Mr. Arafat, Context, and Board Rules

Well, since the moderators won’t respond by emails, might as well:

On October 12, 2003, the Lancet released report finding that Yasser Arafat’s belongings were contaminated with polonium. Since I still have institutional subscription access from my alma mater, after reading the paper, I opened this thread in MPSIMS where I, after posting the polonium values verbatim from the paper, I wanted to discuss who “exposed Yasser Arafat to polonium 210 and why?”. The thread was eventually moved to Great Debates. It eventually deterioriated into a discussion on tobacco plants and my supposed anti-Semitism. You can read my flameout post here.

In the beginning, the participants of the thread poked fun, said I was jumping to conclusions, and all of that. Which, by the way, is a funny thing, because just three weeks later, an additional study confirmed that Mr. Arafat bones registered with high levels of radioactivity. Shortly after that study, the Russians released an incomplete set of data without experimental controls that also showed higher-than-normal polonium values in Mr. Arafat’s bones, however, the Russian report but maintained (in the discussion) that these results were not indicative of polonium poisoning. The opposition, now abandoned by the Russians, were now clinging to hope from a press release from French scientist that claimed there was no evidence Mr. Arafat was poisoned, insisting that it should be considered for debate. Unfortunately, there was - and to my knowledge - still no record of an actual French report.

In any case, all were great fodder for the GD until the discussion shifted at around page 4 - 5. It no longer became about Mr. Arafat but about my supposed anti-Israel/anti-Semitic beliefs, how I believe Israel was responsible for Mr. Arafat’s death, and how I think"jew bankers" threatened the French and Russians. The shit hit the fan when I made this comment in full:

In which, in turn, another poster, Dissonance, quoted that as:

Please reread both versions. Notice how context was removed? The first and last sentence were stripped and my viewpoint packaged as an anti-Semitic soundbite. I responded - in full - agreeing with Dissonance that was was no evidence that Israel was behind Mr. Arafat’s assassination, here:

My agreement with Dissonance is not enough, he writes, infull:

It snowballs from there with most, if not all, of the peanut gallery jumping on this, making specious claims that I’m anti-Israel, anti-Semite, a liar,and that I believe Israel was responsible for Mr. Arafat’s death. None of which were true. To defend myself, I pointed out in this post, and this one, and in this onethat I was being misquoted and my position mischaracterized. My position was that if you’re going to truncate someone’s position, it should be followed by ellipses and/or <snips> to let other readers you’re taking a sentence out of context.

Tomndebb, who I assume was not moved by people calling me anti-Israel, insinuating I’m anti-Jewish/anti-Semitic, calling me a liar, or people not understanding the difference between a calibration standard and an experimental control; nae, m’lord, he was more upset was I was defending myself and misspelled "you’re"as “your”. He wrote, infull:

First, why so personal with your moderator hat on? Second, do you normally comment on people’s grammar with it on? Or is it just me? Lastly, and most importantly, it’s not clear everyone because he removed the context of that specific point which paints me as some anti-Semite. Tomndebb says my claim is false, yet the rules of quoting someone is clear as day here; CK Dexter Haven, writes, in part:

(bolding and underlining mine; I changed "

" to “[Q]” as it wasn’t parsing well on preview)

Interestingly, the same posts tomndebb struck as offensive, contained, in part, the what CK Dexter Haven is saying. Here, in this post, I wrote to Dissonance:

(bolding mine)

This post (and its antecedent) echoes the aforementioned post CK Dexter Haven wrote on this message board in 2006. Like I wrote to you personally, I believe you had a bias before you walked into that thread. I don’t know - nor care- what that bias is (or was) but that’s what I think. Otherwise, you would’ve known it was 10 v 1 and you would’ve pointed out why the way Dissonance was quoting me was acceptable to the SDMB. Think about it. If everyone quoted the way Dissonance did to me, there would be no fruitful discussion on this message board. Ever.

If you doubt this,** tomndebb**, write me a paragraph on anything and I’ll strip the first & last sentence, all of the qualifiers, I won’t add ellipses so people will think it’s your quote in full, and then add something about “jew bankers” and cast you as anti-Semitic. See, isn’t it fun?

I can deal with posters posting in a manner that’s not going to facilitate discussion but I can’t deal with moderators who sanction it as acceptable and tell me to back off from exposing it; when, in fact, it goes against the board rules. This is exactly why I have asked - if not begged - for my account to be closed via personal email and public posts. This is not a decision made in isolation but superimposed over the hate-filled threads you (not just you, but all of the moderators) accept/allow/facilitate/sanction against blacks, every single month (give a take a few weeks) for over a decade. Yet, somehow that escapes your radar and my misspelling of the contraction “you are” catches your eye instead? Yeah, right. I might be dumb but I’m not that dumb. Delete my account please.

  • Honesty

Accounts aren’t closed, for you or anybody. If you don’t want to be here, don’t post. Simple as that. But your account is forever. You aren’t a spammer, so it won’t ever be deleted, even if you are banned. So suck it up.

Accounts aren’t deleted, and your posts will not be erased. You’re a guest, so you haven’t paid any money. If you no longer wish to participate here, then stop posting. That’s it.

You can storm off in a huff, but you’ll still have those posts remain.

With regards to the “selective quoting”, nothing within the quote box was changed. Yes, leading and following sentences were omitted and there were not ellipses or other indications, but there were links back to the original statements. It should be reasonably clear what the original remarks were in context. And since you feel the unquoted elements were distorting the context, you are free to argue that the selective quoting distorted your meaning. How convincing other people find that argument is ultimately for them to decide.

We don’t “delete accounts,” even for spammers or trolls. (I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean.) As has been said, if you’re dissatisfied the best option is to stop posting here.

But for the love of god, change your password first.

Additionally, you should change your password to something which can’t ever be associated with your username like “Cecil” and your email address to something not connected to you like

ETA: Ninja’d!

If you want to self-ban yourself without actually getting banned, type a random string of characters into a word doc and copy/paste it into a password change. Delete the doc and you’ll have no access to post to the board without going to the trouble to reset your password.

Not even if I mail you my membership card cut into pieces, accompanied by a stern letter expressing my great disappointment with your service and my intent to direct all future business to your competitor?

Really? :rolleyes: Are you seriously taking the position that leaving out “For argument’s sake” at the beginning of the quoted material does not thoroughly misrepresent the original? Yes, somebody could backtrack and check the original post, but who would normally bother, who would expect such dishonest selective quotation on this board, which is normally (by Internet standards, and when the subject isn’t Israel and the Palestinians) remarkably committed to objectivity and intellectual honesty?

You could send us your keyboard cut in pieces, I guess.

To Honesty and those who have sympathy with his position:

The level of debate here is higher than 99%+ of the internet. But this isn’t a formal debate and it certainly isn’t a scientific conference. Most posts will be written by generalists. Many posters will read between the lines and respond accordingly. So you have to adapt your rhetoric accordingly. The best posts bridge scientific, journalistic and conversational convention. That means you have to be cognizant of implication.
You also have to remain within the rules and within both bright and hazy lines. Accusations of lying and trolling in GD are at best problematic and enforcement of this has only gotten stricter over time, encompassing at times indirect accusations.

I responded to your first (of several) PMs. Combining a demand that your account be deleted (which we never do) with abusive language, personal accusations of prejudiced behavior, and a serious misunderstanding of the rules regarding quotations, followed by a declaration that you were leaving the SDMB on your own did nothing to encourage further communication.
Re-reading your several missives, I find you inferring a number of ideas that were never expressed or implied. Your anger (long before my involvement in that thread) seems to have led you to a number of conclusions that are not supported by the actual texts of others’ posts. It is pretty much par for the course that any thread regarding Israel will include a subtext of who does or does not support Israel, but your accusations against other posters did not follow from their texts.

You are welcome to leave. By not posting, you will be absent from the SDMB. Since we have not ever deleted any other accounts, I am pretty sure that we will not delete yours, either. You may, if you wish, write to an Administrator asking that your posting privileges be suspended (with or without a change in status to indicate that you are suspended). You may also ask that you be banned. In either case, your account will not be deleted, but you will be prevented from posting. If you then refrain from ever visiting this site, again, it will be as though it did not exist for you.

I’m taking the position that people extract partial quotes all the time. In that particular case, I would argue that he did have a point, that “For argument’s sake” paints a much less strenuous commitment to a position and leaving it out could be used to paint the person as more dogmatic in their assertion. I make no claims as to what actually happened in that thread, as I vaguely recall reading part of it at one time but certainly not the whole thing.

Honesty is arguing that Dissonance violated the boards quoting rules. I don’t believe that he did, and the moderators seem to agree, given the continued litany of complaints from that thread.

I agree with all that you said prior to this but given what just happened with the hacking, this is a policy that perhaps should be reconsidered.

Who is an Administrator at the moment?

Honesty, I thought you left. Same with you, manhattan. Really, guys, if you don’t actually leave, how can I get any closure? :smiley:

As for Mr Arafat, he was already dying eight ways from Tuesday, and even if he were dosed with polonium (which I doubt, given the accumulated studies) it ain’t what finished him off. Let it rest. You survived an outburst that would kill lesser posters, and you lived to fight another day. Though you probably want to choose a different topic.

Like abortion or pit bulls, for example.

You can leave in a taxi. If you can’t get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that’s too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff.

In this particular case that would be my position.

Truth is that Honesty’s syntax in that post seemed to be somewhat garbled, and it’s hard to be sure what he was saying. But best as I can figure, his “for argument’s sake” was not “for argument’s sake let’s assume that the scientists were threatened by Israel”, which is what you seem to be saying. If he was saying that, then leaving out the “for argument’s sake” would fundamentally change the context of his words, because he was not genuinely demanding that anyone take seriously and need to rebut his speculation that the Israelis had threatened the scientists.

But best as I can figure, what he was saying was “for argument’s sake let’s assume that there really is a report by French scientists” (a matter on which Honesty was casting doubt) “then what evidence is there that this report is not the result of the Israelis threatening the scientists?”

Meaning that while the notion of Israelis threatening the scientists to produce the false report was only theoretical, it was only theoretical to the extent that Honesty did not believe that the report existed altogether. To the extent that such a report existed, Honesty was in fact saying that the idea that it was the result of Israeli threat was valid speculation, and put the burden on others to find evidence to disprove it.

To the extent that you don’t believe the logic worked that way, then it was perfectly legitimate to leave out the first sentence.

That said, as above, Honesty’s syntax was somewhat garbled, and his statement “let’s assume that Yasser Arafat died of natural causes” doesn’t really parse well in the context of what he was saying. I think he meant what I said above, but you never know.

Resolved: pit bulls have the right to choose. Discuss.

The right to choose polonium?