Stop the Violence April 20, 2018 10:23 AM   Subscribe

I've noticed an uptick in the number of comments I see that express the desire to see violence done to someone, whether from face-punches or guillotines. I know that the general MeFite psyche is bruised and battered after an exhausting 16 months since the election, but these types of comments leave me feeling like the only place I know on the internet with sane discourse is losing its way. I'd like to remind people that though their violent fantasies may feel justified, they are still troubling for others to read.
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Etiquette/Policy at 10:23 AM (268 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

I haven't consciously noticed such comments in the threads that I visit. But your explanation immediately reminds me of my reading from yesterday, in case anyone else finds this sort of material helpful:

In terms of exposure to violence, for example, David and Derthick (2014) point out that, as oppressive violence is “internalized so quickly” (p. xv), some victims and witnesses of trauma and violence develop similar responses and can even become perpetrators as well as an act of survival. This means that violence can generate more violence, unleashing an ongoing behavioural cycle that can be maintained through generations (David & Derthick, 2014). These dynamics can set a path of perpetuation of violence, as they will tend to be replicated (either from the victim or aggressor places), subtly or out of awareness. The authors also specify that, even if they are in privileged positions in society, members of dominant groups may not be immune to the detrimental effects of oppression, as even those who benefit from oppression are also exposed to the violence (Williams, 2012), as oppression is a violent dynamic. The effects of this exposure include high levels of psychological distress when faced by dissonance of learned maladaptive beliefs (i.e. beliefs on group membership superiority/inferiority), and other dysfunctional self- schemas with the potential of mental health repercussions (high anxiety, stress, rumination, worry, etc.).
Addressing Internalized Oppression in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: Towards a Liberating and Inclusive Clinical Practice
posted by polymodus at 10:33 AM on April 20, 2018 [16 favorites]


Thank you.

It has become increasingly common in the politics threads.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on April 20, 2018 [19 favorites]


Cosigned, as a reader of the politics threads.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:55 AM on April 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


I think it's important to remember that language like this may make you, the commentor, feel better, but it probably doesn't make anyone reading it feel better.
posted by selfnoise at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2018 [30 favorites]


It occurs to me that writing such things is yet another exposure for the writer.
posted by amtho at 11:19 AM on April 20, 2018


You know what, I've seen this too and I don't like it either. I even made a comment recently that kinda edged into this territory, and even though I walked it back later in the thread I didn't feel great about it. I'm going to be more careful to police myself on tgis issue and I would love it if other people would as well.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:43 AM on April 20, 2018 [10 favorites]


I agree, and thank you for posting this.
posted by lazuli at 11:44 AM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I've been troubled by the some of the language used in the politics threads. There's understandably a lot of anger and frustration about what's going on in the government, and where there's frustration there's name-calling and pillorying those that we disagree with. My problem is when it goes beyond name-calling and "OMG this guy SUCKS" and when we start referring to them as sub-human. Referring to a person or a group of people as sub-human - either with that particular word or with others, such as "monsters" or "animals" - has a long, awful history. It's easier for us as humans to grok atrocities if they are happening to non-humans. It's easier for us to handle horrible people if we don't see them as people, but as something other. I won't go into the whole history of de-humanizing as propaganda, but here's an article/book review that goes into it.

And yeah, I get it. Our president is a horrible person and he loves to dehumanize others. His mocking and jabs are designed to do it, his policies are put in place to do it, his beliefs line up with those who see some people as not being...people. Or at least, not as much of a person as others. There are a lot of asshole people out there who similarly believe that some people are less than human, and that makes me so sad and upset. I think we can do better here. We can handle our daily living nightmares without similarly going to the same dark place as those we disagree with by using dehumanizing language or wishing terrible atrocities upon them.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:56 AM on April 20, 2018 [36 favorites]


The other day in a thread I said something about going on a murderous rampage and it was deleted with a deletion note to curb the murdery talk so like

the system is working.

Unfortunately.
posted by phunniemee at 12:26 PM on April 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


Yeah, it's something we try to keep an eye out for, though there's stuff that's slam dunk nope that we're likely to delete as soon as we see it, and then there's stuff that's in more fuzzy/liminal territory that may not be as obvious on a busy day or may not get flagged promptly which is nonetheless still not so good.

I feel folks on the angry venting vector that this stuff can come from but I agree it's better for the site and probably for everybody's individual and collective mental health besides to aim more for a like fervent expression of principled anger or politic/strategic intentions than to lapse into any kind of needlessly violent or dehumanizing language.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:31 PM on April 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure this is the right thread, but I view at as related. I've become increasingly aware of caustic comments directed at other users. Among the comments I've seen recently (left standing):

- telling users the article they shared in their FPP "is crap"
- [your comments] come from such an, seemingly intentionally, uneducated place.
- I was taking aim at the poor "clearly sarcastic" defense explanation you put in.
- Is your reading comprehension that astonishingly bad

Not so surprising to see violent comments about public figures when some have such a hard time being gracious to their fellow users.

Some metta bhavana might be in order.

MettaFilter Bhavana

Start with thoughts of goodwill for yourself.
Then spread thoughts of goodwill to others.
Start with MeFites who are close to your heart: ones you're friends with in real life, ones you favorite so often that it's embarrassing.
Then spread those thoughts out in ever-widening circles.
To MeFites you know and like enough to add as contacts.
To MeFites whose usernames ring a bell, even though you don't know them so well.
To MeFites you're more neutral about.
And to MeFites you don't like.
Remind yourself MetaFilter would be a much better place if every user could learn how to find true happiness within.
Spread thoughts of goodwill to MeFites who have harmed you in the past.
May they learn to be truly happy.
Spread thoughts of goodwill to MeFites you have harmed in the past.
May they learn to be truly happy, too.
Spread thoughts of goodwill to MeFites you don't even know.
And not just MeFites, but living beings of all kinds—East, West, North, South, above and below, out to infinity.
May we all find true happiness in our hearts.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:50 PM on April 20, 2018 [79 favorites]


Telling people that their comment sounds ignorant or -ist or as if they haven't read the article and/or thread that they're responding to is in my opinion a whole different level of thing from wishing violence upon someone, and (again, in my opinion) is often perfectly appropriate. Also, given the types of comments that tend to elicit those sorts of critiques, I think a little anger or frustration on the part of the critiquer is understandable and should be allowed to be expressed as long as it doesn't stray into personal insults or other behaviors that are already against the guidelines.

Telling a poster their FPP is crap is pretty rude. Criticizing the substance of the subject matter should be OK though I would think.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:19 PM on April 20, 2018 [19 favorites]


- Is your reading comprehension that astonishingly bad

I said exactly this recently, so I assume you're quoting me? As if this is on the same level as violently wishing someone harm?

For the record, I was replying to a comment that twisted something I'd said into an accusation that a newspaper editor was an anti-semite. Which was not what I had said.

This happened, by the way, in a thread where someone else was already "helpfully" explaining to us why the anti-semitism being expressed in an article was no big deal and we should give the author the benefit of the doubt.

I could have been less rude. The person who twisted my words could also have opted not to do so. But neither of us did anything dehumanizing, so it would be nice if you kept that in perspective while making comparisons. Especially while you're preaching the value of keeping goodwill and good intentions in mind.
posted by zarq at 1:27 PM on April 20, 2018 [26 favorites]


I vote against attacking and/or belittling fellow mefites. Thank you.
posted by mochapickle at 1:27 PM on April 20, 2018 [24 favorites]


I didn't link to comments (or include whole ones), because I didn't want to make a referendum on users and I certainly don't find it on the same level as wishing violence. Often users are rightfully irked. Maybe I shouldn't have quoted anyone, but rather made it a general comment. The specifics weren't the point. Apologies to all. (I'm into the meditation. Maybe mods can delete the rest!)

I just would hope MeFites could take into account the relatively low stakes of a comment thread. They're open for a month and everyone has time to breathe and reflect before commenting. Someone often went through care to craft the FPP (or at the very least share something they found worthy of consideration). It's fine to disagree with something shared, but we should be able to do so without making people regret having made the post in the first place.

I had a boss who was obsessed with the "yes and" communication. It drove me a bit nuts when he used it (largely because he often really meant "no but") and yet outside of that context I see the value. We should be able to find the good in something and respond additively. Or at least with the assumption of good faith. Not because people *always* comment in good faith, but because it's nigh impossible to build a positive, constructive, worthwhile community otherwise.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 1:53 PM on April 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


Someone can totally be commenting in good faith and yet still have their head so far up their ass as to require surgical intervention.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:10 PM on April 20, 2018 [17 favorites]


I think the mods are the surgeons here.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:13 PM on April 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


I appreciate this. I'm trying to manage the poisonous effects of my anger, and reading comments with violent fantasies is not helping. It doesn't help the people who read it and it doesn't help the people who post it.

To be clear, I'm not saying this because I don't have these terrible thoughts. I'm saying it because I do. And I do not intend anything I say in this comment to contribute to any kind of tone-policing for POC. I am not in the business of doing that whatsoever. I just desire, in general, for things to be less murdery out.

I just heard somebody way down on the street below yell "Fuck you!" About what, I will never know. Maybe he should have. Maybe he shouldn't. It's such a beautiful day.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:13 PM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's necessarily the mods' job to police people who are merely wrong, unless they're being wrong in a way that is causing a problem. I've made my share of asinine comments and I'm glad to have been shown the error of my ways by my fellow mefites rather than just having those comments whisked away. And sometimes I learn a lot just by watching people push back against something that I had initially read as fairly innocent. Disagreement among mefites, even vehement disagreement, should be OK. What is not OK are the kinds of attacks and invocations of violence that this MeTa is actually about.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:30 PM on April 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


In parallel with a policy of anti-violence (in our speech hereupon), I think we should also enact a (additional) policy of pro-loveliness.

For: our abjuration of violent language would leave, in a sense, no visible trace; but a visible emphasis on loveliness would surely tickle every true heart, and inspire a competition to be loveliness’ champion!

I thus propose a weekly vote for “loveliest comment of the week”, and a weekly award ceremony on MetaTalk, hosted by the lovely mods.

Nominations for such prize may be advanced by the general MeFi public, and the weekly winner (as sorted by, perhaps, favourites or fantastic tags) to be awarded a suitably lovely emoticon in a post-nominal position for the following week (only).

posted by the quidnunc kid 💖
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2018 [46 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, I agree entirely.
posted by smoke at 3:30 PM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I agree - I've also noticed some comments about doing violence to others, or having them subjected to violence, and I haven't found it illuminating or helpful. And when I wish violence upon others, it doesn't really help me. I'm on board with the proposal.
posted by bunderful at 4:26 PM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


We're all adults here (even the youngest if they're reading mifi) so I for one am not concerned with delicate sensibilities but as bunderful points out it shows a lack of clarity of message, just like a comment of the form " that fucking fucker fuck fuck" is perhaps cathartic to type out but essentially meaningless, type it but then self EDIT your comment to actually make a clear statement.

Unless a post about magicians, then a discussion of guillotine is quite apropos.
posted by sammyo at 4:37 PM on April 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Guillotines are fucking awesome.
posted by Artw at 5:41 PM on April 20, 2018 [19 favorites]


If for no other reason, the guillotine "joke" has been done to death. Same with references to "oh summer child", "The. Best. People.", and a dozen or so other thread clichés that are wincingly used to excess.

I know the constant News Firehose of Orange Shite makes it hard to know how to react, much less do anything meaningful, yet we are a whole bunch of smart people that can write with more imagination than that.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:03 PM on April 20, 2018 [15 favorites]


I'm not
posted by h00py at 6:16 PM on April 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


These types of comments and the negativity in general are what have driven me mostly away from politics and twitter. It's cool that it's a release mechanism for some and I understand that need to let loose and rage against the dying of the light. But for me it's just so many microaggressions built up and it overwhelms my fragile brain. I'm all for people finding a healthy balance, so I'm glad that the mods can do their thing to keep it from getting out of hand.
posted by Fizz at 6:18 PM on April 20, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm not

I BELIEVE IN YOU!!! <3
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:26 PM on April 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


I really appreciate this post and co-sign as a frequent reader and infrequent poster to the megathreads.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:02 PM on April 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


as a reminder, remember that nazism and similar far right beliefs are inherently violent to the point of wishing whole categories of people that many mefites are part of would be eradicated from the face of the earth, and as such nobody who is upset and angry about those beliefs or towards those who hold them is throwing the first punch (as it were)
posted by flatluigi at 8:18 PM on April 20, 2018 [27 favorites]


Guillotines are fucking awesome.
posted by Artw


I approve this message.
posted by Madame Defarge at 8:20 PM on April 20, 2018 [36 favorites]


I think everyone who belongs to a group nazis/rightwingers have historically targeted (like I am) is plenty aware of who threw the first punch. I don't have my head in the sand. I see what's happening. And I still avoid threads with violent language, because it drains me. Whenever I express myself that way, I end up feeling like I've wounded myself rather than any "enemy."
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 8:41 PM on April 20, 2018 [24 favorites]


I am here every day and get so much great information, inspiration and fun out of the content posted. That being said, I stopped commenting a long time ago because I see too much fighty goings-on between us.
posted by sundrop at 8:41 PM on April 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm not joking when I talk about guillotines. Appeasement got us here, it won't get us out.
posted by rodlymight at 8:50 PM on April 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm not joking when I talk about guillotines.

What does this even mean!? Like, unless you literally have a guillotine, this is just lefty internet tough guy talk.
posted by FJT at 10:49 PM on April 20, 2018 [30 favorites]


Guillotines- sure, revolutionary France. But Reign of Terror also happened.

Even though Guillotines are supposed to be swift, painless, - still makes you dead.

I agree with the above- less murdery, please. Even with admittedly interesting slicing technologies.
posted by freethefeet at 11:45 PM on April 20, 2018 [4 favorites]


some of my earliest memories involve guillotines
posted by philip-random at 12:30 AM on April 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


You might not be joking when you talk about guillotines, rodlymight, but you're also causing a lot of people who read what you're saying to imagine people killing other people.

You need to think about whether the value to you in saying this (either as venting, or as a step towards galvanizing people to take more concrete physical actions towards deposing the regime) outweighs the harm it causes other people.

Spoiler: it's nearly always a huge net harm, and a selfish act.
posted by ambrosen at 12:45 AM on April 21, 2018 [16 favorites]


I appreciate BuddhaInABucket posting this. It lets me know, at least, that I’m not alone in being troubled by the fantasies of violence. That’s the primary place I part ways with my liberal pals. I’m deeply committed to an ethic of peace, and convinced that’s the only way to make the world what it ought to be. Before Trump, I had blithely assumed that my liberal pals, who seemed to appreciate people like Martin Luther King and Mister Rogers as much as I did, had surely been influenced by their radical stands on nonviolence. I have since learned that I was wrong, and that the peaceful resistance branch of the liberal project is much smaller than I imagined. It might be nearly exclusive to the religious left. It’s definitely been made clear to me in several conversations that if I’m not on board the Nazi-punching train, there’s no room for me among the lefties of this historic moment. I’m glad I won’t be the only one left standing at the station.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:23 AM on April 21, 2018 [37 favorites]


> I have since learned that I was wrong, and that the peaceful resistance branch of the liberal project is much smaller than I imagined. It might be nearly exclusive to the religious left. It’s definitely been made clear to me in several conversations that if I’m not on board the Nazi-punching train, there’s no room for me among the lefties of this historic moment.

You've been having conversations with the wrong people. There are plenty of nonreligious lefties who are also against violence—pretty much everyone I know, in fact. Take heart and keep pushing back against the cheap, facile, destructive idea that since the bad guys use violence to achieve their aims, we get to do it too, and it's OK because we're good.
posted by languagehat at 6:18 AM on April 21, 2018 [21 favorites]


I’ll be honest and say I’m not bothered by the violent fantasies, but I am super bothered by another thing that cichlid ceilidh pointed out — namely, stuff like calling FPPs “crap” or even just general derision toward an FPP, like saying it seems pointless, or saying you think the comic strip it’s about sucks, or calling the video annoying, or what have you. I’m often a bit salty online myself, and even I wince when people make remarks like that.

I don’t know about anyone else, but there are one or two FPPs about frivolous topics that I’ve wanted to make recently, but I don’t bother because right now I’d be really upset if I did and people stopped by to tell me what a waste it was. I’m not saying that my FPPs are a great loss, and I get that the remarks are aimed at the FPP itself and not the person who posted it, but jeez, people. If you don’t like the the topic of the FPP, is it really so hard to just scroll on by and skip the snide remarks about how dumb you think it is?
posted by holborne at 7:08 AM on April 21, 2018 [31 favorites]


I feel this way about a lot of the site, even FanFare and AskMe. People DO seem salty and I don't think its necessary. It's backed down my participation for sure.
posted by agregoli at 7:56 AM on April 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


[One deleted; let's not deliberately introduce gross/violent images into this post where people are talking about how that kind of thing sucks for them?]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:07 AM on April 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'd really like to see the community push back against violent rhetoric and dehumanizing rhetoric in general.

Language like this doesn't just make threads exhausting to read, it also signals to me that there's not much to be gained from reading them, because I know that many users with good perspective are going to nope out of the discussion once it goes there, and that a discussion is far worse off without those people around to keep it honest.
posted by alphanerd at 8:20 AM on April 21, 2018 [19 favorites]


Can Mefites stop adding their pet peeves to this very focused MeTa? This is a MeTa about violent imagery in comments, it's not just an excuse to list any type of comment that you dislike. A thread about how violent imagery is troublesome at Metafilter gets easier to dismiss when people just see it as an open discussion on any sort of comment that at least one person doesn't like.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:32 AM on April 21, 2018 [13 favorites]


Not really, actually, no.
posted by holborne at 9:08 AM on April 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I occasionally break out the "pitchfork mob" and "guillotine" images, but I'm coming from the historical view. I don't want to see anyone guillotined, but I've been doing a lot of reading about Early Modern through current history (mostly in Europe and the West, but not always), and it's pretty clear that economic and social inequality breed revolution and revolutions breed bloody reprisals, and, all over the globe, we are increasing inequality and massively increasing the number of desperate people. I am not advocating violent revolution; I am pretty well-placed to be a victim of it whatever I do, but I'm not sure our current elites are going to win their gamble that they will be dead of natural causes before their bill comes due.

But if people are generally upset by talk of guillotines, I will refrain. Since I doubt these elites read MetaFilter, the lesson is probably lost anyway.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:22 AM on April 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


Not really, actually, no.

That's definitely an opinion, but now I'm less likely to take the original point of the MeTa seriously.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:30 AM on April 21, 2018


As for images, as much as I appreciate the posters efforts, does it not just seem equally cruel to, take a beat now...

Stuff A Buddha into bucket?

(rimshot sound effect)
posted by sammyo at 9:32 AM on April 21, 2018


I'd really like to see the community push back against violent rhetoric and dehumanizing rhetoric in general.

I thought this was the direction the community was going (this is the second recent MeTa we've had about this sort of thing) but when I recently attempted to engage in that kind of pushback, I was told that I was tone-policing PoC. (I was not even aware that the person I was addressing was PoC.) So there seems to be some tension here, where two of our supposed ideals—not dehumanizing people, and allowing marginalized people to express their anger—are sometimes in opposition. I am genuinely unsure how to navigate that. I am on board with both of those concepts, but I don't know how I'm supposed to act around this issue. My solution in that case was just to leave the thread.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:55 AM on April 21, 2018 [19 favorites]


That's definitely an opinion, but now I'm less likely to take the original point of the MeTa seriously.

That’s up to you, of course.
posted by holborne at 10:12 AM on April 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


When people went after Ann Coulter, who I despise above all others -- save George Noory, Jerome Corsi and guess who else, yes, him -- with the most evil rapey and violent comments, I spoke up. I save my vitriol to wishing them to rot in Hell.
posted by y2karl at 10:32 AM on April 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


there are one or two FPPs about frivolous topics that I’ve wanted to make recently, but I don’t bother

Have you seen the crap I put up? Go ahead, man, we can commiserate.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:46 AM on April 21, 2018 [21 favorites]


Well, in my case it was actually an obituary thread. (OK, why be coy? It was the Barbara Bush thread.) And the language I was pushing back against wasn't so much "I hope she rots in Hell," (although there was some of that, and if you think for a moment that's pretty much the ultimate violent fantasy) but more like "Barbara Bush was a piece of shit, Barbara Bush was garbage." And I can understand why someone would dislike Barbara Bush. I think her legacy is complex myself, but I get why some people consider it more flatly negative and I'm not trying to re-litigate that. But there definitely was a sentiment that I shouldn't be telling people not to say things like that, and that I was particularly in the wrong because the person I was telling it to was a person of color.

That actually would have informed my writing if I had known it was the case—I might have kept my thoughts to myself rather than pushing back verbally—but it still felt like one community ideal was running up against another one, and at that point I just didn't know how to proceed. I still don't.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 10:51 AM on April 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


How to proceed? You might want to take a look at someone's user history and see if they are interested in discussion, or if they are a troll who likes dishing out abuse and then complaining about racism when their death threats are deleted.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:59 AM on April 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well even if that were the case in this instance (and I prefer to assume good faith about fellow mefites, even ones whose comments often rub me the wrong way) it wasn't just this one person who was telling me that I was in the wrong. I'm not even trying to defend myself really, I'm quite open to the idea that I was out of line. I'm more trying to get a sense of where that line is.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:02 AM on April 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


In my head, this is the Ghandi vs. Fanon debate.
posted by aniola at 11:13 AM on April 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


That Barbara Bush thread was ugly and unsettling. I had to leave it.
posted by mochapickle at 11:15 AM on April 21, 2018 [16 favorites]


Me too. I wasn’t sure that one should even stay up. Mrs. Bush was neither a force for good in the world, nor a great malefactor whose passing had to be discussed, nor a figure of flair and interest. Sometimes, nil nisi bonum should mean just that — nil.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:23 AM on April 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


[Couple deleted. See my earlier comment, you can totally make your point without doing the very thing people are asking folks not to do.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would like to see less violent talk and less jumping down throats. You would expect talk like that in a place like Reddit, not the Island of Misfit Toys.
posted by pracowity at 12:21 PM on April 21, 2018 [9 favorites]



Well even if that were the case in this instance (and I prefer to assume good faith about fellow mefites, even ones whose comments often rub me the wrong way)


you are in the minority here, but bless you anyways. I was also disgusted by the
Barbara Bush thread, but that's not unusual for me either.
posted by some loser at 2:14 PM on April 21, 2018


Ditto
posted by y2karl at 4:55 PM on April 21, 2018


Posting in agreement with those who were upset by the Barbara Bush thread. Not Metafilter’s finest moment.
posted by kimberussell at 6:09 PM on April 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


I would like for there to be a firm line drawn between dissuading violent rhetoric and tone policing, a lot of which essentially seems to get conflated. (Relatedly, I bet you'd find very different reasons for why people found, say, the Barbara Bush thread upsetting).
posted by TwoStride at 6:17 PM on April 21, 2018 [10 favorites]


I think the focus of the mods tends to be on keeping threads from spiralling out of control, which makes sense. I wouldn't mind seeing more attention given to keeping MeFites from attacking each other directly (including when I do it, yes), but (a) the mods only have so much time on their hands and (b) most MeFites seem to be okay with it anyway.
posted by uosuaq at 7:03 PM on April 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


And the language I was pushing back against wasn't so much "I hope she rots in Hell," (although there was some of that, and if you think for a moment that's pretty much the ultimate violent fantasy)...

Ultimate violent fantasy ? It's an expression.
And who among us here believes in Hell ? The atheists here ? The agnostics here ? Or the vast silent majority of Bible thumping fundamentalists ? C'mon. Get real.

I would never say it of Barbara Bush but of the examples I cited above, no problemo.

And if I believed in a God, it would be the Alien God of the Gnostics -- the one who Loves us. Unconditionally. Not the angry cruel Demiurge of the Old Testament.

And if He created the 13 billion light year old universe, you think we matter more than all the bacteria All Across the Universe to either Him or She, the Alien God of the Gnostic gospels or New Testament ? I rather doubt it.

For me, there is an aspect of the Divine to the existence we all share, that maybe is the God we all share, the light within to which we are blind, cloud hidden, whereabouts unknown -- not some tinpot Yahweh.

But the Devil or Hell ? We, the talking apes, invented all the evil in the world through the mortal sins of our laziness, selfishness and willful ignorance. No Devil Need Apply.

So, don't make stupid shit up, m' kay ? Mortals, as the great Epicharmus of Syracuse once said, should think mortal thoughts and not immortal ones. Dial down the rhetoric, dude, and don't be silly.
posted by y2karl at 1:57 AM on April 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I wonder whether a relevant problem is the assumption that one's own philosophical or moral code is the only one that really matters and that all others, especially the ones that impinge upon one, are there to be dismissed or mocked.
posted by Grangousier at 2:01 AM on April 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


I admit, I don't like the hostility I've seen in a lot of threads lately, the ones that are personal attacks towards other members. It doesn't make me feel welcome or safe.
posted by daybeforetheday at 2:03 AM on April 22, 2018 [9 favorites]


I don't consider myself a Bible-thumping fundamentalist, but I am a theist and regardless I dislike it when people express the desire for others to rot in hell. What it means is a desire that the other person suffer, and in some final and unchangeable way--even as a metaphor, setting aside any religious implications, it's quite ugly and I would prefer not to see it.

That doesn't matter a lot--people are perfectly free to vent in ways that don't suit my preferences and the reasons they have for venting in those terms may easily outweigh any respect they have for my preferences--but I don't think it's moronic or contemptible to have the preference itself.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:21 AM on April 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


My Hippocratic Oath starts, First, Do no telling other people what to do or say. We are all human here, for what it is worth. And entitled to our own opinions. But, 13 billion year old Universe ? How could any God hear our prayers above all others ? What makes us so special ? Such is my opinion. YMMV.
posted by y2karl at 2:30 AM on April 22, 2018


That said, I think it shitty for people to say that of Barbara Bush. Because of who she married ?

Jerome Corsi, for example, is another story.
posted by y2karl at 2:39 AM on April 22, 2018


I specifically said that I was not trying to push back against the "rot in Hell" stuff. While I would personally love it if folks would think twice before wishing an eternity of ultimate torture on someone, I don't intend to die on that hill. I would also love to not re-ignite the "Barbara Bush: terrible person or what?" debate in this thread, as it seems like a pretty huge derail. The obit thread itself is still open.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:07 AM on April 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Barbara Bush has said fairly reprehensible things completely separate from her status as the mother and wife of two of our worst presidents, for the record.

I would like to count as a vote against being required to only say nice and pretty things about people that are subjects of Mefi threads, majorly because the sentiment tends to come up in regards to people generally held in low regard as a result of their beliefs and actions. I haven't been as active recently on Metafilter as I used to be, but I do remember at least one reoccurrence of "please be nice about obit thread subjects" arising in response to the death of a notorious homophobe and advocate of conversion 'therapy' + it's always soured me on the topic.

I obviously don't think anyone should be required to weigh in on how much they disliked someone, but (as aptly put by Anya Parampil) generally agree that '"don't speak ill of the dead" applies to your aunt who died and had a drinking problem, not the powerful elites whose decisions ruined people's lives'
posted by flatluigi at 3:21 AM on April 22, 2018 [21 favorites]


It's totally possible and in fact very easy to say you dislike someone without saying that they were garbage. "This person was a bad person who did terrible things" is one thing, but "this person was garbage" is another, and "this person should have been torn apart by an angry mob long ago" is yet another again. Only the second two statements seem relevant to this MeTa. We've had lots of "Can we say negative things in obit threads?" MeTas before, and I did not mean to go back to that old ground. This is why I was a little hesitant at first to even mention that my example came from an obit thread.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:28 AM on April 22, 2018 [12 favorites]


I would also like to see less violent rhetoric and overt "I want to see this person suffer" language on the site. Even if it's purely hyperbolic, it makes me feel unwelcome and uneasy on MetaFilter. What upsets me the most is that increasingly I see this language being directed not just at the neo-nazis and the like, but also at people who maybe aren't very nice, but aren't actually terrible. A guy doesn't do enough housework and it's okay to wish him harm. Someone writes an ill advised essay and they're a monster. And so on. It gives the site as a whole a tinge of callousness and it leaves me feeling anxious. I listen to people talking like that and wonder how quickly they would turn the blowtorch on me if I said the wrong thing or if I were seen to be the wrong kind of person. Honestly, I've had enough people wanting to hurt me for one lifetime, and I feel uncomfortable when I see people here talking like the people that hurt me. If we become the kind of site where it's okay to wish harm on people even for modest transgressions I don't want to be here.
posted by saltbush and olive at 3:53 AM on April 22, 2018 [44 favorites]


I have since learned that I was wrong, and that the peaceful resistance branch of the liberal project is much smaller than I imagined

I’m not a pacifist, but I’d like to believe that I’m smart and ethical enough to realize that even a proportionate use of force is a last resort. My objection to general rhetorical belligerence is that it’s usually just dull and embarrassing and rarely accomplishes anything. Or is even interesting to read. Oh you can spell “guillotines”? Oh well done you!
posted by octobersurprise at 4:03 AM on April 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


I didn't link to comments (or include whole ones), because I didn't want to make a referendum on users and I certainly don't find it on the same level as wishing violence. Often users are rightfully irked.

In your defense, it's hard to see the overall context in this instance because it was part of a deleted series of comments. The only evidence of their existence was a mod note that read:
[Several comments deleted; folks if you're not Jewish I'm gonna suggest that you not make jokes with Jewish terms that are new to you in here, and aaaaaalso that you not pitch in here about why people shouldn't get upset about antisemitism. corb please skip this thread.]


I do agree with you that we should be looking for good faith from mefites' words. I would very much like people to try to be kinder to each other here. In the past, I've tried to be the voice of "can we please take what mefites are saying in good faith?" in Metatalk. For years, in fact. I think we should try hard to be nice and kind to each other. And I am the first to admit that I fall down on this from time to time. I do try though, and will try harder.

But to be perfectly honest, I am utterly out of patience on certain topics and no longer believe that giving infinite benefits of the doubt is appropriate, when (for example) someone says we should speak nicely of a dead pedophile, that we should question victims' accounts of their abuse or that we shouldn't get upset about or push back against antisemitism, transphobia, abuse or sexism. Those things deserve to be pushed back against. And yes, all have happened in threads here over the years.

Maybe I shouldn't have quoted anyone, but rather made it a general comment. The specifics weren't the point.

The thing is, the specifics kinda matter. I'm sure you would agree that members of a minority group should be able to speak
openly and negatively about someone or something that may have affected them personally. Or who had enabled / encouraged injustices against them. We should not be asking them to silence themselves. Sometimes criticizing the topic of an FPP is how that happens. Or pushing back in a thread.

This is a different thing than asking people not to use violent imagery.

I just would hope MeFites could take into account the relatively low stakes of a comment thread.

Keeping things in perspective is important. But if someone is (as an example) saying racial slurs in a thread, should we assume it's no big deal and ignore it? I'm not setting up a strawman here. This has happened before. There are times when a strong response is appropriate. And I tend to think that publicly taking a stand in such situations is good allyship.

Someone often went through care to craft the FPP (or at the very least share something they found worthy of consideration). It's fine to disagree with something shared, but we should be able to do so without making people regret having made the post in the first place.

Completely agree with you here.
posted by zarq at 5:11 AM on April 22, 2018 [10 favorites]


> I listen to people talking like that and wonder how quickly they would turn the blowtorch on me if I said the wrong thing or if I were seen to be the wrong kind of person.

This is one reason I comment a lot less on MeFi these days; I understand that people are very upset with the current political situation and I'm not going to ask them to treat MeFi as if it were high tea with the bishop, but the general frustration and anger spills out into being ready to attack anyone for saying something they disagree with, and I have no desire to be the object of their wrath. I wish people would make more of an effort to distinguish MeFi from a random public square—yes, there are people with unfortunate views here, but you're a lot less likely to encounter virulent racists, sexists, etc., and it would make sense not to leap to the most uncharitable possible reading of comments—but it is what it is (as they say). Maybe if the next elections go well and things start looking up, the climate on the Blue will improve as well.
posted by languagehat at 7:10 AM on April 22, 2018 [32 favorites]


I don't think this thread was about only saying nice things. There's quite a gap between not saying "Hope they rot in hell" and only saying nice things. It's very possible to say things about people that aren't at all nice and also are not violent.

A statement of fact, like: "Their regime killed an estimated 1.5 to 3 million people" or "Their decisions led to decades-long famine" or "My relative lost a leg in the conflict they started" or "They loved the literary works of Dan Brown" is far more damning and adds more to the conversation than "He was a monster and I hope he rots in hell."

That last statement is more about the feelings of the writer than the person in question. I think don't see the opposite quite as much - a statement of positive feelings with no background. And a whole thread of that wouldn't be terribly interesting either. "Totally loved them" is fine and not negative but mostly people go through the effort to explain why. "Totally loved them, they walked 6 miles in the rain to play a concert for an orphanage."

And yet another thing is that every single person I know is complicated. I am complicated. I have done some very stupid, unkind things and if I had more money and more power I'm sure I would make more mistakes that had broader impact and cost lives. I also do some pretty decent things, and I try hard to keep aiming in that direction - do decent things. I would hate to be reduced, at the end of my life, to my worst moments. To acknowledge them is important but I want to be seen as a whole person - some good, some bad - because that's what's actually true, I'm human, complicated and neither a saint nor a monster. Therefore I will attempt to extend the same to others.
posted by bunderful at 7:30 AM on April 22, 2018 [24 favorites]


While I would personally love it if folks would think twice before wishing an eternity of ultimate torture on someone, I don't intend to die on that hill.

I think the reason the “rot in hell” stuff comes up is because this stuff is actually really hard to define. Is wishing someone an eternity of torment violence? If not why not? Are we pushing back against all violent wishes or just violent threats, or wishes that are actionable by humans? What about general “eat the rich” comments, or talk about how a revolution will come and harm the people involved? Pushing back against all violent rhetoric, or just that directed at individuals or classes? Definitions matter when we are trying to negotiate that line between “no violent talk” and allowing people to express emotions about this insane situation.
posted by corb at 7:35 AM on April 22, 2018


Is wishing someone an eternity of torment violence?

We used to have a policy against wishing people would die in a fire (or in any other manner). I don't know if wishing people would cook eternally in a fire has been explicitly ruled out, but it seems like a good idea.
posted by pracowity at 8:59 AM on April 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


> zarq:
"The thing is, the specifics kinda matter."

What I meant by "specifics" here was that I included several examples of the sort of language I was referring to. Not that context didn't matter in appraising someone's response. I didn't want people to think that I objected to disagreement or stating offense or asserting that someone had done ill in their life. But I might have been able to make the same point without quoting. Those examples were there merely for illustration of what I saw as a wider trend. I did not intend to specifically focus on them.

"The only evidence of their existence was a mod note"

One thing I've been doing more lately is flagging. The mods here are quite good at gardening so that the artifact that remains at the end of a post's month-long comment period is worth preserving. I have messaged mods privately about things that troubled me when I didn't think flagging was sufficient.

My mindset is that if there is something so egregious, trollish, or bad faith that it tests my ability to respond calmly, it is something that the mods usually also see as such. Otherwise I should be able to stand my ground without replying in such a way that mods might also censure me. Racial slurs are something mods do not hesitate to remove.

"This is a different thing than asking people not to use violent imagery."

I should emphasize that what I was referring to in my original post is not something I see as equivalent to violent imagery. That's why it started out hesitantly. I saw in BuddhaInABucket's post a more general issue of how the way we communicate can negatively affect the experience of many on this site and deter participation from users we all probably want here. I don't know if it's worsened, but I am more aware of it. That's the only connection I wanted to make.

In some ways this *is* related to tone rather than content. I'm not going to tell someone how they should feel and I don't want to police others' expression. And yet I do want everyone to be mindful that MetaFilter is a community, just like a family or a workplace or a neighborhood. That, prima facie, it belongs to all of us equally. And that there are ways to voice dissent, hurt, and discontent that promote the community's long term health (which may require some self-moderation) and ways (however legitimate and understandable) that do collateral damage.

---

Other than an effort to assume good faith, I have a few other general principles I try to have inform my engagement on MetaFilter.

> The first is that this is a community.

It says so on the tin.

> The second is that the mods are our collective allies.

I have found this especially true in cases where I am that "member of a minority group."

> The third is to preferentially address the idea and not the user.

All the examples I initially quoted included "you." That was on purpose. In my experience this is rarely productive. Instead of shutting someone down, it either furthers or foments conflict. It also dominates the post while excluding every other interested user. MetaFilter isn't threaded, so everything carries downstream. I, and it seems like quite a few others here, don't want to engage in posts when we see that happening.

> The fourth is that (on the Blue) the FPP is the point.

MetaFilter is set up like a blog with a comment section. It is not Reddit. The comments here can be gold, but they're best when they reflect an effort to engage with the content of the FPP. Otherwise they effectively become their own FPP growing invasively within, deeply tied up in a commenter's identity and primed to implode. I try to orient myself away from making such comments (though I can be guilty) and from engaging with them (if I can't do so without getting embroiled in 'you's). "Yes and" means symbiosis.

> The fifth is that there is time.

FPPs are open for a month for comment. I can flag things that require immediate attention. Otherwise there is time to read whatever was linked in the post. I can breathe before deciding I have something to add and to respond to the post and to any other commenters calmly. The goal of the comment section is not to reach consensus. That's illusory. Most MeFites won't read your comment. Most people aren't MeFites.

I recognize that this is a bit of a collective action problem. We want to participate in a post when we know others will see what we've written. Before it has slid off the front page. But maybe if we can appreciate the other principles, this too will be easier to rally around.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 9:22 AM on April 22, 2018 [10 favorites]


"Just because you're righteously angry doesn't mean your anger is nailing the right target."

A therapist friend dropped this line a few weeks ago when I asked her how her work was of late. I guess she's been dealing with a lot of very angry people these days.

Anyway, it's stuck with me and I try to remember it whenever I feel the "red mist" arising (also, if I feel I'm unfairly on the receiving end of somebody else's).
posted by philip-random at 10:11 AM on April 22, 2018 [21 favorites]


I’m noticing the “rot in hell” rhetoric usually comes with a generous helping of “if I believed in one, which I don’t.” Why bring it up then? Why not approach from an angle you do find valuable? If someone else has a belief system you consider unsound or irrational or silly, write in the context of your own.

Alongside the internet-tough-guy whom-would-you-punch stuff, and the “I only use (slur) against (members of marginalized demographic) who DESERVE it” angle, there’s been a lot of ideological posturing going on; as others mentioned, it’s crowding out actual dialogue. No one is demanding hagiographies of the newly dead, just a little bit of critical thought and self-editing, as if you were in a conversation rather than a broadcast.

On which note: back when shock comedy/shock-jock radio peaked, I remember thinking “it’s not even shocking at all if everyone and their grandma is doing it. It’s just icky and trite.” And I would rather not be desensitized like that, but all I can control is my own media diet. That said, if I wanted the rhetoric of Reddit or Tumblr in my diet, I’d already be there. I’m glad someone is pushing back on it here.
posted by armeowda at 2:26 PM on April 22, 2018 [15 favorites]


counterpoint: neo-nazis are monsters
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:07 PM on April 22, 2018 [6 favorites]


also it's extremely funny for some of the most verbally aggressive people on this site to be arguing for a ban on rhetoric that bothers them

and/or for the right to tsk tsk people who use it in a given thread (you know very well that you're supposed to flag it and move on)

and while we're at it: "monster" is not a slur, it's nowhere near a racial slur, don't conflate them. And anger is not violence.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:09 PM on April 22, 2018 [12 favorites]


No, neo-nazis are people. Bad people are still people.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:10 PM on April 22, 2018 [10 favorites]


No, neo-nazis are people. Bad people are still people.

Ah, so if you think that neo-nazis need to have their heads surgically removed from their asses we're all supposed to understand metaphor. But when you personally want to feel smug, metaphor is beyond your ken. I really don't think so.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:12 PM on April 22, 2018 [12 favorites]


One of these rhetorical devices has been used by our opponents to justify genocide, the other is a bit of humorous absurdity. Can you tell which is which?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:27 PM on April 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Not only can I do that, I also can tell you that I’m not losing a lot of sleep over the dehumanizing of the people who embrace the dehumanizing in order to actually commit the genocide. I’m not so big on the dehumanizing but this seems to me like the allowed exception to Godwin’s law: when they are in fact actual nazis.
posted by phearlez at 7:34 PM on April 22, 2018 [9 favorites]


> I’m noticing the “rot in hell” rhetoric usually comes with a generous helping of “if I believed in one, which I don’t.” Why bring it up then?

As a data point of one, I've used this expression in reference to people who have professed in their lives to be God-fearing Christians and who have generally made it pretty clear that they believe I and people like me will end up in Hell unless we mend our wicked, wicked ways. Since these people always seem to have lived far more mean-spirited and sin-filled lives than me and mine seem to, I guess I'm just expressing that I hope they get what they say they believed in.
posted by rtha at 8:11 PM on April 22, 2018 [11 favorites]


And anger is not violence.

no, but it's a leading cause.
posted by philip-random at 9:00 PM on April 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Along those lines, I recently heard that a leading cause of murder is righteous indignation. (Source: UU minister/chaplain telling a story on a Moth podcast).
posted by bunderful at 10:02 PM on April 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Any sort of Nazi, neo- or otherwise, does not deserve a single shred of respect from anyone for what they choose to believe and act on. This should not be an arguable point. They are monstrous, garbage people who have chosen to live in a monstrous, garbage way. It's a fact.

It takes a very skewed perspective to justify spending time and effort to shield Nazis from such minor insults and it's exactly the reason I posted my reminder earlier in the thread.
posted by flatluigi at 11:04 PM on April 22, 2018 [12 favorites]


I’m not so big on the dehumanizing but this seems to me like the allowed exception to Godwin’s law: when they are in fact actual nazis.

So far as I understand it, nobody did dehumanize the actual Nazis. Those who were arrested were given fair trials, like human beings, and held responsible for what they had actually done (like human beings). They had lawyers and opportunities to speak in their own defence and their trials were real trials, about facts and who was morally responsible for those facts, not just opportunities to scream in their faces. Nothing that was done to them remotely resembled the dehumanizing practices of a Nazi trial, when Nazis bothered to hold trials at all.

I think that’s a good thing, and a major difference between liberalism and its opponents; liberalism insists that no one is ever entitled to, or obliged to, give up the rights and responsibilities that come with being a human being. I don’t think calling people monsters really does dehumanize them in any very serious way—it is just rhetoric—but it’s not a good idea to suggest that actual dehumanization, of the kind of practised by our opponents, is morally acceptable even for them.
posted by Aravis76 at 11:13 PM on April 22, 2018 [18 favorites]


I’ve been watching Terrace House on Netflix lately (please bear with me) and one thing that has struck me is how when there’s a problem the six young people of the house often explicitly attempt to restore harmony.

This being reality TV I am not able to comment on whether this is a genuine value, performative, or anything else. But it has made me wonder how different some of my community/workplace/political experiences would have been if harmony had been a value alongside (not replacing) other values.

I have seen decent online communities come down due to a gradual shift in mores towards hyperbole and criticism. Looking back at old posts I’m not sure that’s the trend here taken over the long haul. But I do personally find the language of capital punishment/genocide/violent revolution uncomfortable and it does make me back away. I question whether “venting” or a sense that the Nazi don’t pull punches, neither should we, should be of higher value than community management.

So thanks for raising this issue around harmony.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:27 AM on April 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


We can still wish for people to rot in prison, right?
posted by Jacqueline at 5:48 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


> They are monstrous, garbage people who have chosen to live in a monstrous, garbage way. It's a fact.

No, it's a rhetorical gambit used by people who want to dehumanize other people. It is not some brave, lonely stand on principle you are taking; it is an easy, lazy emotional reaction that is the default for a lot of people. That's why human history is so full of murder: once you dehumanize someone, it's a lot easier to kill them. But by all means keep up your brave, lonely stand on principle!
posted by languagehat at 6:12 AM on April 23, 2018 [20 favorites]


Even for those of us not prone to killing others, I think using dehumanizing phrases like "monster" and "garbage" for people doing horrible things keeps us from addressing some root causes of any given societal problem. If only "monsters" are racist, then "good people" can't be racist and it becomes so much harder to talk about privilege, microaggressions, etc. Ditto for homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, antisemitism, etc. I'm not saying that racist microaggressions are the same thing as marching with swastikas and tiki torches, but there's a spectrum, and a way they work together to uphold a toxic kyriarchy, that gets harder to talk about when it becomes a binary "human/not-human" framework.

I'm pretty certain this article was linked on MeFi but I can't find the discussion. "My wife was murdered by a 'monster' – but most perpetrators of violence are normal men" by Tom Meagher:
I had formed an image that this man was not human – he existed as a singular force of pure evil who somehow emerged from the ether. But something about his ability to weave together nouns, verbs and pronouns to form intelligible sentences forced a re-focus – one that required a look at the spectrum of men’s violence against women, and its relation to Bayley and the society from which he came.

By insulating myself with the intellectually evasive dismissal of violent men as psychotic or sociopathic aberrations, I self-comforted by avoiding a more terrifying concept: that violent men are socialised by the ingrained sexism and entrenched masculinity that permeates everything, from our daily interactions all the way up to our highest institutions. Bayley’s appeal was dismissed, but I left court that day in a perpetual trauma-loop, knowing I needed to re-imagine the social, institutional and cultural context in which a man like Bayley exists.
posted by lazuli at 6:25 AM on April 23, 2018 [29 favorites]


Any sort of Nazi, neo- or otherwise, does not deserve a single shred of respect from anyone for what they choose to believe and act on. This should not be an arguable point.

Agreed! I am not sure anyone is actually arguing that the Nazi POV deserves respect?

However, the subject of this post is not "should we be forced to say nice things about Nazis or respect their worldview". It is "continual exposure to murderous fantasies about hurting Nazis (and other terrible people) is causing people here harm."

Here is a non-Nazi IRL example: I know someone who gets very upset about injustice, and when he rightfully perceives an injustice, he becomes very angry. His anger is righteous and comes from a good heart. However, the way that he deals with this anger is by repeatedly having outbursts and sometimes trembling with barely contained violence and sometimes slamming doors and sometimes storming out of rooms. He details explicit violent things that should be done to the bad people who have perpetrated injustices. I may agree with the source of his anger, and identify completely with his POV, but his reaction to that anger is still frightening and does me harm. I wish he could feel his righteous anger without doing and saying things that upset me and put me into a state of anxiety that might outlast our interaction by a significant amount, and simultaneously do not actually impact the target of his anger at all.

Saying "please stop using so much violent rhetoric within this shared space" is not a disagreement with the foundational anger, or even with the determination that sometimes violence is justified or necessary. It is nevertheless a request from people who are suddenly surrounded by violent rhetoric all the time, in almost every public space and online forum, who are pointing out that this rhetoric has a very real cost and does actual harm to the people in its periphery, rather than to the bad people who are ostensibly the targets of the ill-wishing.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:52 AM on April 23, 2018 [34 favorites]


I'd really like to see the community push back against violent rhetoric and dehumanizing rhetoric in general.

I thought this was the direction the community was going (this is the second recent MeTa we've had about this sort of thing)


This is not the second recent MeTa we've had about this thing. We had a recent MeTa where someone asked Mefites to consider not using the words "trash" and "garbage" to describe people because they have a history of being used against marginalized groups. This MeTa was about avoiding using violent language.

In both threads, people used very specific MeTas to axe-grind a personal issue, which is that Metafilter should push back against dehumanizing language in general. We're not even close to a consensus on dehumanizing language- not in terms of what dehumanizing language is, not in terms of what dehumanizing language does.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:54 AM on April 23, 2018


No, it's a rhetorical gambit used by people who want to dehumanize other people. It is not some brave, lonely stand on principle you are taking; it is an easy, lazy emotional reaction that is the default for a lot of people. That's why human history is so full of murder: once you dehumanize someone, it's a lot easier to kill them. But by all means keep up your brave, lonely stand on principle!

What a nasty way to talk to someone. And what a simplistic and self-serving history you’ve concocted.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:54 AM on April 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also, calling someone a monster is not a murderous fantasy. It’s not violent rhetoric. It’s not even, IMO, dehumanizing. It’s a way to refer to someone who is behaving monstrously.

(Lazuli’s point is well-taken. But determining whether using “monster” is a bad idea is a different conversation from one in which people imply that anyone who uses a common term is basically aiding and abetting genocide.)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:00 AM on April 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


I don’t think calling people monsters really does dehumanize them in any very serious way—it is just rhetoric—

I did read your whole comment, but this part really resonates. I feel that actual dehumanization of people is awful, but what most people here are complaining about is that people are using words like "monster", which I don't think is dehumanization in any meaningful sense of the word
posted by 23skidoo at 7:00 AM on April 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


It is nevertheless a request from people who are suddenly surrounded by violent rhetoric all the time, in almost every public space and online forum, who are pointing out that this rhetoric has a very real cost and does actual harm to the people in its periphery, rather than to the bad people who are ostensibly the targets of the ill-wishing.

This. When you tell me all about your violent Nazi killing fantasies over and over again you're not actually hurting any Nazis, but you are doing a fuckload of damage to my mental health and that of people like me. I don't understand why this is so hard for people to grasp. Do you not believe us when we say this language distresses us, or do you just not care?
posted by saltbush and olive at 7:04 AM on April 23, 2018 [24 favorites]


They are monstrous, garbage people who have chosen to live in a monstrous, garbage way. It's a fact.

You're not wrong, Walter. But the objection here—or my objection, at least—isn't over a statement of fact, it's that that fact by itself is pretty dull. I don't need to read a page full of nazi denunciations because I know how bad nazis are already. And I don't really need to read denunciations of awful people who aren't explicitly nazis, either, because arguments over just how awful are awful people get pretty tedious, too. So my objections aren't to the facts; I can grant you the facts. My objections are over the kind of facts I'd prefer to see on an internet forum where we're all just words and writing is the only instrument we have.

(I mean, I understand the use and appeal of tracking and discussing odious people. Among other things, it can provide a sense of control. But A) that sort of thing doesn't seem to scale well here and B) even that's something different from vague excoriations and exhortations.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:08 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


When you tell me all about your violent Nazi killing fantasies over and over again you're not actually hurting any Nazis, but you are doing a fuckload of damage to my mental health and that of people like me. I don't understand why this is so hard for people to grasp. Do you not believe us when we say this language distresses us, or do you just not care?

Yeah, and I didn't mean to shift the conversation away from the point about violent imagery. I think the defense of violent imagery tends to come from the same place as the defense of dehumanizing language -- "They're awful non-humans, so why shouldn't we wish violent things upon them?"
posted by lazuli at 7:09 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


People use insulting words because they want to cause insult. Is there any possible way to make insults less insulting? I mean, I hate it when people go for the nuclear option just because they're a bit pissed off but sometimes you just want to be nasty to someone because they're being a fucking dickhead so you're going to use the harsh words. Doesn't mean it's okay in all situations, time and place, degree is important.

You're not ever going to get everyone being nice about Barbara Bush, though. And sometimes a harsh phrase is just a metaphor. I don't really want to murder everyone that breathes, regardless of my protestations while driving to work in the morning.
posted by h00py at 7:13 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


I feel that actual dehumanization of people is awful, but what most people here are complaining about is that people are using words like "monster", which I don't think is dehumanization in any meaningful sense of the word

Yes, sorry, I didn’t mean to suggest at all that calling people monsters is morally equivalent to murdering them after a show trial or anything (or even calling for them to be so murdered). I just think whatever the ethical and social rules are for talking about people who behave monstrously badly—in terms of impact on others in the conversation and general standards in society—they apply to Nazis in the same way that they apply to serial killers and rapists etc. I just dislike and fear the move of saying that all moral norms are suspended when it comes to [fill in horrible type of person here], that’s all.
posted by Aravis76 at 7:19 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


We can still wish for people to rot in prison, right ?

Never. Prisons, ideally, are to protect us from people who would do us harm, not to degrade, humiliate and torture the people put there. Who we want to become better people. Instead they are used to oppress and confine the black and brown and poor.

I assume that was a trick question.
posted by y2karl at 7:38 AM on April 23, 2018 [14 favorites]


I don't understand why this is so hard for people to grasp. Do you not believe us when we say this language distresses us, or do you just not care?

I hear you on this. The issue is that there are a lot of different things being conflated. I’m not willing to give people permission to lump any kind of expression of anger with eg violent fantasies, call it all dehumanizing and imply that angry people are abetting genocide. I hope you can see why I, as a member of multiple groups that are typically disallowed from expressing anger, am not sympathetic to the broader arguments that are being forwarded on your behalf.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:40 AM on April 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


I just think whatever the ethical and social rules are for talking about people who behave monstrously badly—in terms of impact on others in the conversation and general standards in society—they apply to Nazis in the same way that they apply to serial killers and rapists etc.

I think part of the problem (like, a big part of the problem) is the Ongoing Political Thread, which puts stories about Nazis (and neo-nazis and white supremacists/nationalists and other violent racists) in front of people's eyeballs in a veryveryvery different way than stories about serial killers or rapists. Like, if we had an Ongoing Thread About Rape, I suspect that the same kind of violent comments (but about rapists) would naturally work their way into the conversations over time.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:45 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


If there is a Hell, it is here in this life, created by us. Wishing for someone to rot in the Biblical Hell is an expression we all have used but there is no such place. And we all here know it. The people here who I fear are the people who want to control others.
posted by y2karl at 7:46 AM on April 23, 2018


Also, I don’t actually think this language should be barred, but as long as we’re talking about dehumanization, the way people here talk about Russians and anyone who is seen as being on “their side” (including leftists generally) gives me the creeps. This country has a long history of oppressing and murdering leftists, socialists, communists, etc. as well as radical POCs, and basically zero history of doing the same to Nazis. Worth considering next time you are looking to history to decide who to tone-police.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:48 AM on April 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


And those who make personal attacks on others.

But, having been someone hated and attacked viciously for years by people I never met because of what I posted about the war in Iraq, I ended up just not caring about what they said. Which is far easier than trying to control other people's speech.
posted by y2karl at 7:54 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


the same kind of violent comments (but about rapists) would naturally work their way into the conversations over time.

Right, and I think many people here would object to the kind of language about rapists that includes very violent fantasies (eg the standard YouTube comment level expression of a graphic hope that they be raped in prison). I don’t see why we can’t distinguish the specific language of violence—expressions of a desire that a person be killed or raped or tortured or hurt in some other unpleasant way—from rhetoric that calls them names? Calling a rapist a monster is different from calling for them to be castrated or raped or whatever, and it’s reasonable to say that the second kind of comment is worse and should be avoided (whatever our personal views about the first) because it hurts people who have themselves been victimised by violence.
posted by Aravis76 at 7:56 AM on April 23, 2018


I ended up just not caring about what they said. Which is far easier than trying to control other people's speech.
posted by y2karl


Not everyone is capable of that.
posted by agregoli at 8:10 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Right, and I think many people here would object to the kind of language about rapists that includes very violent fantasies (eg the standard YouTube comment level expression of a graphic hope that they be raped in prison). I don’t see why we can’t distinguish the specific language of violence—expressions of a desire that a person be killed or raped or tortured or hurt in some other unpleasant way—from rhetoric that calls them names? Calling a rapist a monster is different from calling for them to be castrated or raped or whatever, and it’s reasonable to say that the second kind of comment is worse and should be avoided (whatever our personal views about the first) because it hurts people who have themselves been victimised by violence.

Oh, I agree with everything you just said, and with most things you've said in this thread.

My point wasn't to excuse violent language, but to postulate that the reason why we have a current uptick in violent language about [certain groups] but not [other groups] is [certain groups] are the ones that get discussed in the Ongoing Political Thread, which operates in very different ways than an Average Metafilter Thread.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:13 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


This country has a long history of oppressing and murdering leftists, socialists, communists, etc. as well as radical POCs, and basically zero history of doing the same to Nazis.

Except for that whole WWII thing. Do kids learn about that these days? I dunno.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:18 AM on April 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


Never. Prisons, ideally, are to protect us from people who would do us harm, not to degrade, humiliate and torture the people put there. Who we want to become better people. Instead they are used to oppress and confine the black and brown and poor.

So what fate should we be wishing upon Trump & Co.? That they be cuddled by piles of puppies until they see the error of their ways and repent?
posted by Jacqueline at 8:28 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


Wishing for someone to rot in the Biblical Hell is an expression we all have used but there is no such place. And we all here know it.

This (no one here believes in hell) is not true, and stating it like it is an obvious fact does not make it so.

Also, people saying "maybe some of you could control yourselves better when you are tempted to self-soothe by writing out graphic violent fantasies" is not the same thing as "trying to control other people".
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:28 AM on April 23, 2018 [14 favorites]


Not everyone is capable of that.

Not taking things personally can and should be learned. It would make all our lives far more easy. You never know what kind of day or life the eidolon typing on your screen has had.
posted by y2karl at 8:31 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


So what? Still doesn't mean everyone here can do it.
posted by agregoli at 8:35 AM on April 23, 2018


Source: UU minister/chaplain telling a story on a Moth podcast).

It's hard to imagine a source less reliable than this outside of Fox News.
posted by great_radio at 8:35 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


So what fate should we be wishing upon Trump & Co. ? That they be cuddled by piles of puppies until they see the error of their ways and repent ?

Wolverine kits. And their mothers. But they would be the exception that proves the rule.
posted by y2karl at 8:36 AM on April 23, 2018


And...I thought the point was, you don't have to type out any fate you wish on Trump & Co. here. It's not the place to do so.
posted by agregoli at 8:36 AM on April 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


So what? Still doesn't mean everyone here can do it.

They should at least try. Otherwise, they should not be here. Or online at all.
posted by y2karl at 8:39 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's not the place to do so ? I am afraid I disagree.
posted by y2karl at 8:40 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


They should at least try. Otherwise, they should not be here. Or online at all.

Ah, the rallying cry of men online. How convenient that the entire world must fit your worldview and preferred code of conduct in order to exist in shared online spaces and the online economy. How enlightened and rational. How unlike the tyranny you claim to despise.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:42 AM on April 23, 2018 [19 favorites]


If there is a Hell, it is here in this life, created by us. Wishing for someone to rot in the Biblical Hell is an expression we all have used but there is no such place. And we all here know it.

If I were designing a comment to stay within the rules of mefi etiquette and yet be as excluding and unwelcoming of people with genuine Christian belief, I don't think I could top this.
posted by Dysk at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2018 [17 favorites]


They should at least try. Otherwise, they should not be here. Or online at all.

Well, since many of the people who say they are upset by violent language still have a lot to contribute to the community, that seems like a sub-optimal solution. Is it really so difficult to compromise, and to agree that everyone gets to call Trump a monster but that cathartic fantasies about setting him on fire etc will be saved for private diaries? How low does your self-control have to be if it's easier to make other people vanish than it is to minimally adjust your choice of metaphors to make them comfortable?
posted by Aravis76 at 8:44 AM on April 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


> My Hippocratic Oath starts, First, Do no telling other people what to do or say.

> Not taking things personally can and should be learned. It would make all our lives far more easy.
posted by rtha at 8:46 AM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


[y2karl, you're coming on kinda strong in here and I'd like you to go do something else at this point.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


So what fate should we be wishing upon Trump & Co.?

I can only speak for myself here, but I find the more time I spend focused on what kind of punishment gets visited on the assholes of the world -- the more toxic my life gets.
posted by philip-random at 8:47 AM on April 23, 2018 [13 favorites]


Except for that whole WWII thing. Do kids learn about that these days? I dunno.

The US killed German Nazis in WWII because they were enemies in a war. The US kills US-citizen leftists and POC in the US because [comment left incomplete as an exercise for the reader]
posted by beerperson at 9:15 AM on April 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


> languagehat: "No, it's a rhetorical gambit used by people who want to dehumanize other people. It is not some brave, lonely stand on principle you are taking; it is an easy, lazy emotional reaction that is the default for a lot of people. That's why human history is so full of murder: once you dehumanize someone, it's a lot easier to kill them. But by all means keep up your brave, lonely stand on principle!"

You're not going to convince me that I'm wrong for the 'lazy and emotional' crime of thinking Nazis are bad people for what they've done, nor do I respect your choice to try to tie my insulting of Nazis to the disgusting, monstrous things they've done historically to people like me by trying to dump it all under the equivocating umbrella of "dehumanization." I thought better of you than this, languagehat.
posted by flatluigi at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


I didn't (and don't) see eye-to-eye with the comment a while ago that replies not hyper-focused on violent language delegitimized BuddhaInABucket's post. It stands on its own. But, man, this thread has become impossible to follow.

Maybe it's because I lack some context—I've stayed out of the politics megathreads, which move so fast that commenting there has always felt like I was shouting my despair into a hurricane, and I don't remember individual users' comment histories—but it sure feels like the thread has jumped the nazi shark.

The original post asked us to cool it with the violent imagery. I chimed in (perhaps unhelpfully) thinking that we could all stand to emphasize kindness in the way we talked to and about our fellow users. From what I have read here, it doesn't sound to me like anyone has called negative sentiments about certain actors unjustified.

nazis are bad! Everyone here is aware. My family had to flee Europe to escape them!

The question is the concrete utility of such expressions (independent of the target) in the context of MetaFilter and how their prevalence affects the wellbeing of the community and its members. Perhaps the problem is MeFites of various stripes see MetaFilter as a haven in different, legitimate, irreconcilable ways.

I don't know how to resolve that tension. Be kind.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 9:50 AM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I didn't (and don't) see eye-to-eye with the comment a while ago that replies not hyper-focused on violent language delegitimized BuddhaInABucket's post. It stands on its own. But, man, this thread has become impossible to follow.

That was my comment. To me, the people who left comments shifting the thread away from the original focus (violent imagery in comments) are what has made it impossible-to-follow, which in turn makes people less likely to take the original point of the MeTa seriously.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:08 AM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Very late to the conversation, but:

Take heart and keep pushing back against the cheap, facile, destructive idea that since the bad guys use violence to achieve their aims, we get to do it too, and it's OK because we're good.

I must respectfully disagree with this, and in fairly strong terms. When someone is hellbent on your physical destruction, and has made this perfectly clear through their speech and other acts, you take up arms in self-defense. You do so reluctantly, to be sure, because violence is abhorrent in itself, and you do so with the greatest trepidation, because violence is cyclical and notoriously hard to contain. But you are under no obligation to let yourself be martyred, if you do not so choose, and you have no right to shame others for defending themselves and their loved ones.

For whatever it's worth, yes, I would like to see a whole lot less in the way of violence, in word and deed, here and everywhere. But we know that it has been the willingness of antifa — i.e. the same people you seem so quick to castigate as preening, self-exculpating hypocrites — to physically contest the alt-right that has worked to contain and undermine them, where nothing else was. We know it's the willingness of the various Kurdish communities to fight for their actual, literal lives that has contributed to the eclipse of Daesh. We know that what worked against Winston Churchill or Bull Connor might not have given Reinhard Heydrich the slightest pause.

These are not happy facts. You are obviously free to believe and argue whatever you wish in response to them, but I don't think it's in the least bit "cheap, facile [or] destructive" for someone to respond by doing whatever is necessary to preserve their bodily and collective autonomy, up to and including the use of force.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:11 AM on April 23, 2018 [18 favorites]


nazis are bad! Everyone here is aware. My family had to flee Europe to escape them!

and my dad gave up a chunk of his youth (and his soul) fighting them.

But now, all these years later, I don't think we even know what other people mean when they say Nazi. I've certainly seen the label affixed to folks who are not (by any definition I can accept) Nazis, or fascists, or even conservatives. And I've seen such careless dung-flinging coming from all sides and sub-sides and under-sides of the political spectrum. So much so, that it just feels lazy now (at best).

So yeah, not only is your (the collective your) use of violent imagery troubling, it tends to just aid and abet the confusion that's driving so much discourse into the ditch these days. Please, stop and count to ten every now and then. Concentrate on your breathing.
posted by philip-random at 10:23 AM on April 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


"Everyone gets called a Nazi these days" is a literal right-wing talking point.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:55 AM on April 23, 2018 [21 favorites]


I was being self-effacing, but I maintain that the basic problem in this thread is that we keep getting sidetracked from the issue of language written down as a comment.

Sticking to explicit violence: It's not about whether it's ok to think BadGuy should get clobbered or if it's ok to go out and clobber BadGuy. Writing on MetaFilter about how much BadGuy deserves to get clobbered isn't going out and clobbering him. BadGuy is still unclobbered. It's just making everyone listen to one's clobbering fantasy. All it does is drain a lot of us (isn't this the place where we've had many conversations about emotional labor?) no matter how much we might agree or disagree with the righteousness or necessity of clobbering.

And with that I'll take a final bow out, because I think I've said my piece.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 11:02 AM on April 23, 2018 [19 favorites]


I don't think we even know what other people mean when they say Nazi

To be fair, we now spend a startling amount of time, when talking about mainstream politics, in dealing with people who are self-identified Nazis, who openly embrace Nazi race doctrine and beliefs about how the state should be organized. In the era of “Heil Trump”, the problem of defining fascists when we see them has becoming startlingly simple.
posted by Aravis76 at 11:08 AM on April 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


I think if they are wearing/flying Nazi symbols, spouting Nazi slogans, advocating Nazi ideology, and admiring past Nazi leaders and actions, it should be okay to call them Nazis. Some of even self-identify as Nazis, like that Republican Congressional candidate in Illinois.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:15 AM on April 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


-> When I say Nazi I mean actual Nazis, whether it's original flavor, the out-of-favor skinhead neo-nazi, or the new alt-right recruits. This has been true every time I've mentioned them, and every group in my list shares the core beliefs of wanting to eradicate certain groups of people from the face of the earth (literal de-humanization) and a willingness to gather under the symbol of the swastika. I don't think any other people mentioning Nazis in this thread are talking about any other groups, and the increase of people referring to Nazis you're seeing these days is unfortunately a result of the increase of actual Nazis these days and not a broadening of the term.

-> Given the fact that Nazi and Nazi-related groups are on the rise and infecting many communities, I don't think that there's a level of frequency of discussion about how unwelcome they are on Metafilter that ends up being too much. It's worth making it clear, because (as I've personally encountered in the past) taking it for granted in your community means that people with reprehensible beliefs can and will slip in unchecked instead of bouncing off when they realize their bigotry isn't welcome.

-> The original thread focus brought up 'face-punching' and 'guillotines' as the general examples of violent imagery they're tired of seeing on Metafilter. I thought (and currently think) it was worth mentioning that both of those have very specific contexts; 'face punching' evokes what happened to self-identified Nazi Richard Spencer that made him realize that being the face of white supremacy wasn't fun anymore, while the not-actually-used-ever-anymore guillotine evokes the revolution against powerful elites (for however accurate that actually ends up being). Taken together, they're not exactly the best examples if you're not aiming to have your request read to some people as 'be nicer when talking about bigots, nazis, and oppressive elites.'

I don't think it was the original intent (which is why I phrased my first comment as a reminder), but it's very unfortunate that it does appear to be the intent of several of the commentators here. There's not a lot more I can say to that other than to, again, remind people to take a step back and look at the relative scale of things. It would take an infinite number of insults to balance out the professed belief that people should be eradicated for who they are, and insisting that the use of a weak epithet like 'monster' comes anywhere close to that belief is a sign that some rethinking needs to take place.
posted by flatluigi at 11:55 AM on April 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


Except for that whole WWII thing. Do kids learn about that these days? I dunno.

You truly do not think that the US was murdering Nazis or oppressing Nazis by participating in WW2, do you? That is not a real belief you hold. You just wanted to zing me and surely you were not intentionally making a false equivalence between prosecuting a (likely just) war and firebombing MOVE.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:48 PM on April 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's such a bummer this thread has become completely dominated by discussion about nazis. The vast majority of violent language I see on this site is not directed at nazis, it's directed at a wide range of targets. I feel like we're a long way from the original post.

Disappointed to see how many people want to go to the mat defending their right to voice violent fantasies and tribal hyperbole.

Mercifully, ask.me has virtually none of this.
posted by smoke at 1:50 PM on April 23, 2018 [18 favorites]


Post your examples of these violent fantasies you're seeing voiced.
posted by flatluigi at 3:47 PM on April 23, 2018


'face punching' evokes what happened to self-identified Nazi Richard Spencer that made him realize that being the face of white supremacy wasn't fun anymore, while the not-actually-used-ever-anymore guillotine evokes the revolution against powerful elites

Not everyone looks at guillotines the same way though. To connect the two things together, Nazi Germany used guillotines and used them to execute members of the White Rose movement.
posted by FJT at 3:48 PM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


A really simple thing to do is if you see a person use such language, ask them what they meant by it (nonconfrontationally). Probably 99% what will happen is they're willing to share the reasons they're frustrated and fearful of the harmful thing/person/subject matter. And that's a simple way to move the conversation forward for those of us who feel tilted by reading rhetoric such as calling something a monster or suggesting some violent demise for them. It would be bit of emotional labor to engage in this way but it's better than tone-policing and prohibiting language, and the advantage is you still have a conversation where people share of themselves and so on, helping to enlarge the conversational space, etc. So if people come across actual examples, that's one possible way to engage rather than feeling that those ironically/ambiguously/rhetorically violent comments are biasing the thread.
posted by polymodus at 3:51 PM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Sure, flatluigi, someone in this very thread has said they literally want to use guillotines on people.
posted by smoke at 4:08 PM on April 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I have since learned that I was wrong, and that the peaceful resistance branch of the liberal project is much smaller than I imagined. It might be nearly exclusive to the religious left.

Wanted to add a second voice saying there are plenty of atheist and irreligious lefties who are with you on this. One thing I've learned over the last two years or so is that I have far more in common with that branch of the religious left exemplified by William Barber and the Moral Mondays movement than I do with many of my fellow atheists and agnostics who adhere to a more left-libertarian worldview.

Since early 2016, but especially since the election, I've been angry. Like, almost constantly angry, mostly a low-grade simmering irritation but occasionally bursting into inchoate rage. I hear a lot of people saying the same thing. For Americans, a significant minority of our fellow citizens voted not for someone who was best qualified for the job, not for a positive vision of the future, not for a coherent set of policies they believed in, but for a bloviating reality TV star whose only real promise was to piss off and harm other Americans. Many of these people are our neighbors or family members. Every interaction with a stranger has become fraught: did this person vote to deport my friends, do they want to defund my profession, are they getting their jollies from the anger they've caused?

I believe my anger is justified, and I think there is no shame, and indeed positive value, in expressing it. But at the same time, I am aware that this constant anger is changing me, in ways I don't like. My best self has a great capacity for empathy, even for those I dislike, or who I believe are morally bereft. But I am now much less in touch with this empathy than I was two years ago, and I feel diminished. Violent thoughts occasionally cross my mind when thinking of those who have brought such damage on my family, my community, and my country, and they frighten me.

I think expressions of anger are inevitable and beneficial on Metafilter, but at the same time, all of us are individually thwarted from addressing the real source of the anger, which is beyond our direct control. To the extent that anger motivates us to learn what is happening, to understand how it can be influenced, and to act through political means to change things, this anger is positive. I don't think violent rhetoric accomplishes these things; I believe it serves to reinforce patterns of violent thoughts that are ultimately diminishing to both author and reader.

Ours is a violent culture: our media is saturated with messages that violence is the fastest and best way to solve problems, our language is peppered with violent idioms, our politics is couched in the metaphor of warfare. I think it is inevitable that when we look for ways to express our anger, violent rhetoric is one of the first things we find. But I think we're better off if we keep looking for more precise, targeted expressions of anger: we can have better, more interesting discussions, without reinforcing the worst of our own and each others' psyches. I certainly would appreciate not having my own occasional violent thoughts reinforced.
posted by biogeo at 4:14 PM on April 23, 2018 [23 favorites]


"Disappointed to see how many people want to go to the mat defending their right to voice violent fantasies and tribal hyperbole.

Mercifully, ask.me has virtually none of this."
posted by smoke at 4:50 PM on April 23

Love ya, smoke
posted by clavdivs at 5:04 PM on April 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


It takes a very skewed perspective to justify spending time and effort to shield Nazis from such minor insults and it's exactly the reason I posted my reminder earlier in the thread.

This perspective has come up in previous MeTas on how we talk about, e.g., Nazis on this site. I think there is room for reasonable people to disagree what kind of language is appropriate to use when talking about people who believe and do despicable things. But I think the main request in this MeTa highlights something that is worth emphasizing.

I don't believe anyone here cares about shielding Nazis from insults. I don't think anyone is under any illusions that their feelings would be hurt by people they regard as sub-human calling them names, and I don't think anyone here would be particularly bothered if they were. In this specific MeTa, the request is:

I'd like to remind people that though their violent fantasies may feel justified, they are still troubling for others to read.

When some Mefites say they are bothered by the language used to talk about Nazis (and other despicable people), it is not because they are worried about hurting the Nazis' feelings. It's because they are personally bothered by the type of language being used. Some people on this site (myself included) believe that dehumanizing and violent language damages, in a small way, both the speaker and the listener, by normalizing and strengthening dehumanizing and violent patterns of thought. Encountering such speech requires us to engage some additional emotional processing to defend ourselves against such normalization, which over time is tiresome and detracts from our real goal, to have a conversation. Of course not everyone is going to agree on the lines here (I'm perfectly fine with calling Nazis "monsters," for example), and I don't think anyone's calling for moderator actions to delete the less-explicit violent comments, merely for other Mefites to consider the effects of the comments they make.

Now, if you don't agree with this idea, I respect that perspective. But the idea that these complaints are about protecting Nazis' feelings is missing the point entirely.
posted by biogeo at 6:06 PM on April 23, 2018 [20 favorites]


You just wanted to zing me and surely you were not intentionally making a false equivalence between prosecuting a (likely just) war and firebombing MOVE.

Heavens! I don’t know what you’re on about. I can assure you that I hate nazis as much as you.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 PM on April 23, 2018


biogeo, I was responding in that case directly to languagehat's comment towards me:
No, it's a rhetorical gambit used by people who want to dehumanize other people. It is not some brave, lonely stand on principle you are taking; it is an easy, lazy emotional reaction that is the default for a lot of people. That's why human history is so full of murder: once you dehumanize someone, it's a lot easier to kill them. But by all means keep up your brave, lonely stand on principle!
It's either a complete failure to communicate or an incredibly condescending defense against using the insult "monster" to refer to Nazis, topped off with an insinuation that I'm as bad as they are. It's really really gross, and the idea that this sort of thing would not only stand on Metafilter but would be, in turn, defended by many other people on this site tempted me to just straight-up disable my account and never look back.
posted by flatluigi at 7:01 PM on April 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


In a discussion of whether violent rhetoric is sometimes justified I'd have to take the position that of course it's sometimes justified. You'd have a hard time convincing me that sometimes violence is justified (as anyone who is not a pure pacifist believes) but that rhetoric concerning that violence is not.

But whether it should be on Metafilter is a different question and is highly context specific. This metatalk faces the same difficulty that many similar (thematically) ones face; if you don't provide examples in context people are gonna have passionate arguments while having very different examples in mind. If you do provide concrete examples in context you run the risk of the conversation devolving into nitpicking those examples to death. Not sure I have a good answer.

The best I have is that violent or very insulting ("monster") rhetoric is appropriate sometimes and not appropriate sometimes and that holds true on Metafilter too. But that it's not the end of speech as we know it if we start trying to err a touch more towards the "less of it" end of the spectrum.
posted by Justinian at 7:32 PM on April 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


Heavens! I don’t know what you’re on about. I can assure you that I hate nazis as much as you.

I’m not being sarcastic or claiming that you love Nazis. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt because you made a comment that I assume was mistaken. If you really think the US murdered and oppressed Nazis, fine. There are a lot of people who feel that way about any war. I just don’t think you actually think that. Nor do I think you love Nazis. I think you misspoke because you were in a hurry to prove that I’m dumb/wrong/haven’t heard of WWII. Tbh I’m sorry that I took the time to give you the benefit of the doubt instead of just calling you a Nazi-lover, given that you seem determined to have a juvenile pissing match with someone who isn’t even here, instead of an actual conversation.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:30 PM on April 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Calling people Nazi-lovers in this conversation isn't gonna be productive. Please don't. If anyone wants a juvenile pissing match about history please take it elsewhere; other people are trying to use this space.

Let's keep the focus on what folks do/don't want to see here on the site.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:59 PM on April 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


A site in which people can passionately defend something like brexit and then shrug off other members' concerns about their future with a literal "sucks to be you, guess you shouldn't have moved here from your home country", where people can snidely dismiss even the possibility of genuine religious beliefs existing, both without censure of any kind, but we can't call the people who would have many of us dead monsters is a site with some serious fucking priority problems. Don't turn into that site, mefi.
posted by Dysk at 3:14 AM on April 24, 2018 [13 favorites]


Just once, I’d like for someone to start a MeTa that asks people very gently not to be quite so cavalier about speaking in a way that taxes their fellow MeFites emotionally, and not have so much of the response be “How dare you tell me I can’t say what I want! You are the worst people, and you are empowering fascism and strife!”

Thank you for raising the issue in the nicest, gentlest, friendliest possible manner, BuddhaInABucket. I’ll try to take your feelings into account.
posted by Etrigan at 3:47 AM on April 24, 2018 [27 favorites]


I think part of the issue there is that this is the venue where a lot of those "don't say this" guidelines were originally hashed out. The c-word, misgendering and deadnaming, the anti-boy's-club "fuck off with your 'I'd hit it'", etc.
posted by Dysk at 3:58 AM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Harking back to the OP's original question, I can easily accommodate this. No expressions of violence toward unpopular people.

To me, Metafilter is a room. I wouldn't walk up to a person in real life and tell them I wished bodily harm on them, no matter how much I disliked them or their actions. The same applies here. The distance between us imposed by a keyboard and a fiber optic connection is irrelevant.

So yeah, to me this is an easy ask, regardless of the tone or content of this thread. Thanks for bringing it up, OP, I'll be mindful.
posted by disclaimer at 4:06 AM on April 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


To me, Metafilter is a room. I wouldn't walk up to a person in real life and tell them I wished bodily harm on them, no matter how much I disliked them or their actions. The same applies here.

Unless Trump is a mefite, this isn't really a good analogy.
posted by Dysk at 4:12 AM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


If mefites are being told other mefites wish bodily harm on them it is a good analogy.
posted by tel3path at 4:22 AM on April 24, 2018


They... aren't? This thread is about people regaling us with fantasies of violence towards public figures, most notably Trump and other politicians, isn't it? Unless someone's singled out baggymp specifically, that's not a metafilter constituency.
posted by Dysk at 4:28 AM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Folks, it would be great if we didn't get into nitpicking for nitpicking's sake and tried to rein in the discussion to what the post is about, which as a reminder is basically just "I'd like to remind people that though their violent fantasies may feel justified, they are still troubling for others to read. "

We've been deleting a lot of the violent imagining / wishing / describing stuff when we happen to see it or when it's flagged, and also leaving notes saying that we're doing that.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:33 AM on April 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Ah yes, the perfect good. If you can't do a thing perfectly, you're doing it wrong.

Let me clarify: I won't espouse violence against people or animals or trees or whatever on mefi, no matter who they are or what they've done. I won't regale others with my fantasies about doing harm to others.

Is that better?
posted by disclaimer at 4:50 AM on April 24, 2018


Again, I'd just like to ask that people not sort of burrow in here as a place to reflexively squabble. Please?

The point of the post was clearly asking people to just think about not graphically describing violent fantasies and the like, which is something we've already been weeding out for a long time, but especially in the last year or two. We don't want to be constantly running across gross bloody torture and death shit just to read comments on the site, and it's just not good for the common psyche either. There are other places if people want to do that.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:01 AM on April 24, 2018 [10 favorites]


the not-actually-used-ever-anymore guillotine evokes the revolution against powerful elites

Not everyone looks at guillotines the same way though. To connect the two things together, Nazi Germany used guillotines and used them to execute members of the White Rose movement.

posted by FJT at 3:48 PM on April 23 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]

This.

And thank you BuddaInABucket for this post. Especially the guillotine stuff is so gross, and certainly does not make me think of revolution but of murdered dissidents.
posted by 15L06 at 5:35 AM on April 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Let me clarify: I won't espouse violence against people or animals or trees or whatever on mefi

Would be really nice if you could avoid the mocking tone here, disclaimer.
posted by ambrosen at 6:56 AM on April 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Wow. Got it.
posted by disclaimer at 7:18 AM on April 24, 2018


How dare you tell me I can’t say what I want! You are the worst people, and you are empowering fascism and strife!”

Who said this?

Honestly, the constant bad faith reading and petty snark (in concert with the constant policing of outright conflict) have driven this site into the tonal equivalent of a married couple who hate each other but who are holding it together for the kids.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:58 AM on April 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


> It's really really gross, and the idea that this sort of thing would not only stand on Metafilter but would be, in turn, defended by many other people on this site tempted me to just straight-up disable my account and never look back.

Oh, give me a break. If you want to insist on your right to talk about "monstrous, garbage people," fine, but then you shouldn't be so touchy about getting negative feedback. I despise that kind of language, I think it's the kind of dehumanization that can lead to violence (note: I am not accusing you of violence), and I am going to push back against it.
posted by languagehat at 8:04 AM on April 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


Calling people Nazi-lovers in this conversation isn't gonna be productive. Please don't. If anyone wants a juvenile pissing match about history please take it elsewhere; other people are trying to use this space.

Let's keep the focus on what folks do/don't want to see here on the site.

I will continue to not call anyone a nazi-lover, no matter how many times they passive-aggressively act as though that is what I am doing when I am simply trying to point out --- on-topic, I might add --- that the way that people talk about certain groups here (leftists, anyone who is seen as being not hostile enough to Russian interests, Russians) is dehumanizing and dovetails much more substantially with the US' history of violence against marginalized groups than any kind of comment about, say, Nazis.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:05 AM on April 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


> the way that people talk about certain groups here (leftists, anyone who is seen as being not hostile enough to Russian interests, Russians) is dehumanizing

Are you thinking of a different site? Where exactly is this dehumanizing talk about leftists? As far as I know, MeFi is the most left-leaning general-interest site around; if anyone has a right to complain about nasty treatment here, it's conservatives (and we've had MeTa posts about that repeatedly). Also, conflating leftists with Russians is very weird in this day and age—Russia gave up communism over a quarter of a century ago and whatever it is now, it doesn't make much sense to call it leftist.
posted by languagehat at 8:09 AM on April 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


Are you thinking of a different site? Where exactly is this dehumanizing talk about leftists? As far as I know, MeFi is the most left-leaning general-interest site around; if anyone has a right to complain about nasty treatment here, it's conservatives (and we've had MeTa posts about that repeatedly). Also, conflating leftists with Russians is very weird in this day and age—Russia gave up communism over a quarter of a century ago and whatever it is now, it doesn't make much sense to call it leftist.

I completely agree with you that Russia is not leftist. There is a vocal subset of people here who see anyone to the left of the DNC as obviously carrying water for Russia / Trump. I don't want to mischaracterize anything so it is probably better for you to look for yourself and see what I mean. If you want to find this stuff, go to any politics thread and ctrl+F "useful idiot" and/or Russian and you'll see what I'm talking about. I was overly narrow at saying "leftists," because it's a more general McCarthy-esque vibe, but it worries the most when it is aimed at leftists.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:16 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


what is even happening here. We do not have to tear each other apart just because the world is shit right now.
posted by corb at 8:22 AM on April 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Hi, for the nth time, please cool it with the "you"/"no u" stuff in here.

If you want to actually discuss this (what you'd like to see/not see on the site) with other people please do -- since every person who's being bickery in here is perfectly capable of discussing without also snipping at other people in a way that continues/creates personally-defensive derails.

But if you just want to tell people off, please skip that in here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:24 AM on April 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also I've deleted one comment that was setting up for a derail focused on one user; we don't need that in here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:33 AM on April 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


because it's a more general McCarthy-esque vibe

The path from "Could we stop calling for people to be guillotined?" to "You're a McCarthyite for not letting me call for people to be guillotined!" is certainly a long and winding one.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:41 AM on April 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


If you want to find this stuff, go to any politics thread and ctrl+F "useful idiot" and/or Russian and you'll see what I'm talking about. I was overly narrow at saying "leftists," because it's a more general McCarthy-esque vibe, but it worries the most when it is aimed at leftists.

If what you're describing doesn't involve violent rhetoric, raising the issue in this thread seems like a derail at best.
posted by halation at 9:04 AM on April 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


I've seen a lot of nasty, dehumanizing comments posted about libertarians, and it hurts my feelings when I read them. Not all of us are the same and some of us are MeFites.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:52 AM on April 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


If you want to find this stuff, go to any politics thread and ctrl+F "useful idiot" and/or Russian and you'll see what I'm talking about ...

A. what halation just said

B. if you really want to have this particular discussion Rock 'em Sock 'em, I suppose you could always post your own META. Though I fear it would not go well. For anyone. My experience here is that so-called leftists get cut way more slack than so-called rightists. Though perhaps more to the point -- neither side gets one hundred percent slack. This place ain't perfect. For anyone.
posted by philip-random at 9:53 AM on April 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'd like to remind people that though their violent fantasies may feel justified, they are still troubling for others to read.

with regards to this, I suppose my question is, as an originator of a lot of angry comments on this site, what is the bright line at which the imagery becomes too violent or disturbing? I've made reference to guillotines before but those have been specifically framed as a joke. it's common humor in my circles and it speaks to the truth about how difficult it is and how often you fail to actually rectify existing inequalities. it's gallows humor in the way that gallows humors always are: a disconcertingly morbid raising of the stakes in the face of somewhat less disconcerting oppression; fighting fire with an inferno that you don't see yourself as realistically ever being able to create

I think some folks approach spaces with pre-formed ideals of etiquette that are culturally exclusive to a certain level of income where mental health is both a treatable expense and where the institution has always been on your side. there's an understanding of civility as due diligence and refrain; but there's also, in my opinion, the understanding of civility informed by all of its classist, racist assumptions about what is acceptable and what is not, about how even the ability to be 'civil' is a privilege for folks who haven't suffered undue trauma in their lives

holding everyone to the same high bar of being able to emotionally regulate themselves seems like an unintentionally oppressive act in this respect - as an ignorance of underlying systems that have produced such a thing. it's somewhat like when the municipal court system here makes biased decisions based on how people are dressed; if you're not wearing a suit, you get less preferential treatment which results in a lot of racist and classist oppression

but the argument that that the language produced by this emotional dysregulation can also negatively impact other folks' well-being makes sense to me. but then you have to have the very good faith that these folks who say they are as impacted by the language in your venting as you are by the actual thing you're venting about - which is why I think there needs to be fair consideration between the side that says 'guillotine jokes ruin my day' and the side that says 'I am joking about guillotines because my debt is suffocating my life and is destroying my own mental health'

also, I think that if you're disturbed by the brutality of some images, it goes a long way for you to not dive straight into a meta-dialogue about whether or not it's even acceptable for someone to express themselves in that way. answering anger with 'this is not allowable behavior' is an attack, not a solution, and if you want things to break down into petty snipes, that's the fastest way to get there
posted by runt at 11:38 AM on April 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


I think some folks approach spaces with pre-formed ideals of etiquette that are culturally exclusive to a certain level of income where mental health is both a treatable expense and where the institution has always been on your side. there's an understanding of civility as due diligence and refrain; but there's also, in my opinion, the understanding of civility informed by all of its classist, racist assumptions about what is acceptable and what is not, about how even the ability to be 'civil' is a privilege for folks who haven't suffered undue trauma in their lives

I found this to be a somewhat surprising framing, and one that does not match my experience. Most of the spaces I have experienced where people feel the most comfortable expressing their discomfort with violent imagery/fantasies are some of the least privileged— places where people can speak openly about their anxiety or PTSD are rarely ones that I associate with high incomes or an overabundance of privilege. For example, one of the places where I first heard many people speaking out very strongly against the impulse to react to frustration with violent fantasies was when I was training as a rape crisis counselor. Survivors of that kind of violence often report that a large burden of their recovery is how common it is for people to react to the news of another person’s sexual assault with “I’m going to kill [the rapist]” or “I’m going to get my friends and we’ll make [the rapist] regret it” or “I hope [the rapist] gets brutalized in prison.” For the actual survivor of the actual assault, enduring these reactions is often described as terrifying, and as compounding the original trauma.

Conversely, I have often found more privileged spaces to be some of the least open spaces for “this behavior hurts me, perhaps you could reconsider the frequency with which you engage in this behavior in shared company.”

I don’t know that anyone is sincerely saying “don’t vent”, or that anyone thinks these reactions will go away entirely on the site. But I would hope that some people who have casually and reflexively shared these reactions out of a sense of solidarity, or in the mistaken belief that reading them is inherently innocuous for everyone else, will reconsider those instincts as much as they are able.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 1:00 PM on April 24, 2018 [30 favorites]


> languagehat:"Oh, give me a break. If you want to insist on your right to talk about "monstrous, garbage people," fine, but then you shouldn't be so touchy about getting negative feedback. I despise that kind of language, I think it's the kind of dehumanization that can lead to violence (note: I am not accusing you of violence), and I am going to push back against it."

Like I said, you need to take several steps back. You've knotted yourself in discourse so much that the idea of a Nazi being insulted feels worse to you than the fact that they're a Nazi, to the point that you're continuing to condescend to and insult me for doing so. Of course I should have the right to talk about Nazis disparagingly and I resent the implication that I'm wrong for it, however 'touchy' it makes me to respond that way.

If it helps, I promise that any violence that will occur in the future between me and a Nazi will still be overwhelmingly in their favor, and I'll continue to not ever post anything on Metafilter that'd resemble targeted violence towards anyone. Hopefully you can be happy with that, as I'm going to drop this thread from my activity and won't be able to respond any further.
posted by flatluigi at 4:09 PM on April 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Wow, so, this thread is full of examples, more so as it goes on, as to why I no longer feel safe on metafilter, in particular as a Jewish and mentally ill person. Thanks to all the people pushing back against violent rhetoric. I was going to say some stuff about how all humans are humans and metafilter is by far not the most left-leaning place on the internet and I am exhausted by "the world is a shitty place" being an accepted baseline idea and please stop talking about Nazis (how much more than anything do I not want to hear any more gentiles talk about fighting Nazis ever), as people have said, if you're throwing around that word like it's meaningless, throwing around so many words like they don't hurt the people you most want to protect in ways you can't understand if you're not those people, but I'm so tired out by this point. I don't know, guys. I don't think anyone deserves to suffer and the fact that I'm genuinely afraid to even type those words on this website now means something.
posted by colorblock sock at 5:38 PM on April 24, 2018 [35 favorites]


colorblock sock: thank you. and you are not alone.
posted by jb at 8:44 PM on April 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


"outrageous" language like the subject of this post has a cathartic purpose and eliminating the ability to blow off pressure this way is a bad idea
posted by entropicamericana at 6:15 AM on April 25, 2018


I found this to be a somewhat surprising framing, and one that does not match my experience. Most of the spaces I have experienced where people feel the most comfortable expressing their discomfort with violent imagery/fantasies are some of the least privileged

this is happening in MetaTalk so I assumed the 'space' in question was MetaFilter and not, for example, a rape counseling center where it would be absolutely unethical both individually and professionally to use language peppered with violent imagery

is this an incorrect assumption? or are you making the argument that we should treat MetaFilter similarly, as both a work space where we are bound by social convention to act accordingly and a space where our utmost priority is to assist with and help improve the mental well-being of survivors of trauma?
posted by runt at 6:24 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


"outrageous" language like the subject of this post has a cathartic purpose and eliminating the ability to blow off pressure this way is a bad idea
posted by entropicamericana


All this is asking is to please not blow off steam in this manner here, as it is distressing to other users.
posted by agregoli at 7:10 AM on April 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


I won't espouse violence against people or animals or trees or whatever on mefi, no matter who they are or what they've done. I won't regale others with my fantasies about doing harm to others.

Yes.
posted by josher71 at 7:15 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


eliminating the ability to blow off pressure this way is a bad idea

As the OP implied, there are plenty of other places on the internet to "blow off pressure." MetaFilter is a bastion of civility, and many members are hoping to keep it that way. This shouldn't be controversial, for goodness' sake.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:18 AM on April 25, 2018 [10 favorites]


mefite 1: "tut tut, this trump fellow is rather disagreeable"
mefite 2: "i say, old chap, there's no need to be uncouth"
posted by entropicamericana at 7:29 AM on April 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


runt, that's a crappy dismissive rules-lawyering response to a really reasonable and clear comment. You imagine you're only hurting oppressors with violent talk (or whatever). The point is that's not true.

If you want a space that runs under the rule "women in a shared space have to deal with men's anger, because men just can't be troubled to control themselves".... well, go literally anywhere. I know a number of men who are big loud dudes with giant voices, and they do not get how it could be intimidating or disturbing or kind of ruin-your-dayish for them to yell/express their righteous political views at high volume using whatever violent/nasty/etc rhetoric they want. Their expression is important, and how it affects other people in the room doesn't matter. It's not a great way to be in a community.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:38 AM on April 25, 2018 [27 favorites]


a space where our utmost priority is to assist with and help improve the mental well-being of survivors of trauma

I think it’s ethically obligatory, in any space, to make reasonable efforts to avoid harming the mental well-being of survivors of trauma. Is that really controversial? I don’t think anyone has an obligation to completely wipe out the negative consequences of my experiences of racism/sexism elsewhere, for example, but I have a reasonable expectation that decent people will try not to give me some new experiences of racism/sexism to grapple with. That’s precisely analogous to what others in this thread have said about the impact on them of violent language and their expectations of this space. No one’s being asked to be a counsellor, just not to be an actual re-traumatiser.
posted by Aravis76 at 7:47 AM on April 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Mefite 1: Trump and his cronies are a wretched hive of scum and villainy. They represent the worst our culture has to offer, and I am constantly enraged that they are the ones our political system has placed behind the levers of power. With every word and action, they coarsen our public discourse and trample the best ideals in our society, instead elevating the very worst in us.

Mefite 2: Yeah, I wish someone would [horrible violent fantasy].

Mefite 1: Wow, um, that was unpleasant to read. Could you not write that kind of thing here?

Mefite 2: Why are you trying to coddle the evil people's feelings? Stop trying to control me. I need you to read my most violent inner thoughts!
posted by biogeo at 7:48 AM on April 25, 2018 [26 favorites]


what is more unpleasant to read? exaggerated shorthand for extreme frustration or the ongoing dismantling of our republic and oppression of the most vulnerable?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:05 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mean, if it turns out that Trump and his team really are MeFites and avid readers of MetaTalk, we should definitely prioritise persuading them to stop what they’re doing over any other concern that we might have. As it is, though, no one is actually doing that work when they voice their extreme frustration here in violent terms; all they are doing is adding to the already immense crappiness of the world at the moment, not subtracting from it.
posted by Aravis76 at 8:13 AM on April 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


I think what’s frustrating right now is that we are a lot of traumatized people, and we are all reacting in different ways. It’s just not true that everyone traumatized by this administration sees violence and is hurt by it. For some people, it’s actually more agitating to be watching this administration and think no one is willing to even consider talking, much less doing, violence in response.

When people talk about punching Nazis, of resistance at all costs rather than letting vulnerable people be harmed, it is a breath of hope to me. It tells me there are others out there, that I’m not alone. That if my friends and family are carted away one day, people will stand up. The insistence that violence not even be talked about as a possibile response here makes me feel that that’s not true - that people will be tut-tutting as my family is stripped of their citizenship and rounded up. That no one will hide them, no one will be willing to risk violent action to save them, because it’s uncouth or upsetting - that it’s way easier to look away and pretend things aren’t happening, and that this feeling taken to an extreme is exactly how we get there.

I understand not wanting things like “If I had Donald Trump in my hands I would X and then Y and then Z” on Metafilter - those are not just violent fantasies, they are useless violent fantasies. No one here is going to have Trump in his hands. We will never have that opportunity. But things like “If Nazis come to a rally I will A or “If they start rounding up citizens, I will B” aren’t violent fantasies so much as statements of what people will be prepared to do to resist if things get bad. And I think that’s a totally different thing and I would be deeply sad to lose it.
posted by corb at 8:16 AM on April 25, 2018 [8 favorites]


And no one is saying that we should lose that, corb. It's the other stuff.
posted by cooker girl at 8:19 AM on April 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


"outrageous" language like the subject of this post has a cathartic purpose and eliminating the ability to blow off pressure this way is a bad idea

This is also true of masturbation, but we generally accept that people should do it in the privacy of their homes and not force others to watch.

what is more unpleasant to read? exaggerated shorthand for extreme frustration or the ongoing dismantling of our republic and oppression of the most vulnerable?

Oh come on. I've read and appreciated many things you've written on Mefi, I know you're a better thinker than this. Just because A is worse than B doesn't mean B isn't bad.
posted by biogeo at 8:21 AM on April 25, 2018 [13 favorites]


... holding everyone to the same high bar of being able to emotionally regulate themselves seems like an unintentionally oppressive act in this respect - as an ignorance of underlying systems that have produced such a thing ...

... are you making the argument that we should treat MetaFilter similarly, as both a work space where we are bound by social convention to act accordingly and a space where our utmost priority is to assist with and help improve the mental well-being of survivors of trauma?

I'm not seeing how you can argue that the experience of trauma entitles commenters to be heard in the way they demand and at the same time that there is no convention to "help improve the mental well-being of surviors of trauma" that anyone is obligated to respect. Either the requirements of conflicting traumas need to be negotiated, or you're simply arguing that one kind of experience of trauma takes precedence over the others.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:24 AM on April 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


Oh come on. I've read and appreciated many things you've written on Mefi, I know you're a better thinker than this. Just because A is worse than B doesn't mean B isn't bad.

if you'd read my many, many deleted comments, including one previously made in this thread, you'd probably realize i'm not

i'm increasingly an outlier on mefi because i think free speech is a good thing, even unpleasant speech directed at the privileged
posted by entropicamericana at 9:14 AM on April 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Just to follow up about guillotines: they probably feel hyperbolic and ridiculous from North America. From western Europe, it doesn't feel quite as comfortable, because the guillotine was the start of the Reign of Terror, which was bad for everyone.

And there's plenty of people in Europe (if nowhere else, in the UK, but also central Europe is a scary mess in several countries) who are powerless under political instability for the first time in their lives.

And it is, somewhat ridiculously, pretty alienating to hear that European political violence is just a punchline.
posted by ambrosen at 9:15 AM on April 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


i'm increasingly an outlier on mefi because i think free speech is a good thing, even unpleasant speech directed at the privileged

Oh, hey, I found a new kind of privilege: thinking that only speech pointed directly at you can be harmful to you.
posted by Etrigan at 9:27 AM on April 25, 2018 [16 favorites]


Free speech is a good thing because speech is powerful. It has the ability to change minds, to elicit emotions, to alter our social world. Asking you to just think a little bit about the impact your speech has and consider more carefully how you use it isn't infringing on your free speech, it's recognizing that potency that makes it valuable.
posted by biogeo at 9:29 AM on April 25, 2018 [15 favorites]


You imagine you're only hurting oppressors with violent talk (or whatever). The point is that's not true. [...] If you want a space that runs under the rule "women in a shared space have to deal with men's anger, because men just can't be troubled to control themselves".... well, go literally anywhere.

I understand completely the point that people should diligently try to not be horrible to one another and to keep other folks in mind; I have also experienced and seen it happen to others when this tone policing is deliberately used to silence unwanted voices. the most recent example that comes to my mind is the local Atlanta Women's March page - the 'leader' of the group, a white woman, essentially claimed that reverse racism was true and was very strongly called out by other women and women of color in the group, some of whom expressed strong contempt for the opinion in not exactly kind or gentle language but in a very understandable way that made their longstanding frustrations with the group and its relative inaction clear

the result was that all the women of color and other women who voiced dissent were all banned from the largest ostensibly social justice focused social media space in our city, all of the comments related to this, including the now infamously screenshotted reverse racism comment from the group, deleted, and the subsequent conversation was deliberately turned by some small group of white women about the proper way to approach social justice because aren't we all in this together so please stop with the comments that are 'inflammatory' or 'harmful' or 'unhelpful'

to address your assumptions about what I believe (which, to be blunt, are hurtful) I don't see 'violent talk' as hurting oppressors - I thought it was clear that I saw it as an act of legitimate and understandable emotional dysregulation. I am also not deliberately defending this rule so that 'men' can say whatever the fuck they want - I thought it was clear, again, that I was talking about folks who were marginalized who need this space to voice their frustrations because it's the only thing they have in their world that amounts to a 'safe space' for it even though it sometimes is not

my default, when I see activists in my community pop up in my feed with uncomfortable or harsh pronouncements about their experience of the world is not 'they need to stop talking that way', it's 'well that's not my conversation to intrude on.' similarly, when I see threads about misogyny on MetaFilter, I see it as concern trolling and a failure of empathy when men start jumping in to say that the strong expressions there are unhelpful for their self-enlightenment because, honestly, that thread isn't for them and they could do with shutting the fuck up more often. this sentiment, however, I don't see as strongly defended or as commonly practiced in threads about race or class

of course I like it better when people who suffer oppression are kind and generous people who are emotionally well-regulated and able to just sit down and do the enormous emotional labor of calmly expressing their views but that is not a default attitude that I would ever expect nor is it an opinion I believe is even ethically expressible in the world especially from any position of relative privilege

my counterpoint to a fiendish thingy's comment is not 'well fuck the oppressed', it's that 1) people should try to be less violent with their expressions but also that 2) when you see strong emotional outbursts, read it with the same generous, good faith attitude, that you are seeing someone who is feeling something very strongly and likely does not have the agency or power to do anything about it
posted by runt at 9:29 AM on April 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


There's a big difference between expressing your unfiltered anger directly and putting the effort into translating your anger into graphic violence.

There are people who only feel OK with the latter form of expressing their despair, frustration or anger. Broadly speaking, the root cause of this is, many times, the patriarchy. Fuck the patriarchy.

(I'm fairly sure that's an uncontroversial expression of anger that is not what this post is about.)
posted by ambrosen at 9:48 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Free speech is a good thing because speech is powerful. It has the ability to change minds, to elicit emotions, to alter our social world.

Yes.

Asking you to just think a little bit about the impact your speech has and consider more carefully how you use it isn't infringing on your free speech, it's recognizing that potency that makes it valuable.

Except people aren't really being asked, are they?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:53 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


From western Europe, it doesn't feel quite as comfortable, because the guillotine was the start of the Reign of Terror, which was bad for everyone.

The guillotine was used as the form of state execution in French Algeria through 1977, and most of the people executed by the colonial powers through that time were disadvantaged Arabs who were not given access to any meaningful form of justice. François Mitterrand sentenced 45 Algerian freedom fighters to execution by guillotine during the Algerian War for independence from France. Viewing the guillotine solely as a metaphor for rising up against the rich and the white requires a very selective view of history, some of it taking place very recently within our own lifetimes. I don't personally cringe at guillotine imagery, but it doesn't take much imagination to suppose that its utility as a universal metaphor might not be as universal as some people think.

my counterpoint to a fiendish thingy's comment is not 'well fuck the oppressed', it's that 1) people should try to be less violent with their expressions but also that 2) when you see strong emotional outbursts, read it with the same generous, good faith attitude that you are seeing someone who is feeling something very strongly and likely does not have the agency or power to do anything about it

I agree with this completely and think it would be a great standard for all of us moving forward, so I'm not sure what makes it a counterpoint to my comment? I'm sorry if I was unclear to the extent that you felt like I was saying something else. You said that you associated restrictions on the use of violent imagery in speech or text with privilege and privileged spaces, and I was merely pointing out that my experiences were different. I have always found the most privileged people to be the most likely to use violence as a punchline or a casual form of emphasis, because to them it is apocryphal and metaphorical. People who have experienced violence are less likely to discuss it flippantly, or merely for emphasis, IME.

The fragility of white women who experience entirely justified criticism of their racism as "violence" and shut down all conversations where their sensibilities are not foregrounded as paramount is something else entirely, and I certainly don't think this site should take a page out of their book, where their nebulous and delicate "feelings" are more important than justice or truth-telling or elevating marginalized voices. That's trash.

Except people aren't really being asked, are they?

Sorry, do you think this is going to be codified into holy writ? Metatalk requests are just that-- asking people to consider modifying their behavior.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:56 AM on April 25, 2018 [21 favorites]


there's not even an ask in the OP's post. just a reminder.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:58 AM on April 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


Except people aren't really being asked, are they?

People shouldn't have to be asked not to hurt others. Not to stomp on others' feet, or not to knock others over if they're in a rush to get someplace. Those actions can hurt others, regardless of whether they're done out of malice or carelessness. The motivation doesn't matter to the person stomped on or knocked over. It is silly to throw tantrums when (politely!) asked to be more considerate, to claim that requests to be more considerate somehow impede one's inviolate right to free movement.
posted by halation at 10:00 AM on April 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


Sorry, do you think this is going to be codified into holy writ? Metatalk requests are just that-- asking people to consider modifying their behavior.

it's already on that long list of unwritten rules that mods use to randomly delete comments when the whim strikes them
posted by entropicamericana at 10:12 AM on April 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have always found the most privileged people to be the most likely to use violence as a punchline or a casual form of emphasis, because to them it is apocryphal and metaphorical. People who have experienced violence are less likely to discuss it flippantly, or merely for emphasis, IME.

I tend to make a punchline out of my own experience of regular physical abuse but it's probably very true that that's not a regular reaction to personal trauma and that makes sense to me. and, to be honest, I was reading more into your comment than was there - the counterpoint is better addressed to the larger conversation here

Just to follow up about guillotines: they probably feel hyperbolic and ridiculous from North America. From western Europe, it doesn't feel quite as comfortable, because the guillotine was the start of the Reign of Terror, which was bad for everyone.


I assume Western Europe feels as equally uncomfortable with jokes referencing empire, trade, its colonies, the places that revolted against this imperial conquest, anti-Semitism, nationalism, and it is particularly revolted by its historical treatment of Muslims within their borders and not perpetuating much of the same effects to its modern day? if not, forgive me for absolutely refusing to stop my use of the guillotine as a jokey image for the sake of Western Europeans whose white, landed ancestors were once anxious about the political stability of their monarchies

François Mitterrand sentenced 45 Algerian freedom fighters to execution by guillotine during the Algerian War for independence from France

this is heard and received, however, and something I'll work on committing to memory
posted by runt at 10:14 AM on April 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


[A couple deleted; it would be great all around if we didn't seize every opportunity for a throwdown.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:27 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


And I'll add, runt, there's no reason to assume Mefites from western Europe are from aristocratic backgrounds, or that they're huge fans of colonialism jokes. That doesn't seem to be based on anyone actually saying that here? You're accusing people of these in a way that's just obviously meant to draw pushback and create a totally needless throwdown situation that's centered around you. We can talk about violent imagery and its pros and cons on the site, without that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:33 AM on April 25, 2018 [25 favorites]


I don't read the politics threads. It's easy to imagine Mefites using over-the-top disturbing violent imagery in there, but I haven't seen it myself (and, oddly, the arguments in this thread are mostly abstracted from any specific episodes of bad behavior). But I have no objection to asking people to tone down whatever it is they're apparently doing in there.

What's weird to me is the accompanying implication that, otherwise, "MetaFilter is a bastion of civility." It's not, it's filled with furious social aggression against whatever the locally relevant "other side" might be, condescending, insulting, implying they would do poorly on standardized tests, whatever. The aggression is more subtle and literate than, like, Youtube comments, but don't throw yourself a ticker tape parade for it okay?

If you look at how people act, it's obvious that some of us come here specifically so we can be assholes to other people, in a relatively safe and controlled environment. And I don't mean calling Pol Pot a "monster" (heaven forfend), I mean taking shots at another community member to make them feel humiliated and socially excluded. People hate feeling that way, but sometimes they like making others feel that way.

So let's be realistic about what we're accomplishing here. Consciously avoiding certain kinds of language, if it makes some of us more comfortable -- fine, good. But don't go on like the goodguys won, now.
posted by grobstein at 10:37 AM on April 25, 2018 [23 favorites]


...

a comment that referenced Western Europe as the aggrieved, oppressed party during the Reign of Terror instead of, for example the totality of the French Revolution or literally any of the other uses of the guillotine (such as, as I'm now finding out, during Weimar and later Nazi Germany) is saying something, whether or not you're aware of what it is saying. if you have an issue with my tone of pushback, that's fine but that is a tonal issue, not a misunderstanding of what ambrosen is implying
posted by runt at 10:54 AM on April 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


Ah, I see.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:07 AM on April 25, 2018


I see we’ve come to the hand-cutting-off part of our evening.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:22 AM on April 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


Except people aren't really being asked, are they?

Sorry, do you think this is going to be codified into holy writ? Metatalk requests are just that-- asking people to consider modifying their behavior.


if you go back to the phrasing that began this META, it's not even a request -- more just an observation that something, perhaps unintended, is happening.

I'd like to remind people that though their violent fantasies may feel justified, they are still troubling for others to read.

the implication being that if you're not concerned about troubling others unintentionally, then by all means keep on doing what you're doing. Things have, of course, percolated and/or escalated from there, but I don't feel we're suddenly careening toward a fundamental Change In Site Policy.
posted by philip-random at 11:35 AM on April 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


if not, forgive me for absolutely refusing to stop my use of the guillotine as a jokey image for the sake of Western Europeans whose white, landed ancestors were once anxious about the political stability of their monarchies


Yikes, what was that you said about good faith in literally the comment you made before this one??

Honestly all this stuff feels like it should be basic civility to me, and if that's tone policing than I guess I'm with the police. I try to not say much at mefi that I wouldn't say at a party with mixed company or at a work event where I know everyone pretty well. Cause that's basically what this place is: we don't know what other people here are carrying or have dealt with, and they have every right to be here so, you know, be nice until proven otherwise.

But I guess people come here for different reasons and one of those reasons is to have arguments with people, or vent, or use language with others that they can't or wouldn't in person. Sheesh I find it a bit depressing to be honest.
posted by smoke at 1:59 PM on April 25, 2018 [20 favorites]


not only civilliity but historical accuracy like the comment u highllitted. Its wrong and others in-thread have used history to make that case.
posted by clavdivs at 2:28 PM on April 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Since people keep asking for examples from the politics megathreads, right now there is this comment:
"Juuuust in case anyone needed another reason to vote for Zuckerberg as First Against The Wall."

Look, I can't stand Zuck either, but like, is just wishing he would fuck off to a desert island forever with a lifetime supply of MREs not enough? Do we really need to invoke some ritualized violence against him too? Is that really necessary to express our distaste with Facebook?
posted by mostly vowels at 3:39 PM on April 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


guess I'm way late to this one but

People could do to take a step or two back in terms of treating other members well, sometimes. I'm thinking here of the thread where a newish user showed up talking about their own experience of interacting with Very White People as the child of Asian immigrants and got accused of being a white supremacist troll because of a sarcastic language choice, the intended meaning of which I think would not have have been that hard to glean if one read their original comments carefully. It's not even that that this misunderstanding occurred which bugged me, but that they were the only party that ended up apologizing.

What people have to say about Mark Zuckerberg or Barbara Bush concerns me a lot less, I guess. I mean, don't get graphic, but just bullshitting about revolution is pretty abstract, to me.
posted by atoxyl at 5:20 PM on April 25, 2018 [15 favorites]


I think the point is that it's not necessarily "abstract" to everyone.
posted by lazuli at 9:49 PM on April 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


I assume Western Europe feels as equally uncomfortable with jokes referencing empire, trade, its colonies, the places that revolted against this imperial conquest, anti-Semitism, nationalism, and it is particularly revolted by its historical treatment of Muslims within their borders and not perpetuating much of the same effects to its modern day?

What do you think, we're all too busy sitting in our chateaus counting the gold that our great-great-grandfather Compte de Loadsamoney seized from the peasants of Paris? Come the fuck on. There are four hundred million of us here, plenty of us would indeed be very fucking uncomfortable with jokes about anti-Semitism or bringing back Empires or brutal treatment of Muslims.

Personally I don't care that much about guillotine jokes. (I think it's a ridiculous cartoonish tough-guy fantasy that sounds entirely divorced from any sense of historical nuance, and seems especially bizarre when it comes from relatively well-off people in a relatively well-off country casting themselves in the role of starving peasants, but whatever gets you through I guess.) Still: it is violent imagery, it is revelling in jokes about being the ones to dish out that violence, and the idea that anyone uncomfortable with that can only be so because they are siding with the rich and powerful is ridiculous. Especially when the current political situation in a lot of the world right now, including in Europe, is making jokey lolz about violent political instability and extrajudicial executions seem a lot less abstract.
posted by Catseye at 12:58 AM on April 26, 2018 [21 favorites]


I just want to add, to what Catseye has said, that it is pretty unfortunate to imply that the only people who count as “Western Europe” are white descendants of the ancien regime. I am pretty terrified by the prospect of political collapse in Western Europe, since I’m British and can’t really think too far ahead about the possible consequences of what is happening here and in the EU right now; I imagine French Muslims and people of colour all over Europe share my sentiments and would not be thrilled to be spoken of as if their fate is no part of the fate of Europe more widely.
posted by Aravis76 at 2:52 AM on April 26, 2018 [15 favorites]


MeFi standing up for the marketing division of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, because if we don't we're just as bad as the Vogons.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:44 AM on April 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


That's the nerdiest dis I've ever seen. It's even nerdier than me using the word "dis."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:15 AM on April 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


if you go back to the phrasing that began this META, it's not even a request -- more just an observation that something, perhaps unintended, is happening.

No, it is a request. The request is in the title "Stop the Violence".
posted by 23skidoo at 8:17 AM on April 26, 2018


I'm not going to have my anger, or how it is expressed, tone policed when I am literally dealing with people who want to murder me.

Anger isn't any one thing. It can be a source of violence. It can also be a catalyst for change. And when people are justifiably angry, it doesn't do them any good to pick at the language they choose to express it.
posted by maxsparber at 12:58 PM on April 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


Let me go a little further with that. I see pushback against angry rhetoric that makes metaphoric (or sometimes literal, in the case of Nazis) use of violent imagery, all time time.

A huge amount of time, the pushback is against the people who actually experience the damage caused by the people they are angry at, and the pushback is by people who don't. It often seems to me to be a way of forcing people of color, Jews, woman, etc. into a way of discussing real issues that people who don't experience them find safe or unthreatening.

I like metafilter, but I have literally no reason to think that dynamic won't repeat itself here, and hasn't been in effect in this thread.
posted by maxsparber at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


In my experience, having an angry tone when confronting people who want to kill me is like hoping my voice box has a 30 round clip.
posted by clavdivs at 1:44 PM on April 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


I realize I said I was leaving...swear this is the last I'll chime in here.

I maintain, as I wrote previously, that "MeFites of various stripes see MetaFilter as a haven in different, legitimate, irreconcilable ways."

I am among those who have written supportively of this post. And I am a Jewish person who has had to vacate multiple Jewish establishments due to active bomb threats, who has dealt with anti-semitic death threats graffitied at my school, and whose living grandfather recalls Hitlerjugend marching to the Horst-Wessel-Lied as one of his earliest childhood memories. Obviously I don't know anyone else's personal story (and I won't claim to), but there isn't some identity-line here.

Those exhausted by violent rhetoric can be understanding of what may drive users to such comments. Those who find value (cathartic or otherwise) in expressing themselves in such a manner can also be mindful of the effects of their language on other community members. Both can be done without invalidating the other.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


I think it's hard to really understand because people aren't being really clear here, and I think because a lot of people have different lines, but it's not clear to me whether people are asking for more than the mods are already doing, less than the mods are already doing, or asking people to limit themselves so the mods have less work. A lot of the people arguing here are using somewhat vague language, which doesn't really help people know what is being referred to.
posted by corb at 2:04 PM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am all for asking that we offer a little head's up or whatever when we feel the need to express ourselves regarding violence. I am mindful that some people are genuinely adversely affected by these sorts of comments, and it is entirely possible to build mechanisms to address that that do not create de facto systems of tone policing.

But I am also a Jew and am mindful of the fact that I still benefit from enormous privilege, and I must not use my privilege to silence others because I wish they would express themselves about their own experiences in a way that makes me uncomfortable.

Also, a lot of people in this thread are asking that we not engage in comments like those about guillotines, not because they are negatively impacted by these comments, but because they find them personally distasteful (example; example; example; example; ad nauseum), and all I can say is, come on.

There are a lot of crappy comments and jokes on this site. Unless you're generally of the opinion that comments that you personally disapprove of should be either self- or officially moderated, your contributions are not especially useful in this thread.
posted by maxsparber at 2:06 PM on April 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Well thanks maxsparber and cichkid ceilidh, you've both given me something to think about. I personally will no longer try to tell people here how they should talk around these issues, one way or the other. I still think this is a discussion worth having, but I no longer feel like it's my place to be a part of it. I will leave that to those who are more directly affected, and mind my own behavior rather than that of others.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:20 PM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


It often seems to me to be a way of forcing people of color, Jews, woman, etc. into a way of discussing real issues that people who don't experience them find safe or unthreatening.

Not going to speak for PoC and Jews as I am neither, but as a woman who has worked with other women on causes that particularly affect us as women (domestic violence and rape): soothing our anger with sharing graphic fantasies of violence is, honestly, not something we do much of at all in those circles, and not something that is helpful when offered as support. a fiendish thingy expressed this particular thing very well already upthread.
posted by Catseye at 3:45 PM on April 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


as a woman who has worked with other women on causes that particularly affect us as women (domestic violence and rape): soothing our anger with sharing graphic fantasies of violence is, honestly, not something we do much of at all in those circles, and not something that is helpful when offered as support

It would be helpful if we all acknowledged that there is no One True Way that survivors or minorities react. I am a woman who has survived domestic violence and rape and I actually find it hugely reassuring and comforting when people offer to do violence on my attacker - I also recognize that not all women in my position share those feelings. That is what makes this stuff so hard, because vulnerable people often have really opposing feelings on this, and there doesn't seem to be a way to make everyone happy.
posted by corb at 3:51 PM on April 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


Yes, of course we have different feelings about our own personal experiences. But the idea suggested above that the only people opposed to fantasy violence talk are those who nobody’s threatening to hurt, and that being opposed to it is itself inevitably a form of oppression against the victimised, is neither true nor helpful.
posted by Catseye at 4:08 PM on April 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


(or, to elaborate: corb I don’t deny you personally the right to find useful whatever you find useful in re: support from others, of course; and I do think our experiences here get universalised unhelpfully in this as in many other ways, although that’s probably drifting somewhat and so a discussion for another time. But I’ve just had to deal with so many well-intentioned men who come into broader policy/political discussions around this stuff with the “well what I want to do to these men is [insert graphic violence here]! Oooh, just TRY to hold me back!” type stuff, and just don’t get at all that this typically comes across not as solidarity but as yet another angry violent man whose feelings are now our problem. I am glad that they’re angry! I just, sigh, wish that they’d think a bit about how that anger comes across and why we might not want to be the ones dealing with it.)
posted by Catseye at 4:20 PM on April 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


I’m not sure why you wrote that in response to me, as I did not suggest that someone else should create violent fantasies on behalf of the person who has suffered. I have seen that too and always responded that it is something both bizarre and inappropriate.
posted by maxsparber at 7:10 PM on April 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


This metatalk conversation has been one of the most encouraging things I've read on the internet in a long time. It makes me want to participate on this site more and makes me proud to see others here are against the liberal use of violence in all forms.

I really identify with the other users who felt violent rhetoric was seeping into their own comments. I would regularly try to steelman whatever I said not against counterarguments but against attacks dripping with venom and hatred.

Thank you for this post.
posted by laptolain at 8:10 AM on April 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


the idea suggested above that the only people opposed to fantasy violence talk are those who nobody’s threatening to hurt, and that being opposed to it is itself inevitably a form of oppression against the victimised, is neither true nor helpful.

Oh so very much this. I find it frustrating that these conversations always end up in a place where the people asserting the right to engage in violent speech claim to be the marginalised parties, with the implication that those of us asking for civility must be the oppressors. I mean, I'm a bisexual trans woman and a rape survivor. I've been trying to cope with unwanted suicidal thoughts for as long as I can remember. When I ask you to stop talking like this, I'm not speaking from a place of privilege or from male fragility or white fragility or whatever. I'm asking it because I am fragile. I'm scared of this site because many of you folks talk exactly like my abuser. I don't feel safe here a lot of the time. I'm not scared of the Nazis on this site because there are no Nazis on this site. I am scared of the people in this site who feel like they're entitled to cast their anger in any direction they like because "social justice", because there are a lot of you and more often than not I've found myself on the wrong side of your mistargeted rage. You are a lot more terrifying than you think
posted by saltbush and olive at 9:13 AM on April 27, 2018 [41 favorites]


I know the constant News Firehose of Orange Shite makes it hard to know how to react, much less do anything meaningful, yet we are a whole bunch of smart people that can write with more imagination than that.

I was smart. I don't know what happened, though. But anyhow, now I feel a little better. Bless all the children and little animals, and that big orange thing with small hands; and when the Cosmic Muffin calls us all home, may he reside in at least one circle of Hell lower than mine, so I can look down upon him and smile. For a Change. (Is it too late to mention the part about him being up to his nose in burning shit?)

Thank you for listening.
posted by mule98J at 7:50 AM on April 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Here's a quote that feels very relevant:
If love were the central practice of a new generation of organizers and spiritual leaders, it would have a massive impact on what was considered organizing. If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through eyes of love. We would see that there’s no such thing as a blank canvas, an empty land, or a new idea—but everywhere there is complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential.

We would organize with the perspective that there is wisdom and experience and amazing story in the communities we love, and instead of starting up new ideas/organizations all the time, we would want to listen, support, collaborate, merge, and grow through fusion, not competition.

We would understand that the strength of our movement is in the strength of our relationships, which could only be measured by their depth. Scaling up would mean going deeper, being more vulnerable and more empathetic.
--Adrienne Maree Brown, from her amazing book Emergent Strategy that I would highly recommend if you're heartsick and in need of inspiration/hope/perspective
posted by overglow at 10:50 AM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


If love were the central practice of a new generation of organizers and spiritual leaders, it would have a massive impact on what was considered organizing. If the goal was to increase the love, rather than winning or dominating a constant opponent, I think we could actually imagine liberation from constant oppression. We would suddenly be seeing everything we do, everyone we meet, not through the tactical eyes of war, but through eyes of love. We would see that there’s no such thing as a blank canvas, an empty land, or a new idea—but everywhere there is complex, ancient, fertile ground full of potential.

I haven't read her book. I'm in favor of love, and viewing people and groups in a positive light.

But as they say, it's useless for the sheep to discuss the merits of vegetarianism while the wolf remains of a different opinion. We cannot solve oppression and tyranny through the application of love. We cannot solve injustices against us that way. And every single time someone brings something like this, or its spiritual precursor, Christianity's "turn the other cheek', up in a thread I want to ask them if they've ever actually experienced racism, hatred or sexism and resolved them this way. Because "loving one's enemy" has a really poor track record of solving those problems and the people who are most often asked to be forgiving, loving, polite or not angry are the people (oppressed minorities) for whom those tactics have rarely, if ever worked. Frankly, passivity usually makes things worse, not better.

When someone is attacking you and your people, ignoring that they are an enemy is dangerous.
posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on May 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


And when your allies start treating you like an enemy, and exercising their moral duty to vent their anger on you, it feels strangely familiar, just like being a kid again.

Unlike my learned colleague above, I’m not fragile. I remember the moment it really sank in, as a woman, how much men hate me and I remember the moment it really sank in, as a not-American, how much Americans hate me. I learned it here first. I’m not fragile, but it’s still not a great feeling.
posted by tel3path at 2:24 PM on May 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


And every single time someone brings something like this, or its spiritual precursor, Christianity's "turn the other cheek', up in a thread I want to ask them if they've ever actually experienced racism, hatred or sexism and resolved them this way

adrienne maree brown is a black activist, I think it's fair to assume she is likely very familiar with racism and sexism.

But this is exactly the thing several of us in this thread are trying to push back against - that this assumption that certain tactics of nonviolence or peacemaking marks us as chumps or as the province of only the most privileged individuals is really not an okay broad brush to paint with.
posted by mostly vowels at 6:20 PM on May 2, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm pushing back against the idea that I as a Jew living in America who is raising Jewish children and who has been subjected to Anti-Semitism in the outside world and online, including on this site, should be expected not to respond in anger, outrage or in whatever hell the way I feel is appropriate when it happens again. Because it will indeed happen again. I will not pretend that everything is happiness and light and love when it has been made abundantly clear to me by many, many people that is not the case. That's not an assumption or an accusation that other people are "chumps." It is however a rejection of a fantasy in favor of reality.

I don't really use violent metaphors in the politics threads (and will definitely try to make sure I don't in the future.)

But telling me that I can combat anti-Semitism with love is seriously pretty offensive to me. My people were subjected to an attempted genocide in the modern era.

I'm sorry if this sentiment offends you or anyone else. But i'm 100% with maxsparver on this. It's not my emotional burden to make people feel better about my reaction against hate directed towards me or mine. I hope I would be aware enough not to try to dictate such a thing to others.
posted by zarq at 6:41 PM on May 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


maxsparber.

Sorry for the typo, max.
posted by zarq at 8:40 PM on May 2, 2018


Just want to say that I really appreciate what zarq is saying here. I've tried to express my frustration with the calls for pacifism / love-based resistance in the face of violent oppression. I think I just am not as verbally dexterous or something because I can't seem to really communicate how bone-deep that stuff hurts to see and is frankly a bit enraging. Anyways. You said it right, and I just wanted to say thank you.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:30 AM on May 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


With regards to violence and politics -- At some point violence is the avenue for change in politics. Not that so-and-so wanting to punch political-jerk #647 is the same thing, but we live in a civilization fundamentally built upon violence and the threat of violence. To ask us all to be pacifist at all times about is to ask us to give up and take it. Again, I get the mission of just the throwaway violent comments, but I do believe at some point heads do need to be on a guillotine for real change to come, given our world of violent oppression and rule.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:13 PM on May 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Once again (and I feel weary saying this, because it's been said many times before, but people seem determined not to get it), nobody's telling you not to be angry. Nobody's telling you not to want people guillotined. Nobody's telling you not to feel whatever the hell you feel, or to refrain from expressing it loudly and profanely. You're free to do as you like! The (gentle) request that was made was that people not express their violent fantasies here on MetaFilter, to spare the feelings of some of their fellow MeFites. Is that really so awful? I just don't get the GRAR I'M MAD AS HELL AND I WON'T SHUT UP ABOUT IT reaction.
posted by languagehat at 10:52 AM on May 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


Please read more carefully so you can figure out which comment I was replying to and why.
posted by zarq at 8:06 PM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


No offense, languagehat, but I so got whupped for saying people learn how to not take things personally and got smacked with what about the people who can't ? Jeez Louise, talk about begging the question. We aren't on gurneys here.

I'm happy with not going with the violent language because I just don't in the first place. But rot in Hell is a figure of speech and saying otherwise is a bridge too far for me. That said, I am out of here.
posted by y2karl at 8:49 PM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Is that really so awful? I just don't get the GRAR I'M MAD AS HELL AND I WON'T SHUT UP ABOUT IT reaction.

If you don't get the reaction, whatever. But that's a crappy way to describe the opinions of people who disagree with you.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:26 AM on May 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


It never ceases to amaze me how sensitive the GRAR I WANNA USE VIOLENT TALK folks are about any criticism from others.
posted by languagehat at 10:17 AM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


From now on, all my comments in political threads will just say, “GRAR I WANNA USE VIOLENT TALK.”
posted by michaelh at 10:28 AM on May 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


but I do believe at some point heads do need to be on a guillotine for real change to come, given our world of violent oppression and rule.

I'm just surprised that Metafilter was the place that convinced me to vote against the death penalty is now A-OK with it for certain people.

Also, I guess that's why they call it capital punishment.
posted by FJT at 3:13 PM on May 5, 2018 [9 favorites]


metatalk: a crappy way to describe the opinions of people who disagree with you.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:13 PM on May 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think it's not unreasonable to ask for a mod fiat ruling on this, at least temporarily, similar to the heightened advisories on the politics thread.

John McCain's about to meet his maker any day now, and if we don't have clear lines about what talk is and isn't acceptable, his obit thread is going to be this same discussion x100.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:30 PM on May 6, 2018


I think it is so unreasonable to make such an overstated assumption. X100 ? Puh-leeze.

But I can only speak for myself. Not other people. Nobody appointed me hall monitor, least of all myself.

All I know is I won't be there to say anything other than a statement of measured respect when John McCain meets his mother.

Let us not catastrophize. I never say shit about people like I heard I heard said about Ann Coulter way back when, which was venomous and rapey, and I suspect a lot of other members have gotten the message heard here and will trim their sails accordingly.

But perhaps I am being a fool.

Nevertheless, I think it is a fool's errand to play Mini Me Savanarola. People need to dial it back, agreed ? Well, then don't overhype.
posted by y2karl at 4:46 AM on May 7, 2018


It never ceases to amaze me how sensitive the GRAR I WANNA USE VIOLENT TALK folks are about any criticism from others.

hahah, not sensitive at all, I just think that saying GRAR I'M MAD AS HELL AND I WON'T SHUT UP ABOUT IT is about as helpful as saying WAAAAH I'M A CRYBABY WHO CAN'T HANDLE READING WORDS - neither one is a criticism really, they're closer to insults of Mefites who feel differently about what level of comments should be appropriate/expected on MeFi
posted by 23skidoo at 5:20 PM on May 18, 2018


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