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Context:

https://politics.stackexchange.com/posts/40052

I characterized Theresa May's deal as undead, and May herself as a necromancer.

Philipp edited those bits out, alongside a point that I should have rephrased myself. I do stand by how I characterized May and her deal.

May is now a national joke in the UK, and an international joke in the EU. She isn't respected internationally or within her own party. Nor is she respected within her own cabinet.

At what point is it acceptable on this site to call a cat a cat?

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I think avoiding gratuitous ridicule should be the default. If you can phrase your question or answer while avoiding that, do so.

It gets much more hairy when the ricule is itself the topic of the question. Some of the users here unfortunately ask with some regularity questions structured like:

  • here's a meme/label/story ridiculing X
  • what is the origin of this meme/label/story? (Or something else like that, of marginal interest.)

I generally give a pass to people who seldom ask something like that. But if I see a user repeatedly asking questions like that, especially when the bias becomes evident by repetition, I downvote, to the limit of serial voting rules.

We also have a closing reason along the lines of: not a real question, just seeks to discredit something. It's a matter of judgment what the "primary purpose" of a question is, of course.

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We should not engage in ridicule.

This is a question and answer site. Not a site based on ridicule. It is my opinion that May has been a National Joke for a long time. But good questions and answers are based on a reasonably objective baseline.

Ask and answer in a neutral way or get edited or deleted.

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As I commented on the question: I think that ridiculing politicians, their views and/or their actions is detrimental to this site because it breeds hostile sentiments between people with different opinions. So we should not do that.

It is also detrimental to an objective discourse about politics in general.

Whether or not Theresa May is an "international joke" is a personal opinion. I can conceive that there are people who have a different opinion about her and would feel offended by this. And even supposed that we would declare Theresa May an "acceptable target of ridicule" by community consensus: Do we really want to create such a precedent? Where do we stop? Where do we draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable targets? Would you like it if your favorite politician would get put on the "acceptable targets" list because they at some point did or said something most of us consider ridiculous? And how could we ever again claim the moral high ground against trolls and shills who keep insulting any politician they disagree with?

  • I fully agree with your first and last paragraph on this site, however, are you sure about the statement in-between? If we can agree that ridiculous proposals should be called out (in political discourse, not on this site), then it's not that far-fetched to call-out (to the point of ridiculing) a person who only (or for the vast majority) comes up with ridiculous proposals. I don't think that's the case with May given how most of her problems come from being caught in the middle of disagreements, but there are cases where it is and calling them out can improve political discourse. [1/2] – JJJ Mar 30 at 23:36
  • And, indeed, that improvement of the political discourse leads to more participation in politics (both in real-life and on this site) as people realise many of those proposals and their effects are quite serious. And we see that here too with spikes in visitor numbers around political events that have touched people deeply. [2/2] – JJJ Mar 30 at 23:38
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I characterized Theresa May's deal as undead

This doesn't seem that offensive to me, but it's unnecessary. Saying the deal is dead would be a fine characterisation of the deal, I think (and as does the FT). Dead being to opposite of alive, a deal being alive if the parties that are party to it still support it.

and May herself as a necromancer.

This seems rather offensive indeed. It reminds me of how people mocked the late PM Thatcher by chanting Ding Dong, the witch is dead, a reference to the Wizard of Oz.


At what point is it acceptable on this site to call a cat a cat?

I think it's fine to call her unpopular should that be based in fact, and it is. That does not mean, however, that it's open season on everything unpopular. Indeed, there are many unpopular things but this is not the place to mock them (even further).

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On Politics.SE, direct ridicule is unacceptable because it's rude and condescending.

On the other hand, often an accurately succinct summary is so self-evidently incongruous that it incidentally performs some of the same functions as ridicule. So if we observe that Pol X slipped on a banana peel, (assuming, of course, that the fact remains politically relevant), that's OK; but saying "Pol X is a clown" is not.

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