Barred from research

I have written previously on the mob mentality, and have each time lamented how peoples’ errors should not mean that their livelihood is attacked. It is a sentiment that I stand by, but probably warrants clarification in the wake of Roseanne Barr’s bafflingly idiotic joke at Valerie Jarrett’s expense.

After looking up who exactly Valerie Jarrett is, it revealed the shockingly poor taste of said joke, and it is something that cannot simply be defended. It was something which ABC, Barr’s employer, needed to immediately address considering Barr’s profile and the apparent success of her show’s reappearance.

The cancellation of her show was clearly something that Barr’s employer felt was too hot to deal with, and ABC was within their right to distance themselves from her and her “joke”. I feel in this case, it was an employer acting quickly, rather than it being a result of a widespread campaign on the internet to pressure employers to let Barr go.

Therein lies the difference between my stance on online twitter mobs and the Roseanne case.

Barr, it seems, doesn’t seem to be taking the dismissal lying down, after her odd excuses fell flat and did nothing to redeem herself in the eyes of the audience. However, there are a couple things I do find strange, and it may require a couple posts to address the many issues.

Firstly, let’s look at Roseanne’s tweet:

In this tweet, Barr claims to have been an activist for fairness in the US. Okay, fair enough. A claim warrants investigation. However, let’s look at internet search results for “Roseanne Barr activism” to see if we can get any information on her claims. This is what I got:

It would seem that the only information that immediately comes to hand is news covering the recent events, and “Celebrities, activists and co-stars react to ‘Roseanne’ news”. There’s a bizarre repeating of the same headline here. Looking on, I began to search the second page of search results:

Holy cow, there’s a remarkable lot of parallel thinking along these myriad websites. How very, very odd that everyone seems to be repeating the same headline, over and over.

I don’t profess to understand why and how this kind of thing happens, but the result of what I am seeing is what goes beyond oddity and into Orwellian territory.

When news comes out that smears someone, particularly someone who has been saying things that align with “the bad side” or played a character on television who aligned with “the bad side”, then that news is posted again and again, so that all the possible noise you can find reinforces what story that someone, somewhere wants the people to know.

I don’t know whether all these outlets follow the same headlines because that’s what the SEO algorithm uses to garner clicks, or whether there’s a concerted effort to ensure only one story is told, but the result, to me, is as scary as glowing shit.

For now, it seems, we are at war with Roseanne, and we have always been at war with her.

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The Activist Journalist

The media have truly lost their way. This is not a new revelation on my part, because I have long loathed the media way before the phrase “fake news” was birthed out the mouth of a failed presidential candidate. Yes, I am a media-hater-hipster.

There’s always the sensationalism. There’s always the reinforcement of Mean World Syndrome despite us living in one of the most peaceful times in this planet’s history. There’s even clickbait. These things are only incidental to the recent rise of the most heinous of creatures to ever proclaim themselves a “vital part of a democracy”.

The activist journalist.

The activist journalist does not seek to report the facts, trusting their audience to take information from their story and then formulate their own understanding of the world. No, the activist journalist holds no high regard for their audience. The activist journalist must tell the audience what to think. Don’t you know? It’s not enough to provide the story from which the dear reader can walk away feeling informed. No, it is the activist journalist’s role – nay duty – to tell you how you think, or how other faceless people think.

Oh, to think that they feel that lecturing people is the best way to convince them. It clearly worked on them during the years they spent at the Sunday School their parents forced them to attend.

This past week saw a number of photos circulated of the atrocious conditions that children of unlawful immigrants must endure. Activist journalists posted the images far and wide, condemning the US administration for the horrific turmoil inflicted upon the innocent.

Except the photos were from the Obama-era Administration.

Activist journalists, upon realising the “mistake”, quickly deleted tweets, and offered weak platitudes to minimise the story.

This is why activist journalists are a problem. If they were truly about the craft of journalism, and wanted to be true agents of good in a democracy, the photos would not need to be removed and explained away. Why?

Because the photos could have lead to more important questions to be asked. Questions such as, “Is this still occurring?”

Because that is far more important than who was at the helm during the time that the atrocities did occur.

The paving-over of the story because it paints the activist journalist’s preferred team in a bad light reveals the truly dark side of the activist journalist. For all the noise they would make about childrens’ suffering, the deletion of the tweets and photos shows that they actually do not care about these childrens’ suffering.

They only cared when they thought it politically beneficial to care. They only care about lives when they can leverage said lives and use them to forward their cause.

That is not what I want from an industry that is apparently a cornerstone of a good democracy. That is truly evil; an evil that would use lives of children to promote their team before they discard them to the wastebin of history, forever forgotten.

This is why media is currently a blight, and needs a strong clean out, preferably with the coarsest of brooms that leaves a groove in the dirt so deep that no future journalist would want to ever be associated with such cynical, callous and truly despicable practises.

A Royal Memory

The media certainly aren’t afraid to turn up the largesse when it comes to certain things. There are a number of things that happen so utterly infrequently, that when that particular something does occur, the media flip out and scramble their top brass. They will turn on all the lights, and turn the spotlight to the event with such great gusto, you wonder where this enthusiasm is whenever something actually fucking important happens.

Because, before you know it, there’s round-the-clock coverage of a mildly successful actress marrying a largely inconsequential Royal.

It has struck me as somewhat bizarre that the US media has given any airtime whatsover to the Royal Wedding of the Next-Next-Next-Next-Next-Next In Line To The Throne. I suppose that the bride being of the nation of traitors that buggered off from England way-back-when gives the media an impression of having some kind of tie.

Much like how Tom Cruise said he’d married Australia itself after marrying Nicole Kidman, I suppose. This was a sentiment which sent a large swathe of the island nation into thetan exorcism.

In a world where outrage drives the gears of almost everything, I found the fawning over Harry to be somewhat confounding. All the discussion that permeates politics and culture seems to centred around combating the worrying rise of fascism and nazism. Anything which looks like it might even think about being Nazism is highlighted, and shouted down as Literally The Worst.

“Don’t normalise nazism!” is how I would paraphrase the message.

How odd it is that people seemed to have forgotten that Prince Harry, in 2005, dressed up as a Nazi.

“Oh that was so long ago!” I hear some people cry, “People change over time!”

You know what else happened in 2005? Trump’s comments about grabbing women. Yet this didn’t stop us from hearing about it for fucking weeks on end, and how horrible his words were.

“But this is different!” I hear the same people cry, “Harry was young and didn’t know better!”

Alright, keep moving those goalposts. But let’s be honest here. Let’s really be honest here. This isn’t about Nazism, or misogyny, or about how moral we expect our social betters to be. This is about ensuring that People We Like have prominence, and People We Don’t Like are buried.

This is about having the right ideology at the forefront of culture, because when you lead culture, that’s where politicians and lawmakers follow.  Prince Harry married a political activist who toes the correct line, and that makes Harry fine, despite his cavalier brandishing of the logo of one of history’s greatest stains.

And how we scowl and sneer at someone who bragged like a douche to his friends about his abhorrent and boorish behaviour. Trump’s comments, as dry-reachingly vomitous as they sounded, were only a secondary crime compared to his first: being a political opponent of someone who was cherished by culture activists.

Go West; life is peaceful there…

I have written many times on this blog about the nature of cults, and the various tactics they employ in order to keep their followers in line. There’s a typical thing that occurs when a former follower breaks from the orthodoxy and starts to question the dogma.

At first, the wrongthinker is told to correct themselves, and that “there is more to it” than what they supposedly understand. The implication is that the individual needs to educate themselves more – and naturally the best education comes from the cult itself. If this tactic fails to correct the individual, then the aggression turns up, and the individual is pressured to rejoin the flock.

If the aggression fails to reverse the individual’s thinking, then the cult will ultimately turn inward to its own followers, lambasting the individual, discrediting them and their message to other followers, and ultimately concluding that the individual was “never a true follower” or is a “betrayer” or “traitor.”

This serves to keep the followers from breaking rank, reinforcing that the ideology is right, and subtly sending the message that leaving the group has consequences.

And I have never seen this most prominently displaying itself more than the case of Kanye West, who recently started expressing thoughts that went counter to social justice doctrine. One thing that is obvious with today’s media, it’s that you need to choose your words carefully if you are going against the grain – and tact and care is not something typically associated with West.

Which is why his careless statements on slavery supposedly being a “choice” – a statement which is bewilderingly callous and stupid when viewed through the most superficial of lenses. No one would ever suppose that a slave considered their options and then thought, “Yeah, actually. I’ll go with the lifetime of servitude”.

That’s utterly ridiculous, and I too would condemn such a hand-wave of an oppressive force that enslaved a race.

Except nuance is not a realm that media or cultists are willing to follow – much like West himself. Subsequent follow-up from West has revealed that he wished to highlight (albeit ungracefully) that people have accepted this idea that because they are a specific identity, that they need to believe this one way of thinking. In this case: Black people need to vote Democrat, because it was solely the Democrats who are working to better the black community.

Except the revelations about New York Democrat Schneiderman would suggest that the Democrats aren’t above fantasising about having a black slave.

In the wake of Kanye’s self-described Free Thought, the one-eighty that has been performed on him has been egregious in its agility. Radio stations are refusing to play his music, multiple think-pieces have been penned to ensure their audiences don’t listen to his words, and probably most alarmingly, this picture of him has been distributed.

Okay, this is utter bullshit. For merely expressing that he wishes to think as an individual, the community that would espouse tolerance, intellectualism and love has deemed it worthwhile to rob Kanye of his blackness. They would endorse that people erase his immutable characteristics solely for the crime of expressing a view that isn’t parallel to that which is accepted.

Did he not experience racism growing up? Was he somehow different when he made the bold and brash claim that then-President George W Bush didn’t care about black people? Oh, but I suppose, the argument would go, that “people change” and that “Kanye has changed since those days”.

People do change, I agree. But change doesn’t necessarily make them wrong and unworthy of being listened to.

No one in their right mind would think that slavery was a choice; But being slave to a philosophy or ideology is.

If bad can, no one can

There’s this odd propensity to push for the removal of a thing, if that thing can be misused by bad people. Social media, in particular, has had to adjust and wrap their platforms in order to protect the few from the fewer bad apples. Twitter has taken steps to actively police its users, and has established a totally-not-Orwellian-sounding “Trust and Safety Council.”

The gun debate in the United States often takes aim at removing guns from the majority of responsible gun owners because of the few people with instability issues.

This recent think-piece on Australia’s “Rendezview” site further encapsulates this thinking, lambasting Facebook for its new dating product. I am not familiar with the product itself, but the thrust of the article is that the endeavour is foolhardy because bad people could potentially abuse it.

It seems to overlook the idea that if bad people want to do something bad, they will find ways to do it. This isn’t to suggest that Facebook has no ownership of ensuring its users’ safety – they do – but any tools that people create are always going to be imperfect.

Give people a system, and they will game it.

I am somewhat unsurprised to see that the article digs at Facebook’s supposed role in allowing Russians to create chaos in the 2016 United States General election – which has so far offered zero evidence that the meddling had any influence on the outcome. I don’t think that Russia didn’t play around with the election – just that there is little evidence to date to suggest that the Trump campaign colluded with them, and that the result would’ve been different.

And they dig at Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica revelations? Is the author not aware that data mining is what Facebook is about, and is how they monetise their vast platform?

I feel that Facebook is facing this vocal backlash, not because they were blind to interference, but because Facebook doesn’t do enough to suppress wrong-think. Their recent announcement that they will be ranking news outlets based upon “trustworthiness” just screams of passive-aggressive partisanship. Even the softest cynic will wonder how exactly they deem sites trustworthy, and whether or not the outcome will lean one way or another.

And conservative sites are already looking at previous outcomes of Facebook’s algorithmic dalliances.

The media’s pressure upon Facebook appears, to me, driven to push Facebook to become another outlet for one side of the political debate. The coordinated masses want their ideas promoted first and foremost, and dissenting views silenced, mocked and ignored.

And competing social media platforms that promote free speech (such as gab.ai) are then smeared as “alt right” and “nazi”. I haven’t used Gab.ai, and cannot speak as to its sympathies, but I do worry that any platform that indicates that they won’t coddle their users, and silence any speech is smeared as a haven for Nazis.

We don’t need policing of speech. We need impartiality and honest debate without the horrific labeling of opposing views. And certainly we shouldn’t base policies on whether bad people can misuse them.