aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Did you catch the parents of those accused in the Duke case last week on 60 Minutes?
“My son said, ‘Mom, when is it going to stop? When is this insanity going to stop?’ Knowing that he was still being charged with crimes that he didn’t do,” Kathy Seligmann recalls. [...]
“You have to remember that this has never been about the evidence. Never. If it were about the evidence, nine months ago, this case would’ve been totally dropped. This is about a man who chose to use a troubled young woman’s story of fantastic lies to advance his own political career, which was crumbling. He needed something big. He needed that magic bullet, and he shot it. He shot it at our sons,” says David Evans’ mother Rae. [...]
“We’d be hard-pressed to send Collin back to an environment where Mike Nifong is the newly-elected D.A., where the Durham police department is at his beck and call, where the leadership, the administration of Duke, when given the chance to stand up for our boys does not. It would be very hard as parents to send our sons back into that environment,” says one of Collin Finnerty’s parents.
Lesley Stahl, oozing empathy, didn’t ask tough questions. The media narrative had shifted. Kathleen A. Bergin of Feminist Law Professors, reacting to CNN’s Duke retelling special, “A Question of Race,” points out:
The disconnect between legal culpability and social responsibility simmers just below the surface of reporting on the Duke sex scandal… conspicuously left out of CNN’s [AJ: and CBS’s!] broadcast: (1) that team members called the two women “niggers” and “bitches”; (2) one threatened to rape them with a broomstick; (3) another spoke of hiring strippers in an e-mail sent the same night that threatened to kill “the bitches” and cut off their skin while he ejaculated in his “Duke-issued spandex;” and (4) one shouted to the victim as she left the team’s big house, “Hey bitch, thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.” These facts are undisputed and highlight the sick and wretched depravity of this racialized episode.
Back on 60 Minutes, said David’s dad:
“It was a mistake, that was poor judgment. But then what you need to do is separate that from felony charges, talking about moral questions. These are felony charges. And if they did make a mistake, even though they did what many other students have done, they have paid for it dearly,” says David Evans, Sr.
Ok, fine. First, let’s do something serious to stop so “many other students” from doing it. And second, let’s not lose track of the fact that it was wrong and bad and deserving of some serious punishment.
Sex Crime vs Crime
These are state registries, and depending on the state you’re in, you’re a “sex offender” under Megan’s Law if you get caught urinating in public, mooning, skinny dipping, or if you get busted having consensual sex in public. Think of how lopsided these charges must be in homophobic states. Also, it’s a lesson in what sites like MySpace can and will do with personal information.
I have at times wondered whether we need to specify when a crime is a “sexual” offense. Are laws around assault, harassment, exploitation, violence not enough? Do we have to add a whole ‘nother category if genitals are involved?
By separating it out as a different category of crime—and I know we do it with the best of intentions—do we create the additional overhead of shame on the survivor’s part?
If we treated violence as violence, regardless of whether or how genitalia is involved, would we be able to take some of the humiliation out of it for the assaulted? Or would we “encourage” sexual aspects to violent crime, because the consequences would be the same?
Georgia’s millionaire senator votes to block minimum wage
- Them that’s got shall get,
Them thats not shall lose,
So the Bible said, and it still is news...
Ten that’s got stuck together and voted to further delay raising the minimum wage today. Two from Georgia:
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Via Think Progress, noting that the richest of the lot was our own:
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
TOTAL HOLDINGS: Between $7,631,000 and $25,515,000
HIGHLIGHTS: Isakson owns between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000 in both Wachovia and Riverside Bank stock. He also holds 12 acres of Georgia real estate valued between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000.
KEY QUOTE: “Robert Reich, once observed ‘most minimum wage workers aren’t poor.’ He is right.” [Isakson, 6/20/06]
Fox tried to hire Anderson Cooper
So says an ex-Fox News producer. Romenesko:
Former Fox News producer Charlie Reina says he witnessed the network’s attempt to hire CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who Fox now calls “the Paris Hilton of television news.” Reina writes: “This particular call went nowhere. The producer led with, ‘So when are you comin’ over?” Anderson laughed politely and changed the subject. I doubt he ever gave the absurd idea a moment’s serious thought. ...For Cooper, whose talents and instincts were in actual news, coming to Fox would be a huge step down professionally.”
Google the new http://
I’ve noticed lately that many users have all but stopped typing domain names directly in the web browser, and started using Google instead. Instead of writing “myspace.com” as the address, they write “myspace” into Google.
I’ve seen this behavior from my coworkers and friends, but it really becomes apparent when you see the top 1000 results of Google searches. Many of the top searches, like “bebo”, “ebay”, “yahoo”, “amazon”, “myspace”, “facebook”, aren’t really searches at all - these terms are mostly written by users who know exactly which page they want, but they’ve gotten used to using Google instead of the address bar. If you’re still not convinced, I give you the crown evidence: Google. One of the top search results in Google (number 6 at the time of this writing), is “Google“. Hundreds of millions of users are trying to get to Google through Google. Does this make any sense? No. But it shows that users don’t think about Google as a specific web page, they think of it as the service, an essential part of the internet experience. They’re using this service to get to the page they want: in this case, Google.
And you know what? They’re right.
The writer & the (great?) unwashed masses
Terrific thoughtful piece on the impact of massive online feedback on journalists and writers by Gary Kamiya, the executive editor of Salon.
Ideas and perspectives that never found an outlet before are now shouted from every corner that has a phone line and a computer. This has rocked the journalistic world. The violent uprising of the previously voiceless plebeians has disturbed the perfumed slumber of media gatekeepers, forcing journalists to immediately correct glaring mistakes or abandon insupportable positions....
And, of course, there has been an explosion of expertise. The information revolution has set off a million car bombs of random knowledge at once, spraying info fragments through the marketplace of ideas. Sometimes it feels as if the Internet has turned the whole country, indeed the whole world, into a virtual New York City, a dense, antimatter-like place where within any four-block grid there are hundreds of people who know more about Miles Davis or Linux or Giorgio de Chirico or the Ruy Lopez opening or Peyton Manning’s attack on the two-deep zone than you do. (As a starry-eyed provincial, I like to think of New York this way, even though it’s probably an illusion.) [...]
For a writer, this huge, suddenly vocal audience has some significant advantages. For one thing, it serves as an enormous fact-checker. If you make a mistake in a piece, some eagle-eyed reader will let you know, often within minutes. But a far more important effect of the reader revolution is that it has forced writers to immediately deal with substantive arguments and critique. Like most writers who publish a lot online, I’ve written pieces that a letter writer has sliced up so surgically, with such superior logic and style, that I began searching furtively for a “do over” button on my computer. And the sheer quantity of even less sophisticated arguments, like water poured onto a leaky roof, reveal a piece’s weak points. Many writers have told me about extraordinary e-mail exchanges with readers that sometimes develop into ongoing relationships.
First, and most obviously, is the reality that the newly vocal masses contain not only thoughtful and respectful readers but also large numbers of fools, knaves, blowhards and nuts. Moreover—and this is a crucial point—the percentage of letter writers who are fools, knaves, blowhards and nuts has exponentially increased. In the old stamped-letter days, the difficulty of writing in weeded out more of these types; letters tended to be somewhat more thoughtful, and letter writers usually adhered to certain conventions of etiquette and decorum governing communications between reader and writer. Not forelock-tugging subservience to their betters, but simple courtesy. There was a tacit acknowledgment of the implicit contract between writer and reader, one characterized by at least a modicum of idealization and respect on both sides. I don’t want to exaggerate this—certainly there were plenty of ad hominem and intemperate letters back then. But having edited several magazines in the print-only era, I can say that there were far, far fewer. Perhaps the unseen presence of an editor, the slightly formal nature of writing a “letter to the editor,” led readers to be on their better behavior. [...]
The problem is, it’s very hard for writers, who want to be read and want to know what readers are saying about them, to ignore letters or blogs about themselves. “Practically every writer I know has gone through the mill with this,” says Salon senior writer Laura Miller. “Blogs, often written by idiots, are bad-mouthing you. You go through this cycle where you get interested, then you get angry, then you just stop reading them.” But as Miller points out, even nasty comments are addictive. “There’s a great Trollope quote from ‘Phineas Finn’: ‘But who is there that abstains from reading that which is printed in abuse of himself?’”
Miller, who says the tendency of discussion threads to degenerate is an example of ”the tragedy of the commons,” believes that the worst online abuse is directed at writers who make themselves vulnerable by revealing intimate things about their lives. “I don’t think people who write stuff like that should read their letters,” Miller says. “If you write something revealing, people mob up and become predatory.” Miller attributes this to a rampant cultural self-righteousness: “It’s like a virus in society—the policing of norms.” As every online editor knows, pieces about child-rearing, sexual mores and the like provoke remarkably virulent outbursts of reader self-righteousness.
I see that behavior as a crowd dynamic. It’s the flip side of The Wisdom of Crowds; much of the chatter around which has tended to overlook that there are significant warnings about the deleterious impacts of crowd behavior - neatly summed up by Surowieki’s observation that human beings are not ants.
We tend to believe that our individual action is independent of the crowd; we’ll learn. And grow.
[Edited for clarity and spelling.]