Wednesday, March 20, 2013

geek vengeance: disemvoweling, part 2

At Another Meta-post: Moderation-fail, or, being too Minnesotan, Steve said, "As we Jews say, context is everything. I don’t know the details of that conversation you describe, but I can easily–easily imagine situations where an apparently harmless and reasonable comment was, by where and when and circumstances, completely trollful."

Hunting for the conversation I remembered, I found support for my general position at Boing Boing's Overaggressive spam filter. In the comments, schmod said,
Can we also stop disemvoweling people? 
I'd frankly rather see comments disappear entirely than be constantly reminded of the power of our omnipotent moderator overlords (mostly kidding...)
adonai said:
I kind of agree with Schmod, there *seems* to be a bit more disemvowelling lately for posts that aren't necessarily trolls or flamebait...just differing opinions.
a guest said:
Maybe strong opinions are being disemvoweled more, but this is high political season and tempers are way up.
Xeni Jardin answered:
Strong opinions, expressed intelligently and authentically and with the sort of basic courtesy one might use in person, in a crowded room -- they're welcome here. Even strong opinions I or my colleagues might not agree with."
It may be significant that she added "even", as if that wasn't covered by her first sentence, because the implementation of their policy suggests schmod, adonai, and the guest are right.

This is the disemvoweled Tibet comment I remembered, from Tibet and human rights: New Amnesty ads (update: HOAX), by Zosima:
pprntly y mssd t. Lk t my pst #182

t th sm tm, 'm nt wllng t sy tht trtr s vl. dn't thnk th wrld s nrly s blck nd wht. s 'v sd bfr, thnk tht mrl thrtrnsm s ntnbl. ts wht lds s t mk dngrs flhrdy dcsns. ts th jstfctn fr nvsns f pprtnty nd lynch mbs lk.

ls dn't thnk m n ny pstn t sy wht s bst fr Chn. wldn't prtnd t ndrstnd thr systm f gvrnmnt r thr cltr.

Wht d thnk, s tht w nd t drct r ttntn t prblms tht w cn slv, tht w shld fx r ntrnl pltcl prblms, s w hv th mrl thrty t hlp thrs. Th lst thng wnt t d s by nt th sm pltcl mndst tht hs ld t s mny f r prblms n th frst plc.
Running that through the disemvoweler gives:
apparently you missed to like to my past to the some time 'm not willing tosay that torture is value don't think the world is nearly is black and what is 'vesaid before think that moral authoritarianism is untenable its what leeds is tomake dangerous foolhardy decisions its the justification for invasions ofopportunity and lynch mobs like also don't think me in any position to say whatis best for china wouldn't pretend to understand there system of governmentare there culture what do think is that we and to direct are attention toproblems that we can solve that we should fox are internal political problems iswe have the moral authority to help others the last thing want to do is by notthe some political mindset that his old to is many of are problems in the firstplace
I would never be able to make sense of that on my own, but fortunately, pieces of it were quoted by another commenter. Inserting the quoted bits in italics, and making my best guess with the rest, it seems like Zosima was saying this, or something very close to it:
Apparently you missed it. Look at my post #182. 
At the same time, I'm not willing to say that torture is evil. I don't think the world is nearly as black and white. As I've said before I think that moral authoritarianism is untenable. It's what leads us to make dangerous foolhardy decisions. It's the justification for invasions of opportunity and lynch mobs alike. 
I also don't think I am in any position to say what is best for China. I wouldn't pretend to understand their system of government or their culture. 
What I do think, is that we need to direct our attention to problems that we can solve, that we should fix our internal political problems, so we have the moral authority to help others. The last thing I want to do is buy into the same political mindset that has led to so many of our problems in the first place.
For saying that, Zosima was, in Xeni's characterization of disemvoweling, treated as a misanthrope and made to look ridiculous.

Zosima's real sin was the one that usually leads to disemvowelment: disagreeing with the person who has the power to disemvowel.