LOL CENTRISTS". But that's ok because fighting misinformation and intellectual dishonesty from the right and the far left at the same time, it's a barrel of fucking laughs.

This is exactly the kind of crap left of center folks on MeFi are complaining about. I'm voting for Clinton, and I also hope we can retake the Senate and make progress in the House. But according to you, I'm undermining the fight against fascism because I continue support supposedly "far left" policies like universal access to health care, paid parental leave, and access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless of their class background, and intend to continue advocate for them after the election. If you disagree with me about policy, as you clearly do, you can explain why you think the policies I favor are wrong, instead of serving up more of this vitriolic claptrap.
posted by nangar at 9:51 AM on October 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


But according to you, I'm undermining the fight against fascism because I continue support supposedly "far left" policies like universal access to health care, paid parental leave, and access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless of their class background, and intend to continue advocate for them after the election. If you disagree with me about policy, as you clearly do, you can explain why you think the policies I favor are wrong, instead of serving up more of this vitriolic claptrap.

I don't think anyone on this site bar maybe a few libertarians disagree with the policies you've stated. The stuff we're talking about is the "CLINTON IS A CORPORATE STOOGE WAKE UP SHEEPLE".
posted by Talez at 10:02 AM on October 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


so once again it looks like centrists expecting that their views will get special treatment.

Bullshit. People who support Hillary will passionately and enthusiastically defend her. Those in the anti-Hillary camp seem to want some special privilege to jump into the thread and treat any response as a personal attack or a sign that they are not welcome.
Talk of tone and reading the room is just folks trying to help you make better and more meaningful comments. Another example is don't claim that Hillary supporters are centrists and that you represent the true left. Many on the left believe that Hillary is the only option in this election for preventing a reactionary takeover of government and that she is the best candidate to continue to advance the left's political goals.
posted by humanfont at 10:27 AM on October 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yeah, it's kind of funny how the discussion moved away from the things that actually happened yesterday with specific comments to the more general dynamic of hostility toward some still-undefined-despite-being-400-plus-comments-in set of views. Hillary's email scandal is not an ideology. Bill Clinton's aide trading on access to the Clintons is not an ideology. It's not that difficult to raise these issues in a way that doesn't lead to a pile on as argybarg's comment linked above by zachlipton shows. Is it harder than going along with the majority views? Sure. But that isn't a license to be a jerk.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:45 AM on October 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the "three emails" thing was reported by NBC via Eichenwald who has been pretty reliable thus far. When he backed off that claim, so did the thread. And I didn't see anyone latching on to the alleged overheard airplane conversation in the thread either. Developing news stories often have early reports that turn out to be false. Trying to use that to label others as shills is punching below the belt in my book.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:04 AM on October 29, 2016


I'm with humanfont about this. While I am normally in favor of talk about 'hey let's cool it on people with minority viewpoints,' I really feel like some people are asking for a pass on some bad behavior in this thread.

Like, this right here:
If you disagree with me about policy, as you clearly do, you can explain why you think the policies I favor are wrong, instead of serving up more of this vitriolic claptrap.

I haven't seen much disagreement about the policies cited in that comment. The claims in this comment are, best I can tell, not merely untrue but obviously so, while at the same time being a pretty crappy thing to accuse someone of, and I was frustrated enough by that to write this comment.

Or this:
It's at the very least highly debatable whether that's what Hillary Clinton is trying to do, but it is what leftists try to do, and certainly not something centrists/Democrats can angrily claim a righteous monopoly on.

Within the same sentence, I see someone telling off people for angrily claiming a righteous monopoly on fighting fascism, *while doing that same thing*. In the same sentence. Like, there wasn't even a pause to switch gears, just 'I am doing this same thing you should not do but it's okay if I do it.' I'm not sure how that sort of behavior is supposed to go well.

For contrast, I will note that talk about Hillary Clinton and the Dakota pipeline protest didn't get a lot of shouting down even though that talk was highly critical, because that discussion was about facts. Most people here will entertain discussion of facts even if said facts are unhappy and inconvenient - I know I'll always be on board with that.

I do agree with corb above that the 'are you with us or with Trump' talk needs a rest, and I will be flagging that shit from here on out. Last night was pretty bad for it.

Past that... Like I said, I'm usually on the other side of calls for more empathy, but I really don't understand what some of you expect from us, apart from 'sit there and be told you're not lefty enough.'
posted by mordax at 11:30 AM on October 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


I do not claim a monopoly on fighting fascism, but I've had a lot more skin in that game than Hillary fucking Clinton.
posted by Coda Tronca at 11:41 AM on October 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

I do not claim a monopoly on fighting fascism, but I've had a lot more skin in that game than Hillary fucking Clinton.
You're not talking to Hillary Clinton. You are talking to some of her supporters, many of whom have quite a bit of skin in the game. I think that some of you guys, especially folks who aren't in the US, forget that you're not just talking about us in the abstract. You're also talking to us, and some of the stuff you say is kind of ridiculous. I'm never going to forget the time Sonny Jim said that Clinton supporters thought of people in flyover states as the new untouchables. I'm still trying to work out how I'm going to go through life never touching myself.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:46 AM on October 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm talking to whoever reads the thread, not just Clinton supporters.
posted by Coda Tronca at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I do not claim a monopoly on fighting fascism, but I've had a lot more skin in that game than Hillary fucking Clinton.

I think if you'd admitted to being Evan McMullin earlier your experience in the campaign threads could have been very different.
posted by one_bean at 12:01 PM on October 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm talking to whoever reads the thread, not just Clinton supporters.
That's nice. But you are also talking to us, whether you like it or not. You don't get to define your audience here as the people whom you consider worthy of your consideration.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:28 PM on October 29, 2016


That's exactly what I said. I give up.
posted by Coda Tronca at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


No, I think this gets at something. I think that you think you're talking about Hillary Clinton or other members of "the establishment," and many members of Metafilter hear you talking about us, people who support Hillary Clinton for any number of pragmatic or ideological reasons. So when you're kind of harsh, you don't think you're being harsh to people here. You think you're being harsh to Hillary Clinton or some abstraction called "the establishment." You think you're saying that leftists have more skin in the game than Hillary Clinton, not that leftists a couple of thousand miles away have more skin in the game than people here who really have plenty of skin in the game.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:51 PM on October 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I do not claim a monopoly on fighting fascism, but I've had a lot more skin in that game than Hillary fucking Clinton.

The arrogance behind that presumption is as stunning as the absurdity of its assertion.

I'm talking to whoever reads the thread, not just Clinton supporters.

And what impression do you expect to give them?
posted by humanfont at 1:26 PM on October 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I do not claim a monopoly on fighting fascism, but I've had a lot more skin in that game than Hillary fucking Clinton.

Uhhh... Point of order: Hillary's political opponent has said publicly that they intend to conduct an investigation and prosecute her for the sole purpose of putting her in prison. Not only that, they intend to investigate the people who originally investigated her to send a message to anyone who comes up with an answer this political opponent doesn't like.

She kind of has a lot of skin in this game at this point. Yulia Tymoshenko can attest to that.
posted by Talez at 1:31 PM on October 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


I do not claim a monopoly on fighting fascism, but I've had a lot more skin in that game than Hillary fucking Clinton.

I don't know how much time Hilary Clinton spends writing on internet forums, so, you know, you could be right there.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:51 PM on October 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Fighting fascism...a lot of you seem to be treating this like a role-playing game that we all have to accept as True and Important. You're not the French resistance. And to the extent that you're alienating natural anti-fascist allies, you're not even helping. You're playing at war as though you can't turn your computer off and go for a walk or something.

You can't blame the Fight Against Fascism for your basic failure to tend to your mental health. If you find the election unbearable, tune out. If and when we need you to fight against fascism I would hope that you'd be rested and ready to take responsibility for managing your own emotional state.

And I don't care about your "personal stake." If you have more of a personal stake in this, or your children do, or your friends, you have even more of a responsibility to keep your wits about you, instead of flailing helplessly, making a gigantic drama of everything, and yelling at people who don't like trump anymore than you do.

TL; DR: if you think this battle is real, then prepare for it as though it were a battle, and stop wasting your time and emotional energy on some sort of flame war role-play bullshit.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:32 PM on October 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I do not claim a monopoly on fighting fascism, but I've had a lot more skin in that game than Hillary fucking Clinton.

-- I don't know how much time Hilary Clinton spends writing on internet forums, so, you know, you could be right there.


You know nothing of my life or the experiences of fascist violence that have shaped me.
posted by Coda Tronca at 1:50 AM on October 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


Maybe we can ease off making this some kind of personal fight and steer back around to something having to do with the site.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:46 AM on October 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


> I don't think anyone on this site bar maybe a few libertarians disagree with the policies you've stated.

During the campaign, we've been told over and over again that anyone who supports universal access to health care, paid parental leave, subsidized daycare, or access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless of class background is a racist, misogynist bigot who must be permanently driven out of the Democratic Party. I think that indicates there's some opposition. There's no sense in pretending these attacks didn't happen, or that self-described moderate Democrats haven't engaged in them.

I'd like to think things will get better after the election is over, but these attacks seem to come from a position of very deep-seated hatred. I'd like to ask moderate Democrats to acknowledge that we disagree about stuff like this, and be willing to explain why you think the policies we advocate are bad when these issues come up, rather than continue to try to drive us off of the site.
posted by nangar at 4:42 AM on October 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

During the campaign, we've been told over and over again that anyone who supports universal access to health care, paid parental leave, subsidized daycare, or access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless of class background is a racist, misogynist bigot who must be permanently driven out of the Democratic Party.
I get that this is your point of view. My point of view is that I explained my objections to various parts of Sanders's platform until I was blue in the face, and all I got was a bunch of insults and a lot of pushback on whether things like racial inequality in K-12 education either existed or mattered. I work in student support in a not-very-selective public university: I see *a lot* of really amazing, smart, focused students lose scholarships and flunk out because their terrible, terrible public schools have not prepared them to do basic college work. I don't think Bernie's education platform, which focused on free college tuition for those who were prepared to attend college, addressed their issues, and therefore I think it would in fact widen the fundamental inequality between people who have access to half-decent pre-college education and those who don't. I don't know how I could have spelled that out any more clearly, and people basically told me that it was not important, and maybe kids who are assigned to grotesquely failing public schools should just seek out scholarships to elite private academies. And that's not a "leftist" vision that I can get behind, not because I don't care about equality, but because I do.

And I guess that from my point of view, leftists on this site can dish it out but can't take it. I get that you think I'm dog shit. You have made that abundantly clear, even in this thread! But I think it's unreasonable to treat people who disagree with you like garbage and then expect them to turn around and be endlessly tolerant and charitable towards you. I think the well got poisoned pretty early on, and now there's a lot of bad feelings on both sides.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:45 AM on October 30, 2016 [17 favorites]


Thanks for your response, ArbitraryAndCapricious. I agree with you that racial (and class) discrimination in K-12 education is serious and pervasive problem in the US. I think the way most schools in this country do tracking is a civil rights issue and should be illegal. School tracking started in the US as way to keep immigrants from getting into college, and school systems in the South suddenly hopped on the tracking bandwagon when they were forced to integrate, with very predictable results. The way school funding is handled in this country is also highly problematic. I was really disappointed that Sanders' platform made no attempt to address these issues at all. Trying to address the cost of higher education is a good thing in itself, but there are a lot of serious problems in the US education system that also need to be addressed. I'm sorry you got yelled at by some of my fellow Bernie supporters for pointing that out. It's absolutely a legitimate criticism.

In the current election thread, people are getting crap for not supporting Hillary enthusiastically enough, and expressing some concerns about what policies she will and won't pursue. A lot Bernie supporters had the same problem during the primaries. Neither of our preferred candidates are perfect, and criticizing them shouldn't be regarded as an act of treason.

By the way, ArbitraryAndCapricious, I appreciate your contributions here. I don't remotely think you're 'dog-shit', and my complaint was not intended as a global criticism of everyone who supported Clinton during the primaries. I'm sorry if it came across that way. A lot of Clinton supporters didn't engage in the kind of attacks I'm criticizing. There are a lot of people here who actively participated in the election threads and supported Clinton all a long who I still like and have a lot of respect for. I fully acknowledge that some Sanders supporters behaved pretty badly as well, and there's going to be resentment about that.

My complaint is about people who've attacked me as absolutely demonically evil because I support social democratic policies, and repeated demanded that I get out of Democratic Party. Pointing out blind spots in Sanders' education policy is not remotely the same thing. I probably would have defended you if I'd been around then and seen that.
posted by nangar at 8:08 AM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you're alleging specific hostile behavior in the current thread, can you provide a link to the comment(s) in question? These discussions are a lot better if we have examples that we can learn from -- I know it helped me understand the dynamic better when people linked to them above.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:25 AM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

♪♫ Whether I'm right or whether I'm wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I've gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am...
ad nauseum ...
posted by y2karl at 8:54 AM on October 30, 2016


No, tonycpsu, I'm not talking about this MeTa thread. I'm complaining about way some people acted in the election threads, especially during the primaries. The 'get out of the Democratic Party' stuff died down once we got to general. I guess even the most fanatical centrist Democrats realized the the election realized we needed the votes of left-of-center Dems to win the election, even if they'd been trying to convince us to leave the Party earlier.
posted by nangar at 9:04 AM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know you weren't talking about this MeTa. You said:

In the current election thread, people are getting crap for not supporting Hillary enthusiastically enough,

and I was wondering what comments pinged your radar in the current thread as "people getting crap for not supporting Hillary enthusiastically enough."
posted by tonycpsu at 9:14 AM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


people are getting crap for not supporting Hillary enthusiastically enough

Some of this rancour may be because lots of people on the far left feel it's important to challenge the attitudes of those on the softer left who give enthusiastic support to people like Clinton - more important in some ways than to bother with the views of people who're so far gone that they're already in favour of deporting Muslims or whatever. For example, you've got a UK group called Medialens that publish stuff based on Chomsky's propaganda model, and concern themselves mainly with The Guardian and Labour politicians. They don't bother with the right wing press as much because it's more widely accepted to be corporate controlled and beyond hope really. Subsequently, the journalists that they do challenge, who write for the Guardian and consider themselves basically 'left', get very deeply offended when they're criticised.

I really don't wish to convey the idea that I think anyone is 'dog shit' on the site, so I'll be watching out for that as much as possible (I don't post in Clinton threads anyway). But hard leftists/revolutionaries do have a sense that challenging illusions in leaders like Clinton or Obama is an important thing to do even when there's a super villain on the other side (which there always is).
posted by Coda Tronca at 10:16 AM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


I guess even the most fanatical centrist Democrats realized the the election realized we needed the votes of left-of-center Dems to win the election, even if they'd been trying to convince us to leave the Party earlier.

The strategy is to appeal to independent voters at this point, as they take away a potential vote from an opponent. It wouldn't help anyone to polarize left or right during the final phase. Losing primary factions are best served by voting against the threat opposing their views. However, this is all complicated by federal funds dangling to entice long-shot third parties to win a marginal slice of votes on the main ballot, as spoilers. It is the main dysfunction of American politics and rewriting the process is very risky. But there may be small adjustments made that don't burn the house down.

I would propose a column on the ballot where voters have a choice for their favorite party (or party faction) with matching election funds, already justified by having a similar one on tax forms (where it is not private). This special column might threaten the status quo, but so does losing by taking on major donors and their demands. Major parties would still dominate, but a growing well-funded faction would have real influence by the popular numbers, not just big donor money.
posted by Brian B. at 10:32 AM on October 30, 2016


With all due respect, there's a big difference between going after journalists in the UK and going after a specific candidate and/or their supporters in a US political system where one of the two major party nominees will be elected President nine days from now. The UK certainly has its own problems, but it also has a much higher tax revenue to GDP ratio than the US, and a universal healthcare model that even most conservatives dare not run against, even if many of them may wish to undermine it. Promoting right-wing talking points about emails and the Clinton Foundation right now is not in any way an expression of leftism designed to change minds and build support for more progressive policy. It's just tearing a candidate down because she's not the one you wanted.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:47 AM on October 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Fair points tonycpsu, but 'promoting right-wing talking points about emails and the Clinton Foundation right now' is not quite the only thing we're talking about - some are pointing out things that go further back, and that are legitimate criticisms of 'Clintonism' in the broadest sense, rather than whatever the latest ZOMG scandal in the news cycle might be.
posted by Coda Tronca at 11:58 AM on October 30, 2016


Except as far as I can tell, those two topics happen to be the two concrete examples of anti-Clinton comments in the current thread that have drawn hostile reactions.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:17 PM on October 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


We were asked by the mods not to go over the actual political arguments about Clinton in this thread - some posters have been talking about leftists being piled on in election threads further back, Sanders etc.
posted by Coda Tronca at 12:24 PM on October 30, 2016


But hard leftists/revolutionaries do have a sense that challenging illusions in leaders like Clinton or Obama is an important thing to do even when there's a super villain on the other side (which there always is).

I think part of the reason there is pushback against this attitude is because it can read as condescending. I consider myself to be far to Clinton's "left" and on some issues I flirt with anarchist views. I am also extremely enthusiastic about Clinton winning the election and about a number of prongs of her platform. I have no problem reconciling these views. I am not uninformed. I've read Chomsky, et al. The assumption that I'm just pulling the wool over my eyes is insulting. From my perspective, I've accepted that we cannot have perfect leaders because our leaders are human beings. If anything, those who expect that our leaders occupy some separate plane of perfect existence are those who are engaging in illusory thinking.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:27 PM on October 30, 2016 [26 favorites]


We were asked by the mods not to go over the actual political arguments about Clinton in this thread

I disagree. The site issue is hostility toward certain members based on their point of view. If we can't cite instances of that happening, then we can't take steps to understand and address the problem. I saw no mod action above when people linked to the comments where Sanders supporters were attacked.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:31 PM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Claiming the mantle of true leftist and labeling others as something else is a sure way to provoke a fight.
posted by humanfont at 12:38 PM on October 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


And I guess that from my point of view, leftists on this site can dish it out but can't take it. I get that you think I'm dog shit. You have made that abundantly clear, even in this thread! But I think it's unreasonable to treat people who disagree with you like garbage and then expect them to turn around and be endlessly tolerant and charitable towards you.

"Leftists on this site" do not exist as a group that acts in a coordinated and purposeful fashion; you're being retributive against something that doesn't exist.

There are people who hold views that you see as views that are also held by people who have treated you poorly. That is not the same thing as a person or a meaningfully coherent group treating you poorly.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:25 PM on October 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, it's that same sort of painting-with-a-broad-brush dynamic leads to some people speaking as if progressives and Clinton supporters are disjoint sets. Political views aren't much without a plan for realizing them, and many people believe that Hillary Clinton is the candidate that provides the greatest opportunity to lock in significant progressive movement on a number of issues, even if she's not as far left on those issues as they might want her to be.

Even if we assume that the average liberal Clinton skeptic is more liberal than Clinton is, it does not follow that the candidate chosen by those Clinton skeptics would make more liberal progress as President than Hillary would. Ideology is potential energy -- useless without the strategy and tactics to move public policy in the direction of that ideology. If you believe that supporting Clinton in the election and then fighting to keep her honest afterwards is the wrong strategy, there are ways to make that point without implying that the Clinton supporters you're talking to are sellouts.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:14 PM on October 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


So when you're kind of harsh, you don't think you're being harsh to people here. You think you're being harsh to Hillary Clinton or some abstraction called "the establishment."

I think this more than anything else has been responsible for most of the bad feeling that has popped up in election threads. You don't just see this aimed at left of center folks, but it's just - people are stressed and freaked out and honestly at this point almost traumatized by this election, and I think it's really hard for people to limit their rage. But I think it's easier for us to notice the stuff that's pointed at us, and harder to notice the stuff pointed at other people. I notice a lot of the stuff that says "every Republican is X". Sanders supporters notice the stuff that says "Berniebros are going to throw us to a fascist." True Clinton supporters notice stuff that says "both candidates are terrible and we all know anyone voting for Clinton is just doing it to stop Trump."

But all of it is happening. It just seems to be ratcheting up as the election draws nearer - people are afraid, and it makes them lash out the more stressed they get.

This thread, here, has gotten pretty nasty in the last 40 comments or so, with most of the ugliness coming from people who have well deserved reputations as sensible commentators here. I think that, more than anything else, is indicative of how high tempers are flaring.
posted by corb at 5:31 PM on October 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


From the current election thread:

> I get that you don't like anyone to the right of Castro but the fucking comment you quoted from pointed out...

This was in reply to someone who was unhappy with the passage of the welfare reform bill in Bill Clinton's administration. Maybe it would make for more civil conversation if more moderate Democrats could acknowledge that a left of center Democrat disagreeing with you about social programs is not the same as advocating a communist dictatorship. (And for that matter, just because someone is to the right of you on some issue doesn't mean they're neo-Confederate who wants to bring back slavery.)
posted by nangar at 7:38 AM on October 31, 2016 [11 favorites]


Shitty comment. Did it get flags at the time? Had I seen it when it was fresh I would have definitely flagged it.

The underlying point is solid -- Clinton's hands were very much tied on welfare reform in the wake of the Gingrich revolution -- but there's no need for that kind of personal attack. I'd be happy to have these comments nuked from orbit even if the mods don't get to them right away, and even if there are replies.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:48 AM on October 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


I didn't flag it. It had already been replied to when I saw it.

I agree the comment would be fine without "Castro!" crap.( Plus, we don't really need to be re-litigating Bill Clinton's administration.)
posted by nangar at 8:06 AM on October 31, 2016


No flags at the time, but, yeah, that's a decent example of sort of needlessly grouchy rhetoric that doesn't help threads go any better. It reads to me like what folks have talked about in here some, and I think a lot of people are feeling: the long-ass months of this cycle haven't brought out the best in folks and the encroaching deadline of Nov. 8 seems like it's making it harder yet for folks to kind of de-entrench and not sometimes just have an argument with the collective spectre of All The People Who Are Wrong, from whichever direction, rather than pitching their response more toward two mefites in a thread disagreeing, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


What if I don't like anyone to the right of Castro but I'm also a neo-Confederate
posted by beerperson at 8:11 AM on October 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not talking about policy in the election threads at this point. We're way past the time for that. I'm kind of worried about what the "get out of the Party" rhetoric and the absolute demonization people have engaged in implies for the future. We'll find out I guess.
posted by nangar at 8:20 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


nangar: Yeah, I'm not talking about policy in the election threads at this point. We're way past the time for that. I'm kind of worried about what the "get out of the Party" rhetoric and the absolute demonization people have engaged in implies for the future. We'll find out I guess.

Earlier in this thread, you said "The 'get out of the Democratic Party' stuff died down once we got to general." Sincerely asking here: Has that rhetoric picked up again? I haven't noticed, but at this point the last month of election threads are the equivalent of a decent length novel, and it's perfectly possible I missed some comments.

A number of people acted like asses in election threads during the primaries. But for the most part a lot of that behavior seems to have died off since Sanders' concession and the conventions. Cooler heads seem to have prevailed. Hopefully that trend will continue.
posted by zarq at 8:46 AM on October 31, 2016


This was in reply to someone who was unhappy with the passage of the welfare reform bill in Bill Clinton's administration. Maybe it would make for more civil conversation if more moderate Democrats could acknowledge that a left of center Democrat disagreeing with you about social programs is not the same as advocating a communist dictatorship. (And for that matter, just because someone is to the right of you on some issue doesn't mean they're neo-Confederate who wants to bring back slavery.)

As the author of the comment, I'd like to point out that sontohinto has a well known habit of driving by a thread, shitting out the rhetorical equivalent of "BUT IT'S NOT LEFT ENOUGH!", and leaving once people point out the turd he left on the floor.
posted by Talez at 9:46 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


And my comment wasn't disagreeing with him on social programs. I happen to think the 1996 welfare reforms were a huge mistake. But blaming it on Clinton when he was faced with a veto proof majority when the comment he responded to pointed that exact fact out was utterly ridiculous. Now he's pretzel twisting himself trying to make the logic fit the rhetoric.
posted by Talez at 9:51 AM on October 31, 2016


Like if you want to have a discussion, have a discussion. Don't come shit something into a thread that disagrees with presented facts with a big ol' "NUH UH! Now here's my reality!"
posted by Talez at 9:53 AM on October 31, 2016


"As the author of the comment, I'd like to point out a bunch of things that explain why I disagree with another commenter, but not the part where I was a total dick about it."
posted by tonycpsu at 9:55 AM on October 31, 2016 [8 favorites]


"As the author of the comment, I'd like to point out a bunch of things that explain why I disagree with another commenter, but not the part where I was a total dick about it."

My apologies for overlooking that. I'll happily admit to being a total dick.
posted by Talez at 10:01 AM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


It would be great, Talez, if you could take it a step further and stop being a total dick.
posted by nangar at 10:04 AM on October 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'd be pretty happy with less acting like a dick in general, pretty much. The exchange in question from that thread and this followup are, again, kinda good examples of the "people seem pretty fried and like they're making poor rhetorical decisions that undermine decent discussion" phenomenon I just talked about.

Like: I think sotonohito needs to chill more. We've nudged him on that front before and it seems like will have to do so again. I think your response to him, Talez, was also crappy. And peppering a MetaTalk where it comes up with a bam bam bam series of comments all in a row arguing the point doesn't help anything.

The answer here is not to fight over who is more right and therefore justified in commenting poorly; it's for everybody to make that effort, individually and to the extent we're able collectively, to just not do that stuff so much so things don't end up feeling permanently escalated.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:06 AM on October 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sorry. I'll just flag it and move on next time.
posted by Talez at 10:10 AM on October 31, 2016


No, zarq, I haven't seen any 'get out the Party' comments since the primaries. Despite the exchange above, things have been a lot better here once we got to general and most of us were focused on winning the election rather than arguing about the primary candidates we supported.
posted by nangar at 10:19 AM on October 31, 2016


Good!

Just to be clear, I'm not trying to dismiss your concerns. I share them! But I'm really hoping that things will continue to get better now.
posted by zarq at 10:38 AM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

You're also talking to us, and some of the stuff you say is kind of ridiculous. I'm never going to forget the time Sonny Jim said that Clinton supporters thought of people in flyover states as the new untouchables. I'm still trying to work out how I'm going to go through life never touching myself.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:46 PM on October 29 [6 favorites +] [!]
Oh, man! This is like a cover of Anxiety: The Magazine come to life!
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:25 AM on October 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, man! This is like a cover of Anxiety: The Magazine come to life!

Are you...trying to be nice?
posted by zutalors! at 11:59 AM on October 31, 2016


I'm never going to forget the time Sonny Jim said that Clinton supporters thought of people in flyover states as the new untouchables. I'm still trying to work out how I'm going to go through life never touching myself.

Man, I know the connotation in American English for that term doesn't carry quite the same weight as it does for people from India, but having had friends who were born there mention emphatically on occasion that 'untouchable' 'dalit' and 'harijan' are deeply offensive terms, it always creeps me out when I see them used.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think that was the point?
posted by zutalors! at 12:22 PM on October 31, 2016


Some ideas for better comments based on the ideas above -- or at least things I'm going to try to keep in mind when I comment.
  1. Avoid personalizing the argument and making arguments personal.
  2. Labeling yourself is fine, don't label others, don't use your self-identified label as means to exclude others.
  3. Do try to keep up. When you jump into the middle of a discussion on a huge news story e.g. emails, try to understand the context. If you can't understand the context and you want to chime in with something against the dominant view; try to at least do a little research into counter arguments and common objections.
  4. Be mindful of the collective unconscious in how you join and participate in threads. When folks are freaking out, expect that people are going to be less rational and thoughtful in their responses.
  5. Respect the size and breadth of the community, allow others to have time to digest, reject/accept, develop and extend, or discuss your comment /argument before you followup.
  6. Profanity and slurs are rarely necessary and often are a signal that you are about to make a huge mistake.

posted by humanfont at 1:05 PM on October 31, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think that was the point?

My sense is that Americans see it more as a general insult, not an horrifically offensive one.
posted by zarq at 1:42 PM on October 31, 2016


so you're saying people shouldn't say it? I'm confused.
posted by zutalors! at 2:19 PM on October 31, 2016


so you're saying people shouldn't say it? I'm confused.

No. I said it creeps me out when I see people use it, and I explained why. I was not asking anything of anyone.
posted by zarq at 2:58 PM on October 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are you...trying to be nice?
That was the idea, yes. I lashed out in an election thread months ago; hoped people had forgotten about it; then A&C brought it up again and accused me of being "ridiculous," which I'll happily cop to in this instance. I am frequently ridiculous. I was trying to de-escalate. But now we seem to be relitigating the whole "lesser of two evils" argument? I am confused too.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:14 PM on October 31, 2016


Ah, ok. I read it more as snark.
posted by zutalors! at 3:57 PM on October 31, 2016


I think it is easier to get a millenial who felt the Bern to embrace Donald Trump if his primary motivation was anger and not ideology ... the angry devotee just wanted to blow up the beltway using a Bernie shaped bomb.

I'm sorry nangar, but I think you misread the meaning of the above quote. I highlighted the part that is most pertinent to the discussion that was going on. The quote, as i read it, isn't about Bernie supporters in general, but about someone who may have supported Sanders out of anger at the system. This matters because the context was in discussing whether there could be a white populist movement that attracted some on the left. Not Trump, but someone who used some divisive tactics with the promise of "fixing" government by essentially ending it as we know it now.

Neither the quote or discussion was about all Sanders or all left supporters, more a question of whether there could be any intersection between the left that wants radical government change and the white nationalist supporters who also want radical government change. Now you may or may not believe there is any significant amount of potential cross over, that would be perfectly sensible to argue, but this section:

Clinton's keyboard warriors had some success driving people off of websites (not MeFi so much because of moderation). Fortunately, they were much less successful in driving us out of the Party. Most of us are still voting, volunteering and contributing whether you like progressives being part of the Party or not.

Is going a bit farther towards divisiveness I think than the above section, talking about past actions on the site and suggesting there is no appreciation for progressives, which wasn't being discussed or the aim of the discussion at all. I can see where the mention of "felt the Bern" might jump out at a Sanders supporter as a universal, and perhaps it could have been worded to be less glib, but taking it that way does, to me, miss the context of the discussion and the quote a fair bit.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:07 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oops, I meant to have that say Not necessarily Trump, but someone who used some divisive tactics etc.

The quote clearly refers to Trump, but in a hypothetical example for the discussion.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:12 PM on November 1, 2016


I PROPOSE: we give the mod team a break by appointing a temporary alternate mod team for the election threads, consisting of corb, clavdivs, corb's anarchosyndicalist husband, and me.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:17 PM on November 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


Why would anyone here want to drive progressives out of the party? It's like talking about the Grinch stealing Christmas, it just seems like imagining some hypothetical boogeyman for no reason.
posted by zutalors! at 12:19 PM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I PROPOSE: we give the mod team a break by appointing a temporary alternate mod team for the election threads, consisting of corb, clavdivs, corb's anarchosyndicalist husband, and me.

Wouldn't it be easier to just set fire to the servers in advance? ;)
posted by zarq at 12:52 PM on November 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


okay sure the servers catching on fire is a possibility, but at least it'd be a really interesting fire.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:14 PM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Define Interesting?

:D
posted by zarq at 1:20 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm a leaf on the wind.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:23 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think that some of you guys, especially folks who aren't in the US, forget that you're not just talking about us in the abstract. You're also talking to us, and some of the stuff you say is kind of ridiculous.

LOL. Mote and beam, much? As far as I can tell that pretty much precisely describes the way an awful lot of US posters talk about other countries (or for that matter the way that the majority of urban/suburban posters talk about people in the rural South, West and Midwest). Physician, heal thyself.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 1:35 PM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Would a mod please explain why my comment to koselitz was deleted from the election thread?
posted by zarq at 1:54 PM on November 1, 2016


Because I left a note telling everyone to drop the FBI thing in there.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:00 PM on November 1, 2016


Oops - and to link: the note is here, and was about 10 min before your comment was made.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:04 PM on November 1, 2016



LOL. Mote and beam, much? As far as I can tell that pretty much precisely describes the way an awful lot of US posters talk about other countries (or for that matter the way that the majority of urban/suburban posters talk about people in the rural South, West and Midwest). Physician, heal thyself.


Why be so snarky about an earnest comment?
posted by zutalors! at 2:09 PM on November 1, 2016


zutalors! I'll have to ask you why you want to drive progressives out of the party .

You've been accusing anyone who supports universal access to health care, paid parental leave, subsided day care, an increase in the minimum wage, and access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless their socio-economic background of being a racist, misogynist bigot. You have said these policies these are so inherently evil that anyone who's advocated them should eliminated from Democratic Party. You've specifically targeted feminists who supported these policies claiming that any woman who supports these is a self-hating misogynist bigot. You've been pounding away at this for a year and a half.

This is not some kind of "hypothetical boogeyman". I'm talking about comments you and other like-minded moderate Democrats and Hillary supporters made during the primaries and have continued to make since then. Are you claiming these attacks are a figment of my imagination, and that never you made them? That we're imagining the non-stop torrent of abuse all of you have subjected progressive Democrats to since the beginning of the primaries?

Rather than accusing me again of being a racist, misogynist bigot (since I know you think that already), and rather deny you made any of these attacks, I'd ask you to explain why you think these policies are so evil that I should be driven out of the Democratic Party for favoring them.

I'd ask the same of moderate Democrats who've made the same kind of attacks.
posted by nangar at 2:10 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


what??
posted by zutalors! at 2:12 PM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Are you claiming these attacks are a figment of my imagination, and that never you made them?


...yes?
posted by zutalors! at 2:13 PM on November 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


Ok. Thank you, LM.
posted by zarq at 2:17 PM on November 1, 2016


I'd ask the same of moderate Democrats who've made the same kind of attacks.

I am baffled by this comment.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


Nangar, I have no idea what you're talking about. I've seen you in multiple election threads talk about "Democrats" you've been "arguing with" who claim that universal health care, child care, etc. are all misogynistic, self-hating and racist policies but I've never seen evidence in any thread that this is actually happening on Metafilter. Maybe you are arguing with those people, but I really need links to comments or something to believe this is anything other than a straw man.
posted by xyzzy at 2:22 PM on November 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


nangar, I don't know what comments you're talking about, and if you're making that kind of hyper-specific accusation, it should be supported with links to the comments. Up until now I'd assumed you were speaking in a more broad way about how in general people's comments made you feel. But what you're saying here is a lot more specific and yeah, that needs to be supported or you should walk it back.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:24 PM on November 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


Wow. zutalors!'s perspectives and priorities might not always align with my own, but I do not recognize the poster nangar is describing here.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:07 PM on November 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yeah, nangar, I'm a member of the somewhat-yelled-at-during-the-primaries entrenched leftist crew, and I don't know what you're talking about at all, much less directing it at Zulators.

I remember getting called both racist and misogynist (and too young) for being leary on Clinton for leftist reasons way back in the primaries, but I haven't seen much of that since the convention (and the final gasp of whining about BernieBros, thank the Lord) and certainly never for someone supporting
"universal access to health care, paid parental leave, subsided day care, an increase in the minimum wage, and access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless their socio-economic background"
unless you want to get really nitpicky about universal health care and college access, maybe sorta.

Like, these are pretty general dem issues and goals. We might disagree internally about the specifics of how, when and why, but when I (personally) got any pushback ever for being vocally to the left of Clinton it was never specifically because of the issues I was talking about, it was about me either being too much of an ideologue and needing some pragmatism (Fair enough, so long as we all can agree that we need both.) or about me being indoctrinated into a misogynist world where I am more apt to criticize Clinton than I would a man (True, though I like to think I'm aware of that in myself and consider it when I form my opinions.).
posted by neonrev at 3:41 PM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wow. I think I just visibly saw my respect for a fellow MeFite plummet before my waking eyes.

I just remembered why I rarely venture into the grey
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:44 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not enough recipes
posted by beerperson at 4:04 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


You've been accusing anyone who supports universal access to health care, paid parental leave, subsided day care, an increase in the minimum wage, and access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless their socio-economic background of being a racist, misogynist bigot.

I support all those things and yet somehow! by magic! zutalors has never accused me of being a racist, misogynist bigot. So your thesis is disproved.

And if zutalors! has been doing this so flagrantly and harshly to lo these many mefites, it shouldn't be hard for you to come up with an example. Yet you...haven't.
posted by sallybrown at 4:23 PM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Maybe the comments nangar is referring to were deleted? (Just trying to be helpful, since that accusation is indeed pretty specific)
posted by naju at 4:25 PM on November 1, 2016


That comment is both specific and very general. It specifies the people who have been allegedly targeted by zutalors! ("anyone who supports universal access to health care, paid parental leave, subsided day care, an increase in the minimum wage, and access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless their socio-economic background . . . specifically . . . feminists who supported these policies"), but then also says zutalors! has "been pounding away at this for a year and a half," which implies a number of different occasions on which this has supposedly happened.

It then goes on to say "I'm talking about comments you and other like-minded moderate Democrats and Hillary supporters made during the primaries and have continued to make since then," specifying that the poster is referencing multiple comments over a long period of time, now made by multiple people, all against the aforementioned "anyone who supports universal access to health care, paid parental leave, subsided day care, an increase in the minimum wage, and access to higher education for anyone who qualifies regardless their socio-economic background . . . specifically . . . feminists who supported these policies."

Yet it cites not a single actual comment, nor does it call out anyone but zutalors! As someone who is a feminist who supports these policies and has read every election thread but one...I am certain I would have noticed such a long campaign of hatred against people with my own stances.

It's bullshit.

What I have noticed is zutalors! poking - in ways that are sometimes a bit inflammatory but usually not - those of us commenting to realize our assumptions. zutalors! posting has made me rethink again and again in the election threads "did I assume I was speaking to white people only? speaking about white people only? thinking of white people as the default?" etc. and it has really enriched my commenting and my thought. And I have also noticed that some people have a hard time sitting and being ok with the thought "yeah i AM unintentionally racist sometimes," and sometimes that has prompted a lot of anger in response to zutalors! And I wonder whether it's THAT that was just injected into this conversation.
posted by sallybrown at 4:35 PM on November 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


I agree with most of that. To the extent that I've been on the receiving end of that sometimes-inflammatory-poking, it's rubbed me the wrong way. Not sure I can dig up the specific comments, but on one occasion she suggested that what I was saying was the result of white privilege, even though (whether she knows this, I don't know) I'm a PoC and have spoken up against instances of white privilege time and time again on this site, often at her side and defending her comments. Another time she either heavily implied, or outright said that I have a pro-Trump agenda. It's just odd to have such interrogations of a member like me who (I'd like to think - maybe I'm completely forgettable) has shown himself to be pretty obviously against racism and bigotry.
posted by naju at 4:45 PM on November 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think, if we are assuming good faith about our fellow mefites, that it's sometimes hard to quantify feelings with specific commentary at the best of times, much less in election threads that regularly reach 3-4K comments for each, and have been posted at least every few days for over a month. I know that I would be hard pressed to do it myself.

At the same time, I know that sometimes I've felt under attack in multiple comments, only to go to a (regular) thread for a specific example and then find that what felt like a pile-on was maybe only four or five comments out of hundreds. They seemed to pile together because perception is a funny thing, not because they actually did.

So along these lines, I can easily see how a mefite might feel under attack by someone's commenting pattern - especially someone who is frequently very passionate about their beliefs - while the intention of the other mefite would not have been to poke at them. No one has to be insincere- but perception about things we care about is hard to remember. (For example, I remembered my report backs from the RNC to have been all substance, while a reread of threads revealed that apparently at a certain point it was just me cursing incoherently and weeping)

tl;dr be excellent to each other, we are a community and most people are really trying hard.
posted by corb at 4:51 PM on November 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


naju, I'd like to see an example of me accusing you of those things.
posted by zutalors! at 4:54 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's really hard to dig through old election threads to find things, and so much of the content gets deleted, so forgive me. This might be one example. If I recall you were questioning two or three people, including me, who were noting that Trump had apparently slightly eased off of nastiness and bigotry that week. Not a controversial take, and had been noted in several publications (this was around the time he had done some sort of half-hearted, surface reversal of his immigration policy, followed by his lamely reaching out to African-Americans, etc.) Your take was that people who thought he was at least on the surface trying to act slightly better were probably exercising white privilege - "because if you're, say, a minority the stuff that you're supposed to overlook is horrifyingly vivid and real and affects people in your life." This seems to be an odd comment to direct at people like me who are minorities and are well aware of how horrifyingly vivid and real the racism in this election is. There were some deleted comments of yours as well which you acknowledged two comments down, so I don't remember some of the things said that the mods deemed inappropriate.

Elsewhere, there was a bit of back and forth where I kept assuring that I am very anti-Trump, but that he seemed to be at least taking opportunities to reach out to struggling people that the Democrats were failing to do. This comment and your reply after it might be a distillatiion. You called it "grading on a curve" as if I was fully in the tank for Trump.

Not meaning to single you out by any means. Rory had some deleted comments that outright called me sexist and part of a harrassment campaign similar to Gamergate. I'm not even that active in election threads - I think I had four or five moments when I participated, and almost all of them were met with this kind of pushback which has left me disappointed and frustrated that I haven't been able to communicate my intentions in a way that they could be read in good faith.
posted by naju at 5:21 PM on November 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thanks for your examples. I didn't use the word "white privilege at all" in example one, and didn't say you weren't also a PoC. I was just sharing my opinion.

Example 2 - I think everyone grades Trump on a curve (me too). It in no way was me saying you had a "pro Trump agenda."

I really doubt I had anything deleted that called people bigots or said people who have progressive values are evil or those values are evil. I said in this thread that I was interested in Sanders during the primary, so why on Earth would I think anything in his platform is evil?


Not meaning to single you out by any means

I get that, no worries. I just don't think it's fair to claim things and not have links.

posted by zutalors! at 5:27 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fair. I think maybe in the heat of the moment things seem wildly accusatory and in retrospect and sober analysis they don't come out that way (though again, we can't see what was deleted). There was someone who outright called me a secret Trump troll, but that was someone else, not you.
posted by naju at 5:29 PM on November 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


btw the last sentence in my previous comment is needlessly dramatic because I couldn't get the edit window to delete a stray italics tag.
posted by zutalors! at 5:47 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


But what you're saying here is a lot more specific and yeah, that needs to be supported or you should walk it back. - LobsterMitten

What are you going to do when neither of these things happen?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:07 PM on November 1, 2016


What are you going to do when neither of these things happen?

Perhaps you have some suggestion?
posted by grobstein at 9:10 PM on November 1, 2016


What are you going to do when neither of these things happen?


Not entertain further comments in that style, is the plan. No point in deleting the existing ones given the long discussion here, but it's not a constructive or healthy rhetorical gambit.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:16 PM on November 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


What are you going to do when neither of these things happen?

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. I've been debunking lies and fighting on other social media I use which has a way higher Trump population*, and I've been finding myself doing a lot more drive-by commenting and posting than I ever did before. I'm at a point where I can feel the fight well up inside of me for about 15 minutes before I deflate and realize I'm almost literally yelling at the void, and then I just nope out. I've been ignoring the constant beeps of my phone that inform me that some one else with an opinion about who DAPL protesters are lazy takers is also jumping in on me for the second half of the day and I just can't do it all the time.

I don't support the sort of drive-by nonsense that seems to be popping up a bit more here, I personally try to avoid doing it, but having a strong contrary opinion in a community you connect to is really difficult right now. Everything seems life and death, and everyone is het up and looking for fights, but also not always willing to finish them, and I'm certainly guilty of that.

*I'm not at all comparing the average mefite to the average Trumper, but I can imagine the sort of leftist who feels as against Clinton as I (an average mefite?) feel against Trump, especially now that the win seems certain.
posted by neonrev at 2:03 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


On a different note, I haven't read this entire thread and never will (I don't know if this is a done thing), but a new report on the Bernie-or-Bust contingent.
I have two social circles that are liberal but still anti-Clinton.

One is about what you'd expect. Largely male, all straight, all white, mostly brocialists with some occasional (valid) complaints about drones and fracking, some vague Stein support but mostly just apathetic whining. Over-hyped and dull.

The other is a self-described queer witches coven (I honestly do not know how serious the witch part is or really exactly what they mean) that is heavily POC and also deeply committed to NGO and activist work, whose opposition stems from "Super-predators" and a perception of Clinton as very weak on queer and trans issues. They are also very leftist in general and I assume there are other complaints, but that is the core of their concern it seems.

In summation, NeverClinton people are a world of contrasts.
posted by neonrev at 2:12 AM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


> nangar, I don't know what comments you're talking about, and if you're making that kind of hyper-specific accusation, it should be supported with links to the comments...what you're saying here is a lot more specific and yeah, that needs to be supported or you should walk it back.

It looks like I'm going to have to walk that back, and offer an apology.

I looked through zutalors! comment history, and mostly all I'm seeing is her complaining about the way Bernie supporters behaved during the campaign (Bernie supporters griping about Southern voters after loosing super-Tuesday, and similar stuff). Looking through her comment history is reminder of how absolutely awful some of my fellow Bernie supporters were during the primary campaign.

Here's the thing. When I made this comment, I remembered her saying that stuff. Apparently, she didn't. I don't see any cases of her claiming that the left-of-center policies we advocated are inherently racist. As far as complaining about the things Bernie supporters said, well, some of my fellow Bernie supporters were absolute knuckleheads and did say absolutely awful racist stuff. It seems like I had built up the idea of zutalors! as a 'hateful Hillary supporter', probably because some stuff she said got under my skin, but it was pretty much undeserved. Going back and looking at what she actually said, rather than what I remembered, makes me a lot more sympathetic to her.

So, zutalors! I'm sorry. I owe you an apology. Hopefully, I can learn to be more charitable in the future, and remember that during the campaign all of us have been on the receiving end of some pretty awful stuff, and it's understandable to be angry about that.
posted by nangar at 3:21 AM on November 2, 2016 [29 favorites]


That's a textbook great apology nangar. Thank you.
posted by zutalors! at 4:50 AM on November 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


Thank you, zutalors!
posted by nangar at 5:08 AM on November 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Seconding that. That was an excellent apology, nangar. Well said.
posted by zarq at 8:30 AM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Faith in humanity = restored. (Until the next time I look at facebook)
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:54 AM on November 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Moments like these are why I clutch Metafilter tightly to my chest and will never let it go.
posted by Superplin at 12:16 PM on November 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


they also make me wish real life had a comment history sometimes.
posted by zutalors! at 12:20 PM on November 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't look at metatalk very often and so just read this thread but just wanted to note that I agree that my comment referenced towards the beginning of the thread was pretty far out of line and that I shouldn't have said that. Apologies for it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:26 PM on November 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


I love this place. sniff...
posted by Don Pepino at 1:26 PM on November 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah well-played everyone. Thanks for remaining civil and engaged.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:20 AM on November 3, 2016


Why are we deleting MetaTalk comments from someone unhappy that their comment in the election thread was deleted? Isn't MetaTalk the place to talk about that?
posted by lalex at 2:06 PM on November 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Why are we deleting MetaTalk comments from someone unhappy that their comment in the election thread was deleted? Isn't MetaTalk the place to talk about that?

Yeah, I saw some comments that may have been incorrect in their suppositions but discussing deletion reasons seems absolutely germane to MetaTalk.
posted by grouse at 2:10 PM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dude with a long history of coming at threads Truth Bomb! style, who we've explicitly told to cut it out, was doing it again and got it deleted again. Him coming in here to stir shit up after with beef about the how oppressed he is is, frankly, bullshit that we don't need to spend time on and pretty much of a piece with what we'd already talked to him about stopping.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:17 PM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Him coming in here to stir shit up after with beef about the how oppressed he is is, frankly, bullshit

Frankly, I agreed with their points in the deleted comments. Was ennui.bz banned or did they button?
posted by lalex at 2:30 PM on November 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


They buttoned, and whether or not you agree with the thrust of their comments is orthogonal to whether they were continuing a pattern of problematic behavior they'd been previously warned about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:31 PM on November 6, 2016


« Older [some appropriate and witty Hamilton post title...   |   What Art Offers Is Space -- a Certain Breathing... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments