The New York Times reports today that social media sites have gone bonkers these last few days since the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh. Anencephalics from all corners of this mad, mad, mad, mad globe are spewing their anti-Semitic venom, blaming the Jews for everything from 9/11 to the common cold.
This raises the charge that social media platforms have been lax for lo these many years in policing their sites for hate-mongers and dangerous loons.
Oh sure, alleged goofball Robert Bowers, who the cops say opened fire on worshippers at the Tree of Life Congregation, did a lot of his communicating on a site called Gab — nope, no link; tough shit — devoted to those who reside under slimy rocks. But the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others have hosted their shares of repugnant opinions and suggestions proffered by the type of lunkheads from whose numbers arise crazed shooters.
Those mainstream social media platforms say they’ve done their best to police their users’ posts but the fact is they’ve been obsessively concerned with naked ladies and a lot less worried about reprobates calling for actions against minorities.
Take this quote from the NYT article:
Facebook said this year that only 38 percent of hate speech on its site was flagged by its internal systems. In contrast, its systems pinpointed and took down 96 percent of what it defined as adult nudity, and 99.5 percent of terrorist content.
Great. Thanks, Facebook.
Look, I dig the 1st Amendment the way Trumpists slobber over the 2nd but, for chrissakes, the people who, for the last ten years or so, have been posting Birther insanity, antisemitic memes, rape threats, and all manner of flat-out lies are now certifiably dangerous. As US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in a 1919 decision:
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic…. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.
When you’re tittering about rape, when you’re blaming the Jews for this or that, when you claim the duly (and popularly) elected president of the United States wasn’t born in this country, you’ve lost your Constitutional protection of free speech. That kind of talk is the same as shouting “Fire!”
Where do I do my best thinking? Several places.
In the AM, the first thing I do after hauling my creaking carcass out of bed (well, the first thing after one or two certain functions) is to stand at the kitchen sink, peer out the window at the big expanse of green behind Chez Big Mike, and wash the dishes. I find it a comforting ritual and extremely conducive to philosophical musing.
I also think deep thoughts while showering. What is it about me and water when it comes to cogitation?
The third place for solitary thinking is in the car as I gallivant around these parts. I like, for instance, to get up to Indy maybe once a week. The run up SR 135 from Nashville is perfect for mulling especially when, north of Morgantown, the landscape becomes Midwestern flat.
Anyway, I was thinking recently of all those people who’d voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and then — dang, mang, I still don’t get this — voted for Li’l Duce in 2016. Okay, fine, I get those who voted for BHO the first time and then, when he came up for reelection in 2012, went with Mitt Romney. In retrospect, that doesn’t seem such a baffling turnaround, considering there really wasn’t all that much to distinguish between the two. Hell, Obama’s signature health care plan was essentially lifted in toto for Romney’s own med. plan when he was Gov. of the state of Mass.
But how in this crazy, mixed-up world does one go from wanting as president a well-educated, soft-spoken, former community organizer whose strength was hearing the people’s voice, who was a domestic-issue wonk, and one who bridged the heretofore irreconcilable worlds of America’s blacks and whites to then hoping a notoriously ill-informed, crass, unread, incurious, nativist, divisive, utterly self-centered greed monkey will become this holy land’s Dear Leader?
It’s downright bizarre.
In fact, the only analogy I can think of is it’s like someone saying, “Y’know, I’m a vegetarian,” and then asking if you want to come out for a steak dinner.
I hope to hell those people try to atone for their sin Tuesday.