There are three moderators in the thread below, none of them have taken any action over this, so I assume that means the view of these moderators is "This is fine".

  • Top answer with 12 is user David K: "I don't see any problems with Kate's use of hyperbole in this situation."

  • Bottom answer with -8 and two delete flags is mine: "Be Nice. Of course you can't compare people to Nazis and paedophiles".

Are you then all happy with this as the official line:

  • Workplace Stack Exchange Moderators say "It's Officially Fine to compare Daily Mail readers to Nazis and paedophiles"?

You are the moderators. If it's unacceptable you have the tools. Comment sought.

Original question follows

In this question:

In the top-rated answer, the user compares readers of the Daily Mail to Nazis and paedophiles. Specifically she is saying the Daily Mail is not as bad as a hypothetical newspaper for paedophiles and not as bad as a Nazi newspaper. So she is correct in the most literal sense.

However even raising the comparison is invidious and it seems to me should be beyond the pale, unless there was some substantial - and substantiated - justification for why the comparison is a reasonable one to draw.

Here's the paragraph:

The fact is there is very clearly a line, even if we don't all agree where it's drawn. In the US, few people would be comfortable with an openly Communist newspaper kicking around the lunchroom. In Germany, a Nazi one would be illegal. If NAMBLA were to publish a paper that didn't have any pictures, just espoused their opinions on how kids should be allowed to have sex with adults (their typical phrasing), again that would not be welcome in a workplace. While any individual (especially one who hasn't read the DM) might not think the DM was "over the line", the fact remains that a line exists, and that employees can do something about an employer providing material that is over that line.

Again, as a purely literal matter this is correct, but making such an invidious comparison inevitably brings the question into the mind of the reader, creating a mental association.

In other words: It is an unjustifiable innuendo.

For comparison:

"The fact is there is very clearly a line, even if we don't all agree where it's drawn. Nazis and paedophiles are not welcome, for example. While any individual (especially people who haven't met her) might not think Jane Doe is personally are "over the line", the fact remains that the line exists, and employees can do something about people who are over the line"

I've flagged this for the attention of moderators but so far it hasn't come to anyone's attention.

I also have made an edit to remove the comparison, which was approved, but the user has chosen to revert that edit.

For background, the Daily Mail is a soft-right tabloid read by the white-collar working and middle classes, and is the second highest selling newspaper in Britain, the first being another soft-right tabloid, The Sun, which is a more blue-collar working-class readership. It can be found in the lobbies of most multinational corporations and hotels, as well as bars and pubs, and is given away on aeroplanes.

It is a mainstream newspaper.

Naturally I don't read it myself because I am far too sophisticated and clever, but everybody has a say, because that's democracy, or so I am told.

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    "I also have made an edit to remove the comparison, which was approved, but the user has chosen to revert that edit." - I was the one who approved the edit. I'm sad that it has been reverted. I agree that making comparisons to Nazis and NAMBLA was uncalled for and completely unnecessary to make the point. I think the otherwise good answer is poorer for it. – Joe Strazzere Nov 30 '17 at 18:26
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    Seems that I was the second vote of approval for that edit. I also though that @Ben 's edit was good, and still think that a post should refrain from including such comments. As Jan Doggen once commented to me, we should avoid Godwin's Law ... tempted to roll back the changes again – DarkCygnus Nov 30 '17 at 18:33
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    I think it's ironic an answer is using a bunch of examples which are over the top for many people to point out that a line definitely exists for whether a magazine is appropriate. I can't decide if it's a incredibly well done subtle irony or not.. – enderland Nov 30 '17 at 18:43
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    FWIW I very nearly approved the edit, except that the edit summary said I was comparing the DM with those and I very clearly was not. A different edit summary might have had a different outcome. The fact remains, as I commented on the answer, that until I pointed out you-cannot-disagree examples of over-the-line publications, the consensus was no line existed and management can provide whatever it likes. – Kate Gregory Nov 30 '17 at 20:13
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    @KateGregory You certainly were comparing them: You said one was clearly "over the line", but it was not clear that the other was. That is in every sense a comparison. Even if you disagree with that, it is certainly a nasty insinuation. – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 21:20
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    @KateGregory I suppose it's possible that you were just being very clumsy when you wrote the answer, and forgot that contrast by juxtaposition is a writing technique taught in school (in England it's literally on the curriculum). But that excuse no longer applies. You were certainly doing it on purpose when you reverted the edit, and you are now. Hence the question: Officially, According To Stack Overflow, is it OK to compare readers of a mainstream newspaper you don't like to Nazis and paedophiles? – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 21:55
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    I disagree. When other answers are literally saying that any and all printed material is fine, pointing out that there exists material that is not fine is a valid thing to do. It does not follow, even by juxtaposition, that I am saying the material the OP objected to was equivalent to that material nobody would argue with. It means that I chose extreme examples to get through to people, this is not about offering a flavor of coffee you don't like or painting the walls a colour you don't like. – Kate Gregory Dec 1 '17 at 0:28
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    Explain how this violates the Be Nice policy. "compare" to a Nazi? yes, that's fine as long as it's done objectively and explains why beyond mere opinion. Outright call them Nazis? ... no, I'm pretty sure you can't do that. I've seen some highest voted answers that I think are garbage, too; your option is to DV them and realize that SE is, by far, not immune to social dynamics. – Mazura Dec 1 '17 at 3:44
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    @Ben You seem to be massively overthinking this and doing your utmost to interpret meaning and subtext that simply isn't there. As Kate herself said, she used deliberately extreme examples to prove that there is something akin to a sliding scale of controversy. The DM is somewhere on that scale, as is the Financial Times, Vogue, or any other publication you can think of. It's a clever way to make the argument that the debate of whether the DM is beyond the pale is largely irrelevant, it's sufficient to realise that some people will consider it to be. – Lilienthal Dec 1 '17 at 8:24
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    The worst you could accuse this text of is that it puts the DM and the concepts of national-socialism and paedophilia in the same paragraph. But the mere fact that they're close together is not enough for this to qualify as rhetorical juxtaposition. You need an actual implication or insinuation for that and that's simply not present. Perhaps you could call it a sort of negative framing or a coloured/poisoned narrative but it most definitely does not even come close to the association fallacy that you're presenting it as here. – Lilienthal Dec 1 '17 at 8:24
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    @Ben Which words are these? There are zero comparisons being made to those examples as far as I can see. The argument she's making is essentially: "There is a line on the scale of controversy. X, Y and Z are clearly across it for most people. Action can be taken against stuff that is over the line. A is somewhere on that scale and some segment of people will place it past that line. Ergo for some people action can/should be taken against A." None of that in any way makes the argument that A is similar to X, Y or Z at any level, except that all can be placed on the scale. – Lilienthal Dec 1 '17 at 9:34
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    Does this mean the newspaper is also a communist newspaper? It's mentioned during the question, so now I'm clearly making those comparisons... – Draken Dec 1 '17 at 10:48
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    @Ben: regarding your recent edit I think more likely that people disagree with your premise that the post compared daily mail readers to nazis. The top voted answer says "She specifically does not imply that the DM and these fictional periodicals are at the same level" so how you draw the conclusion that people upvoting this means that they approve of making that comparison is beyond me... – Chris Dec 1 '17 at 15:12
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    I have VTCd this as this seems more like a vendetta/rant rather than a discussion - you're clearly not intending to listen to anything other than comments supporting your view. You've also extended the context of Kate's original wording out of all reasonable proportion. I fully accept that you'll rebut this comment by implying that I'm a Nazi sympathiser (which of course I'm not). – user44108 Dec 1 '17 at 15:29
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    I never said it wasn't a good answer! I said that comparison should be removed. I made an edit which didn't change the answer just removed the offending comparison, which was accepted by two approvers, then Kate rolled it back. @MisterPositive – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 16:10

I don't see any problems with Kate's use of hyperbole in this situation.

The point of that paragraph, as I interpret it, is to preempt the argument of

As long as the content is PG-13, any news source should be allowed. The newspaper is free. You don't have to read it if you don't want to. Free speech, etc.

The reason to mention the extreme examples is to show that there is a socially and professionally acceptable line somewhere. She specifically does not imply that the DM and these fictional periodicals are at the same level. She says that if you think a publication crosses the line of professional acceptability, then there is something you can do about it.

As an aside, I am from the US and am not familiar with the Daily Mail. From what I've gleaned from this conversation, it is somewhere between Fox News and Breitbart in terms of politics. One of those I find acceptable for the workplace, the other I do not. I imagine where the line is in relation to the DM is fairly subjective.

In response to your edit:

Are you then all happy with this as the official line:

  • Workplace Stack Exchange Moderators say "It's Officially Fine to compare Daily Mail readers to Nazis and paedophiles"?

No, clearly not. I have said that Kate is not making that comparison, not that such a comparison would be acceptable. You are welcome to disagree with my interpretation, but do NOT misconstrue my meaning.

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    If someone points out that you, David, are not a Nazi, the implication is that there was some question about that. Unfortunately the English language is not primarily a tool for expressing logical statements, so these nuances exist. ... That's why we have words for them like "innuendo", "insinuation", "implication", "allusion", "overtone", "hint" and so forth. We have a lot of words for ways to imply meaning without actually saying it and one should take care around tricky subjects to avoid these traps. If, that is, one is not doing it on purpose. – user44634 Nov 30 '17 at 21:33
  • "I have said that Kate is not making that comparison". You can say that all you like but it is not true. She explicitly compares them: One is "over the line", the other, people "might not agree" that it is over the line. Relates two things, and says how they compare. That's a comparison – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 15:30
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    @Ben Kate also "compares" (In your words) the newspaper with communists, but your biggest beef appears to be with the comparison to the other two. Why is that? Why do you not have an issue with the reference to communism but do with Nazism? Surely both are not great political agendas to aline a paper with? – Draken Dec 1 '17 at 15:34
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    @Draken don't try to read my mind. I object to all three. All are unacceptable. – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 15:36
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    @Ben But you're happy with putting words in the mouth of our other users? Selectively taking a section of an answer because it fits your narrative? Your answer was downvoted because people don't agree that's what Kate's answer provided. You're reading far too much between the lines and are making links where there aren't any – Draken Dec 1 '17 at 15:39
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    @Draken I'm not trying to "create a narrative" I'm trying to get a vile and unacceptable insinuation removed. I just cannot understand how anyone can think this is OK. – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 15:45
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    Her answer is excellent. Time to let the rant end. @Ben – Neo Dec 1 '17 at 15:46
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    @Ben why is it ok for you to dismiss others with "that is not true" but it is not ok for others to say "that is not true" to you? You are interpreting this differently than most of other people who've been involved here. Your conclusion (in your question edit) is inaccurate and unfounded. You are welcome to believe that about this site if that's what you really want, but what you have said is not an accurate characterization of site policy. Please stop misrepresenting the site's users and moderators. – Monica Cellio Dec 1 '17 at 15:54
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    @MonicaCellio you are representing yourselves just fine. Whatever the written policy is, the real policy is what you allow. I'm just noting what you allow. – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 16:22
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    No, you're noting what you say we allow, which is not actually what we allow. I suspect I'm being trolled, so I'll stop responding. You can show me I'm not being trolled by doing something that shows you've thoughtfully considered the feedback you've gotten. Until then, have a nice day in your version of reality. – Monica Cellio Dec 1 '17 at 16:27

The reason I found it not only not objectionable, but actually appropriate, was this paragraph in the Original Poster's question:

As is not wholly uncommon in such media, it has a sorry reputation for stirring up panics and hatred against minority groups. This has become severe enough that the pressure group "Stop Funding Hate" campaigns to have big-brand advertisers pull their adverts from the paper.

Hypothetical questions: Would it make a difference if the OP was a member of a minority group that had been targeted by that newspaper?

Regardless of the answer to this hypothetical, I think that this aspect of the original question makes the comparison to more extreme cases not inapplicable.

This doesn't mean you have to agree with the answer, of course. I just don't think that paragraph needs to be removed.

To address your comment on your question (emphasis added):

Officially, According To Stack Overflow, is it OK to compare readers of a mainstream newspaper you don't like to Nazis and paedophiles?

That's not actually what was being done. Even if you interpret juxtaposition as comparison, which is an interesting lack of differentiation, the comparison would be between the publishers of the newspaper, and the NAMBLA/Nazis. And again, see the above excerpt from the original question which puts it in a rather different light.

  • No the assumption is that the readers of the Nazi literature would be Nazis, and it is those readers who are being compared to Daily Mail readers. Muatatis mutandis for the other examples. – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 15:38
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    @Ben, I'm sorry you're so upset about this. If you have a park nearby to where you are, I suggest you go there and walk around looking at the trees and so forth and unplug for a while. – Wildcard Dec 1 '17 at 15:51
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    Thank you that's pretty much the first nice thing since @joestrazzere and DarkCygnus first commented. Even if you are being sarcastic :-) – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 16:26
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    @Ben, you're welcome, and no, not being sarcastic. Also make sure you are taking care of yourself—when I find myself getting into arguments or even just getting upset or angry, 100% of the time I find I'm either tired or hungry or both. Life suddenly looks a lot brighter after eating and sleeping. :-) – Wildcard Dec 1 '17 at 16:56
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    Just to point out, the reason for propaganda is to sway readers while providing an inherently less overtly objectionable format for a message. No one should assume all of the readers of Breitbart, for example, are racist misogynistic homophobic neo-nazis. But the agenda behind Breitbart itself clearly aligns with related causes. DM clearly exists to sell shite of any form (regardless of truth) in any form that attracts eyeballs, but there have been many substantial allegations of bias. It feels like Kate's hyperbolic hypothetical hit a nerve that might be worth examining in a quieter setting – taswyn Dec 5 '17 at 16:29

A slight change in emphasis might be beneficial

The point that I think was being made here, is that there is a line, even if we don't all agree where it is. And employees can and should do something about material that they feel crosses it.

I made a slight edit, which I hope the original author agrees with, which puts more emphasis on the employee's perception, and is less likely to be read as a direct comparison between the DM and the examples mentioned.

I appreciate that this doesn't magically solve the argument here, but it is, hopefully, a beneficial improvement.

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Be Nice.

  • Of course you can't compare people to Nazis and Paedophiles. That's outrageous. In no workplace would that be acceptable, and it's not acceptable on Workplace Stack Exchange either.

  • Be careful what you write. English is not primarily a tool for expressing logical statements, and the logical meaning of a sentence is not the only meaning. If you have accidentally created an unintentional insinuation or implication, you should remove it not defend it on the basis that it's not logically false. Innuendo doesn't depend on logic.

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    I think that the ratio of upvotes to downvotes here fairly clearly reiterates the point that very few people believe that the OP has "created an... insinuation or implication". If I were to point out that Labour, The Greens, The Conservatives and the BNP are all on the Left / Right political scale, would you accuse me of comparing the BNP to Labour? – Tim Dec 1 '17 at 20:01
  • @tim the OP certainly is comparing the DM to Nazis. she is comparing them, and saying which is worse - Nazis are worse. That is comparing. This is not a hard concept. She is not saying they are the same, but she is comparing them. – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 20:48
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    Sorry I've deleted that comment - I missed the edit window. Here's the edited version: "Does it violate the "be nice" policy to compare people to paedophiles and Nazis?" - the answer to that is a resounding no. "most people are nicer than Nazis" is a direct comparison and is allowed on this site. The real question is "Is the OP equating Nazis and the Daily Mail?" and you have said yourself that the OP is not equating them you admit the OP is "saying which is worse - Nazis are worse". That's not the opposite of equating (negating), and there's nothing wrong with it. – Tim Dec 1 '17 at 20:57
  • @tim I didn't suggest she was equating I asked whether a gratuitous comparison was wrong. It is. Of course it is. – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 21:09
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    Of course there’s nothing wrong with a comparison. What about comparison is against the “Be Nice”? – Tim Dec 1 '17 at 21:19
  • @tim Making a comparison can carry the implication that there is some open question about how similar the things are, or else why bring it up? You know that. Everybody knows that. 🙄 – user44634 Dec 1 '17 at 21:27
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    That’s the whole point of a comparison. There’s no implication here - the OP is comparing the Daily Mail with Nazis. The whole point of a comparison is to question how similar two things are. Let’s say I write this: if (a<b). That’s a comparison. If it’s true we know a is less than b. Nowhere in that statement does it suggest that a and b must be close. – Tim Dec 1 '17 at 21:29
  • This is not about is the answer right or wrong this is about should the moderators be actively discouraging content that the majority of the population likely finds objectionable. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 6 '17 at 16:21

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