Re: Pies in the face (was Re: PDAs are searchable was Re: blah blah blah)

From: Charlie Stross (
Date: Fri Feb 09 2001 - 05:25:20 MST

On Thu, Feb 08, 2001 at 03:19:37PM -0600, Chris Russo wrote:
> >>
> >> Here's a thought - why not make the pie out of feces?
> >
> >Because then it *isn't* a purposefully harmless prank.
> Harmless by your definition, not mine. If you ever get a chance to
> talk to a woman who's been raped, or forcefully groped, ask her if
> she was physically hurt.

In what way is a flan in the face comparable to rape?

> You just don't get it. When someone does something physically to you
> against your will, it's a violation of your person.

You are taking an absolutist position: that *any* physical act is morally
and practically equivalent to the most serious conceivable physical act.

I do not buy that position. It is self-evidently wrong. (*Why* it appears
self-evidently wrong to me is an interesting issue that I need to go
and think about.)

> >Can you cope with people mocking you publicly, if they don't lay so much
> >as an air molecule on your person?
> Sure, I have no problem with that. When someone mocks me publicly,
> they're not impeding me or attacking me physically. They have a
> right to mock me.
> By your logic, if someone is mocking me and I don't like it, I should
> be able to have my bodyguards go shove a pie in his face or do
> something else equally assaulting and degrading. Might makes right,
> huh?
Nope. Go shove the pie in his face yourself. Don't be surprised if they
shove one right back at you, too.

Look, think of it as one point on a continuum:

* You don't object to someone mocking you verbally.

* Suppose someone dresses up as a mime and follows you around, apeing
  your movements and taking the piss. Is *that* harmful?

* (cream pie goes here)

* Someone follows you around and tries to throw a plate full of feces
  in your face. They've been considerate enough to nuke any bacteria
  in it first, but it still stinks. (I think we both agree that this
  *isn't* a nice thing to do, but it is unlikely to prove fatal.)

* Someone tries to shoot you. (Unequivocally bad.)

This continuum runs from forms of criticism that are harmless to forms of
criticism that are lethal.

Now, as far as I can tell, your position is that there should be no
difference in response to being groped v.s. a serious rape attack: they're
both bad and evil. By extension, there should be no difference in response
to a pie in the face, or a hand grenade.

(Is that an accurate characterisation of your view?)

My point of view is simply that the response should be proportional to
any perceived threat, and that treating a cream pie in the face the
same way as a pistol (or a plateful of turds) is silly.

-- Charlie

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