What aspects of a mass tragedy are acceptable areas of discussion?

In the thread about the recent terrorist bow-and-arrow attack in Norway, a moderator shut down an ongoing vocabulary nitpick and a black-comedy joke, and someone else got annoyed with a discussion of the kinds of damage done by bullets vs. arrows.

Can we get some clarity on what aspects of these kinds of events should and should not be discussed on the Dope? I recall for example a great deal of technical and political discussion in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion last year (which killed 200+ people). Is there something fundamentally different about people being killed with arrows that should compel us to limit the breadth of our discussion on the matter?

Joking about a tragedy, IMHO, should not be allowed or encouraged until a certain amount of time has gone by.

Technical aspects, though, are just fine, such as discussing the impact of a fuel-laden jetliner on a building. That should be fine anytime.

There was more of an off topic gallows humor tangent, not really anyone joking about the tragedy itself. A mod stepped in and said “Cut it out.”
That seems to me the way it should be.

There’s a reason for that, by the way, and at the risk of stating the obvious, I’m going to state the obvious: making jokes* about a tragic event while it is still fresh is demeaning and belittling to the human lives that were affected by it. How long is long enough to wait is a question I’m not going to attempt to answer, it’s just too complex.

*Yes, that includes off-topic gallows humor, in my opinion, although it might have been fine to start a separate thread with that stuff in it. Considering the main thread, though, when it is fresh it is focusing on the humanity of the victims, not on how an arrow might feel as it exits your body.

Just for the record, as the OP of that thread, I reported the asinine “joke” (which was IMO made worse by the “not going to say it” bullshit) and the continuation of the stupid vocabulary hijack (actually, I reported my own irritated response to it), but I have no problem with the technical discussion of why a bow and arrows-vs-bullets, myself.

And I say “joke” because it was just unnecessary. I mean, If, I’d come in on 12 Sep 2001 and said

But hitting two buildings with jet airliners, well, it would be insensitive of me to say, “nice flying”, so I won’t say it.

how the fuck do you think that would that have gone down?

I agree. I didn’t tell anyone to stop talking about the technical aspects, even though they are a bit gruesome. Talking about how the people were actually killed, the killer’s choice of weapon… seem relevant, and not dismissive of the dead. I decided on a mod note and not a warning for the “joke”, but that was borderline. The “what do we call these weapons” thing was more a tangent than it was insensitive, and I never considered anything more than a mod note for that, to get the conversation back on track.

It took five days before a joke thread appeared when 3,000 people were killed on 9/11.

So, jokes about five people being killed should be okay after about 15 minutes.

There’s no particular reason to suppose that decent feelings are ruled by a calculation like that. For me it kind of works the other way. 3,000 people is a number almost too large to comprehend and tends to become an abstraction. 5 people are still people.

But it might not be so bad, in a separate thread.

I agree with this. If one feels the need to make a gallows-humor joke about a tragedy, or analyze the technical aspects of an attack, IMO, the “breaking news” thread about the tragedy is probably not the right place to do so.

Sure, but it’s not 3,000. Being a New Yorker, I know many people that were closely connected to 9/11 victims so it doesn’t seem too large to comprehend to me. I agree it may be for people not so close to it.

I agree with this totally about jokes. No need for them in a breaking news thread. I was just pointing out the time from tragedy to jokes is smaller than most people think.

This part I think is ok in breaking news threads. It was in all the 9/11 threads. More recently it was discussed in the Florida condo collapse and the missing van-lifer woman threads. I don’t know how you would prevent people from speculating about technical stuff in threads like that other than a lot of modding. Speculation about details in threads like that seem to be the driving force. However, while the jokes don’t usually bother me, I think you can safely split those off to a new thread. No need for jokes in breaking news.

It took a small number of milliseconds after the space shuttle Challenger blew up until there was a Usenet thread full of gallows humor jokes about it.

Didn’t Stalin say something like that?