Politics in GQ

In the current General Questions thread Why aren’t sheep bothered by having their testicles ripped out?, Hampshire essays a joke in post #7, as follows:

He is admonished for this in post #16 by Gfactor, who subsequently quotes the following GQ rule in post #20:

A fair call as the rules have it, in my opinion.

However, I am curious to know how far, if at all, this rule is policed where non-US politics are concerned. For example:

(1) If, especially at the next UK General Election but not excluding at any other time, I post a similar swipe at the New Labour Party (substitute Gordon Brown for McCain) would the same moderator actions still apply?

(2) If a supporter of the Liberal People’s Party in Sweden contributes a disparaging joke aimed at the Moderate Party (delete McCain and insert Fredrik Reinfeldt) would this similarly be picked up and be the subject of a terse response from a moderator?

(3) If a follower of the MDC submitted the same joke directed at ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe (Robert Mugabe this time) would this also be regarded as a transgression of the above rule and acted upon accordingly?


Not trying to be snarky, but - why do you suspect it may not be?

The rule deals with politics, generally. That said here are a few thoughts:

  1. Comments about US politics were the main inspiration for the rule. Most of the complaints we get are about posts dealing with US politics. I got at least two reports about that particular post.
  2. Depending on the context, some of us (me at least) might not recognize a comment about foreign politics as violating the rule, at least until someone complained about it.
  3. I seem to recall at least one situation where we did enforce the rule for a non-US political jab.

Because I’ve never seen it happen.

Like Gfactor, I woudn’t necessarily pick up all disparaging references to a foreign politician or political party. However, I would remember a ticking off administered by a moderator as a result of a foreign politics jibe, if I’d seen one. Of course, that’s not to say such a scenario has never occurred. Gfactor is in a far better position than I to comment on this, which he has, and I see nothing untoward in his response.

I’ve always thought the rule was, understandably, primarily inspired by US politics. A piece of foreign politics snark is far less likely to make an impression on readers than a domestically oriented one. Thus, there’s less of a risk of causing offence, and minimal danger that a thread might be derailed as a result.

The point is fairly academic to me and I don’t lie awake worrying about it. At the same time I’m still curious to know what action might be taken in, say, example (3) if the joke had been:

‘And here I thought this thread was going to be about middle class** Mugabe supporters.’

If a moderator spotted this comment personally, what would he/she do about it? If the post was reported (unlikely, I guess) would its author be admonished? After all, there’s nothing very positive one can say about ZANU-PF and its cohorts, and I’m wondering if the offending poster might get a pass on the remark.
**OK, there probably aren’t any but you get the point.

I think that the post would probably have to be reported, although it would depend on the jibe and the country/locale. For example, even in the US, if I made some jibe about a local election, it’s unlikely moderators would know who/what I was talking about… but all the Chicago folks might. If someone makes a comment about a politician in Uzbekistan, it’s unlikely the moderators would recognize the situation.

As noted in the rule, we do tolerate some jokes… I mean, obviously, we’re not expecting this forum to be all serious and no smiles. The question (as always) is where to draw the line. If you see something that looks odd to you, report it and let us decide.

This is really the key thing. The reason for the rule in the first place is to prevent threads from being hijacked by partisans on one side responding to snark from someone on the other.

As has been said, it may really depend on whether it is reported or not. If a comment isn’t likely to disrupt a thread, taking action on it may be a bit moot.