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  • posted a message on SEPTEMBER 2020 QUARTERLY UPDATE
    https://mtgcommander.net/index.php/2020/09/21/september-2020-quarterly-update/


    It has been a quiet quarter for Commander, and we are going to keep it that way. We don’t have any changes to the Rules or Banned list this time around. We will continue to monitor the format, player experience, and so forth.

    As always, we’re interested in your feedback. You can pop around to the free RC Discord server and be pretty likely to run into an RC or CAG member in a chat (or four).

    We are making one small change regarding our announcements. This is the last quarter in which our regular announcements will take place on the Monday after a new expansion’s prerelease weekend. Starting in January 2021, quarterly Commander announcements will happen the Monday before a new expansion’s prerelease weekend. The reasons are two-fold:

    Since new sets are legal in Commander as of the prerelease, it only makes sense that any announcement take place before then.
    This will get any possible bannings/unbannings and rules changes out of the way prior to the prerelease. Commander players can attend their prerelease (well…someday), acquire cards, and not be worried about rules changes the following Monday.
    The Rules Committee, some of the Commander Advisory group, and a few “friends of the format” have been playing a format variant for the last 4 month. Dubbed the “EDH Boxing League,” it has proven itself to be a very different, fun way to play Commander.

    The short version is:

    Each player opens a booster box or a normal release expansion or Core set cards.
    Players build their Commander deck from this pool.
    Starting each subsequent week, each player can open 6 boosters of another set and add those cards to their pool. They can’t select a set for which they have already opened boosters in that league.
    All Commander Rules are in effect (including banned cards).
    There’s a full write up of the rules here. There’s also a dedicated channel for it on the Discord server.

    If you’d like to see the format in action, join us on the RC Twitch channel (http://twitch.com/CommanderRC) on Thursdays at 8PM EDT and Sundays at 2PM EDT.

    2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. Our hope is that Commander has provided some small sense of relief from the crazy over the last 6 months. See you again in January!
    Posted in: Commander (EDH)
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Thank you to all who have come to comment in the thread regarding the site's policies on the various #LivesMatter social issues, and associated political implications.

    We have reviewed the resources provided. We remain steadfast with allowing #BlackLivesMatter on the site; Thus, to allow for balanced abilities for people to express themselves, we allow #BlueLivesMatter to keep rights of expression fair. Political disruptions of threads will still be closed down - we stand by the idea that this is a site for discussing Magic related topics, and that this is not a political discourse channel. Topics that do not contribute to that remain off-topic.

    At this time, we will no longer accept debate about the validity of any of the positions in this thread. Any concerns about the site's policies, or additional resources you wish to provide to us for consideration will still be welcomed, but we ask that it be kept to an informational level. This thread is not a replacement for the (closed) debate forum.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from FlossedBeaver »
    In the interim, I just wanted to ask: what are your sources regarding Blue Lives Matter? A cursory glance at Wikipedia - while not the most academic of repositories, certainly the most immediately available - yields the following in just the first paragraph.

    "Blue Lives Matter is a human rights countermovement in the United States advocating that those who are prosecuted and convicted of killing law enforcement officers should be sentenced under hate crime statutes.[1] It was started in response to Black Lives Matter after the homicides of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, New York on December 20, 2014.[2]"

    Emphasis mine. If Black Lives Matter started in 2013, how can Blue Lives Matter be a separate precursor? I'll see if I can't dig for other sources to verify, but I have no reason to doubt this information on the face of it.

    BLM and Blue are intrinsically linked, as the two police officers killed were assassinated in reaction to assaults against BLM. This makes disentangling the two very difficult.

    Wikipedia was a starting point for me as well, but the sources I listed in my earlier description of #BlueLives were brought in during further depth of research.

    I would like to emphasize the second part of your quote from wikipedia as well: "It was started in response to Black Lives Matter after the homicides of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn, New York on December 20, 2014."

    The current Blue Lives homepage has a concise mission statement: https://bluelivesmatternyc.org/pages/frontpage

    This article has this quote towards the beginings of Blue: https://www.the-sun.com/news/992088/blue-lives-matter-racist-flag-blm-protests/

    Blue Lives Matter was founded in 2014 by NYPD officers Joseph Imperatrice, Christopher Brinkley, and Carlos Delgado.

    They started it after Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed by Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley in the Brooklyn borough of NYC.

    Brinsley reportedly did it to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in police custody.


    This article has this to say about several of the police support affiliations (emphasis mine): https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/06/08/the-short-fraught-history-of-the-thin-blue-line-american-flag

    Now, Jacob is the president of Thin Blue Line USA, one of the largest online retailers devoted exclusively to sales of pro-police flags, T-shirts, neckwear and jewelry. “The flag has no association with racism, hatred, bigotry,” he said. “It’s a flag to show support for law enforcement—no politics involved.” The company officially disavowed its use in Charlottesville.

    Jacob said the flag was not a direct reaction to the first Black Lives Matter protests—an idea suggested by a previous origin story in Harper’s—but he allows he may have first seen the thin blue line image after those protests spurred the circulation of pro-police imagery online. “That’s maybe why it came to my eyes,” he said.

    As Jacob built the company, a “Blue Lives Matter” movement was growing in the wake of news stories of multiple officers shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Brooklyn, New York; and Dallas. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, as a presidential candidate, called police “the force between civilization and total chaos.” Some states began passing laws to categorize physical attacks on law enforcement officers as hate crimes.


    https://gothamist.com/news/inside-seething-white-heart-blue-lives-matter-movement
    That same winter, following the fatal ambush shooting of NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu, a group of former and current police officers created a Facebook group, and later a news site, dubbed Blue Lives Matter.

    The founders said they wanted to speak out against the “vilification of law enforcement” they observed from the nascent Black Lives Matter movement. They claimed they were “motivated by the heroic actions of Darren Wilson,” the Ferguson police officer who killed Brown. The movement soon adopted the Thin Blue Line as their flag.


    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2017/11/30/why-blue-lives-matter/

    ===

    In going back to find these links, however, I have found the following article, which I plan to read more in depth, as well as forward to the ownership:
    https://lawreview.vermontlaw.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/03-Smith.pdf

    I also found an archive of the original mission statement, which is considerably different than today.
    https://archive.bluelivesmatter.blue/organization/

    Blue Lives Matter was founded based on the need of law enforcement. On August 9 2014, Ferguson PD Officer Darren Wilson was doing his job as he stopped Michael Brown, who had just committed a robbery of a local convenience store. Brown attacked Officer Wilson in an aggravated assault. Officer Wilson was forced to defend his life by shooting Brown. In the months that followed, agitators spread outright lies and distortions of the truth about Officer Wilson and all police officers. The media catered to movements such as Black Lives Matter, whose goal was the vilification of law enforcement. Criminals who rioted and victimized innocent citizens were further given legitimacy by the media as “protesters.” America watched as criminals destroyed property, and assaulted and murdered innocent people, and they labeled these criminals as victims. Personal responsibility for one’s actions went away, replaced by accusations of racism and an unjust government. It seemed that almost every media organization was spreading the absurd message that people were being shot by law enforcement simply because of the color of their skin. Our political leaders pandered to these criminals and helped spread this false narrative, with no thought of the consequences.

    On December 20, 2014, NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu were ambushed and murdered by a fanatic who believed the lies of Black Lives Matter, the media, and politicians. While reporting on the murder of these heroes, the media continued to spread the false narrative of Black Lives Matter. Even the big law enforcement media companies, who purport to be all for the police, helped spread misinformation through re-posting articles written with an anti-police bias. This highlighted that these companies weren’t run by law enforcement, and they only cared about saving time and money “reporting” the news.

    The officers who founded this organization were motivated by the heroic actions of Officer Darren Wilson, and many others, and decided to create this organization in the hopes that it could prevent more officers from being hurt.

    Blue Lives Matter formed and gathered supporters of law enforcement on Facebook to distribute information which accurately reflected the realities of law enforcement. Feeling the limitations of being contained to Facebook, the Blue Lives Matter news website was launched to provide accurate coverage of law enforcement, from a law enforcement perspective.

    In 2016, after an unprecedented number of ambush attacks on law enforcement officers, the founders decided that we could be doing more to help the officers who are getting attacked in the streets. The Blue Lives Membership was created so that citizens who aren’t afraid to support law enforcement could become actively involved in providing law enforcement officers with life-saving equipment and training, and providing financial support for the families of heroes killed in the line of duty.

    Blue Lives Matter will continue to support law enforcement in any way when there is a need that we can fill.


    I will forward this to ownership as well.


    ===

    Change you never be DEMANDED , especially not by violence, oppression, insults and property destruction.

    Change has to be made by a concentrated effort to make it BETTER, not run the entire society in the ground in the process to aim for some fantasy, that will only shift the supposed problem to somebody else.


    You mean, like change against an oppressive Monarchy which treated some of its ctizens as inferior and denying them their rights? Perhaps running that society into the ground, and rebuilding a new one, not once, but twice?

    Our history disagrees with what you consider to be occasionally necessary or not necessary.

    There is to say, people are way more inclined to act like they are oppressed, as it provides them benefits.
    As long as crying victim (no matter if its real or not) results in attention and is rewarded, thats exactly what you get.
    So how is someone who is oppressed supposed to get attention then? Simply ask pretty please to the very people oppressing them?

    And if somebody cries victim while smashing windows in, looting stores and putting fire to buildings, i cannot take any of it serious, its completely impossible to have any meaningful "message" if its all about destruction and making absolutely everything worse for anybody.
    So, someone crying victim while emptying an entire shipment of tea into a harbor would not be a meaningful message, historically?


    The fact that the racism continues today and is not fixed shows that it's not a miniscule problem, and that it hasn't gone away on its own. That means we need to examine if proactive steps will prove better or more effective - because what we have been doing, is not working.


    Actual problematic racism is already gone.

    Law even goes as far as to give black people affirmative action, which is a form of racism in itself.

    So it can very well be said that the pendelumn already swings in the other direction, making the supposed former racists into the actual people that face racism themselves.
    The data and studies disagree with this assessment, still to this day.
    https://www.businessinsider.com/us-systemic-racism-in-charts-graphs-data-2020-6#the-wage-gap-between-races-also-interacts-with-the-gender-wage-gap-between-men-and-women-10


    The very idea that black "cant be racist" is mind boggling naive.
    That is boggling, and naive, yes. Anyone can be racist.

    BLM actively aims to make violence "ok" , like its not a problem at all, while simultaneously claiming the other kind of violence is bad. Both violence is bad, so stop it instead of instigating more of it!
    BLM is not about making violence ok. It's about demanding change, for a continued injustice, which repeatedly continues to be ignored from a legal perspective, despite research and studies showing it to still be a problem. Violence has come into play in a remote and small subset of gatherings, due to the fact that peaceful protest over an extended period has failed. Repeatedly.

    Completly wrong, either get your message PEACEFULLY across, or you just become a part of the problem on your own.
    While this would be ideal, what happens when the oppressors refuse to listen to your peaceful protest? Historically speaking, well... examples abound. In our own history no less, and not that long ago.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from H3RAC71TU5 »

    I'm pointing this out because this is the sort of argument being made by people in the anti-fascist movement, and you seem to be unfamiliar with it.
    If you have material you would be kind of enough to send my way, I am intrigued.

    All that is required for an institution to be racist is that it participates in and/or perpetuates systemic racism. The institution of police does do this as you admit, so it is a racist institution. It is not necessary for that institution to have a conscious agenda of participating or perpetuating systemic racism. It is not necessary for the individuals who make up the institution in whole or in part to hold racial prejudices. These aren't the claims being made by people who say that the institution of the police is racist. The claim that you want to deny here is that the institution is necessarily racist, and the movement to defund the police is pretty skeptical about that denial to say the least.
    I think we are working on different definitions here.



    It's important to be cautious any time we dehumanize anyone. I re-read over FlossedBeaver's post and I didn't get the sense that his argument was the Nazi loses his claim to humanity, though if anyone would surely a Nazi is a candidate. He said that a Nazi whose act is characterized by what we would normally consider the virtue of courage should not be celebrated for this seeming courage because this virtue is not in harmony with other virtues (Plato's Laches, give me life! Thumbs Up ).
    Perhaps I walked away with a different understanding of the example.

    This appears to be a moral equivalence argument. Use of violence in any context is, by definition, extreme. Yet what most people (except absolute pacifists) agree on is that violence is sometimes necessary. You, for example, say police violence is sometimes necessary. Meaning, the context determines whether it's appropriate. If the context is an institution which systemically engages in violence under the auspices of state power, and a violent response is considered an undesirable but historically informed strategy of combating this institution, that position shares a principle with yours--neither is pacifist. But yours accepts the basic legitimacy of state violence and chooses moderate rather than extreme action as a response to this state violence. And there is a third position, the promotion of state violence, which you are characterizing as equivalent morally to the violent opposition. I don't think that you are morally equivalent to the state-violence-promoting group here but I do find it dubious that in this situation being moderate is the most rational and appropriate response, and I definitely object to the insinuation that the two groups you are comparing are at all similar.
    You've lost me here, and are making things more convoluted than necessary.

    What I am saying is that each group needs to be judged on their own position and merits, and not on the actions of another group that uses their slogan. If we uphold this ideal for #BlackLivesMatters, by saying that the violence and riots are a separate entity from the entity of the movement, and do not reflect the goals and general acceptance of the #BLM movement (which has been largely, but not entirely, peaceful protests) then we should uphold the same standards for others, and not villainize them based on the actions of other groups.

    I have never stated that #BLM or any of the peaceful protests, or even civil disobedience, or even straight up riots, were unnecessary. The movement has stepped up its attempts to gain attention for a decade now, and if simple acts of attention aren't enough, clearly larger acts are needed until the attention is given is deserved. Simply because something is necessary however does not mean that it is exempt from repercussion either.

    There are also various contexts of violence that seem to be conflated here. (1) Excessive violence and use of force by the Police that has led to the wrongful deaths of individuals with no repercussions; (2) Regular violence and use of Police force in proper procedure when other deescalation methods have failed - No matter what your beliefs or ideals, there will always be some need to apprehend a non-compliant subject; (3) the violence of the protests; (4) the violence of the riots; (5) the violence by government authorities against the protesters (peaceful, non-peaceful, and riots); and (6) the violence of confrontations between protesters and counter protesters. At no point did I ever claim that these different situations and contexts of violence are equivalent in scope, context, or anything else.

    =====

    The context of bluelivesmatter is that blacklivesmatter arose specifically to address the issue of police violence and the former was, in complete and utter cynicism, thrown out ad hoc to derail the discussion so that the focus was instead on... the perpetrators of the violence and their issues. I find this perverse. A specific individual's intent in invoking bluelivesmatter may simply be to offer support, but this usage is technically acontextual.

    The general current accepted context does not seem to support this. If you have additional context to provide, I would be happy to pass it up and add it to the growing research that I have put together on this.

    It's important to take into consideration the impact in which the proliferation of "bluelivesmatter" signatures would have on marginalized groups within the community. It would make the community less welcoming to them. Some people might be similarly impacted by "blacklivesmatter" and feel unwelcomed, but is this a segment of the community which is worthy of being specifically catered to?
    That first is why initially we did not accept #BlueLives. However, after doing some research, what we found is that the blue lives movement is for solidarity of assassinated officers, and was not explicitly started as a counter-movement to BLM. This is reflected in common usage, as companies have explicitly allowed #BlueLives, and/or explicitly rolled back previous disapproval of it. This is in stark contrast to ALM, which is explicitly a counter-movement, and is likewise seen in common usage where companies have been explicitly disapproving of it, with such disapprovals only consistently rising. Likewise with #WLM, which barely even deserves a mention.

    I'm not sure a permissive attitude toward police PR efforts is exactly what this conflict calls for. I would draw a comparison to men's rights activism, which is reactionary to feminism. It assumes, first of all, that men's issues require distinct treatment not provided by feminism. This is somewhat understandable considering that the word is "feminism," the emphasis is on women. MRA is the "alllivesmatter" of gender issues, basically. But feminism actually does analyze the issues that men face under a patriarchal society, it just makes the simple point that its emphasis is based on the fact that the issues men face are overall not as impactful as patriarchal society is on women. So men don't really need a separate treatment on gender issues independent of feminist analysis; they're already covered. And, on top of that, for men to receive this separate treatment would mean that dialogue on gender issues is taking place in which women aren't prioritized, which is backwards because of the earlier point that women are impacted more heavily by the effects of systemic gender inequality. Finally, there's the way that this discourse has developed and takes place in practice, in order to derail feminist discourse. We can indeed solve both women's issues and men's issues at the same time. But the aversion that some men have to the solution because it associates them with femininity is a salient instantiation of the problem to begin with.


    An interesting analogy, and actually the exact one I had in mind and that I was alluding to when writing my post, as I had just seen this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WMuzhQXJoY&ab_channel=TEDxTalks

    That is a TED talk by a previously prominent Women's Rights Activist who created two feminist documentaries, and then went to research the MRA for a third documentary, examined her own biases, found that they actually had compelling points not covered by feminism, made a documentary about it, and then was ostracized for supporting that unpopular view.

    In short, according to her, after doing the research for her documentary she discovered that No, the Mens Rights Activists are NOT the "alllivesmatters" of gender issues. They did have a separate point, and were not necessarily in contention with the feminist movements, and that men are not "already covered."

    ---

    For reference, one of the other movements that I had in mind was something I had recently read regarding former Judge Aaron Persky, the judge who ruled on the Brock Turner rape case.
    https://www.quora.com/In-light-of-the-evidence-was-justice-served-by-recalling-Judge-Persky-for-the-sentence-he-gave-Brock-Turner/answer/Jeremy-Arnold-4

    A likewise interesting read, which showcases the dangers of being caught up in a popular opinion movement without doing your own proper research. Some quick googling shows that the general premise of this research holds merit, and that the Judge was following pre-set recommendations and standards, and that the general legal institution sided with him in the recall.

    ---

    Likewise, it seems that #BlueLivesMatters has a separate point to make, which is not necessarily related to #BLM. I have not personally looked into whether or that point is valid, or to what degree, but it seems the general public is at least willing to currently give it due consideration.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    I am cutting down your posts to answer specific segments, this is not indicative of ignoring the rest - it is to save space.

    Quote from FlossedBeaver »
    I'd be curious to know what the site owners' opinions on police violence is - whether they condone, disprove of, or perceive it at all. Rhetorical question: what's the value of a life given in service to a fundamentally racist institution? Not to be crass or cruel - because I do value all life (insofar as living is concerned), and do not condone violence for any reason - but if I may draw a historical comparison: a Nazi soldier jumping on a grenade to spare his squadmates might be noble in the abstract, but ultimately does not redeem the greater cause they're fighting for. Again, the purpose of a peace officer is supposed to be the service and protection of their community (it's in their name!), but recent events have shed some unfortunate light on the very grim reality facing people in certain communities. It would be charitable, I think, to characterize police conduct as merely punitive in nature; in many situations I would call it outright criminal. While the loss of a human life is tragic under any circumstance, if we continue to uphold peace officers for self-sacrifice in the line of duty, we are then also promoting and perpetuating the racist institution they serve.

    I believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would claim to be for excessive violence. Police are no exception. Excessive police violence is never to be condoned - however policing is itself a job that comes into contact with violence frequently, and sometimes needs to resort to violence. It is important to separate the activism against the excessive and unnecessary violence.

    Likewise, while policing in general has had racist results, it's important to separate that the police institution is not a racist institution - there is no racist agenda that they are fighting for. Policing is intended to be the institution that upholds the laws and protects the people - That this is not happening equally is the problem. The execution, not the vision or agenda. Not only that, but not every police officer is racist. Not every police officer ends encounters with minorities with gun shots. To say that these officers have no value of life? To compare them to Nazis? That is beyond harsh.

    Your example of Nazism is also interesting. Even at its height, only about 10% of Germans were actually Nazis. Many more than that were German soldiers. Not every soldier actively believed in the Nazi ideal - this was a movement that grew over time, meticulously, and stamped out any dissent or opposition. To say that each of these people lose all claims of humanity is extreme. Many debates are had over the culpability of individual people in the movement, or even in mobs in general.

    As I said earlier, policing is a dangerous job. Police Officers should expect to encounter violence, danger, and hardship in the line of duty. However, we can still recognize that they are making that choice. That remains a noble choice, of itself. Not only that, but #BlueLivesMatters is a step beyond that. It isn't just about police officers being killed for doing their job - it's a movement about bringing attention to officers who were gunned down - targeted by assassins and terrorists, outside of the normal line of duty.

    Now, #Blue lives activists have taken the movement beyond that scope, pitting it as #BLM vs #BlueLM - that is despicable. But several groups have taken #BLM chants to violence as well, or even in seeking confrontation and violence in counter #BlueLM protests. These are extremists. If we say, rightfully, that they should not be held against #BLM - then those coopting #BlueLM should not be held against that movement either. - That is the position we have arrived at, and why Context matters. If #BLM were used in a harassing manner, it would not be allowed here. Using #BlueLivesMatter in a harassing manner won't be allowed either. But as a supportive statement, we have decided that they are valid.

    Despite my example above, I also reject the notion that peace officers are anything remotely akin to soldiers.
    While some cities and areas are inherently more dangerous than others, I think most can agree here. The dangers of an active warzone far outweigh the dangers of policing even the harshest areas. Dangers do exist, and part of the problem right now is that Soldiers are actually showing more restraint in a more dangerous situation than a large number of police officers.

    I take umbrage with the fact that my service is used as a patriotic dog whistle to deny other people their constitutional rights - I swore to uphold the constitution, and that includes the right to protest and redress of grievances. If you don't like something patently wrong with America, the democratic answer is to fix it, not be bullied into leaving the country.
    This is well said.

    And for all of that, I haven't seen a single #GreenLivesMatter sticker anywhere, despite the fact that more military personnel die from suicide every year than in combat. Why is that? If we go so far as to demote military service to being just 'a job,' and there are many different kinds of dangerous jobs, why do we feel the need to advocate for only one of those jobs? Why is the one dangerous job being advocated for, in diametric opposition to BLM, the only job accused of perpetuating violence against that exact same group?
    These are good and important questions. Many human rights grievances need attention brought to them, many in different ways. Women's rights, LGBT rights, all have movements behind them advocating the changes we need. Sometimes they enter the spotlight, sometimes they get swept away a month later. Media attention and documentaries help bring these issues back into the light, but even those are fraught with controversy - especially when it is counter to current prevalent consensus. Veteran rights and issues have been brought up time and again, but the issues still persist. We can only try to keep bringing attention to the issues, and hope we find ways to improve them.

    In terms of Police lives, it is only natural that as the Police come under scrutiny that they would wish to remind people of their side of the story, their sacrifices, and their problems. Since the spotlight is focused on them, they have gotten more attention of late.

    Policing does need to change, and improve, towards #BLM violations. But while we are reexamining how we Police, why can we not fix other issues as well? Such as their mental health care, public image, or that they can be made targets? That there are other issues do not necessarily invalidate theirs. It's important to target the important changes first, but if we can fix more than one thing at the same time, I would be for it. My hope is that the Defund campaign will have an impact on how Police respond, and thereby lower the rate at which they are targeted.

    You know what? I'm inclined to share that same video here. It's not work safe, it's not family friendly, but I will suffer another infraction - my very last, if need be - to draw awareness to such a grotesquely topical piece of evidence, one that even I hadn't seen until just last week. Suffice it to say, no amount of training can ever be held responsible for making someone into a monster - but it certainly can enable them. I'm a grown man, a combat veteran. I've survived rolled over humvees, mortar attacks, and jumping out of perfectly good aircraft, and this made me weep; I cannot bring myself to watch it again. Do so at your own risk.
    This video is disturbing. I still cannot wrap my head around it. The individual here clearly has problems that need to be addressed.

    Men and women who are supposed to be held accountable to the same moral precepts which governed my own possession of a firearm in public, and yet are endowed with privileges above and beyond the law.
    Qualified Immunity is one of the things that needs to change. The simple truth is that the idea behind it, and how it is implemented do not match up.

    This is one video that helped me learn a high level overview of the issue on it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl6yXjdMlHI&ab_channel=LegalEagle

    ===

    Your perceived problem of police violence is minuscule at best, facing the vast violence and crimes.
    The people who have been incorrectly at the receiving end of this would beg to differ - and they are standing up to bring attention to it through their protests, and highlighting repeated instances proving that this is not miniscule. That this is NOT individual situations, but a history of repeated abuse.

    Mistakes result in tragic events, that will always be the case and while they cannot be belittled, they have to be served by justice of the court in a proper manner, not a wild witch hunt and destruction of anything and anybody just to satisfy some savage need of vengeance.
    The issue that is being campaigned is that this is consistent and repeated, and that the perpetrators are NOT being served justice in a proper manner. The system is currently not working as intended.

    Media push the mobs to violence, which is a much bigger threat to humanity than any police violence could ever be.
    Current media dramatization and sensationalism is certainly a problem. Police violence is still a problem as well.




    All fundamental conflicts get down to that. Somebody has to forgive, and if they cant, they and all they love will suffer for it (in this world and after).
    Why should the victims be the ones expected to forgive? Why should they forgive, when no impactful change has occured to stop them from being the victims? When no change has occurred, despite repeated examples and attention brought to this same issue, not for 5 years, not 10 years, not even 20 years, but well over 40 years with no meaningful change?

    Defunding the people that swore and oath to serve and protect is complete inversion of help, it sabotages the work of the police and lets them face insane violence without the proper tools to face them.
    I think you have a misconception as to what #DefundThePolice entails.

    The idea behind #Defund is that police are not the right service to call as first responders in many situations. Police Officers currently have more responsibilities than they should, and that is impacting their performance and their responses. It is placing an undue burden in the amount of different trainings they are expected to have.

    Instead, #Defund suggests that other first response alternatives are more viable. Just as a Police Officer is not the primary response unit to a Fire, but rather we have firefighters for that, for a health check, or a mental health response, sending an armed police officer isn't necessary. A social worker or some form of medical personnel is more qualified to giving the care needed and addressing the needs of the situation.

    If we move these duties into these new response units, then this removes a burden from the Police. A burden that they no longer need to commit training, personnel, gear, and monetary resources towards. This allocation needs to move out of the Police, where it does not belong, and into the initiatives where it will help.

    #Defund is not about pretending that the same social health aspects can be done on a lower budget, but about allocating that budget into the services and initiatives that are best equipped to handle it.

    Even Chicago's big push to disband the police force was taken entirely out of context. Many articles pushed forward the headlines of "What will Chicago do without a police department?!? It will be chaos!" They completely ignored that the context was to disband the police department, yes, that had been plagued with decades of documented corruption and incompetence, and instead allocate the funds into other social initiatives to replace those same areas of service, including looking into how to rebuild a department to handle routine policework, investigations, and crime prevention. It was all there already.

    All the articles that claimed "Don't defund the police, rethink policing in Chicago and beyond" are missing the fact that it was exactly what the Defund movement was already all about! Rethinking how policing works. What Police are currently responsible for, and whether they should be.


    That is NOT the job of the police, and right now, especially in the big cities, police is simply send to anything, regardless of if they are trained to handle the problem ; and that will as we see again and again lead to problems as people with less training will not be equipped to handle very stressful situations, which they cannot foresee to happen.
    And this is exactly what #Defund is trying to address.

    So while you might argue for DefundThePolice, you should actually ask for even more money, to much better train the police, give them much better equipment and in parallel start the work with social workers.
    The need is to get the money and funding to the right places, and train the right people, instead of putting more stress onto an already overburdened police force.

    Structural problems exist in many shades. Racism especially is a minuscule problem in that greater scheme, as its more of a symptom that gets really ugly if more dire issues come together.
    The fact that the racism continues today and is not fixed shows that it's not a miniscule problem, and that it hasn't gone away on its own. That means we need to examine if proactive steps will prove better or more effective - because what we have been doing, is not working.


    #BLM as it is now does absolute NOTHING positive at all for anybody.
    BLM is bringing forth attention to an issue that has plagued our country for too long. Is it wrong for people to demand change when something is wrong?

    Sure, sometimes people see a perceived wrong, and they stand up and demand change - the attention makes people examine the problem, and it's seen that the wrong is inconsequential or simply perceived, and that there is no problem... But that's not what happened here.

    Multiple studies back up the claims. Multiple studies show that there is an issue. That's why so many people have gotten on board.

    Are there group causes that go overboard? Yes. Are there group causes that go too far, based on inaccurate evidence? Yes. That's why it's important to look into who is supporting the cause, why it's being supported, and what the research is behind it.

    In this case, when one side is being upheld by most research institutions, and the other is being upheld by self-avowed racists...


    #BlueLivesMatter will always ensure that police officers are not the sacrificial goat for a out of control media that is horny for the next violent riot, just to get a headline.
    This is important. To have a counterbalancing point to ensure that things do not go too far in scapegoating.

    As long as #BLM is actively asking for pro violence against police officers
    Gonna need a source.

    People that believe in the actual positive messages of #BLM should absolutely distance themselves from that group and start to act in their local community to start a change ; Hollywood stars and other fancy people will not help any of these interests, they only seek attention and self-glorification, they have nobody else interest in mind then their own.
    That's what people are doing. Campaigning their senators, governors, and local governments to change how we police, and examine the biases in our society and enact change upon it. That's literally what #BLM is about.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    After looking more into the history of the #BlueLivesMatter movement, how it has been used, and how it is culturally understood, we are allowing slogans of #BlueLivesMatter as a statement of solidarity to slain police officers and as a statement of support for our uniformed officers.

    While we understand and are sensitive that #BlueLivesMatter has been coopted as a counter-movement, and can be used dismissively in counter to #BLM, we feel that the Movement itself is not explicitly a counter-movement based on its history and formation. Just as we do not hold how other groups have coopted #BLM in ways that do not reflect upon the primary movement, so too should the coopted uses of the #BlueLivesMatter not be held against the movement itself.

    Context will of course matter in all situations. Using any slogan in a manner to incite aggression, dismiss others, or otherwise harass, troll, or violate our policies will not be supported.

    This is a complicated topic, and the decisions made regarding it are nuanced. We are receptive to hearing any feedback from our users, especially to how they are affected by these topics and statements. If you have any concerns, please let members of the staff know your concerns or how these statements affect you or reflect your own experiences.

    Thank you,
    -bobthefunny
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on Currently Suspended/Banned Users.
    ReapThaWhirlwind has accumulated three active infractions, and has received a one-week suspension.
    Posted in: Community Discussion
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Hey guys, I'd like to keep things a bit on topic here, or at least, set a direction.

    Our goal here should be in looking at how to best structure what kind of discussion should be had on the site, and how to respond to such things when they do arise, and how to prevent these things from disturbing the discussions about Magic.

    Since this discussion is inherently political, and will require definitions and even discussions of current events in order to support or explain positions, I accept that there will be inherent political discussion in this thread - but please try to keep the end goal of how this can tie into the improvement of the site at least somewhere in mind. What I would like to avoid is simply having a migration of Political Debate into this thread, where it might drown out others who have questions or input for the site.

    Thank you.

    I'll try to read through and address the more political posts a bit later.

    ===

    So… I wanted to try throwing in my own two cents.

    To start, I can totally understand what you and the site staff are trying to aim for. One of the wonderful (and at times, terrifying) things about the internet is the level of anonymity it brings. Without a face or genuine name, people can interact in ways that the politics of the outside world would never otherwise allow. An African American Jew could have a lovely conversation regarding scones with a Neo-Nazi on a baking forum without either of them realizing what had just happened. People in opposed countries at war might give thumbs up to the same youtube comments. A person might unknowingly reblog a video uploaded by their most hated nemesis. Much like a thanksgiving meal, things can reach a certain level of peace and equilibrium as long as politics aren’t brought into the matter.

    With that said…
    1. While I appreciate that you are short-staffed at the moment, I am curious whether anything has been considered to address that. It doesn’t look like the moderator recruitment thread has been updated in quite some time and starting an active recruitment drive in a more visible area may be useful for filling gaps. Likewise, I’m wondering if the application process has been adjusted to account for the recent difficulties with polarized politics (as I’m assuming that the goal wouldn’t be to recruit a bunch of people who want to police certain political views and turning a total blind eye to others). While it’s been said before, it really does seem that you’ll need additional eyes to maintain the sort of equilibrium you seek and dissuade vigilantism.
    2 Edited. While I in no way to believe this to be the case, it is easy to interpret actions taken from a desire to not have thread after thread devolve into largely off-topic arguments as a desire to not want to annoy/alienate or deal with/acknowledge bigoted individuals within the community. When someone’s incendiary statements goad someone into making someone post inappropriate political messages… What’s the plan? Are you willing to accept the unfortunate implications of most responses (implicitly encouraging people to do that more, appearing to favor bigotry or oppose those standing up against it, etc.)? You have talked a lot about being able to make civil communication in a way that doesn’t cause people to dig in their heels but what is the ultimate fate of people who insist upon confrontation?
    3. I do want to take time to acknowledge that things have been handled fairly well so far, considering your available resources. Outside of this one thread (and another with a very problematic title… which you changed), I have seen fairly few problems in recent times. While I feel that there are issues worth discussing, the fact that things have been largely moving along as normal is worth noting. Thanks as always.


    Thank you Rosy Dumplings for joining the thread!

    What you have said is the hopeful ideal, and what we hope to strive for. We do know that ideals are often just that - ideal, however I feel it is important to still strive and aim for that ideal, even while we must keep our sights, and respect, on reality.

    1 - We have attempted to revitalize the recruitment threads, as well as post some new threads in areas that are also lacking. Sadly, this kind of 'passive' recruitment has not yielded any results, as people are more likely to simply gloss over them. We have been in discussion as to how to best take a more active recruitment role, and the Rumor Mill is currently our top priority for it. We hope to reach out to several prominent members of the Community, and solicit some feedback and recommendations from them. We have also reached out to several users for nominations of other prominent members who are active, who we will then reach out to with the same request for feedback, ideas, and nominations.

    We hope to use this information to identify and build up a kind of 'map' of active users who care about the community and are well respected within the community; from there we will reach out to several that stand out, and see if they would be receptive to taking a more active role.

    This process is a new idea, so we're still working through it and learning as we reach out, but our hope is that this will lead to finding someone passionate, respected, and committed to the community.


    2- This is always the difficulty of discussions overall, and especially over the internet. While I would love that everyone be able to approach every conversation calmly and politely - the truth is that not all people do. As moderators, our tools are a bit limited. From the punitive side, we have the ability to infract users, or remove them from the site, either temporarily or permanently. Punitive actions however, are not the best way to change behavior.

    I believe this is where the staff, myself included, can improve more. When discussions veer off course and get heated, we still need to step in and take actions to correct the course if possible, or close the thread if needed and other courses don't work. We do still need to issue warnings and tickets to language that crosses the line.

    Where I feel we can improve is our language and messaging when these actions take place. Explaining why a thread gets closed, or why a certain position or line is not acceptable. Rather than handing out simple punitive measures, to ensure that our actions are also educational to the best of our abilities. This can be difficult, as this takes more effort and time - but I believe this would be a good and necessary step.


    3- Thank you for your kind words. It is good to know that we are having a positive impact, even if we realize that their is always room for improvement.



    Quote from H3RAC71TU5 »
    Quote from bobthefunny »
    You are correct H3RAC71TU5 that the views of the staff do not have a direct bearing to the site,

    Well, let's not get carried away. Smile


    What I meant is that while each staff member obviously has their own views and biases, this should ideally not impact their capability to enforce the rules and views of the site, or to act with respect and dignity towards others, even when those views or biases might be challenged on a personal level.

    If that makes sense?
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Spamming messages like :

    #BLM
    #DefundThePolice

    In perspective that Antifa associates themselves with BLM and shouts DefundThePolice for years, is putting a massive negative on this entire topic.

    If political discussions are not wished for, this is downright insulting to anybody which friends these protesting terrorists attacked, hurt and which stores and homes these sick people are destroying and burning down.

    This is not helpful at all and pushing blindly in a direction is upsetting a lot of people that wish nothing more than working and living together respectfully (and especially #BLM is anything but respectful).

    Either be consequential and make all political associations not allowed or downright opt in to a extreme radical position that is spreading nothing more than hate, pain and misery in the world.


    Thank you TheOnlyOne652089 for joining this conversation. Your input is appreciated.

    Antifa is Antifa. Terrorists are terrorists. It would be incorrect to assign the actions and values of one group upon another, just as it would be wrong to hold #BlueLivesMatter accountable for the actions the Proud Boys.

    In order to hold a meaningful discussion on this matter and start from an equal footing, I would like to present a brief history of the three #LivesMatter movements, as my best understanding goes.

    === History ===

    #BlackLivesMatter

    #BlackLivesMatter (wiki (1)), often abbreviated #BLM has its earliest recorded usage in 2013. It began as a movement after the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 to bring attention to systemic racism and the plight of minorities in the United States, who have more frequent physical encounters with police, an increased rate of fatal shootings by police, and are incarcerated at considerably higher percentages and rates than the economic and population distribution would suggest normal, and typically receive longer and harsher sentences for similar crimes committed by Caucasian criminals. Like the following movements, #BLM has deeper and wider roots than the movement started in 2013. In 2016, Collin Kaepernick's movement to kneel for the anthem achieved national headlines as another movement to raise awareness. Similarly, the history goes much further back. Comedian Richard Pryor's observations about police in 1979 is eerily similar to what we see today (2). Likewise, Dave Chappelle's police skits are altogether strikingly on point, bridging the gap.
    To put historical context in perspective, the 15th amendment gave African Americans the right to vote in 1870, however, many states and regions prevented African Americans from exercising those rights through various means of profiling. This was not amended until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (3). This was only 55 years ago. There are people still alive today who were blocked from exercising their right to vote. And there are people still alive today who prevented them from voting.

    #BLM is generally regarded as a non-violent protest group raising awareness for social inequities. The main controversy regarding the #BLM movement is in the name, where detractors equate it as saying that other lives don't matter. In part, this is part of the origin of the name of the #AllLivesMatter movement. The counter to this argument is that #BLM is not saying that only black lives matter, but rather that black lives matter as well, which has not been historically demonstrated. President Obama explains it best: "I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else's lives matter ... rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African American community that's not happening in other communities."


    #AllLivesMatter

    #AllLivesMatter (wiki (4)) in contrast has its beginning in 2014, as a deliberate counter-movement to #BLM. As a direct counter to #BLM, #ALM is often used to dismiss or demean #BLM protests. It is important to take the context into account here. There was no #AllLivesMatter before #BlackLivesMatter. #ALM is a direct counter to #BLM, to assign incorrect meaning and assumptions to the name of the BLM movement in order to discredit it. Then general societal view accepts this. Facebook banned #ALM slogans in 2016, Walmart has removed sales of all #ALM merchandise this year (5). #ALM is generally viewed as a divisive statement, meant to divide.

    This is not to say that #AllLivesMatter as a slogan is without merit. There are several examples of prominent figures who have used AllLivesMatter as an inclusive form to say that everyone matters - or rather, that all lives SHOULD matter. In a 2015 poll (1), 78% of poll takers identified more with All Lives Matter, while only 11% identified with Black Lives Matter (note: 2015 is much closer to the 2013 start of the movements than today. Exceptionally high support for #BLM has grown over the last two years, I would be curious to see the poll results if repeated today). Several proponents have said that #BLM is divisive in its choice of name, and should update the name to more accurately reflect the goals of the movement.

    There are multiple articles that explain the false equivalence between BLM and ALM, and why saying ALM is not as inclusive as you might think. Here are a few examples:


    #BlueLivesMatter

    The #BlueLivesMatter (Wiki) slogan similarly began in 2014, and is used used as a counter-movement to #BLM. However, unlike #ALM, the #BlueLives movement originates as a movement to highlight that Police are often profiled and are victims of crimes based on their professions, and #Blue was started in direct reaction to the murder of two police officers in 2014 (7). As such, the movement has notable links towards supporting a difficult and dangerous job, which has come under increased scrutiny in recent days due to the evaluation of the use of police force. #BlueLivesMatter as a movement is often equated as comparing the dangers that officers face to the dangers that minorities face.

    Criticisms of the movement point out that becoming a Police Officer is a choice of profession. One of which the officer (to be) is informed and makes a choice to enter a profession which they know is dangerous. In comparison, African Americans do not have that choice. Criticisms point out that while the dangers of the job of a Police Officer are real, and need to be supported, using the slogan as a counter to the #BLM movement, especially in the face of police brutality is dismissive of the racial biases and problems that exist today (8).

    Like #BlackLivesMatter, the Blue Lives movement has considerably deeper roots. The symbol for Blue Lives movement is a black and white American flag, with a one stripe colored blue. This is a reference to "the thin blue line." A view point that puts the Police as the line between society and anarchy. The origins of the thin blue line extend back to 1922, but was popularized in 1950 by Police Chief William H. Parker (9) as part of his public relations program. Since then, the saying, as well as various versions of the flag of a blue stripe on a black field have been used to show support for officers slain on duty. However, today the flag is now equated to the Blue Lives movement, and as opposition to the Black Lives Movement. As such it has taken additional meaning in forms of being dismissive towards the value of Black Lives. This has been shown on a historical level as well (10).

    Some companies have banned the use of #BlueLivesMatter, such as GoodYear, though GoodYear later reverted that policy. A woman who was wearing a #BlueLivesMatter start pointed remarks against a person wearing #BLM attire on a Delta Flight (11). Delta has banned that woman for life, and shown support to the #BLM user.

    =======

    Conclusion


    This is simply a quick high level overview based on some fast and dirty research I did to better explain the stances as I see them. Other moderators, and the site Owners likely have their own set of research and sources. Based on these sources, I am confident that our current approach of accepting #BlackLivesMatter as a slogan, but not the other two, is consistent with the current meanings and current understanding of these terms by the general population.

    Note that this applies directly to the specific slogans, their use, and their current connotations. Claiming support for all, regardless of creed or color; or showing support to our uniformed officers that uphold the law with dignity and honor is not being demeaned - however, when supporting these movements, it is important to know the context, history, and connotations and impact they have on others.

    I hope this helps to explain why the stance is currently as it is. If you disagree with this stance, or these sources, or have additional sources you would like me to read, I encourage you to share these sources with me, such that I can better educate myself on the topic.


    ====

    Sources, again.
    (1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Lives_Matter]wiki
    (2) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWulvchFpYs&ab_channel=NetflixIsAJoke
    (3) https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/voting-rights-act

    (4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Lives_Matter
    (5) https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/06/29/walmart-ends-sale-all-lives-matter-merchandise-indefinitely/3282035001/
    (*) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/all-lives-matter-black-lives-matter/
    (*) https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/philosophy/black-lives-matter-essay-why-is-saying-all-lives-matter-wrong
    (*) https://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12136140/black-all-lives-matter
    (*) https://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/2020/06/saying-all-lives-matter-doesnt-make-you-racist-just-extremely-ignorant.html

    (6) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Lives_Matter
    (7) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_killings_of_NYPD_officers
    (8) https://www.reformer.com/stories/letter-racist-symbolism-behind-the-blue-lives-matter-flag,608759
    (9) https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/06/08/the-short-fraught-history-of-the-thin-blue-line-american-flag
    (10) https://gothamist.com/news/inside-seething-white-heart-blue-lives-matter-movement
    (11) https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2020/09/04/black-woman-was-confronted-about-blue-lives-matter-flight-delta-gave-her-black-lives-matter-pin/

    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Thank you mikeyG for your feedback.

    Quote from mikeyG »
    No, it's not. The staff thinking it is, though, is profoundly naive and certainly clarifies a lot.


    My apologies, what I meant was, that this should be that area. This is a gaming forum, for discussing a hobby and a past time.

    Who are you referring to here? Are you saying that marginalized people are mad and stressed because other posters are raising awareness about ignorant/bigoted/offensive attitudes displayed on the forum? Who is the attacker here, is there a lot of attacks going on? I'll admit that I haven't seen a lot of direct attacks going on so much as dogwhistles to alt-righty/bigoted attitudes and frankly that's a bigger piss off and stressor than other posters taking a stand against it. But I may have misread you.

    I left it general. People when attacked will lash back, and this places stress on all who participate in the confrontation. Willingly or unwillingly.
    Dogwhistles to alt-righty/bigoted attitudes is a problem. These have no place on this site. However, it should not be on users to confront them, as that type of confrontation only escalates the issue, entrenches them, and makes it even harder to moderate in the long run. We ask that you report this issues to the moderation staff. If the staff responses are not adequate, that itself is an issue, which hopefully can be addressed and improved through discussion with community members in the staff inboxes and helpdesks, such as this one, and seeing what other ways community involvement can be improved.

    So, for context, I'm the director of a charity that supports 2SLGBTQ+ people across our province, and I championed a whole educational program that is a full-day class on creating and maintaining safer spaces. I work with municipalities, schools, community organizations - I even worked with a federal prison once. I don't know that I'd call myself an expert, but this is certainly something I work with daily.

    Your first point is certainly on target, but I don't think the second is. Safe spaces don't assume challenging/hurtful conversations won't happen, they ensure that the people who could be in some way harmed by those situations have backup so they aren't in a position to deal with it alone. And in some cases that means having allies take on the work of pushing back against ignorance and helping people understand why their attitudes/actions are harmful. Safety isn't stopping conversations about bigoted opinions from happening, it's ensuring that when they do happen that they are healthy/respectful discussions and the people most impacted by them are supported. In my trainings, I advocate for authority figures (teachers, supervisors, etc) to be those supports, facilitate healthy and anti-oppressive discussions, and follow-up with people who may have been impacted to ensure they're okay. On a site like this, I'd anticipate the staff would take that on but here it's largely been a handful of users. And I'm grateful that they do.


    Thank you for your viewpoint here. I agree that it would be irresponsible to assume that confrontation would not occur. The point I was trying to make is that this type of confrontation in a digital environment often serves to escalate and exacerbate the problem. Having allies and showing support is important, but this is best served by showing solidarity with the victim than in antagonizing the aggressor. What I would hope to have occur is that the incident get reported to the moderation, such that the offender can be made aware of the issue in a way that would prevent escalation and reduce repetition of the behavior.

    Having the behavior caught early puts the onus directly on the aggressor, while if there is escalation the aggressor will more easily shift the blame to those who attacked them, and more easily frame themselves a victim and in the right. This makes it more difficult to have meaningful discussions, and hopefully meaningful change.

    I certainly can't and won't speak for every marginalized person on the forum, perhaps some like these conversations being avoided. I think that's like an ostrich with its head in the sand, racist/homophobic/misogynistic/etc members are on the forum, and in my experience letting things go unchallenged doesn't make things go away. I personally feel most supported and 'safe' (in this context) when I know other posters won't let casual bigotry slide and will seek to pushback and educate. That, in my opinion, is the hallmark of a real safe space.


    The goal here is certainly not ostrich head in the sand, and certainly not lack of challenge. The goal is to keep this a place for the discussion of Magic, and allow a hobby that is a stress relief and escape from every day life to remain such.

    Bigoted messaging is obviously a complete anti-thesis to that goal, and is not welcome on this site.

    Not to be petty, but I reported a homophobic slur in a thread title and nothing happened for three days. I'm not bringing it up to criticize the staff, I get why that situation played out as it did and that's my point. The staff isn't able to facilitate and guide conversations like it used to, they aren't in the position to be the empathetic authorities nurturing a community (not that previous iterations of the staff didn't have their issues). I think it's why you're seeing regular posters attempt to step into that role by pushing back on posters expressing opinions that may be hurtful to other posters. And it's very likely why you're receiving so much frustration, the staff's stance on this feels more like neutrality than real leadership - especially from the perspective of posters putting in effort to be supportive and try to make other posters feel supported (which is to say nothing of the general principle many of these posters may be guided by beyond just supporting other posters).

    I appreciate that the staff is having conversations about how to address the politicization and partisanship of everything, I hope feedback from posters has contributed to those conversations. I don't think the issue is going away anytime soon, it'll probably only worsen as the world continues to strain.
    This is indeed a point of great friction. Part of the problem though is that having users try to take this on themselves most often leads to escalation, rather than resolution.

    There is certainly a rift right now between staff and community, in part due to the current burden and capabilities of the staff. I recognized that there is much room for improvement, and I certainly hope these discussions can help be a step towards that improvement.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from FlossedBeaver »

    I'm glad you brought this up, seeing as how I've been infracted eleven consecutive times for just my in-post sig. If you support the message, then why the heck does it matter if I choose to express it on my face mask rather than my t-shirt, if the entire purpose is visibility and awareness?

    The more apt comparison here is that you are walking up to everyone in the store and saying it to their face. Repeatedly.

    Antagonizing other customers is how people get asked to leave the store.



    Quote from FlossedBeaver »
    Dude, please. Black people don't get to step away from being black when political discourse gets too hot, that's the entire premise of the ongoing movement. You can either acknowledge that, or continue to pretend like black people don't post here - and who could blame them at this point, when voices for inclusion are consistently shouted down for being 'political'? When people complain about systemic racism, they're describing your actions here, bob. Your silence as an authority figure, and unwillingness to let others be vocal in your stead, is perpetuating the notion that Magic is for cisgendered white guys only.

    You are absolutely right that Black people cannot step away from being black. That women cannot stop being women. That gays, and Natives, and Muslims, and Christians, and Jewish people, and any other minority, or any group of people can stop being there what they are. This means we should work to create a safe place for them. Not create a toxic environment that repeatedly throws the fight back into there faces no matter where they go. This site is one of those places where people CAN step away from their problems. Behind a name on the internet, you can be anything - black, white, red, blue, or green - no one knows anything about you except what you choose to share. This is the one place where people CAN get away from their troubles, from their problems, from the politics - and enjoy a hobby they love, and share that enjoyment with others.

    If a person trying to unwind is constantly attacked and not allowed to unwind, is it really surprising that they end up pissed off and stressed? That they end up pissed off at the very cause that "awareness" is being raised for? And pissed off at the person attacking them, for the manner in which they are constantly bringing up that "awareness"?

    Consistently berating and attacking the other side is the exact opposite of creating a safe space for anyone. It creates a place where even the group in question cannot escape their issues. Believe it or not, they need to unwind as well. Creating a safe space means creating an environment where those people can be relax, not harassed, and not have to interact with the hateful rhetoric. In the context of this site, it means creating an environment which (1) does not have people and messages that disparage them, such as racist, misogynistic, or prejudicial messages - and (2) does not have people constantly bringing up the issue in the face of everyone else, which then instigates those very fights right in their faces - which, coincidentally causes those very issues to cut those wounds right back open again - in the very place that they hoped to find that very safety.

    Systematic racism is not simply 'silence'. Systematic racism is denial. It is turning the other way and allowing problematic rhetoric to continue. Silence CAN be systematic racism, in that silence can be turning the other way and ignoring issues. In the context of this site and our position on these issues, what we are asking is NOT to ignore hateful rhetoric. If it exists, report it, and let us handle it. It is not welcome here. Period. Our request of 'silence' is to allow people to have a place where they can enjoy the hobby they came here to enjoy. A place where they can escape those troubles, and step out of the fight. If they want to go join that fight, if they have recuperated and want to go be an activist - there are better places than here to do it. Let them choose where they want to engage. This is not that place.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Feyd_Ruin has an excellent post on MTGNexus that mirrors our stance on this as well:
    https://www.mtgnexus.com/viewtopic.php?p=101218#p101218

    I especially want to highlight the beginning premise of his post:

    Quote from Feyd_Ruin »
    I've said it many times, I'll say it again, and I stand by it: Political discussion is not allowed here. The world has gone to %$#%, and I think everyone can agree this has been the craziest year — at least in a long, long time. Politics are insane right now, with the largest polarity between sides than we've seen in living memory. Turn on the news, and it's chaos and unrest and political discord, and an unending stream of negative emotion and a cacophony of anxiety.


    People need to be able to get away from this when they need to, and sites like this can offer them that opportunity. There's no reason to have political discussions here, it doesn't fit the site, and there's no good merit for having them on a magic site when a lot of people won't want them and there's other, better places to have them.
    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on [Admin] bobthefunny's Strategic Chalkboard
    Quote from H3RAC71TU5 »
    Quote from bobthefunny »

    As far as the view that the site is leaning in one direction or another - there have always been allegations of various viewpoints that the site leans in a direction opposite of where the user feels they personally stand. This is often the case when trying to hold a centrist or non-partisan position. We have been accused of being anywhere and everywhere on the political spectrum, from allegations of far-right, to allegations for far-left extreme liberalism. The hope is that the balance of these allegations shows that we do hold that central line. Historically speaking, I believe that the majority of the staff has tended to lean slightly to fairly liberal, all things considered, however the staff has had representation from the full spectrum of political beliefs. We have never had any sort of "official" survey on the matter, however our off topic chats, as well as various discussions on how to handle certain tickets (especially political) has shown that we are a fairly diverse group in terms of beliefs.


    Hello,
    I'd like to clarify what is being stated in the quoted content. It is not necessary for the site overall to be leaning in a particular direction, or for specific staffing on the site to being leaning toward particular views, in order for one of the site's policies to in practice have biased results. What I'm describing here is a type of bias in the true sense of the word, in which the sorts of discussions that get represented are disproportional to the views of the community and/or disproportional to their epistemic merit as an effect of the moderation policy. In other words, a policy which is actually biased, because it is intended to dispel the appearance of bias (according to popular perception which is self-reinforcing). The latter is what you're describing vis-à-vis holding a "central line," a position which makes it possible for those on the political right to feel comfortable in the community here by virtue of implicit approval. If there's middle ground to be had, neither side can be considered to have gone beyond the pale, and thus there are "good people on both sides." I think this is a pragmatic calculation about maintaining the largest possible audience, but the long term effects of the social dynamics within that audience are something I would consider to be unfortunate.

    I respect the difficulty you mention of determining how to best moderate in these cases. I hope that you consider the criticism I have offered as reflecting on the value that this community holds to me, which has been cultivated over many years of work by the staff here. If I felt it were fruitless to continue to engage in discussion here, I would refrain from doing so.


    You are correct H3RAC71TU5 that the views of the staff do not have a direct bearing to the site, and that was not the primary reason that I had brought that up. The context that I had wished to convey with that statement is one of diversity, and having representation of various walks when discussing new challenges brought upon by moderation. For example, I would be very concerned if the staff were to moderate content regarding a minority, without having the perspective of a minority to explain or provide context. Now, the staff is limited, and we do not have representation of every minority that exists - however, even having some minority context can be helpful to provide some amount of experience from a grander scheme.

    As an example, earlier this year a series of posts was reported to us for having some slurs against a minority. I was unfamiliar with the terms, and requested some clarification from the user regarding those terms. The user was able to provide an impressively concise history, with additional reference for further reading. Fortunately, we also had a former staff member of that minority I was able to reach out to, and another staff member was also able to shed light on the tickets from previous experience as well. This allowed us to respond to the ticket and post appropriately, and I personally learned a bit more about these types of interactions - though I would hope that I would not need to use this knowledge in the future.

    In a more pressing and closer to home example, recent political discussions have been quite in depth among the moderators as well. There are several solutions which have been proposed which have been debated, and given contrasting views as we thankfully have the diversity on staff to not simply railroad one set of values at the expense of others.

    ===

    You are also correct about disproportionate representation of viewpoints. Media these days try to gain viewrship and clicks by presenting drama and strife, and do so by often saying that both sides of an issue need to be examined. It is important to examine both views, however this does not mean that both views are equal. Examining both sides simply means to not dismiss a contrary viewpoint out of hand - not to give it equal importance. Simply because two viewpoints are opposed, does not mean they have equal weight. For an extreme example, let's take Murder. If one side says "Murder is bad" and the other side says "Murder is good" - the morality of these points are not equal. Examining both sides may mean simply listening to the other argument, or acknowledging that it exists. However, it does not mean that both points have an equal ground, nor need to be given equal screentime. In fact, promoting both messages equally would be immoral in itself. Once the contrary arguments are heard, and debated, it is important to repeat the message that "murder is bad" and have that be the prevalent message that is shown.

    That is why on this site that signs of solidarity for #BLM are allowed in user's signatures. Several members have opted to show solidarity within their signatures in respect with the sites rules.

    However, the alternate slogan of #BlueLivesMatter, which has been recognized as widely used as a hate slogan, is not allowed (edit 9/9/2020: Further research into the origins and history and current social usage of the slogan has been done, and we are allowing #BlueLivesMatter as a statement of support to slain officers and solidarity for our uniformed officers. See: https://www.mtgsalvation.com/forums/community-forums/community-discussion/staff-helpdesks/814110-admin-bobthefunnys-strategic-chalkboard?page=2#c39 . Context is always considered, as with the usage of any slogan or phrase) (however, general support of the police IS allowed - there is rightful disagreement and discussion on HOW to best fix the police - what is not allowed is hatespeech/movements, which BlueLM is generally recognized as supporting (This statement is not necessarily accurate, and I apologise for it. -bob)).

    There is some division on the staff about #AllLivesMatter, as there are legitimate cases of its use in promoting racial equality and unity - however, as its main use has been as a slogan for "Racial Dismissal" or simply as a criticism of #BLM, we again ask that it not be used on this site.

    There is also the case that simply by nature of the discussion, one side is more likely to be moderated, and thus that message will not be given equal representation. As such, moderation may provide a bias in what messaging appears on the site. An example of this could possibly be pro-LGBT messaging vs. anti-LGBT messaging. As pro-LGBT messaging is generally non-inflammatory and supportive, it is less likely to receive moderation than anti-LGBT messaging which is often inflammatory and divisive. As such, more LGBT messaging will show up on the site than anti-LGBT messaging. That said, we have had exceptional cases in the past where pro-LGBT users have posted messages that have been inflammatory in their own messaging and own right, and have had to be moderated on their own merits. Whether this presents an issue with the moderation methods, and whether a viewpoint is being dis-proportionally represented needs to be evaluated on a case by case merit. In the example presented, I see no issue in promoting an inclusive message over a hateful or dismissive one.

    If you feel that a particular viewpoint is getting a disproportional representation, and that the representation given is harmful to the community, please let us know. We WANT to know. Drop us a line in the staff inbox. Post here (public). PM the administrators or your local mod directly. Report problematic or harmful posts, and let us know why. If it's a larger concern, give us plenty of details so we can discuss it amongst the staff, but also so we can discuss it with you.

    ====

    When we say we want to accept all people on this site to discuss magic - what we mean is that we accept all people to come to the site and discuss magic. Much as Target or Walmart will allow any individual to enter their stores and shop regardless of their political affiliation, we allow any individual to browse this site and discuss magic regardless of their affiliations.

    However, if an individual were to enter a Target or Walmart, and disturb other users by shouting political messages in their faces, or by knocking over stands of masks, they would be removed from the store regardless of their political biases. The same is true here. This site is not a political soapbox, and political bias has no merit in disrupting other users. Support towards a cause IS welcome here - unless that support itself is prejudicial or harmful.

    Showing support and solidarity is great - much like wearing a T-shirt or face covering that shows your solidarity to a cause. However, if that solidarity itself is problematic or hateful, it is not welcome here either. Using the Walmart/Target example, this would be akin to someone entering the store with a Tshirt/Mask which is obscene, hateful, or contains a slur, those individuals can (and would) be asked to vacate the store.

    Assaulting others is not ok, regardless of circumstance.


    Quote from FlossedBeaver »
    I think it would be helpful, bob, if the mod team stopped conflating politics and social issues. It is not inherently political to say that people are black, or that people are gay, or that people are transgender, and it is certainly not political to observe that people from each of those groups are disproportionately marginalized in contemporary America (as they have been historically). Those are facts supported by data, for anyone who cares to look at it, and to dismiss these issues as being 'political' gives voice and credibility to bigots in much the same way that making Covid-19 a political issue enables the anti-science / anti-liberal crowd. Furthermore, the only way to construe these issues as 'off-topic' would be to ignore that Magic players come from all walks of life, identify with every race, creed, color, orientation or preference, and that yes, they even post here on occasion. Again, we're talking about real, live human beings, not abstract ideology. While I recognize the obvious hurdles posed by a digital platform, it honestly doesn't take much effort or wherewithal to see that forum posters are more than a series of colorless handles and avatars, inconvenient as that may be for someone in your position. The calculated decision to put blinders on is only elevating the degree of bias here at MTGS, as H3RAC71TU5 sagely pointed out.

    I will apologize for not being as forgiving as my peers; while I can empathize with your position as a mod, I do not sympathize. You volunteered to be here, and no matter the difficulty it is your responsibility to make this a safe space for all Magic players - and yes, that includes those very same groups I mentioned above. Your determination to hold a centrist line only continues to promote inequity on these message boards, and hamstringing our ability to promote more inclusive values / behavior means that bad faith posters will come away emboldened and enabled, the inevitable consequence of which is the continued toxification of social mores in real space. This is why I continue to emphasize that MTGS does not exist in isolation; we are all part of the greater, global community, and however small our footprint may be here on these forums, there are still broader repercussions to be felt everywhere. I implore you to be part of the solution, and if you can't live up to your self-imposed responsibilities then at least let us do it for you.

    ---

    #BLM
    #DefundThePolice


    There are many issues today which should not be political issues, but they are. That is our reality. While we must certainly work hard to change this reality, and make the world a better place, ignoring it is an unrealistic proposition.

    Everything you say about race, religion, and orientation being social issues is correct. It is also a political issue. It should not be, but it is. That minorities are oppressed is fact. It is a social issue. It is also a political issue. Magic players come from all walks of life. This is fact. This is not a political issue. Where I draw the line is you saying that this makes a difference on what is, and isn't on topic. Simply because someone is a minority, does not make discussion about that minority on the board on topic. What makes something on/off topic is only the topic itself.

    I have a garden. Simply because I have gardened (very amaturely, fyi) does not mean that you need to hear about my basil plants. It does not mean that I need to discuss any sort of latest gardening news, tips, or controversies from the internet. Perhaps next set Wizards will print a set focused on gardening. In that case, gardeners might have some tie in to discuss how a magic card does or does not fit its gardening lore. For example, if a card based on a mint plant was created, someone would be on topic to discuss why the mechanics and lore of the card fit the medicinal or culinary natures of a mint plant. If the topic then devolved into how to garden and cultivate actual mint plants - that would be off topic, despite the tie in to the minty card.

    Above is an obvious extreme and slightly satirical expression and illustration. When it comes to representation on cards, or political messaging provided by Wizards, the lines are obviously much more difficult to judge, never clear cut, and can actually shift, depending on cultural context. However, what matter is what the discussion is serving.

    A poignant example: Recently, during the Eldraine set, Wizards placed a greater emphasis on diversity in their characters and cards. This was wonderful. Plenty of users came out in support of this inclusion, as they could more closely relate to a character than before, where they had perhaps not been so well represented previously. This is great! There was some discussion about diversity in Magic's history, how it has changed historically, and what it all means. This is great, too. However, there were also ... other... posts. There were detractors, who claimed this was all shameful pandering, or were otherwise non-inclusive, or even downright prejudicial. This was not ok, and often led to discussions devolving, and threads getting locked. There were messages that attacked and shamed some of the people who had come out and identified as being represented. This is not ok, and again was either non-inclusive, or downright prejudicial. Finally, there were people who assaulted those who were being prejudicial - while their motives might have been better, their method was not. This is also not ok (it's also not how you manage to convince or convert a person).

    In the case of recent issues, this is a magic site. Using this site as a political soapbox will always be off-topic. Using the large store example above, if you were to enter a Walmart or Target, and then yell at other customers, you will get removed - forcibly, if necessary. It doesn't matter what your political opinion is, or even if your opinion IS political. You could argue/yell at people about why your favorite cartoon is so great - but if you assault other patrons, you will be removed from the premises. The same is true here. If a user is argumentative, assault other users, soap boxes whatever topic is not magic related, or overall bothers other users - they will be asked to leave. Forcibly, if necessary.

    Posted in: Staff Helpdesks
  • posted a message on Upcoming Norse-Inspired Set
    Necro. Lets have a new discussion instead.
    Posted in: The Rumor Mill
  • posted a message on Fight me
    Thank you for bringing the title to our attention, and our apologies on the delay in taking it down.

    We want to make it absolutely clear - titles of that nature are not ok. This thread will be locked.
    .
    Posted in: Custom Card Creation
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