Wags & Wits, Lend Me Your Tongue!
January 22, 2007 9:55 AM   Subscribe

MeFite wags & wits, lend me your tongue!

I bought a house in a small, funky neighborhood (it's like a gated community, but no gate, and built in the 70s before they figured out how to make everything sterile and nasty). About 50 homes total, and almost everybody's friendly.

Unfortunately, we've got a nutjob in the mix, with an axe to grind against the HOA Board and anybody who disagrees with the nutjob and is foolish enough to say so. NJ has been spamming the homeowners (via a mailing list I set up for announcements and general neighbor chatter) and spewing invective, innuendo, and abuse (e.g. Board members are dishonest fools who incompetently run the neighborhood with an iron fist of control, stifle dissent and steal from the HOA dues). AFAIK, none of this is true, and in any case, the NJ's approach admits of no dissent. A couple of people have said "actually, I don't think those people are that bad," or "could you please just shut up?" and they've been targeted in subsequent attacks.

So...it's Annual Meeting time, and two HOA Board positions are up for election. And -- you guessed it -- NJ is running! I'd like to send out a comical anti-campaign flyer: "Vote for NJ! Or else, you stupid cow!" with about 10 reasons to vote for him. It's got to be funny and not too snarky. The homeowners are mostly older, fairly well educated, liberal, and ... well, nice. So it can't be too over-the-top. Think The Onion written by your hip-but-civil grandmother.

Why should people vote for Nutjob?
  • Because civility is overrated!
  • Just imagine what your email inbox will look like if you don't!
  • Just imagine what your email inbox will look like if you do!(Face it, you might as well just change your email address now.)
  • ...
posted by spacewrench to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Because all of his paranoid fantasies might be true.
Because he'll cry if you don't.
Because you're all not taking this seriously enough. No, really.
posted by adipocere at 9:58 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Because our neighborhood would be better if it were more authoritarian.
Because it'll add more drama to your life.
posted by k8t at 10:00 AM on January 22, 2007

Because if you're not part of the problem, you're part of the solution.
posted by sonofslim at 10:00 AM on January 22, 2007

"If you don't vote for NJ, the terrorists have won!"
posted by amyms at 10:01 AM on January 22, 2007

"Our long neighborhood nightmare of peace and prosperity is over!"
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:13 AM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Because squeaky wheels NEED grease, goddammit!
posted by unSane at 10:16 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's probably easier to ignore him rather than goading him on. Everybody knows he's a nut job. Don't allow yourself to get caught up in his drama (even if it does seem like it would be amusing).

He'll continue to rant and spew, but you will have the benefit of being above that and you won't be associated in the minds of your neighbors of functioning at his level.
posted by willnot at 10:27 AM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

"Because collaborative shunning and goading is okay if you're the good guys!"

Seriously, don't do this. Send out a plaintive, straightforward argument that he'd be a poor candidate, if that's what you believe.
posted by cortex at 10:31 AM on January 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Because if you can't say something nice, he's your ideal candidate.
Because logic is boring.
Because histrionics are so in this season.
Because more crazy=more better!
Because Tom Cruise (interchange with wacky celebrity/famous nutjob of the week) is too busy for the job.
Because if he can complain loudly about nothing, imagine what he'll do for real problems.
Because vigilante isn't just for justice anymore.
Because every village needs one. (Or needs its own idiot)
Because he makes the rest of us look normal.
Because he'll scare off roving hoards of barbarians with a single glare.
Because home is where the hate is. (Or home is where you hang your hate?)
Because it'll make a great reality show.
Because reasonable discourse never did anyone any good.
posted by Gucky at 10:32 AM on January 22, 2007 [6 favorites]

But yeah, even as satire, you'll be pushing all his (hair trigger) buttons. If he's such a nut, you won't need to convince anyone not to vote for him. Throw your muscle behind someone who is not crazy and isn't afraid to call him out. Or run yourself and then address him concerns directly, honestly and in a logical fashion. it'll drive him more nuts in a way he can't, say, sue you for.
posted by Gucky at 10:36 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

because this election should be more than just a popularity contest
because retarded malcontents in public office are great for laughs
because he has the time it takes to do a good job
posted by bruce at 10:39 AM on January 22, 2007

Where others would mame, he executes.
posted by unreasonable at 11:00 AM on January 22, 2007

Thanks for the ideas! (Yes, I know I shouldn't do this, but I've been biting my tongue for months now, figuring he'd get bored and go away. Hasn't happened.) And, actually, I'm on the Board (was drafted to take care of a project that one of the other Board members was fumbling).
One of NJ's persistent themes is that I'm oppressing him and denying him his Constitutionally-guaranteed right to express himself. It's not clear to me how that is, since I provide the mailing list and have not censored anybody's mail (despite calls from many quarters that I do so). One of the ballot measures at the annual meeting is a homeowner resolution to turn off the mailing lists. I know I'm going to be voting for it!
But I think the comedy value of a faux-campaign flyer will put a smile on people's faces, after literally months of hate-filled emails from this guy.
posted by spacewrench at 11:01 AM on January 22, 2007

Why not propose an "ignore" feature on the board, or walk everyone through how to ignore his e-mails? Put that on your flyer.
posted by atchafalaya at 11:04 AM on January 22, 2007

Better the insane spammer you know than the insane spammer you don't know.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:08 AM on January 22, 2007

Because somebody needs to stand up against the impending robot hegemony.
posted by adamrice at 11:12 AM on January 22, 2007

Any chance that him resoundingly losing the election would shut him up? If there is, I'd let that happen without giving him a scapegoat.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:31 AM on January 22, 2007

How about a bumper sticker? "Don't blame me, I voted for [nutcase]!"
posted by atchafalaya at 12:17 PM on January 22, 2007

"Go ahead and blame me. I voted for [nutcase]" might work, too.
posted by Gucky at 12:20 PM on January 22, 2007

He won't get bored and go away. He lives there. And he will continue living there after he's decided you're an enemy too. I vote for discretion.
posted by ardgedee at 12:21 PM on January 22, 2007

You are letting him goad you into a rash act, however satisfying you may find it at first. On one hand, you may provoke him to violence, and even if you were not the target of that violence, whoever is would almost certainly sue you as well as him. On the other hand, he may claim you have damaged him directly with such a flyer-- by, say, making his mental illnes worse.

Do not do this.
posted by jamjam at 12:26 PM on January 22, 2007

I disagree. Do it. And do it blatantly. It sounds like, out of fear of this guy, people have held back and just hoped he'd go away. Well he's not. So take action with mockery. If it provokes him to an ACTUAL rash act, well then maybe you can do something about it. And maybe people will stand by your side.

But the important thing is that you do SOMETHING. In the words of Eric Stratton, rush chairman, "I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part."

And that somebody is you.
posted by rileyray3000 at 1:00 PM on January 22, 2007

This wouldn't be very effective. The trouble with indirect humor intended to have a message is that it usually fails at being humorous or intelligent, because it's trying to do both at once. jamjam is right: you shouldn't do this. You'll only escalate the situation and make everything worse on yourself and everyone else involved.

You'd be much better served by careful, honest, thoughtful flyers that explain your reasons for feeling the way you do. Be as direct as possible ("The way Mr. X speaks is crude, cruel, spiteful, and arrogant") but truthful and thoughtful ("... and a good community like ours shouldn't have to have its members torn down this way.") Quote this guy; don't call him "nutjob," but don't let him off the hook, either.

The antidote to trolling isn't snarking. Most people don't realize that the really powerful statements are the ones that are the clearest and most honest.
posted by koeselitz at 1:00 PM on January 22, 2007

I second the idea of adding an "ignore" or "block user" feature to the board, send out a message telling everyone how to use it, and sit back - everyone should block him very soon, and he'll get incredibly frusturated when no one takes his bait.
posted by sluggo at 1:04 PM on January 22, 2007

I should mention that the problem with this idea isn't that it's too bold a move. It's that it's not very bold at all. Nor is it very funny.

You should find a public way to tell him precisely how people feel about him. That's the most hurtful thing you can do right now. This fake-campaign-poster thing is just silly.

Is it not possible to embarrass this fellow in the most extreme manner at one of the meetings?

posted by koeselitz at 1:04 PM on January 22, 2007

I think by making the flyer you'd help successfully draw more attention to yourself (favorbly) and away from the other irritated homeowners who are frustrated with him, deflecting possibly future tirades against innocents and drawing all or much of the fire so the rest can go about themselves with a bit less stress to them personally.
posted by vanoakenfold at 6:03 PM on January 22, 2007

Because you should—NJ says so!
Because you’re an idiot-dumb ass if you don’t.
Because I like my peace and quite with a whole bunch of crazy!!
posted by hadjiboy at 8:24 PM on January 22, 2007

This would be hilarious, but you probably shouldn't. I know it's fun to feed trolls--er, I mean, I heard, because I would never, ever do such a thing myself--but this isn't the internet, you and everyone else are going to have to deal with him afterwards, and he might escalate to grafitti or flaming dog shit on people's doorsteps or threats or god-knows-what.

I do favor sending out a general announcement on the newsletter reminding everyone of the rules (you did set up some rules when you set it up, right? Or did you (alright, pretty reasonably actually) assume everyone would be an adult and not need to be told to be civil?) and describing how to ignore someone (if such is possible, and I hope it is), though.
posted by sleeplessunderwater at 9:26 PM on January 22, 2007

Never attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity.
posted by KRS at 12:59 PM on January 23, 2007

The problem with nutjobs is that, well...they're nutjobs. I would be more than a little worried about the fact that he doesn't sound like a reasonable person. While this is a very tempting idea, it could get pretty expensive if you have to buy new tires for your car or worry about your pets getting poisoned in your own backyard.
posted by rcavett at 6:41 PM on January 23, 2007

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