Tomndebb’s warning to WarmNPrickly

Here’s the interaction:
It’s in a thread about global warming. The bit in question started with Starving Artist saying that scientists are claiming we’re all going to die and then a brief back-and-forth exchange between The Tooth and WarmNPrickly. I think I recapture the whole thing here (some posts clipped):

(Not quoted here was The Tooth’s own tongue-in-cheek reply to Starving Artist “This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedemir. Explain again how sheeps’ bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.” I think it may be germane here to illustrate that this wasn’t Tooth/Warm on opposite sides of an escalating feud over climate change.)
When I first read the exchange I thought it was pretty funny. Perhaps it’s because I find the word ‘imbecile’, despite its lack of k-sound, to be inherently humorous in contexts like this. Perhaps it was what I perceived as a fairly even match of temperament and tone through the chain of we’re not going to die / well, we all are going to die / zombies!. Maybe I have a thing for zombies.

I don’t know, but it received this warning:

I’m not sure what to make of it. A formal warning? Is there some history I’m unaware of? Or is this the type of line I could cross someday unawares? I’m not one to argue mod actions (especially as I wasn’t involved at all), so this isn’t a call to rescind anything. But could TPTB stop in and expand a bit on what they saw happening?



Might just be my humorless self, but I’d take “you’re an imbecile” as an unambiguous insult. Seems like a justified warning to me.

I would guess not, unless you are in the habit of calling people imbeciles.

Seems pretty straightforward to me. “Imbecile” is a plain insult, and not permitted in GD.

Now the parties may or may not have been joking, but I don’t see any smilies.

No smiles you say?? Why you imbecile!!! :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):slight_smile:
(insert real / harsher insult above with whatever amount of smiles you think will get you away with it).
I don’t think the use of smiles should be a determining factor due to the potential for easy abuse is all.

I think its clear he would of avoided the warning had he not used the word imbecile.

So should I start reporting insults that I know are jokes, too?

Let me go further than that bit of snark. Look at what immediately follows. “There is absolutely no reason to believe that the dead wont rise to feed of the flesh of the living.” If that was intended seriously, then WarmNPrickly is a very deluded person. Do I honestly have to point out that zombies aren’t real?

So, in context, the whole thing is clearly a joke, smiley or no smiley. It’s no more an insult than choosing the last option in this poll. (Man, is it hard to think how to search for comic insults.)

It dawns on me that you guys may just not have gotten the joke.

It’s simple. Global warming is (according to who he was responding to in the thread) not going to kill everyone. But it might kill some people. And if those dead people were to come back to life, they would kill everyone. So, therefore, it is actually possible to say that, as a result of global warming, everyone IS going to die.

The joke itself kicks in with the connecting of hysteria about a zombie apocalypse with hysteria about (A)GW. The insult in front of it is no more insulting than saying. “You idiot! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

I wasn’t sure exactly how subtle and nuanced the humor was, and wasn’t sure how much to describe it (plus, explaining a joke is bad for the amphibian population).

Clearly out of context, “you’re an imbecile” is an insult.

But since both seemed to be on the same (relative) side of the debate, it’s out-of-nowhere-ness suggested it wasn’t meant at face value. Then there’s the whole, you know, zombie thing.

But maybe it could be interpreted as a snide insult, as in:
“You’re an imbecile. You’re previous comment was as realistic and thought out as someone seriously suggesting a zombie attack.”

Not to post off-topic or anything, but just to keep the record straight, Starving Artist laid his observations at the feet of the left itself and made absolutely no comment about scientists one way or the other. To wit:

*Conservatives are skeptical about global warming because it’s coming from the same crowd that 40 years ago claimed we were running out of trees; 30 years ago claimed we were running out of oil; 25 years ago claimed we were headed for an ice age; and 20 years ago claimed that all the ozone was being depleted. The predicted outcome of each of these was that we were all going to die - just like now with global warming.

Let’s face it - there is a significant segment of the population that is prone to Chicken-Littleism and that segment tends to skew left. Plus such fears are a great impetus for imposing more government regulation upon private enterprise.*

The gentle reader will note the absolute lack of mention of scientists anywhere, but instead a specific reference to a segment of the population that skews left and is given to Chicken-Littleism and is desirous of increased government regulation of private enterprise. Anyone familiar with my views will know right away that I lay the blame for this type of thinking with liberalism in general and and the further promotion of it by the mainstream media, most of whom are liberals themselves. Thus it was with liberalism and the mainstream media in mind that I said what I did.

Now to give him the benefit of the doubt, it’s possible that Rhythmdvl honestly mistook my use of the word “crowd” to mean the scientific community, but I would have thought that my comments in the second paragraph would have made my meaning clear even if so.

Now, having said that, I have to say that I too found WarmNPrickly’s comment to be a joke. Whether it’s verboten to make insults in a joking manner in forums outside the Pit, I have no idea, but I can see how it would make moderating difficult if all a person had to do to excuse insulting someone was to claim that he was merely joking.

I really didn’t think that a statement regarding the zombie apocalypse could possibly be interpreted as anything remotely beyond a joke. :dubious:

Tooth made a snarky comment that we were all going to die, because of course we are human and we are all going to die like humans do. I told him he didn’t have any evidence that we wouldn’t become zombies. I also disagree with TomnDebb. It is quite coherent in context.

It’s a bit of a strange warning, but whatever.

Correct. I mentioned smilies not to indicate that a warning might not have been in order had one been used, but that there was no indication that the remark was a joke.

It can be interpreted as sarcasm. And while insults can be funny, they are still insults.

As I said, it’s not “strange” at all, but straightforward. I would have issued either a warning or at least a mod note in the same circumstances.

If it matters, being called an imbecile made me blink but it was pretty clear that it was meant in fun by the end of the post.

WarmNPrickly’s post was, in fact, sufficiently coherent and clearly intended as humor.

Frivolous warnings like this one are sucking all of the fun out of this place.

Perhaps it was the late hour after a very long day, but while I clearly did see that there had been an attempt at humor, it was couched as a direct insult and I really did not need to walk away from the thread that late at night with the potential that that comment would lead to ever escalating “badinage.”

I’m willing to rescind the formal Warning, but you guys have to recognize that even if a couple of you get a joke, there are enough posters out there who will not that such overt insults are not a good idea in GD. (If you have to post direct insults, quote Twain, or, at least, The Princess Bride, so that I am not getting flooded with Reported posts as I try to go to bed.)

Hmph. I really must be humorless or at least getting that way in my old age. Earlier it didn’t strike me as said in fun, now re-reading ( and actually reading the thread ) it does.

Obviously I need Spock smiley - you humans and your illogical emotions.

That’s the problem with “humorous” insults; it’s difficult to predict how they will be taken. While in this case The Tooth saw the humor in it, there are plenty of cases in which people have taken offense at remarks “clearly meant in jest.” Even if both posters involved get the joke, bystanders may not, and get the wrong idea of what is permitted outside the Pit. Since our interest as moderators is to avoid squabbles breaking out in threads, we often need to take such remarks at face value.

Well yes, and that was the point. Adding a smiley would be like putting a laugh track to Spinal Tap.

Anyway, I understand the warning at least on the level that I wouldn’t want intentional insults to be couched in something that looks like this. You can rescind the warning if you like, but I wont be offended to have my record tarnished. As far as I know, there are no real penalties for a single warning.

Technically, I guess I have another warning from a few years ago. Does the record ever get cleared or are old members doomed to get banned from accumulating the occasional warning?

While we don’t delete old warnings from the files, a single warning from years ago is nothing to worry about. We take into account general behavior over a long period of time. If you haven’t made a habit of insulting people, it won’t be a problem.

Ok, that’s it. Everybody stop that right now then.


In fact, just recently I called someone a “damn hippie” in what I hoped was obvious humor and when I later re-read the thread I got that “uh-oh” feeling of impending doom.

Smilies are the crutch of the humorly impaired. I hate having to add a smilie to placate the gods. Dead pan delivery is my IRL style of humor and I wholeheartedly agree with the brilliant comment made that adding smilies is like adding a laugh track to Spinal Tap.

On other news, I just learned the word “badinage”. It might be taking longer that you thought but it does work.

I agree.

I would propose a rule that there should be no warnings for insults unless the insulted party reports the post, and only then would the moderators consider the propriety of the remark.

Such a rule would have the advantage of eliminating the need for moderators to scrutinize threads for unavenged insults. And as they are so fond of reminding us, moderating is a thankless task. So naturally, you can imagine they would welcome a rule that reduces their workload with open arms.

I look forward to a sticky announcing this new policy.

Not going to happen.

One reason for shutting down insults as early as possible is to head off fights spiraling out of control. A poster who finds an insult directed against himself or herself followed by a smackdown by a Mod is less liable to feel the need to engage in retaliatory remarks. (We have a few juveniles who believe they simply must[/uu] avenge their own honor, but they are the loud exception, not the rule.)