After more than five years here, this is my very first Pit thread. It has taken a “Perfect Storm” of ignorance and obnoxiousness in GQ on the part of lissener to motivate me to start one, but here goes. Although the misbehavior took place several days ago, I’ve been too busy until now to give it the attention it deserves. It is, however, sufficiently serious that it merits addressing even if it is a little belated.
It is a pet peeve of mine when people who don’t know very much about a subject respond to a question in GQ with misinformation, especially when they try to “correct” an answer by someone more knowledgeable that was already correct. This does relatively little harm, however, once the misinformation has been successfully refuted by others. What is especially detrimental is when someone who doesn’t have a clue about what they are talking about persists in arguing with those who have provided correct information, wasting everyone’s time and derailing threads.
Lissener’s antics took place in this thread: Do other countries have an official language?. The actual point of dispute was a rather trivial one: the correct translation of the word castellano as it refers to Spain’s official language. Lissener, although he obviously has little or no first-hand knowledge of the subject, began an absurd hijack that succeeded in getting the thread locked.
Nava, a native of Spain whose first language is Spanish, first made this post that correctly stated that, unsurprisingly, Spanish was one of the official languages of Spain. In response, lissener ** “corrected” Nava with this post, which not only was unnecessary but which cited a Wiktionary definition that turns out to be incomplete and misleading, as shown by many other more accurate dictionaries. Lissener also incorrectly implied that Basque and other languages were part of the Spanish language. Lissener** subsequently claimed he knew that it was not, but had just phrased his response badly. Whatever the case, it was a post that succeeded in confusing the issue, rather than clarifying it.
After several other posters, including me, corrected this misinformation, rather than letting the matter drop, lissener then began to contend that “Castilian,” rather than “Spanish,” was a better way to translate the word castellano as it referred to the official language in the Spanish constitution. His basis for this was this Wikipedia article, which not only fails to support lissener’s position, but actually refutes it, discussing it in the section on “Usage and misconceptions abroad” as one of the misconceptions.
Opposing lissener’s interpretation were 1) me, who has 16 years experience living in Latin America and speaking Spanish on a daily basis, and who regularly translates articles from Spanish into English; and 2) Polycarp, who has substantial knowledge of languages and is well known as one of the most objective posters on the board. Several other posters whose expertise I am not familiar with also contradicted lissener. Near the end of the thread, Nava, who is familiar with the issues surrounding the use of *castellano *in the Spanish constitution, also responded, corroborating that lissener’s position was incorrect before the thread was mercifully locked by samclem.
Despite this, lissener continued to hijack the thread based on nothing more than his misinterpretation of a Wikipedia article. I would note, as someone who has done translation in the language, that the correct translation of castellano, as it is used in the Spanish constitution, as “Spanish,” rather than “Castilian,” is a fact, not an opinion. It would be no more correct to translate *castellano *as “Castilian” in that particular context than it would be to translate león as “cat” in an article about lions simply because a lion is also a cat.
Beyond this ignorant behavior, lissener’s general obnoxiousness in that thread also needs to be addressed. After several patient responses to lissener’s continued misinformation, I eventually expressed some annoyance in this post. Although I think it was pretty mild, lissener proceeded to characterize it as an “extreme of incivility,” and accused me of thinking that he was “retarded” (his word), “a liar,” and “dishonest,” merely because I had disagreed with him. He persisted in this behavior even after I assured him that was not the case. His subsequent behavior has convinced me that I may have been incorrect in my initial assessment.
For the record, my general impression of lissener previous to that thread has been as an intelligent but rather excitable poster. But to quote one of lissener’s least-favorite movies, Forrest Gump, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Regardless of lissener’s actual IQ, his behavior in that thread was spectacularly stupid. So yes, at this point lissener has convinced me that he is capable of extreme stupidity.
Regarding the accusations of thinking him “a liar” or “dishonest,” I initially had no particular opinion on the subject one way or another, not having participated in many threads where he was involved. The accusations would not, however, be a logical conclusion by any reasonable person from anything I said in that thread. I do not know if lissener has a habit of feigning excessive outrage in order to put opponents on the defensive. If he does honestly believe what he said, however, I believe he is in need of some kind of therapy. I do not mean this as an insult, but in all seriousness. If someone IRL responded to my remarks the way lissener did in that thread, I would think they were highly in need of at least anger management if not more serious treatment.
Discussion and debate is fine if it is done from a position of knowledge. When it is done from a position of ignorance, as lissener did in that thread, then it has no place in GQ.
[Note: On the odd chance that anyone might get the wrong impression, the initials SDSAB under my name do not indicate that I have anything to do with the administration or moderation of this board. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and do not indicate anything official regarding board policy or any other matter.]