Online Squabbling Can Be Fun But Is Not Productive
In other news, the Libertarian Party of Waffangeles County reported today that it has spent the equivalent of its annual income on a study of the use of the word “asshole” on its Facebook Group page, based on the Federal minimum wage and a count of words used by the study’s investigators, assuming 2.35 seconds is required per word, on average, all factors considered. The study found 100% of the uses of “asshole” by both posters and commentators within the Waffangeles County group to be appropriate. A search of the forum turned up only one use of the offending word, which was not directed at any identifiable person or used to appeal to prurient interests. The statistical breakdown is shown in Table 1:
The County’s group page compared to favorably the Facebook page for the County’s state parent organization, the Libertarian Party of Kalitaxya, which registered a 25% inappropriate use rate, 63% appropriate use rate, and 13% incidence of posts using an apparent close equivalent of “asshole” (labeled “Uncertain” in Table 2).
The inappropriate uses in the LP Kalitaxya group consisted of references to identifiable persons participating in a discussion. There were no uses found to appeal to prurient interest, and no suggestions that any person perform any act involving any real or imaginary “asshole” organ, human or otherwise.
Perhaps the most interesting finding of the study involved a post returned by Facebook’s search engine that lacked any use of “asshole” or its known synonyms, in any known language. This post consisted of a reference to this 2012 story contrasting Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s position on legalization of marijuana and other drugs with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s proposal to make possession of two or more ounces of the “devil weed” punishable by death or life in prison. A faction of the investigators concluded that the article was most likely identified because Facebook’s heuristic, artificially intelligent search engine was obviously evolving towards a sentient state, and had acquired enough reason and moral sense to recognize that, in the context of politics, a proposal to kill or imprison for life any person found with two or more ounces of an herb recognized for centuries as having medicinal, nutritional and industrial value represents unadulterated assholery. This faction reasoned that, since the statement was identified as made by Newt Gingrich, the artificial intelligence was drawing an equivalence between Gingrich and “asshole” that met the study parameters for inappropriate speech. A competing faction reasoned that, regardless of the reason for the search engine’s flagging the post, any fool could understand the equivalence of “Gingrich” and “asshole” in the aforementioned context. However, the faction reasoned that Newt Gingrich is a public figure who was not actually participating in any discussion taking place within the state party’s Facebook group. Therefore the competing faction concluded that the use met the study parameters for appropriate speech. After long and tedious debate, during which both sides reminded each other of past grievances over petty slights and basked in the obvious rightness of their respective positions, no agreement could be reached. The factions therefore “agreed to disagree” and settled on categorizing the incident as “uncertain.”
The Waffangeles County Party Central Committee met to consider the study results and released the following statement:
“We note with some surprise the meager number of words that can be afforded at a rate of 2.35 seconds per word and Federal minimum wage until exceeding the equivalent of our annual budget, and the relative lack of imagination of our members and guests in their use, both appropriate and inappropriate, of the word “asshole” in public forums associated with the Libertarian Party statewide. We are pleased, although not surprised, that our membership has attained absolute perfection in the appropriateness of “asshole” as expressed in our forum. We hold up this up as a reflection and example of the moral perfection emanating from the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP), of which our possession allows us to literally nap while we wait for our fellow Kalitaxya-ians to be drawn to the light. The study should dispel once and for all the dispersions cast by our enemies, who label the Libertarians as a debate society dedicated to issues involving their own navels, by scientifically proving our capability to use at least one potentially offensive word in an entirely appropriate manner in our public outreach. We are dismayed, but not surprised, that our state party has failed to attain the perfection we have achieved locally in policing of asshole incidents, and blame the leadership for this failure.”
The Central Committee then announced a follow-on study concerning use of the phrase “horse’s ass.”
If you will now permit the author of the foregoing report to editorialize a little: as member of the Waffangeles Party Central Committee, I blush a little at the smug self-satisfaction and absorption sometimes expressed in our public statements, and the endless debates over trifles. Nonetheless, I remain a loyal member. It is preferable to the unsavory alternatives of, on the one hand, identifying with a party whose most prominent members have recently called for the death sentence for those caught with less than a salad’s worth of a useful herb. Or on the other hand, identifying with its principal opponent party, which despite possessing a majority in the legislature and control of the administration, studiously avoided any consideration of removing cannabis from Schedule 1 status, preferring instead to spend its political capital on further restricting Americans’ relatively limited medical freedoms and cartelizing the health insurance industry. Call me what you will, but I know when I’m being shat upon. Bickering is just a natural if not inevitable result of renouncing the right to rule others by power of aggression, and forming a political party around a moral principle.
The foregoing post is entirely fictional, and any resemblance to any actual person or organization within is purely coincidental.