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In an answer to the question "Why does the left side with the Palestinians?", one user wrote within their answer

This question is more often than not answered by right wingers, which unfortunately means misrepresentation of the views of left wing people, Palestinians and Israelis to fit right wing prejudices and biases. I have no idea why right wing people so often feel the need to speak on behalf of Left wing people.

and in response to a comment about this, said

Yes, to be honest I would. I don't think that you can really expect an honest or fair representation of left wing people's views from somebody who holds opposing views. Far too often it just results in straw manning the left. I'm sure there are some right wing folks out there who are very well informed about the positions of the left, but simply disagree, and are capable of accurately describing their positions. In reality its quite rare though, isn't it? More often than not resulting in a ridiculous straw man argument a la Fox News (Bernie Sanders wants to turn America into Venezuela!).

I think this is a dangerous precedent. We should not be discouraging people from answering based on what their political persuasion is.

The Code of Conduct mentions the following

No bigotry.
We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples. When in doubt, just don’t.

No harassment.
This includes, but isn’t limited to: bullying, intimidation, vulgar language, direct or indirect threats, sexually suggestive remarks, patterns of inappropriate social contact, and sustained disruptions of discussion.

And discouraging the participation of people based on their political persuasion goes against this.

From a practical point of view, I think that both left-wingers and right-wingers may have biases, albeit different ones, on a question about left-wingers - but that discouraging right-wingers from answering will give result in a worse overall set of answers than if we don't discourage them.

Please note that I'm not meaning to be a free speech fundamentalist here - I'm all in favour of moderating content when there's behaviour that violates stack exchange's rules, and have repeatedly complained about such content on this stack exchange.

I tried flagging the answer, rather than raising it on meta, but it was declined.

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    It's one person leaving a comment about who he would prefer to read answers from. Nobody's stopping non-liberals from answering the question. You're reading too much into this. – Sam I am Sep 15 '18 at 16:40
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    I think the usual rule of thumb here is "if we can discern your political affiliation/beliefs from just your post, then there's a problem with that post". I thought such a phrase appeared explicitly in the help sections somewhere, but I'm not seeing it. The "Don't Ask" page does specifically state that questions should be phrased in impartial terms. I would expect the same standard to apply to answers. – zibadawa timmy Sep 17 '18 at 4:48
  • @zibadawatimmy I think there used to be such a rule of thumb about NPOV on Wikipedia. Could you be thinking of that? – Andrew Grimm Sep 17 '18 at 5:15
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    Grimm. I answered your questions, even provided evidence, and I did my best to be as friendly as possible. I gave an honest answer. The OP's question related to a left wing perspective, and I merely pointed out that when people on the right, with opposing ideologies answer questions about the left, there is a tendency to strawman them, to misrepresent their arguments. – Icarian Sep 19 '18 at 6:10
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    As is highlighted below, you don't seem to have any issue with the accepted answer, which by any account was far less measured, less even handed, less informed than mine and presented no evidence to back up its assertions. You had quite a few criticisms of my answer, which I made every attempt to answer and provide evidence to back up my assertions. What you did and didn't choose to take offense at, and what you did and didn't choose to critique speaks volumes of your motivations in this case. For the record, I did actually upvote your comment. I don't think it deserves a -4 rating. – Icarian Sep 19 '18 at 10:41
  • @Icarian you didn't reply to part of the comment asking how so-called "Israeli agents" "influence mainstream media". – Andrew Grimm Sep 20 '18 at 8:28
  • Actually I did answer your question in both the comments, and an edit to the main answer: "Here an Israeli diplomat (agent) admits to conspiring to "take down" UK MPs. theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/07/…" I did interject an opinion after that, which would probably be a better and more justifiable critique of my answer. – Icarian Sep 20 '18 at 9:01
  • You haven't replied to any of the comments here pointing out the accepted answer and the question itself were deeply flawed, deeply biased, lacking in any evidence or references to back up their heavily biased rants, neither of which you voiced any concerns or criticisms here. You should probably address these concerns before continuing to attempt to have my answer removed. – Icarian Sep 20 '18 at 9:06
  • @Icarian UK MPs are not media. – Andrew Grimm Sep 20 '18 at 12:09
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    Grimm, you're just moving the goalposts now. This topic is about me supposedly deterring people of opposing political persuasions from responding to a topic. Oh, and you're deliberately omitting information when quoting me. This is what I wrote " And I really don't like the influence of Israeli agents on western governments and mainstream media". – Icarian Sep 20 '18 at 12:47
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    If you have issue with the content of my assertions, or feel that the evidence and definitions I provided do not support what I said, then you should make a separate topic on those issues. Again, considering how little you cared about the poor quality question's leading phrasing and the accepted answer, it would seem that you care less about a lack of evidence and bias, and are attacking my answer more from a partisan perspective. Nobody else provided as much material supporting their claims in that topic as I have. – Icarian Sep 20 '18 at 12:49
  • But you are half correct. I didn't provide quid pro quo evidence of media colluding with or being Israeli agents. I did provide very definite evidence of an Israeli agent conspiring against politicians, which is why you omitted that when paraphrasing me. I will attempt to find quid pro quo evidence of Israeli agents conspiring with media if you wish, I hope that if I manage to do so, it won't simply be ignored... – Icarian Sep 20 '18 at 12:55
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    @icarian: my exact comment was “Who are "Israeli agents", and how are they "[influencing] mainstream media"?” – Andrew Grimm Sep 20 '18 at 22:08
  • Yes I know. When quoting me, you paraphrased my statement to omit the part about Israeli agents influencing governments. I provided evidence on that part of the Israeli agent caught on film admitting to conspiring with a UK politician to take down other UK politicians. I said in my previous reply that don't have quid pro quo evidence of Israeli government directly conspiring to propagate pro Israel propaganda. In the case of Fox news, there is circumstancial evidence of ties between Rupert Murdoch. At the very least a significant conflict of interests. However there is no quid pro quo. – Icarian Sep 20 '18 at 23:24
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This question is more often than not answered by right wingers, which unfortunately means misrepresentation of the views of left wing people, Palestinians and Israelis to fit right wing prejudices and biases. I have no idea why right wing people so often feel the need to speak on behalf of Left wing people.

I'd suggest that this sentiment in an answer is not entirely out of place, but should ideally be something on the lines of

I feel that the other answers often misrepresent the views of left-wingers.

or even without the 'I feel'.

The comment:

Yes, to be honest I would. I don't think that you can really expect an honest or fair representation of left wing people's views from somebody who holds opposing views.

I don't see anything wrong with this as an honest comment, even if I felt it wrong, and certainly don't find it off-putting.

Note I am on the right for many things and can agree that very often people across the political spectrum misrepresent the other's side argument. Of course, that's why we have the up and down votes - if you feel that an answer is wrong, downvote.

In summary: I don't think there is anything wrong with the points made being made.

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I don't see how this is more against the CoC than the accepted answer, which rudely dismisses the viewpoint of the left as communist backed propaganda with "no real moral dimension" and simple hostility to Israel. Clearly none of this is true, and the answer isn't backed by any references. There is not a hint of neutrality and amounts to little more than a smearjob.

Presumably especially this answer – together with a now-deleted answer which was an entire rant against the left – is what the author intended by "misrepresentation of the views of left wing people", which is a completely fair observation IMHO.

The solution is simple: delete the accepted answer (I have flagged it) as it doesn't live up to the site's standards, and remove this opening paragraph complaining about the other answers.


This specific answer aside, I of course agree with the general point that we should not be discouraging people from answering based on whatever their political viewpoints are. But at the same time we must be careful in downvoting – and possible removing – answers that amount to little more than hitpieces by people with an axe to grind with a certain political movement, viewpoint, or topic.

This is especially the case for controversial topics such as the Israel/Palestine conflict; on these topics we really have a chance to show that this site is a good neutral Q&A site for quality information about politics, and not a site for ranting about political views you disagree with. In that sense, I think the site has failed with this question (aside from the two previously mentioned answers, there also seem to be a number of "regular" non-answers and poor quality ones; don't have time to carefully review them all right now).

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    You also may want to inform yourself to actual reality. E.g. independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/… . Calling truth "misinterpretation" does not make it less true. – user4012 Sep 18 '18 at 17:21
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    None of that proves the "soviet propaganda" @user4012, and of course there are left-wing people who are anti-Semitic. The problem is when you start calling all left-wing people anti-Semitic, which clearly not the case and just as insulting as calling everyone on the right a neo-Nazi because there are right-wing neo-Nazis. These are exactly the sort of pissing matched this site should be free of. – Martin Tournoij Sep 18 '18 at 18:38
  • The other answers may be poor quality, but they didn’t involve bad behaviour against other users. – Andrew Grimm Sep 20 '18 at 12:05
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    So calling out people for gross misrepresentation of views is "bad behaviour" @AndrewGrimm? I think you got things reversed. I agree that the paragraph focused a bit too much on the people and not content, but the root cause here is bad answers rudely dismissing and misrepresenting a side's viewpoints. Either way, the answers are now deleted by the community and I removed this paragraph from the answer, which means the problem is solved and everyone can be happy (excluding the people who want to force a particular POV and seem to be unaware of what "neutrality" means that is). – Martin Tournoij Sep 20 '18 at 13:43
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Having an accepted answer with -12 overall score (actually +16/-28) shows a major problem with the question and perhaps the site. One of the comments (itself with 28 upvotes) under the accepted answer says:

This appears to be the accepted answer solely because it aligns with the OP's ideology.

So the question is probably too opinion-based if ideological alignment could so strongly influence the [correct] answer[s].

Likewise, the top-voted answer (+45/-5) starts with a jab at the question:

The question seems to assume that sharing values with someone necessarily implies that you support that person (or group etc) in all things.

I personally don't see a lot of reasons to be welcoming of questions like that, or to start punishing answers (e.g. by flagging) just so we can be "welcoming" of questions showing the OP's bias. This question is four years old, by the way. I don't see much benefit in debating its answers while waving the new Code of Conduct just at the [new] answers.

I'm hesitant to answer questions here in which the OP's colors show so clearly (voting to close is often a better choice), but in this case I decided to bother since one can give a fairly concise and mostly objective showing how the OP is wrong in his assertion, along the lines of the top-voted answer, which alas lacked some concrete example(s).

And regarding the answer (currently +13/-7) being critiqued in this meta question: as far as I can tell, it spends its time extensively critiquing the premises of the question, which the OP of the question kinda opened himself to, by this para in the question:

No matter which way you turn it, the Palestinians score much worse than the Israelis on all of these traits. (You can challenge this in the comments, but... please be specific, and, good luck.)

Clearly that's also an indicator of a pretty low-quality question.

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    It is a question that can be answered perfectly well in neutral terms though. I think that the bad answers are more of a failure in the site's community and moderation than anything else. – Martin Tournoij Sep 19 '18 at 11:54
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Answers based on your own political opinion are generally a problem, but not for the reason you suspect. The problem is that answers are expected to be factual. An answer based on your own perspective is not factual, it is just opinion.

The answer you linked to would be much improved if its claims were backed-up by reliable sources.

This all goes back to how we make the internet a better place. The fundamental justification for this site's existence is that we provide high-quality, factual answers to questions about government and politics. Opinions are not facts; an answer based on personal (non-expert) opinion is by definition low-quality.

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