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The question Can I get reimbursed if police shot the window of my car during a standoff? claims that:

Officers were unprofessional and ignored my concerns.

And what were these concerns?

I found the police in a standoff with a suspect with my vehicle right at the center. … SWAT team got called in and it ended with them firing and shattering my rear window with their bullets.

The OP added in a comment:

I forgot to add that I was standing there for 3 hours before any shots were fired, plenty of time to let me move the car

The community rightly found all this to be absurd. But the way they expressed this view seems to be all wrong. I expressed it with this comment:

The police have a job to do. A hard, dangerous job that requires concentration. Yes, dangerous. Just because no shots are being fired yet does not change that. And you were a distraction. Are you seriously suggesting otherwise?

This comment attracted a few upvotes before being deleted. Meanwhile, the following sarcastic comments (with up to 94 upvotes as of this writing) remain:

94 That's weird that they wouldn't let you walk into the middle of a standoff. – bdb484

93 Yes, I guess it's strange that they didn't let you into the middle of a standoff to move the car when the shooting was scheduled for 3 hours later... – Ron Beyer

17 Did you check with the suspect to ask if you could move the car? You only mentioned asking the police. – Azor Ahai -him-

Sorry, but have you not asked this a day or two early? – Bib [the question was posted on 30 March 2022 (UTC), just before April Fools’ Day]

As I understand it, in places like this, where people from diverse cultures all over the world come together, sarcasm is supposed to be discouraged (see update below).

So why was my comment deleted and the others kept? The only explanation I can think of is that my comment implicitly accused the OP of obstructing officers, which is presumably an offence. But J...’s comment explicitly makes this same accusation, and has not been deleted.

In the last few minutes, another comment was added, directly asking the OP to edit out the offending part of the question. But no explanation was given for this request.


Update: An answer has questioned the need to discourage sarcasm. But as I went to add a new comment to the Law SE question being discussed here, a message appeared:

[username] is a new contributor. Be nice, and check out our Code of Conduct.

I paid a bit more attention to it than I usually do, and found this on the Code of Conduct page:

Be inclusive and respectful. Avoid sarcasm and be careful with jokes — tone is hard to decipher online. … If a situation makes it hard to be friendly, stop participating and move on.

This seems to back up what I said here.

3 Answers 3

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Your comment was flagged

Someone (not the OP) flagged your comment as "unfriendly or unkind". A mod looked at it within 2 hours of the flag and deleted it. It's possible they saw some of the other comments (most of the ones you mention were not there when this happened) but is just as likely that they reviewed your comment in isolation through our tools without seeing the other comments on the question. For what it's worth, I agree that your comment was marginally "unfriendly or unkind" and if I'd seen the flag I would have probably deleted it too. We tend to take the attitude that if it upset someone enough to flag it we can probably live more happily without it. Unless we don't.

That doesn't mean that the comments you identify aren't also "unfriendly or unkind" and should be deleted. And they all were when another one of them was flagged - this took 5 minutes from the flag.

Basically, we don't see everything. If you want us to look at something, flag it.

Why the upvotes

The algorithm decided to make this a "Hot network question" for whatever arcane reasons it has for that. This means that a lot of people across the Stack Exchange network who aren't normally here on Law SE saw it. They presumably had a chuckle and upvoted these comments - which they can do without being a member here.

Strange things happen when you get on the Hot Network Questions list (Why aren't my Contract Law questions and answers being upvoted more?).

Each stack has its own culture and while we are generally happy to seriously consider the legal aspects of ostensibly stupid situations, other people may tend to focus on the silliness rather than the law. Philistines.

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  • I flagged them and it took quite a bit longer than 5 minutes for them to be removed (or rather, migrated). Unless there were other ones even worse which I didn't see.
    – forest
    Apr 5 at 6:51
  • Nitpick: You do have to be a member of a stack to upvote comments. You only need 15 reputation, though, so if a non-member saw the HNQ on another stack and signed up, they would have enough rep from the association bonus to upvote comments (and questions, and answers.) Apr 5 at 19:34
  • @forest: With some exceptions, in general flagged comments must be reviewed by humans, and IMHO it is simply not reasonable to expect humans to review any flag within 5 minutes. That might accidentally happen if a mod just happens to be right in front of the tools at the time, but it is not a standard that they can reasonably be expected to meet 100% of the time or with 100% consistency.
    – Kevin
    Apr 8 at 3:59
  • @Kevin I know, and I don't expect it to be dealt with in 5 minutes. I was just expressing surprise that Dale claimed that it took 5 minutes in this particular case.
    – forest
    Apr 8 at 17:53
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Why are sarcastic comments favoured over my serious comment?

My presumption is that your comment was removed by someone else, in which case it should be restored. At least in the terms you portray here, there is nothing wrong with your comment.

The only explanation I can think of is that my comment implicitly accused the OP of obstructing officers

That is not an accusation. It is a valid remark regarding the sort of cognitive hindrance that can ensue when a police officer suddenly has to pay attention to an unexpected additional element in the scene. Explaining to an OP why he is wrong as per information he himself provides does not amount to accusing him.

another comment was added, directly asking the OP to edit out the offending part of the question. But no explanation was given for this request.

Actually the author of the comment did offer an explanation: His opinion that the officers were not unprofessional. If anything, the author of the comment did not elaborate in a way that could enhance the OP's understanding of the officers' standpoint.

Regardless, disagreeing with an OP's conclusory statements does not justify censoring or pushing an OP in the direction of self-censorship. The OP is free to ignore that comment and have his post preserved as is.

As I understand it, in places like this, where people from diverse cultures all over the world come together, sarcasm is supposed to be discouraged.

Sarcasm sometimes reveals its author's arrogance, his lack of tact, his failure to grasp a material detail, or a combination of these. Other times a sarcasm is merely an oblique way of making a valid point. But in most cases, censorship of sarcasms is unwarranted because --like any obsession for political correctness-- it tends to degenerate into an odious spiral of whose feelings are hurt the most even for negligible things.

The comments at issue are not obscene, harmful (let alone unjustifiably harmful), or vexatious. Other than that, the premise about "people from diverse cultures all over the world" does not justify turning the site into something where contributors have to essentially walk on eggshells.

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  • 2
    I have edited the question. It turns out that the Code of Conduct does indeed state that sarcasm is to be avoided. Do you disagree with the Code of Conduct, or are you making a more subtle point? Apr 3 at 8:34
  • @BrianDrake "does indeed state that sarcasm is to be avoided." The latter part of the sentence you found is indicative of the reason for that guideline: "tone is hard to decipher online". I doubt the sarcasms at issue require their tone to be deciphered, though: You and everyone seem(s) to grasp the point made in those sarcasms. I myself hardly ever --perhaps never-- do sarcasms on SE, since I prefer highlighting the flaws & nonsense (if any) in someone's sarcasm instead of becoming an extremist about micromanagement and political correctness. Apr 3 at 11:25
  • 1
    This isn't just sarcasm though. This is mocking sarcasm.
    – forest
    Apr 3 at 21:27
  • 1
    @forest, you are so wrong there. It's of course scathing sarcasm used in a mocking fashion! ;)
    – Trish
    Apr 4 at 8:50
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Because the OP had it coming.

The basis of the question is reasonable (the police actions did cause damage to the OP, in the form of a broken car window).

But the OP related the facts in a way that seems to show him(*) in a rather unfavourable way: it seems as if he expected people in a standout where shots lives where at risk (because shots were fired) had to be worried about a car window. And not only he expects that, he is indignant about the fact that the police officers did not agree with him.

Not only that, he compounds the issue by adding details that make no sense at all (what if he was there three hours before?) as if they gave some moral authority.

Unfortunately for the OP, we live in a world where a car window (even the OP's car window) is a very small thing; by telling us how indignant he is about that he shows(*2) that he does not understand (or care) much about the rest of the world, and most of the rest of the world is usually happy to return the favour.

So, the sarcastic comments (and its upvotes) were some kind of show of disapproval for the OP's attitude, and had nothing against your comment (IIRC I did upvote a few of them). But since your comment was more moderate, while I am certain that it did not cause any rejection, it was not as useful as a punishment as other comments were.

Now, why was your comment deleted? I see nothing objectionable with it and I think most of us would agree with me. If I had to guess, the moderators saw a question with lots of questionable comments and erased them in bulk, with your comment becoming an innocent bystander victim of the situation.

(*) There is an old saying in Spanish that reads "lo que Pedro dice de Juan habla más de Pedro que de Juan": "what Peter says about John speaks more about Peter than about John".

(*2) Of course, the only thing that I know about the OP is his question. Maybe, besides this unfortunate post, he is usually a nice person who cares for the other and that has just had a bad day. But I can only opinate on the basis of what I know, and what I know is not nice.

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