I am too good for this, and I am telling you that now. June 18, 2001 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Of all the cheap rhetorical tactics employed here, I think my favorite is "you people are sick and this conversation is beneath me, so I'm not participating except to note this fact" (#1, #2, #3, #4).
posted by rcade to Etiquette/Policy at 10:27 AM (32 comments total)

(not sure where you're wanting to go with this....)
posted by rebeccablood at 10:49 AM on June 18, 2001

I think I do. It's close to the "You people on MeFi" tactic of putting people in their place. I've come across many threads that I'd want to put my "this is awful, so I'm not participating" tag, but haven't yet only because some people actually find the dialog interesting. It's sorta like walking up to people having a discussion and telling them that they should stop because it's upsetting. In real life, as here, I just move along to somewhere else. If I'm was really upset and needed to say something, I would atleast explain why.
posted by samsara at 11:29 AM on June 18, 2001

It’s a cheap rhetorical tact employed everywhere, Rogers. It being on MetaFilter doesn’t make the posters or the site unique.

Prejudicial Language

Loaded or emotive terms are used to attach value or moral goodness to believing the proposition.

Right thinking Canadians will agree with me that we should have another free vote on capital punishment.

A reasonable person would agree that our income statement is too low.

Senator Turner claims that the new tax rate will reduce the deficit. (Here, the use of "claims" implies that what Turner says is false.)

The proposal is likely to be resisted by the bureaucrats on Parliament Hill. (Compare this to: The proposal is likely to be rejected by officials on Parliament Hill.)

Identify the prejudicial terms used (eg. "Right thinking Canadians" or "A reasonable person"). Show that disagreeing with the conclusion does not make a person "wrong thinking" or "unreasonable".

Cedarblom and Paulsen: 153, Davis: 62
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:43 AM on June 18, 2001

Y'know, looking back on those posts mentioned, I think I can say pretty honestly that I had a pretty good hand in their content. And, saying that, I really don't think it's a bad thing.

These folks were just absolutely against the running tide of the convo, felt strongly about it, and had their own 'last words' on the subject. There's nothing wrong with that. If I had a dollar for every time I got 'morally outraged' or 'righteously indignant', I'd own the company. The difference is, I wouldn't have let myself out so gracefully. ~smile~

None of those specific comments hurt me in the slightest. Did it hurt anyone that jpoulos was 'embarrassed to be part of Mefi" today? Hey - solid. But you know he's coming back as strong as ever tomorrow. Nor do I feel any remose about someone's sensitive nasal passages, should opinion go against rodii's. It's all good. Give him some air, and we'll be sparring in a thread or two.

We MeFi posters are close to some weird cyber-family, at times. I don't mind that occasionally someone needs to blow a steam valve and slam the door. Home is home, after all.
posted by Perigee at 1:20 PM on June 18, 2001

I brought it up here because I'm amused by the number of times people are resorting to it (most frequently liberals like me, by my guess). "Hi, everyone. Sorry to interrupt your conversation, but I would just like to point out that I'm morally superior to all of you and you disgust me. Now I must be going."

We kvetch here at great length about trolling. Isn't that a classic troll?
posted by rcade at 1:34 PM on June 18, 2001

Well, just between you and I, rcade, I tend to think the whole thing is keyed to topic. We've run quite a few 'Hot Button' issues lately, where opinions and emotions tend to run high. For some, there's a real sense of injustice and righteous indignation, and they're just idealistic enough to get well-and-truely pissed off. ~shrug~ I used to be that way myself, before I got old and cynical.

None of the guys who bowed out are 'evil snide trollbaiters' - ordinarily they're a smart bunch of writers: in this case, they just found themselves in a position where they felt they had to take a stand. ~smile~

I do understand, rcade: those comments irked me a bit too. But then you think, "Hey - they have strong feelings. That's OK..." And then let it slide off your back. They don't mean to be nasty - they're just really peeved at the direction of the flow. It's good. It's their right.

And frankly, I wish I felt that strongly about anything anymore. ~grin~
posted by Perigee at 1:43 PM on June 18, 2001

To take the home analogy a bit further, if you were at someone's house, and the conversation turns disturbing, revelling in death and torture, wouldn't you say something? I would.
I don't even think it's a cheap rhetorical device....what is the logical thing to say to someone who tells you they're happy another human is dead?
If people are being disgusting, it seems perfectly fine to me to remind them that they're being disgusting. People with unlimited anonymity tend to say things that are just repulsive.
posted by Doug at 1:44 PM on June 18, 2001

What would you say, Doug? I have my doubts that you've ever joined a face-to-face conversation by telling all the participants they are seriously fucked up and you're embarrassed to know them.
posted by rcade at 2:04 PM on June 18, 2001

Well, people are rarely as cruel and disturbing in real life as they are online, rcade. But, Graham, Lagado, and Rodii's comments were tame compared to what could have been said. Jpoulus said that he was, in essence, embarrassed to know them, and I think that's a very appropriate comment considering what was being discussed.
As to what I would say in such situations in real life; I can only say that I hope I would have the courage, if faced with similar remarks, to be as big a prick as I claim to be.
posted by Doug at 2:17 PM on June 18, 2001

I'll stand by my #2. It's not a "cheap rhetorical tactic" at all, it's an honest expression of my disgust at the bloodthirsty emotions being expressed in that thread. I'm sure lots of people disagree with me in that; that's fine. I'm not trying to impose my disgust on anyone, I'm trying to express it. Disgust is just as legitimate a thing to express as anything else in that thread. There are lots of threads I choose not to participate in; there are few where I'm actually moved to outrage. This was one.

I didn't hide from anybody; it wan't a cheap shot; I'm not anonymous; you can email me. If I claim any moral superiority, it's in this one, limited context, just like any of us do when we claim to be right and the other person wrong.

If my disgust irked anyone, good. It was meant to. Being reminded how other people view you is a useful thing to have happen in a community. It doesn't mean I hate you or I want you silenced. If the result is that you think I'm an asshole and you don't want to listen to me anymore, that's bad. I don't want to squander any "moral capital" I have here, and if I posted like that in every thread I'm sure I would be labelled a troll just like Parts over there. But I don't do that. So take my revulsion for what it is--the feeling of an imperfect, but sincerely contributing, member of this community that some of the discussions we've been having lately have gone too far. I don't insist that you agree.

Thanks to Doug and Perigee for understanding.
posted by rodii at 2:21 PM on June 18, 2001

If people are discussing an emotional subject like capital punishment or prison conditions and a variety of viewpoints are expressed, I don't think there's a lot of courage in acting like a big prick and condemning everybody but yourself.

I guess what I'm saying boils down to this: Attack the person, not the room.
posted by rcade at 2:25 PM on June 18, 2001

Ok, Padre, I think you've made it very clear what you're saying by now.
posted by rodii at 2:27 PM on June 18, 2001

If the result is that you think I'm an asshole and you don't want to listen to me anymore, that's bad.

I can't say I'm that strongly aggravated by it, but as a participant in the capital punishment thread, what should my response be to your disgust? Most of us would react pretty unfavorably if we were engaged in a discussion about gay rights and a religious fundamentalist showed up to express his deep sense of moral outrage.
posted by rcade at 2:43 PM on June 18, 2001

Guess what? People use cheap tactics on MeFi every day. As long as people are only willing to fight some scumbag actions as unacceptable, I'm going to say "let them all be acceptable."

MeFites LOVE an anything goes atmosphere, until something comes up that bugs them personally. Then suddenly it's a big problem that must be discussed. The hell with it. You people<tm> get what you deserve.
posted by aaron at 2:56 PM on June 18, 2001

aaron: you find nofundy's point by point deconstruction of your post to be a cheap tactic?

I'm a little confused. you're angry about what he wrote? - rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 3:25 PM on June 18, 2001

Whiners suck.
posted by Perigee at 4:57 PM on June 18, 2001

Whining about whiners sucks even more.
posted by darukaru at 5:56 PM on June 18, 2001

I can't say I'm that strongly aggravated by it, but as a participant in the capital punishment thread, what should my response be to your disgust?

It's a good question. I guess I think the most constructive response would be to stop and ask yourself, "am I being an asshole"? If you can honestly say "no," then you should ignore me (or flame me, whatever). If you say "hmm, maybe I'm overdoing it," then you should tone it down. My disgust is just a data point like any other, and your response to it depends partly on what you think of me (probably nothing in particular) and partly on your own sense of self (to state it kind of pompously).

If lots of people express their disgust, or a few people whose opinions you value a lot, presumably this reality check has more force--or you go the flame warrior route and become PrivateParts.

The "fundy in the ointment" problem is a thorny one, I think. Unless you can allow the possibility, however remote, that the fundy's moral outrage might somehow have a chance, remote as it may be, of actually persuading you, you're not really arguing fairly. But I agree, simply blurting out your anger, like I did, lessens the chance of that happening.
= = =
I've apologized in email to Rogers for the (somewhat pointless) "Padre" comment above. Hope nobody took it seriously.
posted by rodii at 7:08 PM on June 18, 2001

I made the list! Yippee!

Of course, I really should learn to shut up. The number of times I close my browser window rather than comment in a thread is rather high. Just not high enough, I guess.

Mental note to self: Must avoid capital punishment threads, the opinions expressed there sometimes I find to be pretty scary...
posted by lagado at 9:35 PM on June 18, 2001

This is so fucked up that it should even be an issue at all! Why do I even click on metatalk anymore?

Anyhow, of all the substantive posts each and everyone of the infringers have made, I think we can grant them (all of us!!) clearance. We'll always find a problem with this guy's tact and that gal's nerve. Nevertheless, we're all here for the same thing. . .I'm guessing that would be inspiration, motivation, gratification, and sometimes humiliation. Sweat's forming under my armpits. Whooo-eee!
posted by crasspastor at 2:29 AM on June 19, 2001

Oh shit! Also information.
posted by crasspastor at 2:30 AM on June 19, 2001

I brought it up here because I'm amused by the number of times people are resorting to it (most frequently liberals like me, by my guess).

I also object to the innuendo that I am a "liberal". Where I come from a liberal is a conservative.

Anyone who calls me a liberal is trolling...

posted by lagado at 5:09 AM on June 19, 2001

information is forming under your armpits? i think i'll stick to google :)
posted by sawks at 5:18 AM on June 19, 2001

Of course, I really should learn to shut up.

I tell myself that at least once or twice a week on MetaFilter.

posted by rcade at 6:29 AM on June 19, 2001

metafilter: 1% information, 99% perspiration.
Someone apply a roll-on, stat!
posted by darukaru at 7:30 AM on June 19, 2001

information is forming under your armpits?

I'll bet people hate reading essays that form this way.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:50 AM on June 19, 2001

Metafilter is being ruined by reactionary opinions re "hot button" issues. It's extremely tiresome. It's not that it's conservative. It's just reactionary and primal. The Bill O'Reilly thing yesterday was the nadir of all of it. The man had not one intelligent or serious thing to say. I posted an article from Slate on prisoner re-entry issues. There are plenty of stupid posts to be found on their "fray," discussion site in reaction to the article. But I found more informative posts there as a whole on prison-related issues than any here. Sure, you have Bush attack threads here, but they don't get to be so darned long.
posted by raysmj at 10:58 AM on June 19, 2001


So everybody in favor of covering only puff pieces in Mefi, raise your hand...

Weather is good. Pictures of cats in trees are fine. Just no politics, morality questions, social issues or topics that fire personal belief systems.

Lets keep things light, here, people: Political Correctness is overdue in Mefi!

posted by Perigee at 12:24 PM on June 19, 2001

The Bill O'Reilly thing was fluffy, in the sense of there being no weight to it. Exactly my point.
posted by raysmj at 12:44 PM on June 19, 2001

Weather is good.

Well . . . actually, I get all snotty about weather. With people I like, no less. And then I'm called "no fun" by other people I like [ :) ]. So weather better stay off the list.

Summary: Just about anything can set someone off like illegal fireworks in July.
posted by iceberg273 at 12:46 PM on June 19, 2001

OK, I'm back. Do I have anything to defend my #1 above? Not really. It was childish, maybe, unneccesarily confrontational. I don't think it was a "cheap rhetorical tactic," though. It wasn't a "tactic" at all. I said what I said, then I left the thread. I wasn't trying to rile people up, or offend them, or toss my vitriol out there then stand back like a troll and watch.

We've had several months of "fry McVeigh" talk around here--thread after thread of people competing to come up with the most horrendous torture they could suggest to punish the Mad Bomber. Walking in on a Monday morning to find an American Gulag thread was too much, and I snapped. I should have kept it to myself and ignored the thread, but I didn't.

I like Perigee's analogy that MeFi is a sort of family. I'm here every day. I've come to know and respect many of the users here, regardless of their political stance. I don't always (even "often") agree with people here, but I usually tolerate and respect their views. What happened yesterday, though, was something different. It was the equivalent of attending your family reunion only to find out that Cousin George is a member of the Klan, or a child rapist, or ran the gas chamber at Auschwitz. I couldn't stand to be associated with it.

I'm sure I take MeFi too seriously at times, but I consider it more than a pleasant pastime. I've learned a lot through the links and discussions I read here, and I'm a different person than I was when I joined last year. If, after all we've discussed together, we still haven't established that state-sponsored Death Camps are BAD, what good is it at all? Is it just intellectual masturbation? Is it all about posturing? Out-snarking each other in a thread? Having the link with the most comments?

In the end, I realize that most of the comments in the gulag thread were opposed to the idea. I realize that some people who weren't just get off on sounding like a bad-ass. And I realize that some people simply have views that I can't imagine having myself. Such is life.

I can't say I'll never spit like that again, but my skin's a little thicker for having dealt with this. And, like it or not (and I don't), and as hard to believe as it may be, I'm a little more cynical. Again, such is life.

As is Life, so is MeFi.

[sorry for the novella. I had to make up for lost time :-) ]
posted by jpoulos at 2:13 PM on June 19, 2001

I think it's a pity when a troll -- the O'Reilly piece -- exhausts people to the extent that they just shy away from more productive triggers on similar topics.

There are glorious times when you get a transfusion, perhaps a few dozen posts in, when people have absorbed the spectrum of opinion and come back in terms that reconstruct the argument with a new depth and complexity.

And there are times when, quite frankly, I give too much of myself to MeFi: or at least, to thinking of the issues that MeFi addresses. I was insufferable to my family last night, having poured a fuck-load of emotional energy into the James Bulger thread. (It didn't help that my family, on the back of reading The Sun and watching the news, were like a resumption of what I'd left here.) At times like that, it's smart to back away. In fact, I think it's more than a rhetorical strategy to say in certain situations, "I back away." (That's what I do in abortion discussions, anyway.)

And like jpoulos, I'm glad of being part of a community that places my beliefs on the spot.
posted by holgate at 4:29 PM on June 19, 2001

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