Friday, January 27, 2006

bad grrl

Oh, no! My posting privileges have been revoked at TWoP! (cue ominous music)

So, what horrible thing did I do to get the boot? Well, I commented on the most recent recap of Battlestar Galactica, in which Jacob did a really amazing job of bringing in all sorts of literary references, but which (to my reading) stumbled badly with the inclusion of this line:
What's it like to live in a country where the government doesn't legislate its temporary religious values?

What threw me, specifically, about this line:

First, it comes immediately after a description of the scene in which Adama asks the believers in the fleet to pray for Roslin, and those like him, who are atheists, to keep her in their thoughts. The scene had nothing to do with legislation, it had to do with honoring the dying president with a moment of silence, more or less. Yes, the scene acknowledged that not everyone in the fleet has the same beliefs, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find a real politician who doesn't understand that situation in reality.

Second, the political situation on BSG is basically that there is no legislative body, as far as I can tell; they were all wiped out in the initial Cylon attack, and the survivors are living under military rule. Yes, the President is the Commander in Chief, but that's just because the military allows her to be. You can be certain that if Roslin had actually died and Baltar had become the President, the courtesies that the military had previously shown to the Office would rapidly fall away.

Third, notwithstanding the lack of a legislature, Roslin herself forced her own religious views on the fleet, believing herself to be the fulfillment of a prophecy. This belief led her to make a number of questionable decisions, and they were certainly decisions which the civilian population of the fleet had no means to protest. So the society portrayed by BSG is actually one in which the government's religious beliefs dictate policy!

Now, in the US, the legislature is elected at all levels, and the legislature drafts the laws that the executive branch must sign, and I can't think of a single "temporary religious value" that has been "legislated." One possible exception could be the attempts by Congress and the President to save Terri Schiavo's life, but I'm not seeing how respect for life qualifies as a "temporary religious value."

What I do know, though, is that courts in several states have declared by fiat that same-sex marriage is legal, expressly against the wishes of the states' populations.

So, with all this stuff percolating through my brain, I posted on the "recapper" thread. My language is more forceful than it would be in other forums, and is indeed more forceful than I usually am around here. There's a lot of attitude at TWoP, and at the time I didn't feel as if I was crossing any lines. I knew I was outing myself as a conservative. No need to pussyfoot around the issue, then. Here's what I wrote:
This was without a doubt one of the best recaps I've ever read on TWoP, and since I've been hanging around here since the Dawn of Time, that's really saying something. Therefore it was especially painful to run across this gratuitous and particularly cheap shot mid-way through:
What's it like to live in a country where the government doesn't legislate its temporary religious values?
See, you say something asinine like that and all the good stuff gets shoved aside, and it takes a while to get back into the flow of the recap again. Why do you do this sh!t? If you're going to talk politics, talk politics -- Lord knows there's plenty of it in the show, which for the most part you conveniently fail to parallel with current events. But then you throw in a line like the one above, and it comes off as weirdly childish and inappropriate.

Snark is most effective when it has its basis in reality... if you want to snark on "the government" imposing religious values, you'd best look to the judicial branch and see which side it is that is doing the imposing. Honestly, I'd prefer you to reserve your snark (and analysis) for what's on-screen. You're brilliant at it.
Then I went to pick up the kids at school, and we went out for our usual Friday-at-Borders jaunt. We came home, had dinner, and I get around to checking back on the boards to see that Jacob has edited my post to add:
I'm sorry that my opinion differs from yours, and that it caused a mental disconnect, but I don't see the effect that a difference of opinion has on the writing itself, which you seem to imply. Should I alter my personal response to the episode in order to more closely approximate your political feelings? Can you accept the fact that not everyone agrees with you, or is it just a problem for you when they express it?
I've got a warning on my account, too, but it wasn't until I tried to post a reply to Jacob's questions that I realized my posting privileges had been suspended.

This, I don't get. In retrospect, I skirted the line between "personal attack" and "expressing my opinion" by my harsh language. If I had asked simply, "why do you do this?" instead of "why do you do this sh!t?," I probably wouldn't be banned. But I've seen others post far worse stuff with nary a ripple of protest. I admit that it never occurred to me that I'd get banned.

I've written an email to Jacob to ask why I was cut off, but I'm not expecting a reply. The TWoP environment has become increasingly hostile to conservatives over the past couple of years, and it's really too bad. One of the nice things about the BSG recaps is that there wasn't a lot of gratuitous politics thrown in, but I guess now that I've brought up the subject, that'll be out the window.

It's pretty sad, though, that even a forum that's supposedly about television -- specifically criticism of television -- is populated with people whose views are so fragile that if a single voice pipes up and says, "what's with the out-of-nowhere (and completely unrealistic) political comment?," the moderator suspends my privileges and the other forum members tell me I'm the one whose nuts. And the recapper himself, who has shown himself to be an intelligent and perceptive guy, doesn't consider for a minute the merits of my question -- why did he include that single comment? -- but immediately assumes I asked it because I have a problem when people express opinions which don't agree with mine.

Stuff like this is exactly why I generally avoid making political comments. I confess, the stupid finger injury is making me grumpy, and I haven't been using my usual restraint. Still, it's kind of good to know just how bad things have become over there.

Later: This is classic. I went back over to TWoP to see if my ban had been lifted and also to see what had happened in the thread -- interestingly, someone has already asked what was meant by "temporary religious values", but there is no reply yet -- and I read the ban-specific FAQ (earlier I had missed the fact that the headers were links to their own pages: D'oh, me.) It turns out that when you get banned, the mod who bans you posts a message to you to let you know why; the "ban percentage" is another link I'd failed to notice earlier. (Damn, I guess having this throbbing digit is more of an impediment than I thought.) So I clicked on my warning percentage to see the message left for me by Jacob:
You had to know you were getting banned for that, right?
No, Jacob, I didn't. I thought it was a legitimate question and a legitimate criticism: that political comment was out-of-place and frankly, off the wall. TWoP's own FAQ page on banning says:
A troll is not[ ]someone who -- in the course of a real debate or discussion -- pisses you off with a [sic] opinion that is different from yours[.]



Dean Esmay said...

Such behavior is sadly common. You might want to drop him a note with a link to this piece.

I would agree, by the way, that the line you objected to was just bizarre; religion suffuses this show, including what's left of its government.

That said, I'd point out to you that the Council of 12 IS an elected legislature. Not much of one, but it's real. So they do have one. And members of that council mostly supported Roslin in her religious crusade. Which, by the way, just makes the crack about a government that doesn't legislate its "temporary" religious values even double weird. Yeah, if you don't count running off with a third of the fleet to the Promised Land...

Sheik Yerbootie said...

Just so that you know, and you obviously haven't been following in the show, BSG - The Reimaging, is nothing but religion from the Council of Twelve (which is their legislature in a sense - it's a form of representational government) to President Roselyn's belief in religious prophesy to her reliance on a seer to the whole story line about the Arrow of Athena to the Cylon's belief in a God and his intercession in the lives by way of his "plan".

You want I should go over there and kick some booty around a little? :>)