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In this recent question, an answer was deleted as "spam or rude or abusive" for citing a contributing factor about why the Nazis hated Jews. In reference to the writings of Adolf Hitler, the user wrote:

Nazis didn't hate Jews because they were jews but because, at the time, they represented the main endorsers of communism and the things that destroyed or betrayed their country.

and in his comments he clarified:

Hitler, in his book puts Communists and Jews on the same page as destroyers and betrayers of Germany, even saying that jews where the ones to push communism to the west.

Following comments he changed this line to try to make his point more clear that this was the influence of Hitler and not an objective fact, but his answer still got deleted.

Nazis didn't hate Jews because they were jews. It's not a question about ethnicity or religion. They hated jews based on their association to communism which was as everyone knows, pressed by the ideologies of Hitler.

While this is obviously a touchy subject, the user was very clear that this was not his personal opinion, nor was he encouraging people to believe in the racist opinions of Adolf Hitler, but he was explaining a historical racist perspective that was relevant in context of the answer he was giving.

To be clear, some people expressed strong opinions that the statement was an oversimplification. They called Adolph Hitler a lier and a psychopath (I think that goes without saying) and that his this view ignores a much longer more complex history of racism in Germany. On that level, I am not against the downvotes that the question received due to lack of completeness and clarity, I am only calling into question the use of moderation to delete it as "spam or rude or abusive". There was clearly no malice or racism meant by the user's post, and it seems he was trying to be responsive to comments to resolve an issue.

In the context of World Building, understanding how racism or any other potentially offensive belief system works in the real world is a very important topic when trying to create a setting where they do exist. Questions and answers should be allowed to discuss topics like racism as long as they are not written in a way designed to actively encourage it.

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    $\begingroup$ There are enough crazies and anti-minorities in the world without one of them.stumbling on such a stupid (yes, it's stupid) and blatantly false answer. $\endgroup$
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 26 at 7:17
  • $\begingroup$ Enough playing with semantics. The existing answers have more than enough explained that deleting that answer was the right things to do. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Jan 26 at 17:31

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They weren't quoting a contentious belief, they were representing rhetoric uncritically as fact. To quote from one of the comments left under the post:

“they [action] because of [reason]” and “they say they [action] because of [reason], even though [reason] is false” are not 2 interchangeable sentences.

The former takes a statement and without commentary represents it, not as what someone said, but as something that is true, while the later clearly indicates that they're talking about what was said, and that what was said was false.


If we're going to engage with mature or contentious topics on this site we need to be mature, precise, and careful with our language. SO has a clear policy on bigotry in their code of conduct. At a baseline any post should follow that. It's also important to remember that "just asking x" or "just talking about x" can quickly become disruptive if the person isn't acting in good faith. There isn't a hard and fast rule for when this is. If we enumerate the rules, some enterprising individual is going to find an edge case and exploit it and claim that "they weren't breaking the rules" and therefore they shouldn't be penalized for being not nice. I should add that raising concern about the implications of taking action (and listen carefully to precisely what I'm saying here), can be another form of trolling.

Reading the comments it seems like specific concerns were raised with OP's choice of words. Specifically they made some rather uncritical remarks about the Nazi's feelings towards Jews. Commentors were surprisingly patient and even suggested ways of editing the post to still engage with the material without violating SO's policy. At this point it was ambiguous whether the answerer had misspoke or not. As the comment thread grew longer it became clear that whether intentionally or not, they weren't in a position to maturely engage with the material at hand.

Like most things in life different situations require different levels of care, and precision. If you want to talk about contentious topics on this site you must be less flippant, and more responsive to concerns raised. If you can't do that, especially when concerns were raised, carefully explained, and edits were suggested, I don't think that deletion of the post is out of line.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've updated my question because I realize not everyone has access to the deleted question and its revision chain. RPG life did revise his answer as originally asked. You should however read more carefully how Goodies escalates the problem by keeping the target moving and ignoring logical responses. Topcode finally expressed a reasonable concern, RPG asked for clarification, and the post was deleted before RPG could respond to the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 25 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki None of the edits made to the answer did anything to address the underlying concern raised by multiple people in the comments. The core issue I describe above remains in every version of the post. Regardless of whether this was a good faith individual struggling with their words, or a deliberate malicious actor, the post was still disruptive. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 25 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ Hi Sphennings. I've a bit of a problem with all of this, not the least of which because it generated a barely relevant answer to an old meta question of mine. I'm not supporting misinforming, revisioning, misquoting, or anything else concerning any aspect of history - but I suspect we're dealing with someone who doesn't speak English as their native language and wasn't able to reasonably keep up with the tirade. I don't know - maybe RPG actually believes what he said, but the tone of the answer (*continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 27 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ ...doesn't feel belittling (to the OP or to history) to me. In other words, it's hard to tell if he was honestly misinformed or simply incapable of expressing his views. What I do know is that a lot of people, including (IMO) L.Dutch, have kind of flown off the handle with this one. I'm a huge supporter of the Jews myself and try to be honestly respectful of all people - but am I wrong in feeling like this door was slammed a bit too hard? After all, the user was given only about 45 minutes to fix the post. Do we expect people to hover over this site in case we're all offended? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 27 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ While it may not have felt belittling to you JBH's fefes isn't the standard we use on WB. Many folk were bothered by the post and the conduct of the poster seemed to perpetuate the issue rather than seek resolution. If it was just a misstatement or being misinformed, then with the clarifying comments, a meaningful edit could have been made (some commenters even suggested some), and the situation would have been resolved. However that wasn't what happened. When talking about sensitive subjects we expect people to be more sensitive to the feelings of others. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 27 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ We once allowed posts that were so vulgar that SE felt it was necessary to step in and tell us we shouldn't allow them (the torture/murder discussion). I'm not defending the answer, I'm worried about where we draw the line when it comes to dealing with answers. Had someone flagged it as "not an answer" and it was thereafter deleted (which it deserved to be...), I doubt any of the subsequent discussion would have happened. But a moderator stepped in to slam a door, why? To stop an argument? Because he also was personally offended? (*Continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 27 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ Because he felt there was no hope of helping RPG understand everyone else's opinions? Whenever questions are asked about politics, religion, morality, ethics, even history somebody is going to be offended. Are they always more correct than those who are not? That answer was deleted in about 45 minutes. I'm not convinced RPG even had an opportunity to really understand the whirlwind of commentary - most of which was berating him rather than educating him. He was chastised for not quoting reference... by people who never quoted references. (*Continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 27 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe this deserves its own meta question, because right now if I had to judge who were the greater offenders of SE's Code of Conduct, I think I'd have to side with RPG despite his failure to better express his comments - and that includes L.Dutch's behavior. Right now, the policy of the site by fiat is that it's permissible to gang up on people and slam the door in their face. I'm probably in the wrong, but it bothers me. And with that I look forward to your response, but won't continue further. Thanks for humoring me. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 27 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ There are ways to discuss sensitive topics on worldbuilding. It requires a certain level of maturity and willingness to respect that just because something seems OK to you doesn't mean that it isn't going to affect others differently. A post that (you admit) should have been deleted was deleted and flagged as rude (which could have been from some other user flagging the post, not a mod). As far as I can see the poster, hasn't been otherwise penalized and is still active on this site. Someone has to judge whether a post antagonizes and moderators were chosen to make that call. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 27 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ Whether it was intentional or not the post was disruptive. To delete a disruptive post in an attempt to prevent the discussion from blowing up (since the post was off topic and comments are no place for a history lesson) seems like the moderate choice. If you have a specific concern about moderator conduct there's a link at the bottom of every page where you can contact a CM, I don't think talking about that in this comment thread will lead to anything productive. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 27 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ I did edit it, got deleted anyway.... no biggie, didn't even know it was deleted until I saw this thread. $\endgroup$
    – Drien RPG
    Jan 27 at 19:52
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The answer did not quote the mendacious words of Hitler. On the contrary, the answer presented those odious views as beloging to the respondent, and and as an established fact.

To make it clear:

  • The answer said:

    Nazis didn't persecute bicyclists because they were bicyclists but because, at the time, they represented the main endorsers of communism and the things that destroyed or betrayed their country.

  • The answer did not say:

    The official Nazi propaganda pretended that they didn't persecute bicyclists because they were bicyclists but because, at the time, the Nazis believed that bicyclists represented the main endorsers of communism and the things that destroyed or betrayed their country.

The first option takes Nazi propaganda as fact, and vomits it all over history. If the respondent wanted to refer to Nazi propaganda in a neutral way they should have used the second option.

(Note that it would have still been false, and I would still have downvoted it. Nazis absolutely hated bicyclists because they were bicyclists, and their official propaganda made it very clear that bicyclists were essentially, fundamentally and irredeemably evil. The proof is that in National-Socialist Germany one could not abandon bicyclism; it was sufficient for one grandparent to have owned a bicycle, for one to be considered a bicyclist in the eyes of the state, with dire consequences. When a person is hated because something one of their grandparents were, it is obvious that the hatred is directed at their essence and not at anything they might have done.)

Anecdote: The Nazis even banned the music of Mendelssohn Bartholdy, he who wrote the wedding march (YouTube) played at Christian weddings all over the world. Because Felix Mendelssohn was a Calvinist Christian of Jewish extraction.

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    $\begingroup$ It should be added that none of the edits did anything to address this. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 25 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ Yes +1 vomit indeed and from my perspective, this pinpoints the situation and also the reason for my comment responses. The revision is not new. The story about radical communist "J's" causing nazi's to hate all jews was invented by the NSDAP, to allow moderate Germans to accept a rational reason for hating jews. It is not history, as the answer and the answerers replies on my comment suggested it was. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jan 28 at 12:31
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"To know your answer you just need to dig up a bit of history..." That is not an answer, more an insult. Backed with a highly dubious argument about Hitler's motivations - I'd like to suggest another opinion, but it's off topic to the question. There is also a strong scent cue in the capitalization. I probably disagree with 90% of the closings and deletions on Stackexchange, but when an answer isn't an answer, what can I say?

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Under normal circumstances I'm against the deletion of answers for merely being factually incorrect. However when someone is quoting the words of Hitler for any purpose other than a discussion of the options and actions of Hitler, I will make an exception.

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  • $\begingroup$ RPG life was not factually incorrect. Yes, there were other sources of racism, but by quoting the racism of Hitler he was quoting the official propaganda of the whole regime. Jews were hated in many nations, only Germany chose to genocide them. Hitler's leadership was the difference between Germany and how other nations treated their Jewish people. I find censoring history around Nazi Germany especially offensive BECAUSE I hate what happened. If you censor what tipped those scales, how do you expect history not to repeat itself? $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 25 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki Except they didn't quote, they just repeated a quote as if it was true. Surely you can understand the difference between saying "Something mean" and "So-and-so said "Something mean"" $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 25 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ Note the uses of phrases like "at the time" and "they represented". These qualifying statements are pretty clear that he is not saying they are true, but that this was the perception of them at the time. When we see a topic that we find upsetting it is very easy to become unobjective and interpret words as more black and white than they are meant to be. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 25 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings The revisions show that RPG did edit it from "Something mean" to "So-and-so said 'Something mean'". Sorry, should have shown that in my original question $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 25 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki, even with some of the edits, it was both fundamentally incorrect and a repetition of Nazi propaganda as a source of truth. There is a Hitler answer to that question, and it seems most of the people responding here could write it, but that was not it. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Jan 26 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Nosajimiki when I remember correctly (I have no access to deleted things) the answerer did not present the idea of radical communist J's as "official propaganda of the whole N regime".. that was the issue ! and the reason for my comments.. these things were presented as fact, as history Btw references to N's and J's were removed at some point, so the answer could have been deleted anyway, like I deleted my answer, on joinJBH's request. I voted to close at an early stage, because I regard this question as off-topic. It's RL politics, not WB. I did not vtc it because of my political opinion. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Jan 28 at 13:14

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