How do you deal with abusive, vulgar and violent language in poetry?

This question drew a lot of fire, comments, arguments, and close votes, but I'm not sure that it should have been closed. The arguments for closing seem to center around the question not being about an interpersonal issue and not having a clear goal.

I would say that responding appropriately to a live performance that you find objectionable is in fact an interpersonal skill. There are clearly interactions between the asker and the performer and/or the asker and the other audience members that clearly involve interpersonal skills.

The answer that the question received before it was closed seems to demonstrate that pretty well.

I also think that the question had a pretty clear goal. The asker didn't like the content and was looking for an appropriate response.

Now, I understand that many people probably found the assumptions and implications of the question somewhat offensive and may have reacted largely because of that. But I don't think the question crossed the line into rude/abusive and as far as I know, disagreeing with a questioner's point of view isn't a reason to close...

So, am I way off base here or should we take another look at this with cooler heads?

  • Yes, thanks. I was just asking how audience could react in similar situation provided it is inappropriate to them if possible, other than leaving the venue or just leaving the venue is sufficient. But many intellectuals there even suggested me to tolerate instead of suggesting ways to react. In the end, simply called it personal.
    – user5981
    Sep 30, 2017 at 3:59
  • @Rohit. If you can edit in whether you're looking for a polite or rude response there's a pretty good chance the question could be reopened.
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 4:06
  • I've edited. I think it's okay now.
    – user5981
    Sep 30, 2017 at 4:20
  • @Rohit. Also, not that it matters for the purpose of reopening the question, but how do you know the poem was about a boyfriend? Was that specifically said or was it assumed?
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 4:23
  • Yes , I was told she mentioned before.
    – user5981
    Sep 30, 2017 at 4:56
  • 2
    @Rohit So she didn't come on stage and said something to the effect "This is about <Name>, my ex-boyfriend", but merely hearsay? Sep 30, 2017 at 7:21

4 Answers 4


I also think that the question had a pretty clear goal. The asker didn't like the content and was looking for an appropriate response.

Personally, i think it would be helpful to clarify, say, whether the op wants to be "polite". It would also be worth clarifying whether the OP is trying to communicate their discontent to the performer or the audience.

I agree that the argument that the question is "offtopic" is bizarre. Expressing disproval is certainly an interpersonal skill.

As an aside, im not very impressed by the comments that question recieved. Very few offered advice about how to improve the post, which is really what comments should be used for.

  • You might address your comment "Hi. Welcome to the site.... " in that question. It reads like there might be a lot of open issues with the question.
    – user3169
    Sep 29, 2017 at 21:46
  • 1
    Comments which asked for clarification by the OP were then self-deleted by their authors, I know because I was one of them. Many useful comments, expressing diverse opinions (OK, there were too many) were deleted by a community mod.
    – user3114
    Sep 29, 2017 at 21:49
  • @Mari oh, yeah, im referring to the comments i did see, which probably arent representative of all the comments.
    – user288
    Sep 29, 2017 at 21:59
  • 1
    I suppose this is a fair point, knowing what level of response they're after would be better.
    – apaul
    Sep 29, 2017 at 23:38
  • The question has now been edited by the OP, what do you think?
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 4:24
  • @apaul looks reopenable to me. I downvoted bc its about a hypothetical situation, but would have voted to reopen.
    – user288
    Sep 30, 2017 at 11:03
  • @Hamlet How do you know it's a hypothetical situation? As I read it, it's already happened, and the OP is wondering what would've been a better approach to it. That is not a problem for us, now is it?
    – NVZ
    Sep 30, 2017 at 18:53
  • @NVZ what would I do if this happened to me?
    – user288
    Sep 30, 2017 at 19:50
  • @Hamlet I thought the community made its choice clear: Can I ask questions on “time-barred” topics?
    – NVZ
    Sep 30, 2017 at 19:51
  • @NVZ sure. I didn't vote to close the question, I downvoted it. As to why they don't make good questions, see interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1727/288
    – user288
    Sep 30, 2017 at 19:52

I saw a little of this and I think there was another angle which hasn't been discussed yet. The poster's issue was that he was shocked by a poetic description of a rape, and that such explicit kind of talk was against the usual mores of his culture.

A number of the responses were of the tone "Oh, so you're in favor of rape are you" or "Art trumps everything, shut up".

So I wonder if this guy's question being closed/fought over wasn't in part due to his being from a more conservative culture. And people mistaking a cultural reticence for an endorsement of sexual violence.

Worth a thought.

  • "Now, I understand that many people probably found the assumptions and implications of the question somewhat offensive and may have reacted largely because of that. "
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 18:30
  • @apaul34208 I'm suggesting the opposite ... that the readers' assumptions are contributing to the fracas, as much as the asker's.
    – akaioi
    Sep 30, 2017 at 18:33
  • I think we're saying the same thing.
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 18:36
  • 1
    @apaul34208 cool, that means we can have a blazing argument! ;D
    – akaioi
    Sep 30, 2017 at 18:38
  • You're so helpful ;)
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 18:39

Regarding the downvotes: Maybe. Maybe not.

Here's why, in Jeff Atwood ♦'s words on ELU meta about a question containing the words "boobs" and "tits":

Looks like some members of the community don't like this question.

This question is technically allowed by the terms of service -- but so is anonymously downvoting content that you don't agree with, that you think makes the internet worse and not better.

So, pick your poison.

Regarding the close votes: I don't know.

  • Makes sense, but does the question make the internet better or worse?
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 7:50
  • 3
    Stack Exchange talks a lot about separating pearls from sand. Pearls are formed by a creature responding to sand that it finds irritating. Sometime we may be irritated by a question, but the answers it generates are worthwhile.
    – apaul
    Sep 30, 2017 at 8:40
  • FWIW: I just ****'d the bad words from the quotes before anything else, and even before thinking of any further possible action.
    – OldPadawan
    Sep 30, 2017 at 9:59
  • Just got a flag declined on that question. So maybe I went the wrong way. The Q had many explicit/bad words. I flagged it right away. Then, edited to remove. Of course, after edit, there was no more "evidence" as one would have to go through edits to see how rude it was. Maybe a mod can tell? What would have been good?
    – OldPadawan
    Oct 2, 2017 at 8:14
  • @OldPadawan Psst.. Maybe you reacted to seeing the offensive words, instead of responding to the actual question. :P
    – NVZ
    Oct 2, 2017 at 9:01
  • @NVZ : LM*AO :) nice one, mate !
    – OldPadawan
    Oct 2, 2017 at 9:02
  • @OldPadawan The question itself is asking about how to properly respond to a situation where there's a surprise presentation of offensive lyrics, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction and making a fuss about it. Or something; that's what I think the questions is. :)
    – NVZ
    Oct 2, 2017 at 9:05

An afterthought from my React vs Respond question:

After a quick discussion with OldPadawan, I came to this conclusion. Perhaps the community was quick to react to the question, seeing the explicit lyrics mentioned it it. The initial avalanche of downvotes show that, I think.

Instead, if we were to take a moment to think and then respond, instead, maybe it wouldn't have been handled the same way.

So, it was handled inappropriately, in a sense.

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