Gaudere, December, prejudice, and the record

This rant is a bit late because I had not seen the travesty that occurred in a discussion I was involved in a little while back. I’m putting it in the pit because this is where complaints and personal judgements go, and this contains both.

I was shocked earlier to see what had transpired in the forum during my absence:

From Israeli Refusedniks are courageous and right

First of all, I bow to the awesome power of moderators and follow their will. Since I do not recall being previously warned in my years arund here and I have reason to believe that my conduct is good in spite of my occasional lack of patience for stupidity, I wish set the record straight.

Gaudere, would you kindly explain why you warned me for edging near direct personal attacks right after the board’s resident troll directly accused me of prejudice? I didn’t say a single untrue or inapplicable word in that entire thread, even after I was accused by The Moron. When December accused me of prejudice (which anyone who knows these boards understands December is rife with) I slapped back. I didn’t tell December that he was an idiot who was deliberately misunderstanding the argument in his regular trolling efforts. I told him what is quoted above, for which I got slapped on the wrist.

Perhaps such a response as mine is too harsh when one is called prejudiced, or bigoted, or racist, or anti-Jew, or any other label based on the irritating unfounded claims of a confirmed troll? If I were discussing this with someone I know is capable of objective discussion, and if I hadn’t been accused of prejudice, I could understand the warning.

But everyone knows December’s debate tactics hinge on discrediting and disinforming first and arguing second, while all the time “writing for bites”. He is happy accusing the media of a liberal bias every few weeks with shoddy evidence, or he issues yet another unsupported (in fact, if not in appearance) “Conservatives are good, Liberals are bad” piece of shit proclamation, or he claims that European leaders are anti-Jewish, or he equates Arabs and Nazis, or he accuses me of prejudice without grounds.

And I get warned for it?

I fully understand that I am subject to loss of patience like most other humans, although there too I think I have not done too poorly. But in a case where my patience held after being (rather idiotically) accused of prejudice by someone clearly himself prejudiced, and after I restricted myself to writing down the simple truth rather than ad hominem attacks, it seems that the dark forces of idiocy and injustice have been upheld at the expense of even-handed reason.

It’s interesting to note that I have always been quite patient with December considering his average output, and the comment for which I was warned was probably the most “extreme” thing I ever wrote about him in spite of his vigorous trolling efforts. Talk about biting the hand that fed diet pills to the undercover troll.

While I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said about the ‘gentleman’ in question, the difference between your statement and his is clear. He has phrased his accusations in indirect terms that he can weasel out of, and has drawn (spurious) conclusions from what you’ve said; whereas you’ve taken the more direct and honest approach, and attacked him directly. Alas, the GD rules prohibit the latter.

Just because a poster is an idiot doesn’t mean that you have the right to call him one in Great Debates. Just because a poster is NOT a racist doesn’t mean you canNOT call him one in Great Debates. As a Moderator, I do not make judgements on the relative accuracy of a comment when determining whether it has broken the rules of GD. Therefore, whether you are in fact a racist or whether december is in fact a cretin does not have any bearing on whether saying so is acceptable in GD.


Poster A: i think that the mooon landings didnt’ happen cuz it is made of cheese and if the rockets landed ont he chese is wuld have all melted into fondoo.
Poster B: You are an idiot.

Poster A: I think the Palestinians are being unfaily maligned by the UK press.
Poster B: You are an idiot.

Poster A: Blakc people are all fithly dirty and stupid.
Poster B: You are a racist.

Poster A: Jews allow right of return to all born or converted Jews.
Poster B: You are a racist.

“Rascist” and “liar”, while inflammatory, do sometimes have valid uses in debate. “You are stupid”, however, does not. Your comment about “moronic ramblings and cretinous claims” seems to be more attacking the poster as a moron and a cretin rather than the ramblings and claims themselves; while we allow comments about a poster’s argument, if it reaches a certain degree it becomes offensive enough that I feel we should step in.

Exactly how many insults are acceptable depends greatly on who you are and what the personal disposition of the moderator would be in a given debate. As I recently pointed out, :wally , is used frequently, I should know. Why is this insult acceptable? Because it was used frequently by a beloved poster. Doesn’t make it any less of an insult but those are the rules, arbitrary as they may be.

You’re starting to get it.

jjimm , I got it a long time ago. Doesn’t mean I have to like it and it doesn’t mean I should conform just to make you, or anyone else happy in your arbitrary little world.

I disagree. Neither of these are acceptable in GD. Both attack the poster rather than the poster’s argument. As such, neither add anything to the debate. The acceptable response is, “This argument is simply racism.”

Poster A: I favor a flat 15% tax rate, a ban on all abortions, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.
Poster B: You are a Republican.
(Clearly acceptable)

Nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade, Truth Seeker. Labels and insults may blur, but if one ascribes to racist beliefs, one may safely be described as a racist.

minty green, I disagree, and I think you missed Truth Seeker’s point. What possible construvtive goal could there be to calling someone a Republican, or a racist, in a debate, whether they are or not?

What purpose could it serve other than to start an argument over whether or not that poster is a Republican, what impact that has on the actual argument, and whether or not you meant it as an insult?

I’m not going to go so far as to say that I disagree with Gaudere (after all, she makes the rules, not me), but Truth Seeker’s interpretation is what I have always understood to be, well, true.

Abe - I am so totally with you on this one.

I think calling someone a racist in GD is unacceptable, calling their views racist however is not.

I think calling someone stupid in GD is unacceptable, calling their views stupid is not.

You definitely criticised his views, whereas he appeared to more directly criticise you.

Frankly though, calling someone a “cretin” is a far less serious allegation than calling someone a “racist.” The latter is potentially libellous, the first would be laughed out of court.

Absolutely correct. You shouldn’t conform to the rules just to make jjiimm happy. You should conform to the rules because you want to retain your posting privileges on the Straight Dope Message Board.

Of course! Because the rest of humanity is perfectly objective, clinical, and orderly.

The line bewteen labels and insults is a fine one. Take this list, for instance:

bleeding-heart Liberal
“compassionate” conservative
gun nut
ignorant liberal

All of these terms may in fact be accurate descriptions. All of them may be inflammatory to varying degrees, depending on a poster’s individual preference. We the mods have made a judgement call on degree of usefullness in debate versus the likelihood of a potential terms pissing off posters so much they stop debating and start flaming. Personally, if I were called “racist” or “liar” in a debate, I would think it more an attack on my actions than myself, whereas calling me an “idiot” is just a flat-out attack on me.

I think it would be more conducive to civil debate if a poster, when confronted with someone who professed a desire to make homosexuality illegal, would say, “that is a homophobic belief” rather than “you are a homophobe”, but, IMHO, to require that would be pussy-footing around the term a bit more than the GD group is likely to find palatable. And even if I didn’ allow the term “homophobe”, that just moves the bar, and people would then complain about being called something else. The point of the rules in GD is to prevent insults from obscuring debate and causing more flames than reason, not to refrain from calling a spade a fucking shovel if the term seems accurate.

My estimation that the usefullness in debate of calling someone with liberal beliefs liberal, calling someone exhibiting ignorance “ignorant”, calling someone with racist beliefs a racist, calling somone with homophobic beliefs homophobic, calling someone who lies a liar, etc. is sufficient to make these terms allowable, if not always encouraged. And of course, any abuse of any term will be cracked down on, even if it is one that we allow.

Abe’s primary objection seems to be that he, personally, is not racist, so calling him one is an insult; but I do not see that he objects to the term in every case, just when applied to him. However, when determining whether an insult has been made, I do not look to see if the insult is in fact accurate. I do consider whether a comment is accurate when determining “jerk-hood”, and constantly accusing other posters of being racist with no good reason is jerkish. I do not think it reaches banning levels on that alone, but it would be a contributing factor in a banning.

To add to Gaudere’s analysis, I would add that it is a straightforward matter to factually dispute, and even refute, a “Democrat,” “conservative,” or “racist” label. That is not the case with “idiot,” “asshole,” or “low-down, dirty s.o.b.” The former labels can certainly be abused just like the latter, but certainly are not abusive by nature. It is perfectly reasonable to expect a person to rebut an accusasion of homophobia or likely membership in the Green Party, if the accusation is indeed unfounded.

I think the problem with Abe’s position is that he seems to be saying that it is OK to call someone’s opinion “moronic” or “cretinous”, but to say that it verges on racism is insulting.

Another problem is that the terms “racist”, “moron”, “Republican”, “conservative”, and “motherfucker” are all considered by some on this board to be roughly equivalent terms of insult. Which is why Abe felt free to respond with what he would consider the deadliest of insults. In his mind, december started the name-calling; he only responded in kind.

In the mind of some liberals, to show that someone is a conservative is exactly equivalent to showing that they are both racist and beneath contempt. Since they cannot object to being called a Republican, they cannot then object to being called any of the equivalent terms.

I found it interesting, upon rereading Gaudere’s list, to realize I would be far more upset to be called an “ignorant liberal” or a “creationist” than most of the rest. Different hot buttons for us all, I guess.

But them’s fighting words!


And thus, you stumbled upon the reason why it’s all arbitrary. Hey, Sweet Willy, are you taking notes?

I don’t see anything arbitrary about basing a rule on “what Gaud says to do.” :wink:

I’m curious. Do the other members of the GD trinity have the same take on this you do or are some moderators more strict than others?

The point is exactly as White Lightning put it. Any comment about the poster is simply not relevant. Pointing out the poster is a Democrat or a Republican or a Mason or whatever simply doesn’t add anything useful to the debate. Worse, any sort of personal comment at all carries a risk of derailing the thread by creating a permanent hijack. That’s why minty’s observation that some of these labels can be factually proven or disproven is correct but beside the point. They can, but doing so requires a hijack.

I also think the bright-line rule “No personal attacks” has the advantage of being easy to understand and easy to enforce. While Gaud, being omniscient and all, can handle a balancing test to determine if a particular insult is acceptable, most people can’t, especially in the heat of the moment.

I think you just got whooshed, Truth Seeker:wink:

Gaudere, I loved that list. I could imagine two people yelling those back and forth to each other until things got so heated up, someone yelled “Nazi” and the other screamed “No! You fool! Godw…AHHHHH!!!”

Abe, I’m just curious. Whatever your personal views of december, would it have been too much to ask for a slightly more objective OP? I mean, I know this is the pit and all, but when every single sentence in your OP portrays him as the fucking anti-christ, it’s a little hard to take your argument seriously. Really, read through it. I don’t think there’s a single sentence you don’t spin in some way.