Should a religous dietary question open the debate about theology? August 3, 2005 5:23 PM   Subscribe

When someone posts a serious question to AskMe in order to help properly observe a religious food law, do you:

(a) Answer the question, or
(b) Attempt to engage in theological debate about their religion?
posted by 김치 to Etiquette/Policy at 5:23 PM (146 comments total)

c) all of the above.
posted by 31d1 at 5:25 PM on August 3, 2005 [1 favorite]


(d) none of the above.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:30 PM on August 3, 2005


I was frustrated with the derail, and just now took the time to go back and flag some of the comments.

That was not great.
posted by frykitty at 5:32 PM on August 3, 2005


Cosine was completely out of line, I've flagged his stupid comment, and I wish people would pay attention to the rules. Answer the question or shut up. (Thanks for the callout; this deserves it.)
posted by languagehat at 5:34 PM on August 3, 2005


I think odinsdream answered it perfectly with "Arguments based on logic aren't going to mix too well with religious dogma."

Seriously. If you have a question about a facet of your religion, ask your pastor/mullah/rabbi/whatever. If you're looking for help with something that's going to affect your eternal soul (or whatever you believe), don't ask random strangers on the internets.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:34 PM on August 3, 2005


Sorry, I'm just saying.

I have similar difficulties with even trace amounts of meat in what I eat, and , after several years of being alive in the world, if I posted something about my little difficulty, I would be completely aware of, and expecting, that this sort of thing would occur. It's human nature to be curious, defensive, offensive, whatever. Some understanding and compassion and it's no big deal.

Man, marshmallows without animal gelatin are hard to find. And egg replacers all have eggs in them :(
posted by 31d1 at 5:34 PM on August 3, 2005


If you have a question about a facet of your religion

It was a question about vanilla and almond extract, not religion.
posted by frykitty at 5:38 PM on August 3, 2005


I saw this episode of "Dr. Phil" once about this guy whose daughter was straightedge or something, and he'd made a pie that had some tequila in it.

The daughter didn't know there was tequila in there, and she ate some of it. When she found out that there was tequila in the apple pie, she was devastated. It was tearing the family apart. I kept screaming at the screen: "THE ALCOHOL BOILS OUT! THE ALCOHOL BOILS OUT!"

But they never heard me.

There's a lesson in this somewhere.
posted by interrobang at 5:42 PM on August 3, 2005


No, it was "how do I enjoy this thing without violating my religion?" which is best left to clerics, IMHO.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:42 PM on August 3, 2005


That was, obviously, directed to frykitty.

*grumble preview grumble*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:43 PM on August 3, 2005


Yeah, seriously, frykitty.

All religions have arbitrary laws. Whether or not those laws actually correspond to the wishes of any "higher being" seems inconsequential to me. As long as the religious person isn't actively trying to harm things I care about, I don't give a flying rats Philadelphia fucking rats ass whether the religion prohibits alcohol, murder, or the nitrogen cycle.

The religious aspect was totally ancillary to the question. As I noted in my response, just treat it as a design constraint, and either answer the question or not. But, don't start a theological debate when the question is something entirely within the realm of physical, consensual reality.
posted by Netzapper at 5:45 PM on August 3, 2005


No, it was "how do I enjoy this thing without violating my religion?"

The actual question, which is the last sentence of the post:

How do I get avoid the bleh imitation stuff while still getting no alcohol in my flavoring?

The rest was just why parma was asking the question, and could have been left out.
posted by frykitty at 5:47 PM on August 3, 2005


No, it was "how do I enjoy this thing without violating my religion?" which is best left to clerics, IMHO.

If you remove the parenthetical phrase from the question, it is entirely about how to enjoy the taste of vanilla without the alcohol found in its extract. The parenthetical statement about religion was only to explain the reason for abstaining from alcohol.
posted by rhapsodie at 5:47 PM on August 3, 2005


I don't see that there's anything wrong with being curious about parma's reasons. However, there's a difference between derailing parma's legitimate thread, and simply posting a different AskMe question along the lines of:

Parma's question about avoiding alcohol got me wondering about food prohibitions... where does one draw the line on minute quantities of pork/alcohol/meat in kosher/halal/veganism.

In one case, you're derailing parma's question without providing any kind of answer to it, putting his religion on trial, and asking him to defend it. In the second case, you're simply inviting a philosophical discussion, in which parma (who was a good sport about it) may choose to participate, if interested.

Netzapper's answer was awesome, btw.
posted by 김치 at 5:47 PM on August 3, 2005


mr crash davis: No, it was "can I get the essential flavor of vanilla and almonds without alcohol?"

The question seems entirely within the realm of organic chemistry and food processing to me.
posted by Netzapper at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2005


like you really would have cared it was a christian doing the asking.

PS: Your username sucks.
posted by keswick at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2005


mr_crash_davis, the question is about almond extract. It's not about religion per se. The community here is likely to have a greater accumulated knowledge on food than a religious leader. The poster could have not mentioned religion or transplanted 'allergy'. Same diff. But I'd still argue that there's nothing provocative in their phrasing.
posted by peacay at 5:48 PM on August 3, 2005


mr_crash_davis, the question was, in fact "How do I get avoid the bleh imitation stuff while still getting no alcohol in my flavoring?"

And as for logic, how do you like this:
Alcohol is destructive for individuals and for societies, and whether the purpose of buying it is to become intoxicated or not, that purchase still benefits those who produce it. Just in case you care to consider the possibility that religious discipline can cause real world benefit.
posted by leapingsheep at 5:51 PM on August 3, 2005


Yeah, I flagged a bunch of that shit, too. If you don't know the answer, don't post an answer. Easy-peasy.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:51 PM on August 3, 2005


like you really would have cared it was a christian doing the asking.

keswick, I haven't made any assumptions about your motivations. I would appreciate it if you extended me the same courtesy. And yes, I would think that the derail was inappropriate if parma was Christian, Zoroastrian, scientologist, or whatever.
posted by 김치 at 5:52 PM on August 3, 2005


doesn't change the fact that your username sucks.
posted by keswick at 5:52 PM on August 3, 2005


neener neener.
posted by 김치 at 5:53 PM on August 3, 2005


"The poster could have not mentioned religion or transplanted 'allergy'. Same diff. But I'd still argue that there's nothing provocative in their phrasing"

No, the poster specifically mentioned religion as the sole basis for avoiding the alcohol, which makes it a theological question. You can dance around it all you like, substitute whatever words you like, but the question was "How can I do [X] without violating the tenets of my religion", which IMHO is something to take up with your clergy.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:58 PM on August 3, 2005


the question was "How can I do [X] without violating the tenets of my religion", which IMHO is something to take up with your clergy.

Even if this is this case, how does it justify derailing the question?
posted by 김치 at 6:01 PM on August 3, 2005


No, the poster specifically mentioned religion as the sole basis for avoiding the alcohol, which makes it a theological question.

Not really; the poster probably figured that the hive mind might have good substitutes for the flavor they were looking for. There are tens of thousands of us, after all.

Who knows how good a cook their mediators with their invisible superheroes are? Probably, there's a better cook here on metafilter.

Why was the religion issue raised by the poster? Maybe to avoid questions about alcoholism, or to avoid suggestions for other, alcohol-based flavor substitutes.

I agree that it's ridiculous to have a thousands-of-years-old text tell you what to eat, but the religion business sounded to me more like a caveat than anything else.
posted by interrobang at 6:02 PM on August 3, 2005


mr_crash_davis writes "the question was 'How can I do [X] without violating the tenets of my religion'"

No it wasn't. It was, and I quote exactly here, "How do I get avoid the bleh imitation stuff while still getting no alcohol in my flavoring?" Parma was looking for alcohol-free flavor extracts. And guess what! There were precise answers to that precise question in the thread, and they involved no theology whatsoever.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:04 PM on August 3, 2005


Those who started the theological debate in the AskMe thread were way out of line. It was essentially a cooking question. Jeez, I use artifical vanilla flavouring for economic reasons and don't notice any difference artificial and real, and you didn't see me saying so, because it wouldn't have been helpful.
posted by orange swan at 6:08 PM on August 3, 2005


mr_crash_davis writes "No, the poster specifically mentioned religion as the sole basis for avoiding the alcohol, which makes it a theological question."
No way. That's an explanation for their requirements. It has nothing directly to do with religion.
But anyhoooo....there was a lot of noise and disrespect. I agree with matildaben.
posted by peacay at 6:10 PM on August 3, 2005


If the religion had been named in the original question, I don't think the thread would have been shit upon. Leave the tiniest opening, prepare for a flood.
posted by smackfu at 6:10 PM on August 3, 2005


What part of "I cannot have even tiny amounts of alcohol in my food (for religious reasons)." are you people missing? The poster was very clear.

It's my contention that, if your religion is important enough to you that you're concerned over the tiny amount of alcohol in vanilla extract, you ought to consult your clergy. I don't see why so many panties are in a wad about it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:11 PM on August 3, 2005


crash: I'm not arguing with your contention. Is it fair to derail someone's question even if you think it can't be answered in this forum?
posted by 김치 at 6:20 PM on August 3, 2005


No, derailing a question isn't fair, but I've never said that it was. If we're arguing past each other, then I apologize.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:22 PM on August 3, 2005


If the question was worded the same way, but it was because the poster used to be an alcoholic and has sworn off alcohol entirely in every form, would it have been derailed?
posted by amberglow at 6:25 PM on August 3, 2005


Apologies likewise. The only thing I am questioning here is the derail.
posted by 김치 at 6:27 PM on August 3, 2005


It's my contention that, if your religion is important enough to you that you're concerned over the tiny amount of alcohol in vanilla extract, you ought to consult your clergy.

It's fantastic that you want to give unsolicited advice about other people's beliefs, but let's give the poster the benefit of the doubt here and assume that he has already examined his faith and decided that he doesn't really care what you think about his religion. If he cared for advice about the worth of his religion then he would have asked "Hey, MetaFilter, what do you think of my religion?", not "How can I get good vanilla extract without the alcohol?"
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 6:29 PM on August 3, 2005


mr_crash_davis writes "It's my contention that, if your religion is important enough to you that you're concerned over the tiny amount of alcohol in vanilla extract, you ought to consult your clergy"

Yeah, I guess my problem is that this contention on your part is absurd. It also makes sense to consult a friend who does a lot of cooking and who might know of an alcohol-free vanilla extract. In fact, I would be that you'd have better luck finding alcohol-free flavorings by asking a large online community than by asking a single member of the clergy.

I hold that the proof is in the pudding: the question was asked and answered without benefit of clergy or theological discussion. Your insistence that theological expertise was necessary is disproved by the thread itself.

mr_crash_davis writes "I don't see why so many panties are in a wad about it."

It was a big ugly derail, in violation of the AskMe guidelines. I just flagged the posts, but I don't blame 김치 for taking it to MeTa. It was pretty egregious.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:31 PM on August 3, 2005


3) Profit!
posted by crunchland at 6:32 PM on August 3, 2005


""THE ALCOHOL BOILS OUT! THE ALCOHOL BOILS OUT!""

interrobang, I used to to think the same thing but it evidently is not true. I would think it would be true if one were to use something with minute quantities of alcohol (like vanilla extract) but the possibility of at least a few molecules surviving is too great to mark it as clean.
posted by geoff. at 6:33 PM on August 3, 2005


I guess I stand corrected.
posted by interrobang at 6:37 PM on August 3, 2005


"It's fantastic that you want to give unsolicited advice about other people's beliefs.."

I don't want to give any advice about other people's beliefs, that's why I said he ought to ask a member of the clergy. But you go ahead and interpret it however you want if it makes you feel better.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:40 PM on August 3, 2005


Not to mention that asking 25,000 people on a website is hardly "unsolicited", but that's neither here nor there.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:41 PM on August 3, 2005


"I would be that you'd have better luck finding alcohol-free flavorings by asking a large online community than by asking a single member of the clergy"

I suppose you'd keep kosher on the advice of an online community rather than ask a rabbinical scholar, too?

As I've tried to point out, common sense doesn't necessarily equate with dogma.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:42 PM on August 3, 2005


Either one more total de-rail and/or unsolicited observation (you decide): are some folks still seeing 김치 (kim-chee)'s name as ?? I didn't think that was possible anymore, but it would explain some of the reactions here and in other threads I have noticed.

We now take you back to your previous discussion, whatever the heck it was about.
posted by yhbc at 6:49 PM on August 3, 2005


yhbc, I still see "two squares", which is fine.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:51 PM on August 3, 2005


crash, many do turn to their communities and families for advice and help on keeping kosher--why should this be different? Rabbis and scholars aren't authorities on it at all, i don't think. Regular people who cook, and keep kosher, are.
posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on August 3, 2005


"I'm a vegan. Can I consume sacrament without contradicting my morals?"
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 PM on August 3, 2005


I suppose you'd keep kosher on the advice of an online community rather than ask a rabbinical scholar, too?

If I wanted to find a store that sells kosher wine in Madison, WI, for example, I think AskMe would be a great place to ask.

That's exactly the kind of question that parma was asking. He was 100% clear on the theology; his question was purely material: where can I find an ingredient that meets this (very specific, easy to understand) requirement? This question was answered without resort to theological argument: AskMe users had ideas for sources of alcohol-free flavorings.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:53 PM on August 3, 2005


Crash is right. parma was asking for a critique of his/her mental acumen by saying that it was "for religious reasons." If s/he didn't want to run the question as a test s/he would have not made us privy to that irrelevant detail.

I'm not going to poop on the AskMe thread. But I will say here that parma is completely retarded for thinking that God created the universe and everything in it and yet will cast you out of paradise for eating an almond cookie.

Seriously, how does s/he have the ability to form whole sentences and yet thinks vanilla extract is against their creator?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:56 PM on August 3, 2005


As mentioned above, faith has nothing to do with logic.
posted by smackfu at 7:02 PM on August 3, 2005


The poster didn't ask for logic; they asked for an alcohol-free vanilla substitute, and explained why they wanted it.
posted by interrobang at 7:06 PM on August 3, 2005


And I hate *all* religion, probably more than the next guy, but in this case, the stuff in the ask me post is genuine noise, which I thought we were all cooperating to keep off ask metafilter.
posted by interrobang at 7:08 PM on August 3, 2005


I thought the poster mentioned religion as the reason for the "no alcohol" requirement on the assumption that people would be respectful enough to realize that the requirement was really not up for debate. Apparently the poster was mistaken.
posted by Tuwa at 7:14 PM on August 3, 2005


But I will say here that parma is completely retarded for thinking that God created the universe and everything in it and yet will cast you out of paradise for eating an almond cookie.

Wow.
posted by jeremias at 7:18 PM on August 3, 2005


And the ignorant post of the day goes to. . . Mayor Curley! He is nothing if not consistent.

I'm not going to poop on the AskMe thread.
- So I'll poop in the grey!

But I will say here that parma is completely retarded
- and look at how bravely politically incorrect I am too! Look at meeeeee!!

how does s/he have the ability to form whole sentences and yet thinks vanilla extract is against their creator?
- Religious people are dumb. They should be like "the Mayor."
posted by Quartermass at 7:22 PM on August 3, 2005


Yeah. Mayor, you're being a dick. Knock it off.
posted by yhbc at 7:23 PM on August 3, 2005


If the question was worded the same way, but it was because the poster used to be an alcoholic and has sworn off alcohol entirely in every form, would it have been derailed?
posted by amberglow at 6:25 PM PST on August 3 [!]


With this crowd, if he had stated that reason, half the people here would have jumped on him for being a quitter.

This wasn't a religious question, and those who criticized him for his beliefs should be ashamed. It was nothing more than an easy, cheap shot.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:27 PM on August 3, 2005


With this crowd, if he had stated that reason, half the people here would have jumped on him for being a quitter.

Actually, all the ask me questions about alcoholism have been extremely respectful and ecouraging.
posted by interrobang at 7:29 PM on August 3, 2005


Yeah, completely agree with you, interrobang. Although I still stand by the point I was making!
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:37 PM on August 3, 2005


I, for one, love 김치's username.

Oh, and the derailers are totally in the wrong here. Read the rules before you post.
posted by knave at 7:42 PM on August 3, 2005


i see box-box, not question-question nor glyph-glyph, regardless any encoding override i apply. meta is really ugly in utf-32...
posted by five fresh fish at 7:49 PM on August 3, 2005


Sometimes meta's not so pretty in utf-8 either, fff--as this thread clearly illustrates...
posted by Asparagirl at 7:54 PM on August 3, 2005


It was a practical question with a practical answer that may or may not require some specialized knowledge for the most correct answer. In what way is that any different from any good AskMe question?

The question in no way invites criticism of the asker's religion.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:59 PM on August 3, 2005


I wonder how many of the folks mocking the questioner would go apeshit if they were served food with a splash of milk (or even cooked where meat had been cooked).

Also, why is mocking Christains so universally accepted? Wouldn't someone saying "WTF? You don't eat pork? That's really stupid, what the fuck are you thinking" make you feel the least bit icky?
posted by null terminated at 8:01 PM on August 3, 2005


It seemed like a serious question to me, or one easy enough to take seriously. I removed a few of the off-topic replies and emailed the commenters before I saw this thread, so sorry if some of the earlier links don't make sense.
posted by jessamyn at 8:08 PM on August 3, 2005


I think kimchi is tasty.
posted by jb at 8:22 PM on August 3, 2005



Man, marshmallows without animal gelatin are hard to find. And egg replacers all have eggs in them :(

vegan marshmellows booyyyyyy YEAH

egg replacers (though you probably couldn't scramble em. Man, i missed eggs so much when I was vegan.)
posted by fishfucker at 9:06 PM on August 3, 2005


Eggs. ***shudder***

Who would ever want to eat a fart-flavored zit?

I say this as an atheist.
posted by interrobang at 9:17 PM on August 3, 2005


Mayor Moe: Crash is right.

That seals it-- 김치 wins.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:26 PM on August 3, 2005


It's my contention that, if your religion is important enough to you that you're concerned over the tiny amount of alcohol in vanilla extract, you ought to consult your clergy.

It's my contention that, if your pet is important enough to you that you're concerned over the tiny amount of smell in your dog, you ought to consult your vet.

It goes both ways. For the large majority of questions, we could probably direct the asker to some kind of authoritative source. Alas, welcome to the beauty of AskMeFi!!!
posted by jmd82 at 10:38 PM on August 3, 2005


Asking a cleric makes very little sense to me. The cleric will say either "No, don't worry about the extract" or "No, extract is unacceptable." Perhaps he might suggest an option or two, but chances are that the cleric of any sect of Islam so orthodox that the alcohol in extract matters probably doesn't know a damn thing about how to make tiramisu with alternative flavorings.

(I mean, I could easily be wrong. However, I know a couple of orthodox rabbis, and none of them seem the slightest bit interested in cooking Italian recipes. I would suspect that many Moslem clerics have similar xenophobic food habits. But as I said, my suspicions may be false.)

parma would then be left with the same question he had before: "how do I get natural flavorings of vanilla and almond without alcohol?"

The question deals with objective reality, and as such demands an answer dealing with objective reality. It has the same basic sentiment as "Where do I find a glatt kosher deli in New Brunswick?"

The answer there isn't, "Stop caring about keeping kosher" The answer is an address, geoloc coordinates, or some other method of locating such a deli. (Although, of course, the answer could be negatory, such as, "I've lived here the past five years, and have never found one.")

Similar questions might be, "Where do I find a ball bearing made of aluminum instead of steel?", "How can I get my cat clean without bathing him?", or "How do I field strip my Glock?"

The answers, "Steel is better than aluminum," "Teach your cat to like water", and "H&Ks are easier to strip than Glocks [sic]" do not answer the question, nor even attempt to.

What I find most depressing is that, instead of seeing the non-alcohol constraint as an interesting challenge, so many people simply indicted the problem definition.

Perhaps my training has taken too well, but I doubt I would get paid if I simply told my clients, "Um, just stop wanting custom software. Use notepad."
posted by Netzapper at 11:11 PM on August 3, 2005


People really have to be grownups about respecting one anothers' epistemological systems. For fuck's sake.
posted by scarabic at 11:31 PM on August 3, 2005


Apparently, avoiding alcohol in even trace amounts is nearly impossible. This renders the question somewhat pointless.
posted by euphorb at 11:42 PM on August 3, 2005


Yeah, I was going to ask that, euphorb: Doesn't alcohol naturally occur in small quantities in ripe fruit, yeasts, fruit juices, vinegars and who knows what else?

I can't imagine being such a food Jainist. Also, how does a Jainist even scratch their nose without decimating whole populations of bacteria and skin mites?
posted by loquacious at 12:48 AM on August 4, 2005


The proper word is "Jain".
posted by mr_roboto at 1:01 AM on August 4, 2005


I would also like to point out that not only is Mayor C being a utter jerk by the sheer sentiment of his post above but he has surely offended some other Mefites along the way.

But that really should come as no surprise to those that watch Mayor C's childish taunts and then his laughable defense of them.
posted by Dagobert at 1:10 AM on August 4, 2005


Doesn't alcohol naturally occur in small quantities in ripe fruit, yeasts, fruit juices, vinegars and who knows what else?

Okay, fine, but the question was not whether the worldview was viable, it's how to enjoy the flavor of vanilla without alcohol. No doubt this person has considered the trace amounts question in more depth than you have if they are LIVING THIS WAY. Once upon a time I dated a principled animal-rights vegan and she said she couldn't worry about the bugs on her windshield because she needed to travel to survive, but that she would do everything she COULD to meet her principles.

Please help this person do the same as regards his/her vanilla jones. That is the question. I shouldn't have to lecture you people on this shit. Ansewr the question. And stop being smug assholes who "know" that "your worldview is wrong." Goddamn. Pretty basic point. Get it.
posted by scarabic at 1:42 AM on August 4, 2005


Netzapper said it best when he/she advocated treating this as an engineering problem, not a religious one.

What I don't understand is why people, even secular ones, would have a problem with someone with a rigid code of behavior who has the self-discipline and self-awareness of their surroundings to do what they can to avoid certain things. As someone who has great difficulty controlling his appetites, I have only admiration for those that can maintain control.

If the post had been phrased "You damned kaffir better tell me how to keep halal so I don't end up in hell like the rest of you bastards" then I'd understand the vitriol.

But I don't understand this push towards a MeFi-Orthodoxy. I occasionally visit conservative Christian and Muslim message boards and MeFi is really becoming similar. On these boards, someone will post something which diverges from the traditional belief system and then will get shouted down by the True Believers who will brook no divergence from their conformist faith. At times, the way I see certain types of posters and posts treated, it seems MeFi is going down this same path.
posted by pandaharma at 1:55 AM on August 4, 2005


But I don't understand this push towards a MeFi-Orthodoxy. I occasionally visit conservative Christian and Muslim message boards and MeFi is really becoming similar. On these boards, someone will post something which diverges from the traditional belief system and then will get shouted down by the True Believers who will brook no divergence from their conformist faith. At times, the way I see certain types of posters and posts treated, it seems MeFi is going down this same path.

Going down the same path....? It was ever thus.
posted by FieldingGoodney at 2:27 AM on August 4, 2005


Going down the same path....? It was ever thus.

Amen Brother.

Metafilter: Promoting tolerance unless you're talking about something we think is stupid, dammit.
posted by ninthart at 2:55 AM on August 4, 2005


Scarabic: Mine was a tangential question, purely out of curiosity, not a condemnation of any moral code.

I should have probably left out the reference to Jainism, but again, that was purely curiosity. Not a judgement.

Notice I'm not in the AskMe thread in question. My practicing worldview and acceptance of other's worldviews is tolerant.

I'm just honestly curious. But apparently not very subtle about it.
posted by loquacious at 3:02 AM on August 4, 2005


Why am I obligated to be tolerant of someone else's beliefs when they're stupid? And don't argue that it's not stupid to worry about your immortal soul because you ingest a quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Again, why am I obligated to say "That's just their way" and offer no criticim? If I do that for concerns that are merely stupid, aren't I also (for consistency's sake) obligated to keep my opinions about other cultures embrace of (say) segregation or female circumcision to myself?
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:15 AM on August 4, 2005


Segregation and female circumcision hurt other people. Not consuming alcohol doesn't hurt other people.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:18 AM on August 4, 2005


Your obligation arises from the possibility, however remote, however unprecedented, that you, Mayor Curley, may believe something stupid. Really, you are not required to give voice to your every thought.
posted by klarck at 5:25 AM on August 4, 2005


Calling what someone believes in 'stupid' is not criticism, it's simply rude.
posted by Dagobert at 5:26 AM on August 4, 2005


Everyone in this thread should go take a look at how parma handled this mess graciously. Sometimes the atheists are more dogmatic and intolerant than the believers.
posted by fuzz at 5:54 AM on August 4, 2005


I can see asking "where can I find extracts without alcohol" and providing no extraneous explanation. But the poster clearly wanted a flamewar because he felt the need to let us know that he thinks that the 100 molecules of ethanol that almond extract imparts to his cookies are the road to hell.

If you don't want your clear-solution AskMe thread pooped in, make it utilitarian. Like if your question is "what is the heaviest baseball bat commercially available? I want to use it to hit my dog," ask "what is the heaviest baseball bat commercially available?" If you provide no extraneous explanation, someone knowledgable is going to tell you what the heaviest bat is. If you follow it up with something obnoxious (whether it's cruel or self-righteous) you can expect the roof to be on fire in three comments or less.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:59 AM on August 4, 2005


"Again, why am I obligated to say "That's just their way" and offer no criticim?"

There was simply no place where your opinion on the matter was solicited. You mistake yourself by thinking that you are being singled out for silence.
posted by OmieWise at 6:03 AM on August 4, 2005


"If you don't want your clear-solution AskMe thread pooped in, make it utilitarian."

This is actually where I most disagree with those who have suggested that parma brought this all on him or herself. I read parma's question as being more precise than one that simply asked for alternatives to vanilla extract.

Anyone who reads AskMe with any regularity knows, as Netzapper points out, that the responses to that question would range from: "Don't use vanilla at all, use XXX" to "Use Vanilla extract even though you don't want to, it's the only good thing" to "Vanilla extract isn't halal, and even though you didn't say anything about your religion, you shouldn't use it." As it was, parma made it clear, without asking for comment on the issue, that the prohibition against alcohol was very strong and should be taken to heart in any subsequent answers.
posted by OmieWise at 6:12 AM on August 4, 2005


why am I obligated to say "That's just their way" and offer no criticim?

Because you were on AskMe and that's part of the deal. You weren't asked a question about religious opinion so you have no right to give one. It's tacit to the use of the facility.
posted by biffa at 6:14 AM on August 4, 2005


But the poster clearly wanted a flamewar...

When you have the inability to discuss things without being inflammatory, everything looks like a flamewar.
posted by shawnj at 6:25 AM on August 4, 2005


Mayor Curley clearly enjoys being a dick in public. In other ways he's a good fellow. But I wish he'd grow up and stop waving his curlies around.
posted by languagehat at 6:27 AM on August 4, 2005


MC: "But the poster clearly wanted a flamewar because he felt the need to let us know that he thinks that the 100 molecules of ethanol that almond extract imparts to his cookies are the road to hell."

Oh, you mean when parma wrote in the question, "But I cannot have even tiny amounts of alcohol in my food (for religious reasons)," you interpreted that as inviting a flame war?

Also, when you see someone inciting a flame war, your first instinct is to jump right in?
posted by voltairemodern at 6:28 AM on August 4, 2005


But the poster clearly wanted a flamewar because he felt the need to let us know that he thinks that the 100 molecules of ethanol that almond extract imparts to his cookies are the road to hell.

This is a total mischaracterization of what the poster said. He gave a tiny bit of context in his original question and when pressed, repeatedly, to explain his religion, he amplified, without saying that anyone was going to hell for consuming extracts. There is no indication that he wanted a flamewar, though that seems to be something that you hunger after.
posted by anapestic at 6:28 AM on August 4, 2005


Mayor Curley clearly enjoys being a dick in public.

Perhaps he simply has a low tolerance for people with stupid or irrational beliefs.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:36 AM on August 4, 2005


"...people with stupid or irrational beliefs." I'm not sure how that explains hizzoner's behavior. Know anyone without stupid or irrational beliefs?
posted by klarck at 6:57 AM on August 4, 2005


Mayor C do you offer such blunt criticism of people's religions in real life too? Do you yell out 'Idiots!' when crossing by a Synagogue? Do you tell your boss that you can't work for him because he actually believes in a hell? I have a feeling you don't. I suspect it's only on Mefi that you're brave enough to ridicule religious people. Feel free continue your behavior in the gray, but we all know who the real idiot here is.
posted by nixerman at 6:59 AM on August 4, 2005


why am I obligated to say "That's just their way" and offer no criticism?

Why do you feel obligated to "offer" criticism at all?

I think it is safe to say that at this point even the newest of newbies knows your position on religion, Mayor. The problem is that it is no longer simply a position. It has become your end all reason for being. Perhaps it is time to seek help to find out why you feel obligated to point out the supposedly obvious shortcomings of others?
posted by terrapin at 7:05 AM on August 4, 2005


Translate this into a secular issue: if a gay person asks a relationship question, would that be an invitation for homophobes to weigh in with their opinions on gay relationships in general? Rightly, I think most Mefites would agree that was an unacceptable derail. It was a great question, the context was useful to have, and the majority of responses were helpful and on topic. Netzapper's answer was simply amazingly cool.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:08 AM on August 4, 2005


Hey, uh, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are all gay as hell, but those are some seriously shitty AskMe answers. Yeah, it's ridiculous that their Creator is such an insecure twit, but it's really irrelevant to the proper answer.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:09 AM on August 4, 2005


Do we need to start getmockedbyacretin.metafilter.com? Would that help folks release some stress?
posted by selfnoise at 7:11 AM on August 4, 2005


Sometimes the atheists are more dogmatic and intolerant than the believers.

"Sometimes?" Heh.
posted by brownpau at 7:26 AM on August 4, 2005


If the question had been asked without the (for religious reasons) qualifier, people would have asked why, or given less helpful answers like those OmieWise points out above. Yes, the question could have been asked without that tiny explaination, but the answers would have been less focussed on the actual problem posed.

realcoutrymusic has a good point, too.

Either one more total de-rail and/or unsolicited observation (you decide): are some folks still seeing 김치 (kim-chee)'s name as ?? I didn't think that was possible anymore, but it would explain some of the reactions here and in other threads I have noticed. - yhcb

People will still see question marks or boxes instead of the proper characters if they don't have the languages installed on their machine.

posted by raedyn at 7:56 AM on August 4, 2005


I have a feeling you don't. I suspect it's only on Mefi that you're brave enough to ridicule religious people. Feel free continue your behavior in the gray, but we all know who the real idiot here is.

Honestly, I don't interact with religious types (except my grandmother). But I assure you that anyone who tries to hand me their superhero stories or knocks on my door gets an earful of the most blasphemous concepts I can think of on the spot.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:02 AM on August 4, 2005


Almost all condemnation arises out of an unexamined belief that the condemned behavior/belief is willfully incorrect--even to the point that people believe and do these "stupid" things just to make one's life difficult.

In a room of a hundred people, 80 of them can't stand the stupidity and crazy beliefs of the others.

Completely coincidentally, and with regard to Scientology, a friend sent me this appropriate C. S. Peirce quote today (emphasis mine):
To Roger Bacon, that remarkable mind who in the middle of the thirteenth century was almost a scientific man, the schoolmen's conception of reasoning appeared only an obstacle to truth. He saw that experience alone teaches anything—a proposition which to us seems easy to understand, because a distinct conception of experience has been handed down to us from former generations; which to him likewise seemed perfectly clear, because its difficulties had not yet unfolded themselves. Of all kinds of experience, the best, he thought, was interior illumination, which teaches many things about Nature which the external senses could never discover, such as the transubstantiaion of bread.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:13 AM on August 4, 2005


MC, I know you think you're just "sticking to your convictions", or whatever, and I respect your right to do whatever you want at home. But please, accept the reality that this is not your house, there are thousands of people here, and many of them are rightly pointing out that you're obstinately behaving like a dick.

Let it go. Crash seems to have.
posted by mkultra at 8:21 AM on August 4, 2005


"...if your pet is important enough to you that you're concerned over the tiny amount of smell in your dog, you ought to consult your vet."

Ah, but that's the kicker. I really don't like the dog.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:25 AM on August 4, 2005


I assure you that anyone who tries to hand me their superhero stories or knocks on my door gets an earful of the most blasphemous concepts I can think of on the spot. - Mayor Curley

There's a big difference between someone knocking on your door proselytizing, versus them asking where to find a certain kind of ingredient for cooking - even if they want the ingredient for religious reasons.
posted by raedyn at 8:27 AM on August 4, 2005


selfnoise: Didn't you know? That's already what the blue is for.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:27 AM on August 4, 2005


Great quote, EB.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:58 AM on August 4, 2005


Again, why am I obligated to say "That's just their way" and offer no criticim? If I do that for concerns that are merely stupid, aren't I also (for consistency's sake) obligated to keep my opinions about other cultures embrace of (say) segregation or female circumcision to myself?

Well I guess lets here you rant about those subjects too, since they aren't pertinent to this discussion (nor solicited) either.

I can see asking "where can I find extracts without alcohol" and providing no extraneous explanation. But the poster clearly wanted a flamewar because he felt the need to let us know that he thinks that the 100 molecules of ethanol that almond extract imparts to his cookies are the road to hell.

Mayor, what are you talking about? People include reasons for their questions that pertain to their personal lives all the time. This explanation was exremely short and bland compared to what I see in askme all the time. The only person I see attempting to incite a flame war is you.

But I assure you that anyone who tries to hand me their superhero stories or knocks on my door gets an earful of the most blasphemous concepts I can think of on the spot


No one tried to hand you anything. Stop making shit up.
posted by Stauf at 9:11 AM on August 4, 2005


But I assure you that anyone who tries to hand me their superhero stories or knocks on my door gets an earful of the most blasphemous concepts I can think of on the spot.

Your equating a simple ingredient request with proselytizing borders on trolling. We get it that you don't like organized religion. Knock it off.
posted by Rothko at 9:24 AM on August 4, 2005


I'd like to quickly point out that Islam was never mentioned in my comment, so I'm not sure what parma meant by "But to single out Islam..."

It could have been directed at everyone else generally in the thread, but I thought I'd clarify my comment here in the MeTa thread instead of AskMe, for posterity:

When I said "religion" I meant all religion, not just Islam. When I said "dogma" I meant dogma in the literal sense, not in the slang "your stupid dumb-head religious rules" sense.

So, I meant no offence, and truly believe that arguing against someone's religion with logical arguments makes absolutely no sense.
posted by odinsdream at 12:11 PM on August 4, 2005


What if the question was framed "I need to find alcohol-free vanilla flavorings for health reasons. I am deathly allergic to alcohol."

Would this thread even exist?

actually, it probably would. except it would be filled with mefites saying "you poor bastard!" and "more for me!" and "i'll drink one for you!"
posted by loquacious at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2005


Everything anyone believes in is equally dumb.
posted by darukaru at 1:58 PM on August 4, 2005


Everything anyone believes in is equally dumb.

It's dumb to believe that.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 2:19 PM on August 4, 2005


This is ridiculous. We've come a long way from people asking about things that may bring harm to someone.

I am actively anti-religious, but if someone wants to know if raisins contain B12, because B12 is the devil's vitamin, I'll share the knowledge if I have it and keep the snickering to myself.

So what's next? Questions about bicycling produce angry diatribes from drivers? Questions about roller blading produce angry diatribes from pedestrians? Questions about hunting bring out the Petafolk, questions about conservation bring out the dire hard hunters?

For a Bush-hating crowd, you sure have all taken the us-or-them mentality to heart. What ever happened to respect for other points of view?
posted by dreamsign at 3:46 PM on August 4, 2005


What ever happened to respect for other points of view?

There's never been any around here. MeFi has its charms, but tolerance and open-mindedness are not one of them. (Although of course everyone accuses everyone else of not being tolerant and open-minded. It's sort of like the Puritans, who came to the New World to achieve religious freedom... for them. No heretics need apply.)
posted by languagehat at 5:30 PM on August 4, 2005


Heretic!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2005


If other points of view are so beautiful, why do they so often conflict with mine?

Life would be so much more fun if I were Josef Stalin. I'd send the lot of you to a gulag and then you'd shut up about tolerance.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:41 PM on August 4, 2005


I disagree. MetaFilter is plenty open-minded. But it has high standards.

If you can factually and authoritatively prove a point, you're gold. You'll change minds.

If you don't have facts behind what you say, though, MeFi inevitably sides with the socially liberal viewpoint.

As well it should, IMO.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:44 PM on August 4, 2005


"Great quote, EB."

Yeah, it is. Thank my friend Darien for it.

I haven't read any Peirce, but Darien's been at me for a long time to do so as, according to him, Peirce's ideas are very close to mine. Of course, that dissuades me a little bit as it's a bit of a bummer to find, as one always does, that one's intellectual work has been done before, and better. I can't recall ever having been formally exposed to pragmatism, but it certainly forms the core of my worldview.

In regard to what we're arguing about here, I just wish that more people realized how fragile their worldviews really are. Almost everyone is very arrogant, in their own way, about what they think they "know"; and almost everyone is intolerant with those who differ.

I'm always in a bit of an awkward situation in these debates because I certainly am not, for practical purposes, a relativist and thus I don't claim that every belief is equally true or, more to the point, equally reasonable. But my own experience and especially my education has taught me that we take so many things for granted as the foundations of our worldviews and that, putting aside "truth", many supposedly radically differing worldviews are not that greatly dissimilar in regards to plausibility.

Contemporary science education, with its emphasis on a survey of a body of facts in a given discipline, strongly gives people the impression that we're pretty much the only reasonable generation that's every lived and everyone before us were close to cavemen, worshipping the god of fire. But an astonishing thing about looking closely at the history and philosophy of western science is that you find that past beliefs are far more reasonable than is commonly supposed, and current beliefs are far more tenuous than is commonly supposed. That doesn't mean that (again, putting aside relativism) we don't know more than we did and we're more "right" than we were; it's just that we really have little justification for being so damn smug about it.

My favorite example, and one I've probably mentioned here before, is Ptolemy's Almagest and its geocentricism. People tend to ridicule geocentricism as transparently silly and heliocentricism as obvious. What's very interesting and surprising is that even in Ptolemy's geocenticism there are very strong hints leading to heliocentricism and, more surprising, Ptolemy was quite aware of them. He saw that the geometry could be simplified with a heliocentric model--he says so. But, he says, it simply makes no sense to think the Earth is in motion.

And, frankly, it really doesn't. And this is just within the context of western science.

People strongly underestimate how sensible other people's distinctly different beliefs really are. Change one fundamental assumption to something else that is, nevertheless, arguably reasonable, and you get something completely different. I do think people are foolish and believe many foolish things; but if pressed I have much difficulty rigorously defining "foolish" in a way that doesn't, in the end, include pretty much everyone, even myself.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:48 PM on August 4, 2005 [1 favorite]


Man, marshmallows without animal gelatin are hard to find. And egg replacers all have eggs in them :(

The're expensive, but you can buy them, too.
posted by Airhen at 8:58 PM on August 4, 2005


If you can factually and authoritatively prove a point, you're gold.

Well, that's a touch difficult when it comes to religion. Which is both my defence of religious belief and my criticism that it cannot be non-arbitrarily separated from complete insanity.

Change one fundamental assumption to something else that is, nevertheless, arguably reasonable, and you get something completely different.

THIS is why we need to cut some religious folk some slack. When I see a thread about abortion, or the pope's views on this or that, or homosexuality for that matter, I have to carefully remind myself what these people believe in: a mortal world where choices determine eternal reward or damnation. It's all fairy tale to me, but that doesn't permit me to reduce these people's arguments to mumbo-jumbo. First of all, that underestimates what secular humanists are up against. We may not start from the same premises, but if we don't even recognize them, we can't begin to have a conversation. Sadly, a lot of people don't seem to want to have that conversation. They'd rather just fling poo. (of course, if you were going to argue that you can't argue with a bible-quoter, I might agree with you for other reasons)
posted by dreamsign at 9:06 PM on August 4, 2005


Why am I obligated to be tolerant of someone else's beliefs when they're stupid?

I imagine you sitting and patting yourself on the back for this kind of comment. Bravo, good chap! You give those stupid people what for! Hoho! Tolerate, must I? Even the "stupid?" Oh no, I say, as I pull another zinger from my coat pocket. Not one illuminated such as I.

Pure, unadulterated, pants-shitting asshatery of the drunken-uncle variety. You cannot pronounce anything you wish "stupid" and proceed to throw tolerance to the wind based on that proclamation, and then expect to be welcomed and tolerated into a polite society. Why in hell should we tolerate your willful urge to shout down anything you, yourself, perceive to be stupid?

I say you're stupid, and your beliefs are stupid, and your rhetoric is stupid. And the next time you have a grocery-realted question up on AskMe I'll be sure to stop by, crap in it, tell you how stupid you are, and then run off to MetaTalk to pretend I'm valiantly holding back the hordes of the retarded when people point out what a dick I'm being. We'll see how you like it.
posted by scarabic at 9:06 PM on August 4, 2005 [3 favorites]


Metatalk: Pure, unadulterated, pants-shitting asshatery of the drunken-uncle variety
posted by moonbird at 9:11 PM on August 4, 2005


If other points of view are so beautiful, why do they so often conflict with mine?

Maybe you're ugly.
posted by Dagobert at 12:24 AM on August 5, 2005


You cannot pronounce anything you wish "stupid" and proceed to throw tolerance to the wind based on that proclamation, and then expect to be welcomed and tolerated into a polite society

Tolerance means allowing people to be as stupid as they want to be. It doesn't mean we have to deny that stupid things are in fact stupid.
posted by kindall at 1:34 AM on August 5, 2005


If other points of view are so beautiful, why do they so often conflict with mine?

Life would be so much more fun if I were Josef Stalin. I'd send the lot of you to a gulag and then you'd shut up about tolerance.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:41 PM PST on August 4 [!]


lol !
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:15 AM on August 5, 2005


I'll pray for your tolerance Mayor Curley.
posted by peacay at 3:05 AM on August 5, 2005


I'll tolerate your praying, peacay.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:36 AM on August 5, 2005


Wow, I thought that after 130 posts y'all would have figured out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
posted by spicynuts at 6:56 AM on August 5, 2005


How amusing. Someone who is planning a wedding thinks that he doesn't have arbitrary belief systems.

Guess what MC? Marriage is outdated and meaningless in a modern capitalist society. Weddings, in particular, are irrational ways to mark marriage that glorify a consumerist belief system. But notice how I didn't say any of that in your AskMe thread, since, well, it wouldn't really help you find a photographer, now, would it?
posted by carmen at 7:18 AM on August 5, 2005


Well said, carmen.
posted by gleuschk at 8:38 AM on August 5, 2005


"Life would be so much more fun if I were Josef Stalin."

I agree.
'cause you'd be buried in a box next to the Kremlin wall.
posted by boymilo at 8:57 AM on August 5, 2005


*checks horse* Yeah, this thing's dead.

Chili, anyone?
posted by selfnoise at 10:01 AM on August 5, 2005


If you can factually and authoritatively prove a point, you're gold.
Well, that's a touch difficult when it comes to religion.


Er, not at all. Other than MC, it's not so much that people here don't want others to practice their religion, as it is they don't want religion practiced on them.

Don't make claims that can not be proven, and you will find that despite your religion, we can all get along just fine.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:26 AM on August 5, 2005


How amusing. Someone who is planning a wedding thinks that he doesn't have arbitrary belief systems.

For the record, I didn't say that I don't have any arbitrary beliefs. For instance, I think that you smell and I don't have any evidence to back it up.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2005


Don't make claims that can not be proven, and you will find that despite your religion, we can all get along just fine.

So the poster who wanted to know about alcohol content in various food products (for religious reasons) was practicing his religion on us, making unfounded claims?

Wow, I had no idea I should have been offended. Thanks!
posted by dreamsign at 10:53 AM on August 5, 2005


Tolerance means allowing people to be as stupid as they want to be. It doesn't mean we have to deny that stupid things are in fact stupid.

Oh, I couldn't agree more, kindall. But remember that it's Mayor Curley who doesn't get this: "why do I have to tolerate it when it's stupid?" was his question. I can connect what I think is stupid with the concept of tolerance, but he apparently can't.
posted by scarabic at 10:58 AM on August 5, 2005


May I remind everyone that there is nothing stupid about trying to keep alcohol out of your body.

[ducks]
posted by scarabic at 10:59 AM on August 5, 2005


Did Mayor Curley even comment in the vanilla thread? If you're going to be an ass about something MeTa is probably the place to do it. Anyone else who plans to crap in his wedding photographer AskMe thread to make a point should reconsider.
posted by jessamyn at 11:09 AM on August 5, 2005


Did Mayor Curley even comment in the vanilla thread?

I did not. But does it really matter? I defended the people that were naughty, so I'm guilty.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:49 AM on August 5, 2005


'Defended' is an interesting interpretation of your means of expression which, however entertaining, has little basis in reality.
posted by plinth at 12:26 PM on August 5, 2005


dreamsign: well, okay, then we should be able to get along, not necessarily will.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:42 PM on August 5, 2005


I'm an Atheist and greatly oppose religions, and (as is stereotypical) like a good debate, but I merely chose to express this by not replying. So, yeah.
posted by abcde at 3:30 PM on August 5, 2005


The religion derail was really annoying. As someone in the thread said, this is an engineering problem, not a theological issue.

There are a lot of people who won't use alcohol based extracts for all kinds of reasons (including me). Parma didn't need to tell us it was for religious reasons, but, once they did, it should have been treated like other extraneous information, and ignored.

Then again, as someone who used to live in Warrendale and who still lives in Detroit, I am really, really touchy about Muslim-baiting.
posted by QIbHom at 10:37 AM on August 6, 2005


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