Quote of the Day, June 23 2011 — Why the “fun police” are often a necessary evil & what can happen to a group overall when a few people within the group won’t put a leash on themselves

‘Screw-Head is going to go slightly over the line, and then Mr. Hilarious will have to further, and then Dr. Jackass will go further still, and then Guy Who Doesn’t Know When To Say When is going to cap it off with something terrible.

. . . Almost none of these people will have actually have been funny at all. They just will have done the easy and cheap, go further and further, without any wit or surprise about it.

This is what drives me insane with the cutesy-poo brigade who always wants to flirt with the line as soon as a I lay it down — because they’re creating, whether thoughtlessly or willfully, the dynamic which will inevitably lead to an ugly remark . . .’

– Ace, Ace of Spades, “About to Go LGF”, post dated June 16 2011, site accessed June 23 2011, links below (1)

I’ve been in multiple groups where the cutesy-poo brigade, Screw-Head, Mr. Hilarious, Dr. Jackass & The Guy Who Doesn’t Know When To Say When are all there and usually have brought some friends & neighbors along too.

Sometimes it’s been a work meeting (which supposedly was meant to accomplish something fairly straightforward & supposedly the meeting organizers and most of the attendees knew that multiple people at the meeting had a heck of a lot of stuff they wanted to do that day besides sit in a meeting) where one engineer just had to make a reference to popular culture, some obscure historical fact, or (God forbid) Monty Python (2) and then it became a contest between everyone else there to show “hey, I‘m an expert on what we’re talking about too!”

Sometimes it’s been a martial arts class with a few too many overly competitive women in the upper belt ranks (3) and a head instructor who won’t tell them all to shut up when one of them makes a joke about why all the guys in the glass cringe when the class practices a groin-shot technique and inevitably all the rest of the upper rank women have to chip in with their oh-so-funny comments too.

Sometimes it’s been a dinner party where one person has to bring up a topic that has some political angle or bearing on it, and suddenly there are six other people who have to jump in just to show they’re in the know and have an opinion too. There’s a very good reason why there used to be the old rule of never bringing up religion or politics in polite company. (4)

In the case of the article I quoted above, Ace runs the blog Ace of Spades, which is a conservative blog but also one he tries to make fun. The first time someone forwarded me an article from Ace of Spades, it was a post about how Vladimir Putin — then President of Russia — had agreed to do an interview with questions submitted from the internet. The fourth most popular question out of 150,000 submitted was what did Putin intend to do in case Cthulhu (a giant evil octopus-like elder god invented by the novelist H.P. Lovecraft) awakened?  (1)

That’s the kind of blog Ace likes to run, silly and humorous stuff intermixed with more serious issues.

Unfortunately, a few people keep pushing the envelope and Ace finally blew up last week at about 20-30 commenters who consistently make profane, vulgar and extremely racist comments in the comments thread of every post in which they can possibly make any type of racist comment. As Ace explained,were starting to require an inordinate amount of monitoring & babysitting by himself and some of the other site administrators, had been warned about their behavior multiple times, and had necessitated the deleting of more than one entire post because the comment thread got so out of hand. Because of those 20-30 individuals. And Ace had finally had enough.

On some internet forums, this general tendency is what is being referred to when administrators say “don’t make this something we have to point to and say ‘see, this is why we can’t have nice things’.” (5) 

A more extended quote  from the Ace’s original post is:

‘Because I know the dynamic– everyone will try to top the last guy. It’s how it always happens.

And before long, I have a clean-up situation on my hands, again.

When I caution, I have psychically seen the future, all right? Do you get this? I know, as an inevitability, Screw-Head is going to go slightly over the line, and then Mr. Hilarious will have to further, and then Dr. Jackass will go further still, and then Guy Who Doesn’t Know When To Say When is going to cap it off with something terrible.

And I don’t feel like watching the thread for this inevitability.

In addition, I know something else: Almost none of these people will have actually have been funny at all. They just will have done the easy and cheap, go further and further, without any wit or surprise about it.

This is what drives me insane with the cutesy-poo brigade who always wants to flirt with the line as soon as a I lay it down — because they’re creating, whether thoughtlessly or willfully, the dynamic which will inevitably lead to an ugly remark within 40 comments or less.

Some people have a good idea of when the game of I Can Top That should stop. Unfortunately, there are a raft of people who do not know when the game must end.

And yes, due to the latter type, I have to lay down blanket, no-holes rules so that the Guy Who Always Needs to Take It Way Too Far will not be encouraged to do so.’

(1) main link to  Ace of Spades , link to June 16 2011 post “About to Go LGF“, link to July 12 2006 post “Putin Finally Addresses All-Important “Cthulhu Issue” ” (and a link to an article in The St. Petersburg Times about Putin answering the Cthulhu question just to show Ace didn’t make that up, it really did happen)

(2) I personally enjoy Monty Python. But far too many engineers, technicians, and computer programmers turn Monty Python into a cult, religion, performance art & very public statement of life’s philosophy all rolled into one. Because of that, while I enjoy Monty Python personally, I want to strangle — and then thoroughly beat the hell out of — anyone who brings up any Monty Python reference or quote in public or in a large gathering of people.

(3) Fun Fact which I learned in a martial arts class which had this problem in a big way: a woman with Short-Woman Syndrome creates five times the hassle & has five times the baseless bravado and need to brag about everything they do as a man with Short-Man Syndrome. And just like with men, whether a woman has Short-Woman Syndrome can be completely unrelated to her actual or relative height.

(4) In my experience, bringing up political topics in polite company and having the conversation get entirely out of hand seems to occur most often in areas where one political view or philosophy is fairly dominant and everyone at the gathering in question expects everyone else to share their same basic opinion. As someone who often has not shared the predominant political viewpoint at such gatherings, it’s led to a dilemma I’ve never successfully resolved: do I keep my mouth shut, thereby giving the impression I agree with everyone else or at least don’t have a defense for any opposing point of view; or do I reply with my own opposing point of view, thereby ruining the evening not just for a few people there but for everyone there because what was once just a few people all mouthing the same opinion before hopefully moving on to a more pleasant topic of discussion has become a full-fledged political debate which will probably drag in everyone else in the group or at least preclude all other attempts at polite conversation?

(5) In one internet forum I check, the rule is you get an infraction point for asking an obvious question or one that could have been answered if you’d just read previous posts in the thread in question and anyone who answers your obvious/redundant question gets an infraction point too. You will likely also get infraction points for posts that are fully of chatroom speak like “lol” or “u” instead of “you” and for posts that are completely unhelpful like “long-time lurker, first time poster” or quoting a massive wall of text from someone else’s post only to add a one-sentence question at the end like “is this still true?”. On that particular forum, once you reach 10 infraction points your account is permanently banned from posting any more messages on the forum. Elitist Jerks >> FAQ >> Forum >> Rules

2 thoughts on “Quote of the Day, June 23 2011 — Why the “fun police” are often a necessary evil & what can happen to a group overall when a few people within the group won’t put a leash on themselves

  1. I’ve been in a lot of meetings that were not chaired well and thus turned into a huge waste of time. I forget who it is who once said meetings are the only place where people save minutes but lose hours. Several elements can turn a meeting into a useless waste of time.

    My meetings will go over 3 hours if I do not constantly redirect the conversation from “That reminds me of old Mr. So-and-so who lived out by What’s-his-name’s farm back in the 1960’s…” back to the business at hand.

    The frustrating thing is that those I am redirecting are the “bosses” of my organization.

  2. I never realized how bad meetings could get until I started taking notes during them. I tend to write fast, so I’ll tend to write down quite a lot of what was said, not just the high points.

    It’s amazing and often infuriating to read back over meeting notes & realize what seemed like a short side conversation during the meeting was in truth four successive & separate detours from the actual topic and those four detours actually took up 80% of the meeting time.

    My dad was on a regional school board for a bit over 20 years, he said the school board finally set a rule that all meetings (which usually started by 7 PM) had to adjourn by midnight. If there was any unfinished business during the meeting that hadn’t been covered by midnight, a meeting would be set for the following day & the unfinished business would be discussed at the new meeting. He said the board settled on that rule after a string of meetings that went until 2 AM when everyone quit because they were too tired to think anymore & the later on realized no significant discussions or decisions ever occurred after the midnight mark because by then the meeting had been going 5 hours and everyone was too mentally worn out.

    I also know of a local organization that had to get a timer and set a rule that no one on their board could talk for more than five minutes at a time. Period. They too had had some marathon 7 PM – until – 2 AM meetings, but not because of a lot of businees to cover; they had a member who would talk for half an hour minimum anytime he got the floor and wanted to add his two cents to every topic discussed (including grammatical errors in the organizational newsletter).

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