When trump’s reign of idiocy began, three white male cheerleaders at our local college were thrown off the team for being photographed wearing sweaters, each with a “K” on them for the university. Standing together, their sweaters spelled out KKK, and someone had added “KKK go trump” to the photo, which was sent over Snap chat.
A Facebook acquaintance of mine, a liberal, millennial white guy, questioned the decision to remove them from the team. He thought it seemed heavy-handed, when in his experience, male cheerleaders were mostly lighthearted and goofy, and tended to be liberal, politics-wise. He was sure they were kidding, and banning them from the team seemed, in his estimation, to be “fascist,” something that was worrisome, what with Twitler coming to power.
A bunch of us — mostly older folks in our 40s and 50s — tried to explain to this guy that when it comes to the KKK and Nazis, you just can’t mess around. We let him know that cheerleaders, being visual representatives of the university, couldn’t be allowed to write off such behavior as a “joke.” We let him know that the suspension was definitely warranted, and the university had handled the situation correctly by suspending them quickly.
Because we don’t want the place crawling with Nazis and the KKK. We don’t want burning crosses on every other lawn. We don’t want gas chambers and walk-in crematoriums and mass graves on every corner. That’s why.
At the time he didn’t get it. We’re not Facebook friends anymore, but looking over his timeline, I think he gets it now, based on what he’s posting. (He may have even unfriended me over that incident. I was kind of hard on him.) I don’t know him that well, but I do know he’s a white guy who really does try to have others’ best interests at heart. But to him, at the time, I think, WWII was ancient, and didn’t seem very likely to repeat, so in his frame of reference, the incident was harmless.
But that’s what well-meaning white guys tend to think. And I’m honestly not trying to attack white guys. But when you aren’t the target of hate, sometimes its hard to see, or even comprehend, that people can be so incredibly shitty.
The white guys who run Twitter and Facebook — and by them I mean CEO Jack Dorsey and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, respectively — still don’t seem to “get it” when it comes to race and White Nationalism.
Today, the Wall Street Journal is reminding us of this. It reports in its Tech section that Jack Dorsey personally vetoed kicking White Nationalists Alex Jones and Richard Spencer off its platform, opting instead to allow “free speech.” Lest we forget what the definition of “free speech” is, it’s that the government can’t edit, restrict, censor or punish you for your words and ideas. But private companies can, and in fact, they have a responsibility to. Why? Because we don’t want the place crawling with Nazis and the KKK. We don’t want burning crosses on every other lawn. We don’t want gas chambers and walk-in crematoriums and mass graves on every corner. That’s why.
Nazis, White Nationalists, the Alt-right, whatever you wanna call these assholes, have been given a giant, free, recruiting, planning, propaganda and organizing tool in social media. They may be a minority, but now they can organize world-wide if they want to. They are able to not only connect with each other, but spread their shitty philosophy to weak minds. All while sitting in their underwear in their mother’s basements with the stroke of a few keys, and all for free. What’s been the result? The rise of White Nationalism and fascism, globally.
The Wall Street Journal article about Dorsey states that often, even Twitter’s own employees don’t understand the company’s policies regarding how it chooses to target racism and racist language. Those of us libtards who spend a lot of time on social media have seen this, first hand.
Nazis, White Nationalists, the Alt-right, whatever you wanna call these assholes, have been given a giant, free, recruiting, planning, propaganda and organizing tool in social media.
White Nationalist imagery exists all over Twitter on personal accounts, but somehow, Twitter’s algorithms don’t seem to see that. Those accounts have to be reported by users. When arguing with White Nationalists and misogynists, cursing at these people will get your account limited quickly. But their racist, sexist language often seems to go unchallenged, and we’re talking about some blatantly nasty shit.
Recently, Facebook was criticized for taking down this image posted by the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, because it violated Facebook’s “child pornography” standards.
It’s nice to know Facebook worries about child pornography, but of course, this was a piece of education about the holocaust, about the furthest thing from child pornography there is. Facebook, to its credit, quickly corrected the error.
(Speaking of child pornography, I must give props to recently deceased American comic Barry Crimmins, a survivor of childhood rape who almost single-handedly took on AOL in the early 1990s when the company allowed pedophiles to have their own chat rooms. He testified before Congress in 1995, and AOL shut down the chat rooms. We all owe a lot to Barry.)
I love the shit out of the First Amendment. I think it may be the most brilliant piece of law ever written down, in human history. The First Amendment ensures that anyone in America who is being discriminated against can speak out without fear of government censorship.
But the titans of tech need to understand that they may very well hold the key to the social engineering of organized racism in their hands, and so far, they’re doing a crappy job of wielding their power.