Gab is back

Dammit. The racist social media site found a new sugar daddy willing to host their hate. In case you were unfamiliar with what Gab does

Gab has become the most visible of a collection of services catering to people mainstream companies such as Twitter and Facebook have rejected as too hateful, extreme or threatening in their posts as part of a crackdown on extremism.

Which is astonishing. Extremists who are too hateful or threatening for Twitter and Facebook gravitate there. Given that Twitter and Facebook are incredibly accommodating to Nazis and other bigots, that’s hard to imagine…but my brief glance at Gab was to see a horrifying mess of naked anti-semitism on display. It was briefly, too briefly, shut down when hosting providers balked at providing service to a site that allowed that flaming anti-Semite who murdered 11 innocent people because they were Jews to flourish. But no worries, they managed to find a company that was fine with Nazi memes and dindunuffin jokes and murder planning to take them on.

Epik founder and CEO Rob Monster [appropriate name] echoed that sentiment in brief interviews with The Seattle Times on Sunday. Monster likened his company to a utility provider and said he supports free speech. He praised the operators of Gab and said he believes they will curate the site appropriately.

“I do believe the guys that are on the site are vigilant,” Monster said. Monster said on Epik’s website that his company was serving as Gab’s domain registrar but not its hosting company. KUOW was the first to report on Gab’s new ties to the Seattle area.

Yeah, Seattle. My hometown. So embarrassed. Unfortunately, the Pacific Northwest is a weird place that is generally liberal and progressive, but it’s also got a long history of racial segregation that has allowed a minority of terrible racists to prosper. Some of the worst, most regressive, most vile people I’ve known came out of the Northwest, some in my own family, but at the same time most of the people I knew were knee-jerk liberals. Almost all white, of course.

But this Monster guy is flatly delusional. Vigilant? Appropriate curators? With the announcement that it was back online, the first comments were all “blame the Jews” stuff.

Meanwhile, this Monster guy is blathering on about Free Speech and the heinous crime of de-platforming and the Founding Fathers and entrepreneurship, all as a smokescreen to justify providing support to a site that is basically the worst shit filtered out as too ghastly for other terrible social media sites, where awful people gather to enflame each other and applaud murder. Monster sounds like one of those glib libertarian jerks, but Torba is a Christian fanatic — a dreadful combination.

Could we at least draw the line at “free speech” that is nothing but hate speech intended to incite death and destruction?

I believe in responsible free speech

Social media enables violent far-right ideologues to build self-reinforcing communities that encourage even more violence, even more extremism, in an ever-escalating cycle of mutual goading and behavioral modeling that leads to outbreaks of real-world viciousness. When your online friendships are built on a foundation of anti-semitism, individuals vie to be the most outrageously anti-semitic member of the community they can be, and when someone, like the Pittsburgh mass murderer, breaks through to peak anti-semite and actually guns down innocent Jews, he has achieved a kind of apotheosis — he knows his friends will be praising him, will be impressed by him, will consider him a role model, and even though he might be in prison for life, he can feel content that he has won the respect of his peer group. Someone like me might feel horror and disgust and contempt for him, but he doesn’t care, since I’m not one of his friends, and he despises me and my kind. My revulsion is actually a reward, as far as he is concerned. Like Anders Breivik, social condemnation by others fuels his righteousness.

One source of this problem isn’t that all social media is bad, but that it is built in such a way as to encourage these isolated communities of hate to grow — there are no moderators. The adults have all left the room. In fact, the corporate owners of these networks have consciously decided that they will not break up the little klans that form, and will actually punish anyone who tries to intrude on their vicious circle jerks with ostracization. This is glaringly obvious on Twitter and Facebook — they have “rules” and “terms of service” that allow genuine brutality to dribble through, but anyone who dares to disrupt the cycle of reinforcement is a threat to their business model. See for example how they try to silence Feminista Jones and other women who respond to misogyny. It ain’t the misogynists who get put in their place.

I thought this was a quick smart take on what’s going on.

Exactly. “Our political conversations are happening on an infrastructure built for viral advertising.” And what sells in America? Sex and violence. There’s still a lot of puritanism lingering in our society, so sex gets throttled and relegated to porn — once again, the adults leave the room and responsible, serious discussion is abandoned. Violence is supported, so it thrives everywhere, even on Twitter, as long as it’s thinly veiled and has some minuscule amount of deniability. Twitter and Facebook want to be heavily used as gateways to bigotry and violence and misogyny, and they’ll just boot out the people who get too explicit in their charged recruitment of hate mobs. They get it both ways. They get to foster the viral advertising of self-reinforcing communities of racists, all in the name of free speech, and they also get to piously declaim how much they deplore violence by sometimes banning the more outrageous perpetrators, like the MAGAbomber. If they too often get around to kicking someone out after the unspeakable has been done, well, hey, they still demonstrated their commitment to both free speech and peaceful dialog at the same time, right? Win-win! See, everyone? It’s safe to advertise on our social media, we’re weeding out the bad guys who would soil your brand!

And of course, there is no real punishment for the barbarians. Kick ’em off Twitter, which is only a vocal 10% (optimistic estimate) asshole, and they can go to Gab, which is 100% pure, undiluted Nazi asshole, and they can find even more reinforcement. There are no responsible adults at all on Gab. It’s pure heaven for freeze-peachers who want the ability to engage in social interactions with zero obligations to, you know, society. So where did the Pittsburgh mass murderer flourish? On Gab, of course. And how are a significant subset of the Gab client base responding? I took a look.

A few are approving of banning the murderer, but also seem to be motivated by the fact that this is a threat to their beloved service — oh, no, we might be expected to be responsible for what we say! Others are still, unbelievably, babbling about how this is a “false flag” attack funded by a Jewish conspiracy.

I’m all for free speech, but there should be consequences when that speech is a threat to people’s lives. The consequences are starting to roll in, again too late to spare the 11 lives lost in Pittsburgh. Among those consequences: Paypal is denying them service. Hit them in the pocketbook.

I like that. To Gab, getting banned because you run a service that enabled a man to rage against Jews and announce that he was “going in” to commit mass murder is incomprehensibly just because.

By the way, Twitter: why do you allow an account that is solely for recruiting new members to a Nazi forum on your service? And verify it with a blue checkmark? I know. It’s because you want their traffic.

In other good news, Gab’s hosting service is kicking them off.

Good. It’s a start. If you think you can’t encourage open discussion and free speech without allowing people to advocate for genocide, it’s about time you learned something about reality.

I would vote for a “radical socialist kick boxing lesbian” in a flash

Have you noticed how Republican insults are becoming a genuine mark of pride? Sharice Davids is running for Congress, and is getting some heat from local Republicans in Kansas.

Davids is a unique candidate for the 3rd Congressional District seat up for grabs this November. If elected, the Ho Chunk Nation member would be the first Native American woman elected to Congress in U.S. history and would also be the first gay Kansan to represent the state in Washington. She’s also a former MMA fighter and currently works as a lawyer, having obtained her law degree from Cornell. This election cycle, she may be at the top of a historic group of emboldened Native candidates, who happen to overwhelmingly be women.

She sounds awesome. Her existence prompted Michael Kalny, a two-bit racist precinct committeeman, to write to the head of the county Democratic Women chapter with this little rant.

Little Ms. Pritchett- you and your comrades stealth attack on Yoder is going to blow up in your leftist face. The REAL REPUBLICANS will remember what the scum DEMONRATS tried to do to Kavanaugh in November. Your radical socialist kick boxing lesbian will be sent back packing to the reservation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To quote Terry Pratchett, “And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.” I’m not sure what he’d make of someone who used fifty exclamation marks.

Never forget. This is what Republicans are all about: racism, homophobia, misogyny, and oppression. That little pissant might get what he wants, now that the Supreme Court supports voter suppression laws that discriminate particularly severely against Indians, unless we all turn out the vote and kick these assholes back into the dead past.

He couldn’t even stammer out “states rights”?

It’s always nice to see a racist stunned into silence.

The dope with his jaw dropped is Andy Hallinan, a guy whose sole claim to fame is that he owns a gun shop where he publicly announced his refusal to sell guns to all Muslims, and sells targets with photos of Democrats. Now he has another stupid thing added to his reputation!

Dunning-Krueger, only for racists

Racists don’t know they’re racist, I guess, which is how they can deny racism when it’s right there in their face. Like this cartoon:

That caricature is racist as fuck. It’s not something you can reasonably argue over — there is no debate. It’s done. You can’t draw a black woman that way, in a way that doesn’t even vaguely resemble Serena Williams, except to make a racist point. It looks like something from the 1930s or earlier.

“It had nothing to do with gender or race,” the artist says. Bullshit, says I. He also claims to be completely unaware of the history of racist caricatures, so how was he to know? He’s a cartoonist, that’s how. He’s so completely uninterested in his craft that he never, ever studied cartoons from the past?

Michael Harriot has a few words to say about that.

And not only does Knight’s drawing portray Serena with undertones of classic racial stereotypes, including the apelike stance and oversized pink lips reminiscent of the coon caricature and Sambo cartoons, but he included a pacifier in the drawing, presumably to indicate Serena’s childish actions. You’d never know, from this cartoon, that Naomi Osaka is actually two inches taller than Williams.

It is also revealing that Knight chose to illustrate Osaka as a blonde, fair-skinned damn-near white woman whose complexion is the same as the umpire’s. Unintentional or not, the juxtaposition is clear: Naomi is the quiet, questioning protagonist who, along with the genteel official, is opposed by the brooding behemoth, Serena Williams.

It’s stunning how many people are trying to argue that the cartoon isn’t racist. Damn. Racist is as racist does. It doesn’t have to have the n-word scrawled in sharpie across the cartoon to be racist.

Harriot has a few things to say about American Republicans, too.

  • 52 percent of voters who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election believed blacks are “less evolved” than whites, according to researchers at the Kellog School of Management.
  • In a 2018 YouGov poll, 59 percent of Republicans agreed: “If blacks would only try harder, they would be as well off as whites.”
  • The same YouGov poll revealed that 59 percent of self-identified Republicans believe blacks are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
  • 70 percent of Republicans agreed that increased diversity hurts whites.
  • Republican-appointed judges give black defendants longer jail sentences, according to a Harvard study released in May.
  • 55 percent of white Republicans agreed “blacks have worse jobs, income and housing than white people” because “most just don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up out of poverty” according to the Washington Post’s review of data from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center.
  • Nearly twice as many Republicans than Democrats (42 percent versus 24 percent) believe that blacks are lazier than whites, according to the same NORC poll.

Every single one of those opinions are racist as fuck, too. The white people of America are a mob of racists, and the most racist of us gravitate to the Republican party, where they are welcomed with open arms.

What do Australia and the United States have in common? A history of displacing native peoples and justifying it by the claimed intrinsic superiority of the colonizers. Here’s a good summary from an Australian professor.

As Cheryl Harris wrote in her famous article Whiteness as Property, racial regimes based on the theft of native lands and the enslavement of black people produce an association between the fact of being white and the right of possession. Not only are white people given the legal right to take ownership of stolen land, but whiteness itself becomes property, having intrinsic value as a quality that only white people can possess. At the same time, under slavery, black people become property. The privileges that accrue as a result of being white come to be expected by white people so that any threat to their status or their reputation is perceived as illegitimate, particularly when it comes from the racially subjugated.

Both our countries are still dealing with that ugly history…or more accurately, failing to deal with it.

The movie this week is…BlacKkKlansman

First, though, a little advertisement: starting this weekend, the Morris Theatre is holding the Prairie Light Film Festival, a whole week with a rotating roster of good movies, movies I’ve wanted to see, but had low expectations that they’d ever play in small town rural Minnesota. It’s a small, mostly white and conservative town, and we’ve long had this single screen movie theater that has had to play it safe with their choices if they want to be profitable, and that means we get movies that will appeal to college students or the general community, without a lot of risk-taking. For instance, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was the sole movie being shown for about a month a few years ago. Enough said.

So now we’ve got this crazy wild festival coming up, and we’ve got a second screen, so finally the theater can show movies with narrower appeal, like BlacKkKlansman. Once upon a time, I would have estimated the chance of a Spike Lee film being shown in Morris as negligible — not because the theater management wouldn’t have liked to, but because they needed movies with broad appeal to the Morris audience. But now they can, and I am so happy.

BlacKkKlansman is the best movie I’ve seen this year. Right at the top of my list. Great acting, amazing story, strong and relevant theme, beautifully structured. I had no idea how they were going to pull of the central conceit of the story — a black man joins the KKK — but the way it was done, that there were two undercover cops using the same name, and it was the white guy, Adam Driver as Flip Zimmerman, who would appear at Klan meetings, while the black guy, John David Washington as Ron Stallworth, would manage everything over the phone, worked well. It also worked well because it gave both Flip and Ron opportunities to grow in the roles they were playing. Driver was great as a Jew who realizes that this is his battle, too.

But I have to say something about the end of the movie. It was the most powerful gut punch I’ve ever experienced at a movie. So below the fold is a kind of a spoiler — I’m not going to give away any details of the plot, but I am going to say a few things about the structure of the ending.

[Read more…]

Iowans with better food

Rob Tibbetts, father of a young woman who was murdered by a criminal man, spoke out on his appreciation of the Hispanic community.

Speaking Sunday afternoon to more than 1,000 people at a ceremony at his daughter’s former high school, Rob Tibbetts didn’t directly respond to comments by President Donald Trump and others who quickly seized upon the suspect’s citizenship to argue for changes in immigration laws. Rob Tibbetts has not publicly commented on the issue. But in his eulogy, he highlighted how the local Hispanic community had embraced him as he searched for his daughter in recent weeks. While in Iowa for nearly six weeks, Hotel Grinnell put him up for free. During that time, he said he ate at a number of Mexican restaurants, where employees were sensitive and kind. They knew when he needed space or when he needed to joke, he said.

“The Hispanic community are Iowans. They have the same values as Iowans,” he said, including an emphasis on family. “As far as I’m concerned, they’re Iowans with better food.”

Exactly. As the Hispanic community here in Minnesota has grown, we’ve also seen more and more tasty food, so I’m not complaining.

Meanwhile, over in Wingnuttia…

Who is the better human being, Rob Tibbetts or Tomi Lahren?

Trick question. Tomi Lahren is soft white cotton bag filled with cockroaches.

I could have told them this experiment wouldn’t work

When I was in high school, and also part of college, I spent my summers working in a wholesale nursery as a menial laborer. It was all stoop labor — “there’s 10 acres of pots of kinnikinnick, go weed them all” — and of course once you finished it all, you’d start over again because a new crop of weeds was sprouting. So I spent long days in the sun, bent over, scraping popweeds out of containers. It’s not a job I’d wish on anyone, but it’s partly how I paid for college.

Now I’m reading that, in 1965, the US government had a brilliant idea for replacing those darned Mexicans who were doing all that farm labor: pay high school students to do it for minimum wage. Thousands of students took the offer.

He remembers the first day vividly. Work started before dawn, the better to avoid the unforgiving desert sun to come. “The wind is in your hair, and you don’t think it’s bad,” Carter says. “Then you go out in the field, and the first ray of sun comes over the horizon. The first ray. Everyone looked at each other, and said, ‘What did we do?’ The thermometer went up like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. By 9 a.m., it was 110 degrees.”
Garden gloves that the farmers gave the students to help them harvest lasted only four hours, because the cantaloupe’s fine hairs made grabbing them feel like “picking up sandpaper.” They got paid minimum wage — $1.40 an hour back then — plus 5 cents for every crate filled with about 30 to 36 fruits. Breakfast was “out of the Navy,” Carter says — beans and eggs and bologna sandwiches that literally toasted in the heat, even in the shade.
The University High crew worked six days a week, with Sundays off, and they were not allowed to return home during their stint. The farmers sheltered them in “any kind of defunct housing,” according to Carter — old Army barracks, rooms made from discarded wood, and even buildings used to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II.

I think you can guess what happened. Students quit in droves after only a few days. Others held strikes. The whole program was declared a failure, not just because the kids wouldn’t do it, but because they were pointing out the horrible working conditions and pitiful wages that were inflicted on desperate migrant workers…conditions and wages that still apply.

Clearly, the lesson is that we should hire anybody, migrant or not, and that they should be paid an hourly wage that reflects the value of their labor.

I only stuck with that kind of work because I was desperate, and even then my parents were housing and feeding me so all of the cash could go straight into my college fund.