Racist, inflammatory, trolling newsfilter post February 22, 2003 11:58 PM   Subscribe

This thread, despite generating a huge response, is

A.) Newsfilter
B.) Racist, inflammatory, and designed as nothing more than a troll. I realize that MaddD enjoys posts that cause controversy, as evidenced by his topic post history, but suggesting that grieving parents should be shackled to a floor because of their immigration status seems a little much.
posted by dejah420 to Etiquette/Policy at 11:58 PM (95 comments total)

And? I mean, everyone agrees. I don't know what calling it out here will accomplish that hasn't already been said in the thread. Many people will claim MattD's a dick. Then again, a few will argue contrarian positions. Pretty much what's already happened in the thread for seven hours & 160 comments. A lot of noise, the sooner left to die, the better.
posted by jonson at 12:08 AM on February 23, 2003


The post was horrible, but I'll admit to enjoying reading the thread. It was interesting reading opinions about a controversial issue when everyone has their gloves off. There are some good, passionate, reasoned posts in there.

I don't see a problem with his posting history. There a few trolls, but the majority seem to be good threads.
posted by phatboy at 12:14 AM on February 23, 2003


If that had have been the first thing I had read upon first seeing this place, I never would have come back, that much is certain.
posted by Fabulon7 at 12:21 AM on February 23, 2003


Racist

Again, the term "racist" is inappropriate and uncalled for. Outrage at the fact that illegal aliens can be smuggled into the United States for transplants (or for any reason) is perfectly justified, be they from Mexico, Canada or Saudi Arabia. It's illegal.

I do agree that it is a pretty blatantly newsy post, and is available on most major news outlets, and I agree with the criticism of the newsiness 100%. I've heard that MetaFilter is not the place for debates either, but who knows for sure?

Also, the provocative FPP phrasing and tone didn't help in stimulating a meaningful discussion, but how many times has it been said: "if you don't like it, skip it"?

What really worries me more, however, are the horrifying personal attacks on MattD. Yes, he stated his case and his outrage rather strongly, as many in MetaFilter do, but to respond to his frustration with vitriolic comments like "I hate you" and "I loath(e) you", and other more threatening personal insults is much more distasteful, gratuitious, disgusting and mostly surreal.
posted by hama7 at 12:53 AM on February 23, 2003


I for one am grateful that it is unlikely that the paths of MattD and myself shall ever cross.
posted by scottymac at 12:55 AM on February 23, 2003


MattD is crafting a persona.
Let's help!
Is there anyplace else we can meet to talk about him?
posted by Opus Dark at 12:59 AM on February 23, 2003


1) What hama7 said. There was nothing racist about the post, and the venomous personal attacks on MattD were far more out of line than anything he said.

2) It's gotten almost 200 posts in 7 hours (by far the most active thread in at least the last week) and has been quite an interesting discussion. Kind of makes it a good post by default.
posted by aaron at 1:02 AM on February 23, 2003


I think what Metafilter needs is a giant bottle of ipecac that we can pass around to posters who quite evidently have a surplus of bile that needs donating to the porcelain god. It would have gotten a lot of use in the thread in question here...
posted by Mark Doner at 1:13 AM on February 23, 2003


I think Metafilter has good discussion because it has fewer ideologues and more people who are willing to dig deeper for information and think things through.

Not only did MattD come across as an ideologue and bring out other ideologues, but he presented the barest of facts, and anyone who wanted to know about the issue had to wade through a ton of comments or do the research all on their own.

That's why there are 200 comments in short period of time; there are a bunch of confused people acting only on their ideological instincts rather than information. Generating 200 comments is absolutely meaningless if the comments are of low quality. This is a truly terrible post, and by far the worst I've seen here on Metafilter.

</returns to lurking and judging from afar>
posted by Llama-Lime at 1:35 AM on February 23, 2003


That's not signal, aaron, that's noise in the channel.

And hama7, again with the disingenuous bleating about definitions of racism? The racism here is right beneath the surface, you don't even have to dig very far.

Irish construction workers in New York City, adorable Japanese "artists" in SF who - oops! - accidentally overstay their student visas by six years - these are not the people we discuss in terms of shackling to the floor of a BuP plane. In America, in 2003, darker skin still correlates strongly to complaints such as MattD's.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:27 AM on February 23, 2003


And hama7, again with the disingenuous bleating about definitions of racism?

Now you know that's just silly. I don't know how you get from "illegal immigrants" to "darker skin". That association may very well do more to describe the accusers than the accused in this case, no?

I don't buy smokescreen accusations of racism any more than I condone the smuggling of illegal aliens of any stripe, race, religion or creed. They're all equal in their illegality. What's more, they disgrace the honorable people who immigrate legally.
posted by hama7 at 3:48 AM on February 23, 2003


If I were Matt I would have deleted the post, but by the time he saw it it was probably too late.

And what we might forget is that we get READ by a lot of people in the news system. If this thread gets quoted nationally won't WE all look lovely.
posted by konolia at 3:53 AM on February 23, 2003


Would anyone care to hear my opinion? No? OK, nevermind then. ;-P
posted by mischief at 4:17 AM on February 23, 2003


If I were Matt I would have deleted the post, but by the time he saw it it was probably too late.

Too late? No such thing as too late. It's his site, and Matt Haughey calls the shots.

If it were me I would yank it and not even apologise.

Also, I'd replace all yanked posts with a big yellow smiley face. But that's me.
posted by bwg at 4:34 AM on February 23, 2003


What really worries me more, however, are the horrifying personal attacks on MattD

Maybe it's because his comments were horrifying personal attacks on "Illegal aliens", (how, how can a person be "illegal"? That's a monstrous deformation of language that I find loathsome), that deserved "a paddy wagon waiting for them", "A bumpy flight to Mexico, shackled to the floor of a Bureau of Prisons plane", those "worthless people", "such scum", etc

This guy was looking for trouble, so please, there's no need defending him. Electronically slapping his face a bit isn't such a big deal.
posted by samelborp at 5:00 AM on February 23, 2003


welcome back, aaron.
posted by PrinceValium at 5:20 AM on February 23, 2003


So far, I've read about half the thread. The assumptions made by those who are so vehemently [the patients family] that the organs would have been acceptable and in good condition were premature: a definitive statement has yet to be made on that.

I also thought it was most interesting how many folks took a reverse ideological position of the transplant issue, based on their support, or lack thereof, for pro-immigration/anti-racist policies.

i.e., the essentially co-operative, nay socialist principles of welfare, access to healthcare, sharing of resources, compulsion in social arena, was taken by hama7/mattd, et al; the personal freedom, 'each case on its merits' angle was mostly supported by the lefties.

I guess it's not surprising that race/immigration trumped all, when the initial post was so starkly presented.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:56 AM on February 23, 2003


I don't think it broke that way at all. I think it broke, instead, along coercionist/libertarian lines.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:02 AM on February 23, 2003


i dont know where youre talking about opus but if you keep harassing me in this manner i shall be forced to assume control of metafilter.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:17 AM on February 23, 2003


I skipped the thing entirely.

I'd be curious to know, though, if any of you would have pressed the "this is good" button on that thread if Matt hat it implemented.
posted by crunchland at 6:31 AM on February 23, 2003


I have opinions about the topics and issues raised in this thread, but I can honestly say that nothing about this case makes me feel quite as nauseous as watching the progression of this thread. Yeah, I'm one of those MeFi "oldtimers" who laments on occasion the degenerating quality of our discourse, but I can leave now secure in the knowledge that there's not much lower you people can sink.

Yes, MattD's contentious tone started us off, but it's been all down hill from that point on. Like somebody above, I too hope this thread remains permalinked: because it marks the day I completely lost respect for "the MetaFilter community." Good God but you are a bunch sanctimonious assholes and I'm ashamed to admit I've been one of you. Nothing about the original post or anything else MattD subsequently said warrants this kind of juvenile, river sludge "fuck you fuck you no fuck you" responses I see here. Christ on a crutch, people, grow the fuck up.

Maybe Laurie Garrett was right about you all along...
posted by JollyWanker at 6:59 AM on February 23, 2003


From the "Wow, did they really say that in consecutive sentences!" department:

1) Nothing about the original post or anything else MattD subsequently said warrants this kind of juvenile, river sludge "fuck you fuck you no fuck you" responses I see here.

2) Good God but you are a bunch sanctimonious assholes and I'm ashamed to admit I've been one of you.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:04 AM on February 23, 2003


That was a truly ugly thread, when I first came across it I avoided comment figuring it was a blatant troll and would quickly be deleted. Shows what I know.

As far as personal attacks on everyones favorite attorney go, too damn bad. The guy posts in an inflammatory manner, responds to criticism first with legalese and when that fails resorts to some inane babble about morality. I'm sure he can handle a few electrons bouncing off his forehead and if not should maybe reconsider his habit of posting vitriol laced rhetoric. I would be far more disturbed if people sat passively by and failed to attack the person of someone utterly devoid of compassion who chooses to insult a grieving family without a shred of evidence or knowledge to back up his assertion that they are 'scum'.

Despite their awful mistake the only people who come out of this with any shred of dignity are the medical professionals who weigh transplant recipient suitability based on medical need and prognosis rather than on immigration status or nationality. It's too bad that there are people lurking about this joint who are so anxious to leap on very opportunity to politicize tragedy.
posted by cedar at 7:05 AM on February 23, 2003


Again, the term "racist" is inappropriate and uncalled for.

What does it take for something to be racist? Does he have to come right out and fling epithets? Race is clearly an issue with MattD, despite his attempts to create plausible deniability by not coming right out and calling the family "wetbacks." Or maybe that wouldn't be enough for you.

At some point in that thread, MattD uses the phrase "if they had a single shred of decency en sus cuerpos." En sus cuerpos is not a legal phrase, nor is it a common slang phrase. He's using Spanish as a reference to their ethnicity. That usage, coupled with "Their (lack of) immigration status matters a great deal, because it makes abundantly clear their absolute lack of personal character" (i.e., equating being an illegal alien with a lack of character) is pretty clearly racist to anyone who doesn't purposefully blind himself for his own political purposes.
posted by anapestic at 7:08 AM on February 23, 2003


Oh, and JollyWanker, go ahead and let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
posted by anapestic at 7:10 AM on February 23, 2003


I have an ethical question here (where's Randy Cohen?).

I was deeply shocked by the tone of this post, and went to MattD's webpage and found that his personal page mentioned prominently that he was "active in Republican party politics..." and made a snide (yes, I'll admit it...) remark about compassionate conservatives. Some took me to task for this. Was I wrong to do so?

My thoughts/justifications:

1/ He freely listed his homepage on his user ID page. (something I don't do)
2/ He prominently mentioned his political party affiliation on his homepage. (something I don't do)
3/ Yes, it was a snide remark, but I was appalled by his post, but instead of calling him a fl***head, I chided him for his chosen politics and suggested that it might be indicative of his insensitivity.

Thoughts?
posted by jpburns at 7:17 AM on February 23, 2003


Yeah, I'm one of those MeFi "oldtimers" who laments on occasion the degenerating quality of our discourse, but I can leave now secure in the knowledge that there's not much lower you people can sink.

Please, let's not rehash this user number = credibility and maturity nonsense. On the other hand, your on the cusp of the 14K influx... and we all know about them.

Good God but you are a bunch sanctimonious assholes.

Very nice, firing off insults at a community on your way out is certainly going raise the level of discourse. Nitwit.
posted by cedar at 7:22 AM on February 23, 2003


Oops! Of course, that should be f***head.

Sorry.
posted by jpburns at 7:23 AM on February 23, 2003


I think you mean fuckhead.
posted by angry modem at 7:34 AM on February 23, 2003


... errr, no. I actually meant fishhead.
posted by jpburns at 7:45 AM on February 23, 2003


"but by the time he saw it it was probably too late."

It's never too late. Deleting a thread like this sends a message. And for all our bitching, there is only one person who can send that message.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:09 AM on February 23, 2003


Deleting a thread like this sends a message. And for all our bitching, there is only one person who can send that message.

Jesus. You make it sound like Matt's not submitting to weapons inspections. "Matt MUST delete this or his credibility will be shattered!" ;)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:40 AM on February 23, 2003


I don't see the reason for this metatalk thread, honestly. I'm sure 99% of people agree it was pure flamebait, posted by someone who was angry and used it as an excuse to vilify their pet issue (immigration). The original post doesn't represent MetaFilter in a very positive light, and the anger that started it continued inside, but all that spleen venting seems like a good thing because some lengthy discussions came out of it, however heated they were.

As for racism, there's no discussion whatsoever. He called people "worthless" based only on their immigration status.

I'm sure the thread by TedW will be better.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:54 AM on February 23, 2003


Although there's plenty of repulsive vitriol on both sides in that thread, I thought that there were SOME calm, thoughtful comments there that gave me a better perspective on this issue than I would have had sans MeFi. Overall, yeah, it sucked and exposed some unpleasantly naked humanity. But don't blame everyone.
posted by gsteff at 9:13 AM on February 23, 2003


Wow. For the very first time, I find myself in 100% agreement with hama7, who in much of his first post in this thread is exactly and inarguably correct.

Yeah, I'm one of those MeFi "oldtimers" who laments on occasion the degenerating quality of our discourse, but I can leave now secure in the knowledge that there's not much lower you people can sink.

Well, JollyWanker, I have already left, but the juvenile, offensive, personally agressive (bordering slander--or even hate speech), and unreprimanded-by-the-powers-that-be behavior of many members in that thread make me celebrate that decision and know that it was right. There was nothing wrong with the post, whether one agrees with its position or not; there was a great deal wrong with the timbre of the responses in the thread. You should all be deeply ashamed, you self-righteous, intolerant twits.
posted by rushmc at 9:14 AM on February 23, 2003


Don't. Post. Angry.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:25 AM on February 23, 2003


You should all be deeply ashamed, you self-righteous, intolerant twits.

It seems like it was maybe 3 or 4 people that would fit this description (including the original poster), with everyone else reacting to it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:53 AM on February 23, 2003


You make it sound like Matt's not submitting to weapons inspections.

Can't we have a discussion around here without dragging Iraq into it!? *bursts into tears, runs to room, slams door*
posted by y2karl at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2003


You should all be deeply ashamed, you self-righteous, intolerant twits.

he said, self-righteously.
posted by crunchland at 10:17 AM on February 23, 2003


you left, rushmc? Then how are you posting in this thread? Maybe I misunderstood what "left" means.
posted by jonson at 10:53 AM on February 23, 2003


...99% of people agree it was pure flamebait...

And they all bit. I mean who is really to blame here. It kind of interesting that everyone becomes ashamed when the people around here expose their true selves in a post like that. Big deal.
posted by Witty at 11:02 AM on February 23, 2003


MattD: The Jerry Springer Show and Rush Linbaugh called...


...they want their thread back.
posted by Dunvegan at 12:02 PM on February 23, 2003


MattD might be the first member banned by the membership.
posted by JohnR at 12:30 PM on February 23, 2003


"Don't. Post. Angry." is clearly good advice for yours truly. My post had the results of a troll, although I can honestly tell you that it was not intended to be that way. Frankly, it seemed at the time to me to be no less incindiery than (many) anti-war posts of late. Of course, that judgment of mine could have been wrong, and, in any event, I should have taken into account the increasing ideological tendency of Metafilter in terms of what kinds of incitements have what kind of effects.

However, to the extent it matters, I can see how other people posted angry themselves, and for that reason, I don't feel the need to take personally the -- absolutely incorrect -- accusations that my commentary was racist.

The quotes alledged to support those accusations don't support what they claim to prove. Most relevantly to this thread, the line "Their (lack of) immigration status matters a great deal, because it makes abundantly clear their absolute lack of personal character" is quoted without continuing to read the rest of that sentence, which said that the lack of character was due to a failure to reciprocate the benefits they'd received from a health system they didn't have the legal right to participate in.

The same thing could be said about the way accusations and assumptions were made regarding my political affiliation and profession. There is nothing distinctively Republican or upper-middle-class about my views on this issue, as at least one poster above has noted.

I think some people just look for any grounds to attack, and in so doing reveal their own prejudice (Republican = "bad", for example).
posted by MattD at 12:40 PM on February 23, 2003


There are all kinds of words that could be applied to MattD's post (and followups), but "racist" is not one I would use. He didn't say anything that referred to a specific race, and it seems pretty clear that he would've said the same things if the Santillen family was from Norway instead of Mexico.

Calling someone an "illegal alien" instead of an "undocumented immigrant" is not a racist statement -- it's a pejorative that could be used against members of any race.
posted by rcade at 12:42 PM on February 23, 2003


I think some people just look for any grounds to attack, and in so doing reveal their own prejudice

Oh the irony.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:59 PM on February 23, 2003


When the facts come in, if they prove Matt D.'s assertion wrong, I will be watching Metatalk eagerly for his heartfelt and lengthy apology.

If I die holding my breath, please note I am a card-carrying organ donor.
posted by konolia at 1:10 PM on February 23, 2003


Frankly, it seemed at the time to me to be no less incindiery than (many) anti-war posts of late.

But the target of your anger/disgust is a family that has just lost a child. I think most people consider such an event a sufficiently horrible experience that simple human compassion would override the need to make other points, at least for a while.

It's therefore natural to wonder what in your personality makes you unable to do that; to not manage a single note of compassion, and in fact, to wish even more pain upon them (the INS reference). It's hardly surprising that racism is suggested, since it certainly fits the bill. Perhaps your loathing comes from a higher place though.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:43 PM on February 23, 2003

racist
You guys are doing just fine without any prodding from me, however I believe that the word you are seeking instead of 'racist' is 'bigot'.

You're welcome!
posted by mischief at 2:22 PM on February 23, 2003


Xenophobe?
posted by konolia at 2:31 PM on February 23, 2003


MattD, I wouldn't compare your post to previous ones of a political nature.

We're talking about basic humanity in a complex situation: a daughter died in hospital care while surrounded by a series of complicating factors. Before all the facts were in, you posted while angry about their reported refusal to donate her organs and their immigration status, and ignored the humanity of a life lost.

People reacted to what appeared to be a gross lack of compassion.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:48 PM on February 23, 2003


Xenophobe suggests an equal-opportunity distaste for everyone else, but the original write-up has a pretty clear "back to Mexico, you parasites" subtext to it. Unlike a previous poster above, I doubt that white-skinned Norwegians would elicit such venom. The reaction seems more in line with someone angry that millions of anonymous brown-skinned peasants are ripping us off all the time, and here's a rare opportunity to lash out at one in the spotlight.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:53 PM on February 23, 2003


the personal freedom, 'each case on its merits' angle was mostly supported by the lefties.

fwiw, I'm a lefty and support the idea of an organ donation program, ie, if you opt in (or choose not to opt out, as the case may be) it is into the whole program, to give and to receive. The idea of accepting someone else's organs but refusing to donate yours is morally reprehensible.

I agree MattD's tone was unnecessary, but I think his posting record is mostly pretty good, and was surprised at the level of vitriol in response to him - I'd have thought people would just tell him to chill out a bit, but not completely reject everything he said.

I also can't help wondering if there's a little bit of reverse prejudice going on - would everyone have been as quick to defend the choice if it were a corporate CEO who accepted transplants but refused to donate? (Or, who had illegally managed to get into another country to get the surgery done to start with... though I agree that's not a major issue; who wouldn't do everything within their power to stay alive?) Maybe a lot of people wouldn't have had a different reaction, but I'm just curious.
posted by mdn at 2:54 PM on February 23, 2003


I'd be curious to know, though, if any of you would have pressed the "this is good" button on that thread if Matt hat it implemented.

Even with the bleating and vitriol, I thought the thread was fascinating and revealing (car crash fascinating and revelatory of a rarely examined and sometimes-nasty side of immigration-friendly America (or Canada or Australia), of course), and just might have [this is good]'ed it for those reasons. Then again, maybe not. But that's just me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:56 PM on February 23, 2003


Armitage Shanks: Where specifically do you find any evidence that his feelings are based on their skin color? Unless you can find something that supports -- rather than suggests -- your assumption, it's highly unfair to call someone a racist on the basis of mind-reading.
posted by rcade at 3:12 PM on February 23, 2003

pressed the "this is good" button
Most definitely! It WAS good. While some of you only saw the forest of venom, others of us saw through the emotion to enjoy the trees of underlying reasoned debate.
posted by mischief at 3:12 PM on February 23, 2003


stavros, that thread had me bug eyed and drooling with the shear nastiness of it all. When I was managing a small convenience store in a small town, a local teacher (my high school history teacher) and his wife were murdered by a serial killer (an interesting story in and of itself). The local sheriff hadn't a clue how to proceed, but local anger was too high for inaction to be a viable alternative. I actually watched a lynch mob form among the regulars of our noon-hour rush (just like you see in the movies). The only thing that stopped an out-pouring of violence was that they didn't have a viable subject for torture. That is precisely what I witnessed again last night on Mefi. Yes, there were the voices of reason, but mostly I saw outrage and vitriol; if not towards the illegal immigrant wetback cheating scum, then it was towards the racist foul vile worthless inhuman poster and his ilk. I've never seen anything online go so ugly so quickly. As fascinating as it truly was, there's not one chance in hell I would have voted that thread good.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:16 PM on February 23, 2003


Where specifically do you find any evidence that his feelings are based on their skin color?

I'm just looking for a hypothesis that explains the facts.

This is a story about a family that would (not surprisingly) do just about anything to save their child's life, a family who have just been through a week of unbelievable agony culminating in their child's death.

Given that, what does it take to go on a public forum and not just castigate them, but even spin out a little personal fantasy about how they can be made to suffer more at the hands of the INS?

Obviously, hatred for Mexicans in general would be one explanation. I'm all ears for others.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 3:40 PM on February 23, 2003


(off topic) I probably should read some of my links carefully before I post them. It's Missoula, Montana, not "Missoulla", and it's Michael and Theresa Shook, not "Hook". Sorry. (/off topic)
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:02 PM on February 23, 2003


is the [this is good] button intended for the conversation as well as the post itself?
posted by angry modem at 4:10 PM on February 23, 2003


The post wasn't created to discuss compassion. If MetaFilter practiced outright compassion there'd never be an argument on here because everyone would accept everyone has a different opinion and that's that.

The post appears to have been set up to discuss the morality of whether you have exclusive rights over organs give to you by another person. My argument was 'yes', if you own them (i.e. you paid for them). Many argued 'no', from a purely emotional POV.

If the post was meant to discuss how sad this girl's death was, it'd have been pretty dull. People die everyday, we can't practice compassion over every single story here. Sometimes you need to argue the details.
posted by wackybrit at 4:11 PM on February 23, 2003


People die everyday, we can't practice compassion over every single story here. Sometimes you need to argue the details.

As Dunvegan demonstrated in his comments, it was possible to do both. Anyway, it's not a question of bending over backwards to be kind; it's just a question of not derailing the conversation from the beginning with pointlessly vicious speculation about how we can send them back to Mexico in chains.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 4:28 PM on February 23, 2003


I don't want to rehash the substantive exchange, but somewhere buried in the thread, I argued that the compassion that matters is not that of people talking to each other on the web (us), but actually extending hope and support to someone in need when such hope and support was extended you in your time of need. The Santillans had the chance to be thus compassionate, and refused -- the heart of my anger and the root of this entire (regretable? I'm not sure) situation.

By the way, I've had some very interesting e-mail last night and today. I will respect my correspondents privacy, but there were many thought provoking responses.
posted by MattD at 5:08 PM on February 23, 2003


I proudly wear a T-shirt that reads, "Life Takes Guts: Be An Organ Donor," at least once a week, usually at the gym. Given the problems involved in keeping up with who is and is not an organ donor, I'm leaning in favor of mandatory organ donations. Consequently, I could see in MattD's post the *makings* of an argument against the family here, especially if there were more information. But the sub-post thingie involving chains and Ashcroft was guaranteed to make the thread a train wreck, even on a Saturday evening, when metafilter is usually kinda quiet.
posted by raysmj at 5:25 PM on February 23, 2003


and it seems pretty clear that he would've said the same things if the Santillen family was from Norway instead of Mexico

It does? It doesn't seem clear to me at all, not one tiny bit. With not a single fiber en mi cuerpo do I believe that any of MattD's rhetoric would have been triggered, let alone reached quite the pitch of vitriol it did, if the family had been Norwegian.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:37 PM on February 23, 2003


You're right adam (and Armitage), it's better to just assume, because your assumption is obviously right. It doesn't matter what you think COULD have happened had the people been from Norway. They weren't. Therefore to judge MattD (or anyone else) based on that hypothetical idea is just wrong.
posted by Witty at 5:55 PM on February 23, 2003


I'm not judging MattD. The man convicts himself.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:11 PM on February 23, 2003


You're not looking for answers, Armitage -- you've already found one and settled on it.

The original message in this discussion said unequivocally that MattD's post was racist. Not "possibly racist," "seemingly racist," or anything else that expresses a notion that something else might be involved.

None of you has come up with specific language in his comments that shows why you feel this way -- yet he's already "convicted," to use Adam's fetchingly McCarthyist turn of phrase.

Clearly some of you are perfectly comfortable with that, and I find it as disturbing as his weirdly personal hatred for this grieving family.
posted by rcade at 6:21 PM on February 23, 2003

is the [this is good] button intended for the conversation as well as the post itself?
That's irrelevant. How people use this particular tool is absolutely unenforceable.
posted by mischief at 6:26 PM on February 23, 2003


You're not looking for answers, Armitage -- you've already found one and settled on it.

Nonsense. As I already said: "Obviously, hatred for Mexicans in general would be one explanation. I'm all ears for others." Apparently, you can't support another explanation either.

I find it as disturbing as his weirdly personal hatred for this grieving family.

What leads you to believe it's personal hatred for this family?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:34 PM on February 23, 2003


Raw self-righteousness with a side order of hot buttons; the saturday night special, disdainfully served with a thoroughly greasy spoon. Burp burp burp, fart fart fart, burp burp burp.
posted by Opus Dark at 6:47 PM on February 23, 2003


If you are genuinely open to other possibilities, I can't find much defense for your decision to post this comment.

But I'll take your word for it -- you and I both have doubts that his post was racist. The difference between us is that my doubts prevent me from accusing him of racism, while yours don't stop you from seeing a "pretty clear "back to Mexico, you parasites" subtext" against the "brown-skinned" that he would not express towards the "white-skinned."
posted by rcade at 6:47 PM on February 23, 2003


None of you has come up with specific language in his comments that shows why you feel this way -- yet he's already "convicted," to use Adam's fetchingly McCarthyist turn of phrase.

Actually, we have. If you're going to issue blanket statements, you have to read all the comments. I pointed out specific examples of what was racist.

Also, there's nothing particularly McCarthyist about "convicted," which is probably more of an allusion to MattD's profession than to anything else. McCarthy is a red herring here. It might serve to deflect the discussion from substance, but it's not relevant.
posted by anapestic at 6:56 PM on February 23, 2003


If you are genuinely open to other possibilities, I can't find much defense for your decision to post this comment.

Sigh. He wants these "illegal aliens" on "a bumpy flight to Mexico, shackled to the floor of a Bureau of Prisons plane". If you have a good alternate theory for the source of this kind of invective, let's hear it.

I mean, even Trent Lott wasn't that gratuitously nasty, in public anyway.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:02 PM on February 23, 2003


Well it wouldn't do any good to send Mexicans 'back to Canada'. What is so racist about "illegal alien"? Is it because it just doesn't have a nice modern PC ring to it? Please.
posted by Witty at 7:14 PM on February 23, 2003


Witty, did you just pop out of the pod by any chance?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 7:16 PM on February 23, 2003


Uhh? Sure. Yes, I did? Wait... NO, no I didn't. (I think)
posted by Witty at 7:30 PM on February 23, 2003


Anapestic: I made the mistake of thinking en sus cuerpos was Latin. I'll agree that it's an example of racist ridicule.

However, you're still overreaching when you make statements like this: "Race is clearly an issue with MattD, despite his attempts to create plausible deniability by not coming right out and calling the family 'wetbacks.'"

You're framing the rules of the game in a manner where an anti-racist can't lose: Your opponent is either an outward racist, using a term like wetback, or he's an inward racist, craftily hiding the fact with "plausible deniability." There's never a third choice.
posted by rcade at 8:25 PM on February 23, 2003


You're framing the rules of the game in a manner where an anti-racist can't lose: Your opponent is either an outward racist, using a term like wetback, or he's an inward racist, craftily hiding the fact with "plausible deniability." There's never a third choice.

Of course, there's a third choice: that someone isn't racist, and if there's neither grossly nor subtly racist language being used, then I'll go for that choice, but that's not the case here.

I said that race was clearly an issue with MattD because he used racist language, and I don't see how that's overreaching. There are people here who will maintain that you can't call someone on racism without the smoking gun of a blatant epithet, and I don't agree with that analysis. MattD's language was blatantly offensive but only subtly racist. Still, both the offensiveness and the racism are clear if one pays attention.
posted by anapestic at 8:42 PM on February 23, 2003


If you have a good alternate theory for the source of this kind of invective, let's hear it.

Armitage: Another possible explanation has been offered to you several times by different people. The pejorative "illegal alien" could be applied to any undocumented immigrant regardless of race.

While I initially shared your suspicions that his venom was racially motivated (I find the term "illegal alien" offensive), when I read all of his comments in the discussion, I thought people were calling him a racist out of rhetorical convenience rather than anything tangible.

I said that race was clearly an issue with MattD because he used racist language, and I don't see how that's overreaching.

Anapestic: That's not all you said. You also claimed he was trying to create "plausible deniability," and it's your crystal clear window into his soul I find objectionable.

You barely know the guy. He associates his full name, work address, and professional reputation with his profile here and has been a member for 2 1/2 years without a single negative remark being uttered about him in MetaTalk prior to today. Yet none of that buys him any benefit of the doubt.

Can you honestly say that the swift and certain impulse to call him a racist doesn't make you uncomfortable, especially when it's voiced by some people who are pseudonymous or otherwise detached from any accountability for their words? What kind of community are we building here?
posted by rcade at 9:28 PM on February 23, 2003


on the cusp of the 14K influx... and we all know about them.

Hey! I thought you were putting him down and then you go and hand out a huge compliment. I am confused.
posted by dg at 9:31 PM on February 23, 2003


So, rcade, now that we've agreed that the en sus cuerpos was racist, would you be so kind as to retract your smear of "McCarthyist"? It galls.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:25 PM on February 23, 2003


i was deeply and profoundly moved when i witnessed this corporate mercenary buttlicker calling someone else scum. this is why i love metafilter.
posted by quonsar at 5:35 AM on February 24, 2003


Sure, Adam ... the minute you express even a scintilla of doubt about the guy being a racist. Until then, we'll just let all of the smears hang in the air.
posted by rcade at 5:36 AM on February 24, 2003


About the Santillan family's decision not to donate Jesica's organs.

We have received several scathing e-mails from people who are concerned that the family refused to donate Jesica's organs. We want to make sure that there is an understanding of what has occurred. Jesica's mother had asked about donating Jesica's new heart and lungs, she thought it would be a shame for them to go to waste, and about donating Jesica's other organs. The doctors told the Santillans and Mr. Mahoney that the heart and lungs would not be serviceable for a re-transplant and that the kidneys and liver were ruined from being on life support for too lengthy a time and the other organs and tissues were so saturated with medications and anti-rejection drugs that they also would not be serviceable for donation. By the time that the doctors got around to telling the family that they may be able to use the corneas of Jesica's eyes (and that was all that would have been useable) the family had been put through the worst ordeal a family could face and a very tired and emotionally worn out mother took the advice of her legal counsel to leave Jesica as is, for the pending autopsy.
Please understand that the Santillan family and us here at JHC believe in the importance of donation. We are all extremely grateful to the two families who gave the most precious gift to Jesica to try to extend her life. The donation of the corneas, as we understand it, would not make a life saving impact for anyone.

Please consider becoming a donor and make sure to tell your family of your decision.

posted by mediareport at 3:29 AM EST on February 24


The crow will be served shortly.
posted by konolia at 7:37 AM on February 24, 2003


Can you honestly say that the swift and certain impulse to call him a racist doesn't make you uncomfortable, especially when it's voiced by some people who are pseudonymous or otherwise detached from any accountability for their words?

So does that mean that you have a window into my soul? How else do you know about the supposed "swift and certain impulse" that I have? In fact, I'm very careful about leveling a charge of racism at people, and I did it here with compelling evidence after a very careful consideration of what had been said. The idea that other people may have been cavalier with the charge or that they may generally confuse offensiveness with racism doesn't make me uncomfortable with my own analysis, since I'm not relying on anyone else's analysis. The fact that people are pseudonymous and lack accountability is often regrettable but not really any more relevant to this discussion than Senator McCarthy was relevant.
posted by anapestic at 7:50 AM on February 24, 2003


The sentiment I'm getting here, from you and Adam, is that people should choose their words carefully when they're talking about you. Got it.

But if you don't see the relevance of a group of anonymous or semi-anonymous people making facile accusations of racism, what more is there to say?
posted by rcade at 8:27 AM on February 24, 2003


rcade:

"Anonymous," sure, that'd trouble me.

But I'm easy to track down, and I either stand by my words or retract them as publicly as I offered them.

"Facile"? Was it? Seems merited & manifestly warranted in this circumstance.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:39 AM on February 24, 2003


I think that the overall course of this story over the last 48 hours reveals one of the major reasons why MetaFilter should not become a news filter (and did not even function as a newsfilter in this case). At this point in this story is impossible to tell exactly what is going on. We have a lot of outrage based on a single sentence in a news article that may well of been shooting from the hip. We have conflicting stories from both the medical center and the representatives of the family. Was racism a major factor in MattD's post? Possibly. Did MattD make a huge rush to judgement by condemning the family based on a single-source report from an organization facing litigation that might be seeking to spin the story as much as possible? Most certainly. The biggest conflict I saw in the post was between those who believe organ donation is a good thing and wanted to condemn the family for not donating, and those who believe that organ donation is a good thing and wanted to suspend judgement pending additional information.

Another example of this recently is the rather less severe argument over the phantom weapons ships based on a single anonymous "shipping industry" source.

Perhaps I'm focusing a bit too much on the "filter" aspect of MetaFilter. But come on here, basic high school critical thinking 101 here: never rely on a single source without examining why and how that source will be spinning the story. (And to be fair to Duke Medical Center, it is possible that the reporter or editor reduced, "They refused to donate organs because ..." to "They refused to donate organs.") I don't mind the news posts so much but I would appreciate at least some attempt at critical analysis and synthesis by linking to multiple perspectives.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:25 AM on February 24, 2003


never rely on a single source without examining why and how that source will be spinning the story

Good advice. Unfortunately, the more that a single source fits someone's personal agenda and/or prejudices, the less likely it is that they'll go looking for other viewpoints.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:36 AM on February 24, 2003


However loathsome the post, I support MattD's privilege to write from wherever his own passions may lie. In the thread, his initial passionate comment had something to do with the size of insurance premiums bills....

What really worries me more, however, are the horrifying personal attacks on MattD.

1) What hama7 said. There was nothing racist about the post, and the venomous personal attacks on MattD were far more out of line than anything he said.

Well, JollyWanker, I have already left, but the juvenile, offensive, personally agressive (bordering slander--or even hate speech), and unreprimanded-by-the-powers-that-be behavior of many members in that thread make me celebrate that decision and know that it was right. There was nothing wrong with the post, whether one agrees with its position or not; there was a great deal wrong with the timbre of the responses in the thread. You should all be deeply ashamed, you self-righteous, intolerant twits.


Personal attacks against MattD were wrong. But these condemnations -- condemnations of only those who responded to MattD's personal, self-righteous, offensive, venomous, intolerant, horrifying, "before-any-of-the-facts-were-in" labelling of grieving parents as "scum", "worthless persons" with an "...absolute lack of personal character...", and without "a single shred of decency" -- these selective condemnations.... are eloquent in their utter hypocrisy.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2003


is the [this is good] button intended for the conversation as well as the post itself?


[great] post by whoever at 12:56 PM PST - 1000 [terrible] comments (7 new)
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:19 PM on February 24, 2003


are eloquent in their utter hypocrisy.

Just in the nick of time! Thank you! I was beginning to forget what a hypocrite I am!

*clap* *clap* *clap*
posted by hama7 at 7:56 PM on February 24, 2003




You quote me in your post, I start a metatalk thread. Simple as that.
posted by hama7 at 2:53 PM on February 25, 2003


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