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The New York Times Helped a Vindictive Teen Destroy a Classmate Who Uttered a Racial Slur When She Was 15

https://reason.com/2020/12/28/new-york-times-racial-slur-teen-jimmy-galligan-mimi-groves/

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Jimmy Galligan is an 18-year-old college freshman from Leesburg, Virginia. He may also be cancel culture's Count of Monte Cristo.

Some months ago, Galligan—who is biracial—posted a years' old, three-second video of a white, female classmate using a racial slur. Galligan had sat on the video for a long time, waiting for the moment it would do the most damage. After the girl—a cheerleader named Mimi Groves—was accepted to the University of Tennessee, the time had come.

"I wanted to get her where she would understand the severity of that word," said Galligan.

The video depicted Groves, who was 15 at the time, and had just obtained her learner's permit, saying "I can drive, [slur]." The remark was not directed at anyone in particular. The brief video clip featuring it circulated on Snapchat until it was obtained and saved by Galligan, who had grown furious at how often he heard his white classmates using the N-word.

Galligan shared it publicly in June. In response, Groves lost her spot on UT's cheerleading squad. Then the university pressured her to withdraw from the school entirely. The admissions office had apparently received hundreds of messages from irate alumni demanding blood. Groves is now attending a community college.

This story is a powerful example of several social phenomena: the militant streak in social justice activism, the naivety of today's teens and their not-actually-disappearing Snapchat messages, social media's hunger for mob justice, and even the capacity for elaborate cruelty that has always existed among high schoolers. But the wildest thing about this incident is that most people will learn about it by reading The New York Times.

"A Racial Slur, a Viral Video, and a Reckoning." That's the title of the Times's article on the subject, published the day after Christmas. Reporter Dan Levin tries to add considerable context by detailing a history of alleged unpleasantness at Heritage High School, which Groves and Galligan attended. It sits in a wealthy, predominantly white county where "slave auctions were once held on the courthouse grounds."

"In interviews, current and former students of color described an environment rife with racial insensitivity, including casual uses of slurs," notes Levin. "A report commissioned last year by the school district documented a pattern of school leaders ignoring the widespread use of racial slurs by both students and teachers, fostering a 'growing sense of despair' among students of color, some of whom faced disproportionate disciplinary measures compared with white students."

Levin connects the outcry from aggrieved students to the broader Black Lives Matter movement and protests that occurred this summer following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police. But nowhere does his article reckon with a very basic fact: The New York Times has opted to assist a teenager's desperate quest to ruin the life of a young woman who said something stupid when she was 15.

Everyone roughly 25 and older should thank their lucky stars that they completed adolescence before the age of social media and ubiquitous camera phones, because the country's most important newspaper apparently thinks it is appropriate to shame teenagers over their juvenile behavior. This is the very worst aspect of cancel culture—the burning desire to hold people accountable for mistakes they made as kids, even if they have long since learned their lesson and grown past them—and the Times has fully embraced it.

While the piece strives for a veneer of neutrality, it clearly lionizes Galligan, whose portrait—which appears early in the story—calls to mind The Washington Post's excessively flattering photograph of Lexie Gruber and Lyric Prince, who extorted the paper into humoring their Halloween-costume-related grievance. Levin never really challenges Galligan; in fact, the reporter lets Galligan get away with the assertion that his white father suffers from "white privilege." Groves is treated somewhat sympathetically, but Levin really should have explained the difference between using the word as an epithet and using it in the manner Groves did.

Or better yet, he could have simply not written this story, which concerns bad but by no means uncommon teenager behavior. If Groves had cheated on her math test, or planted a kick-me sign on a rival's back, would this constitute national news? No crime was committed; the utterance of the word did not even take place at school. The only thing novel about this situation is that it attracted the national media's attention.

It's for this reason that I do not share the conclusion of Rod Dreher in The American Conservative, who described Galligan as a "moral monster."

"What a horrible person that Galligan kid is," writes Dreher.

Galligan did a monstrous thing, but none of us should pretend to know whether he is a monster. It's unfair to write him off as irredeemably bad, just as it was unfair to brand Groves a racist and derail her future plans because of one mistake. They are both teenagers, and teenagers—even ones who turn out to be perfectly fine and upstanding adults—do really terrible things to each other. (Maybe you don't remember high school? I do!) They should be corrected, forgiven, and allowed to move on.

That's why this new drive to reduce teens to the worst moment of their lives is so pathologically toxic. It's completely at odds with the emotional and social journeys of most young people. Very few of us sailed through high school as saints, but today's kids are practically required to be perfect from the time they turn 12.

The people who really ought to have known better are not the story's teenage subjects, but its editors at The New York Times. Imagine thinking the paper should not run an op-ed by a sitting Republican senator because his policy proposal makes people feel unsafe, but a story about a teenage girl who said something stupid? Unleash the righteous fervor of social media upon her: The 1793 Project continues.

Agreed. Completely shameful that the NYT would run such a 'story' designed to ruin an 18-year old's life for something they said at age 15.  But that is the evil of cancel culture for you, something the "newspaper of record" has embraced in it's desperate attempt to stay relevant by pandering to SJW's.

 

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California Women's March Canceled for Being 'Overwhelmingly White'

https://reason.com/2018/12/31/womens-march-eureka-california-white-int/?itm_source=parsely-api

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Organizers of a planned Women's March in Eureka, California, cancelled an event due to concerns that too many white people would show up—which is a pretty damning indictment of intersectionality, the ubiquitous yet contradictory philosophy of the modern activist left.

A rally had been scheduled for January 19, but Women's March leaders aborted their plans because "up to this point, the participants have been overwhelmingly white, lacking representation from several perspectives in our community," according to a press release. "This decision was made after many conversations between local social-change organizers and supporters of the march."

This news attracted much derision, and deservedly so. For one thing, the disproportionate white involvement might simply reflect the fact that Eureka is about 75 percent white, according to U.S. Census data. For another, leftists often claim that white people are responsible for President Donald Trump's victory in 2016—inexplicably, white women are held in particular contempt, even though they vote Democratic more often than white men—and need to change their attitudes. But here's some white folks expressing enthusiasm about joining their comrades of color in the #Resistance, only to be told, Well, maybe you should stay home.

The Eureka incident lends itself to a kind of Eureka! insight about the problems with intersectionality, which has become the dominant intellectual theory of the left in the three decades since sociologist Kimberle Crenshaw first proposed it. According to intersectionality, various forms of oppression are distinct yet interrelated, and these forms stack: A black man is more oppressed than a white man, a black woman is more oppressed than a black man, a gay black woman is even more oppressed, and so on.

There's nothing innately wrong with such analysis, but adherents of intersectionality also tend to believe that the oppressed are the sole experts on the subject of their own oppression. At the same time, it is not their job to educate you—a line parroted by many activists, particularly on college campuses, when they are questioned. As a result, intersectionality in practice often means that some activists expect well-intended liberals to sit down, step back, and defer to the expertise of the most marginalized people. But those people might not be well-positioned to lead a mass #Resistance movement—they may have disabilities, poor mental health, or lack of access to financial means, which are all stackable categories of oppression—and they might even expect the cis white hetero males to take a turn doing the work. It's really hard to square all these circles.

That's one important conclusion of my book, Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, which I am pleased to announce will be released in 2019. (It's already available for preorder here.) I interviewed tons of activists about their goals, motivations, and beliefs, and one of the most common recurring themes was infighting caused by intersectionality. As one young activist woman told me, she absolutely hated the 2017 Women's March that occurred the day after Trump's inauguration, in which half a million people took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest the president. Why? You guessed it: too white.

This intersectionality nonsense just needs to go away.

 

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On 12/30/2020 at 10:20 AM, Muda69 said:

California Women's March Canceled for Being 'Overwhelmingly White'

https://reason.com/2018/12/31/womens-march-eureka-california-white-int/?itm_source=parsely-api

This intersectionality nonsense just needs to go away.

 

You do realize this story was from 2018?

Methinks the "colorblind" society we were achieving at the end of the 1900's and in the first decade of the 2000's was obliterated.  I believe that is because a big chunk of the black community didn't want colorblindness to happen.  One would think that would be considered racism......But I've been given to understand that only white people can be racist.

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25 minutes ago, swordfish said:

You do realize this story was from 2018?

Yes, and I firmly believe the outcome would be the same today.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are you beginnings of a U.S. "Social Credit Score", where certain goods and services may be denied to you based on your political leanings:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/capitol-siege-businesses-political-donations-1.5868390

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Republicans in the U.S. Congress faced growing blowback on Monday from businesses that said they would cut off campaign contributions to those who voted last week to challenge president-elect Joe Biden's victory.

The announcements by Dow Inc., American Express and Amazon, among others, threaten to throttle fundraising resources for Republicans who will soon be out of power in the White House and both chambers of Congress.

"Given the unacceptable attempt to undermine a legitimate democratic process, the Amazon PAC [political action committee] has suspended contributions to any member of Congress who voted to override the results of the U.S. presidential election," Amazon spokesperson Jodi Seth said.

Hallmark Cards Inc. and MasterCard both confirmed they were suspending donations after reports earlier by Popular Information, a political newsletter.

Greeting-card giant Hallmark, based in Kansas City, Mo., and a large employer, said in a statement its political action committee requested Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, both of whom objected to Biden's certification, return all campaign contributions.

....

This is an awful slippery slope...................

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

At Times, Don McNeil Scandal Deepens: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/at-times-don-mcneil-scandal-deepens/

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This business over The New York Times pushing out veteran science journalist Donald G. McNeil, Jr., is shaping up to be deeply symbolic of the way wokeness has corrupted a major American institution. Seriously, the rot goes all the way to the top.

 

You will recall that publisher A.G. Sulzberger and editor-in-chief Dean Baquet pushed out McNeil, 67, who has over four decades of service to the Times, after the Daily Beast reported that a group of high school kids on a Times-sponsored field trip accused McNeil of using the N-word, and other offenses. It turns out that Baquet was aware of this, and had done an internal investigation, but cleared McNeil after he (Baquet, who is black) became satisfied that McNeil had meant no harm. The Beast story made the issue public, and stirred up the Woke Mob within the Times. After a meeting in which Madame Defarge Nikole Hannah-Jones was present, and reportedly threatened Baquet by proposing to undertake her own investigation of what happened on that 2019 field trip, Baquet and Sulzberger reversed course, and showed McNeil the door. These are the statements that came out last week:

 

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Unfortunately, McNeil abased himself before his persecutors:

 

EtflijNWQAQcUeG-e1612566019810.png

So that’s why one of the world’s top Covid journalists was forced to resign? Because he used the N-word in characterizing a dilemma in which the students were discussing whether or not it is just to punish someone for the N-word?

It has been pointed out that contrary to Baquet’s line that the Times does not tolerate racist language regardless of intent, the Times uses the word quite a bit. A search I just did of the Times website reveals that the word has appeared in its pages 20 times in the past year. Try it yourself.

Here is how the word appears in a 2019 Times op-ed about school busing:

 

Screen-Shot-2021-02-09-at-4.13.52-PM.png

You know who wrote that op-ed? Nikole Hannah-Jones, who persecuted Don McNeil. When Dean Baquet says “we do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” he is lying. The only question is whether or not he’s also lying to himself.

Now, today Erik Wemple, the Washington Post‘s media columnist, wrote a piece in which he contacted some of the students who were on that 2019 field trip to Peru with McNeil, and who complained about him. The trip, by the way, cost over $5,000 per student; your parents would have had to be pretty well-off to send you on it. Here is what Wemple found:

Six students who participated in the trip told the Erik Wemple Blog a consistent story about McNeil’s comportment: He provided expertise about public health and science consistent with what the students had expected. When the structured discussions yielded to informal chatter about other topics, it was a different story. McNeil was brusque and difficult, they said, in keeping with his prickly reputation in the newsroom.

As for specifics:

  • Students largely confirmed in broad outlines McNeil’s account of the n-word fiasco. But they said that he uttered the epithet in a way that they perceived as casual, unnecessary or even gratuitous.
  • In a discussion of cultural appropriation, McNeil scoffed. Though the term applies to people in Western countries adopting fashions or other items from other cultures, McNeil offered the example of people all over the world eating imported Italian tomatoes, according to a student in attendance. What’s the problem with that?
  • Two students reported coming away with troubling impressions of McNeil’s view of white supremacy, with one of them claiming that he said it didn’t exist.
  • Speaking about high incarceration rates of African Americans, McNeil argued that if they engage in criminal activity, that’s on them, and not on an oppressive and racist power structure, recalls a trip participant who said that the comments were “triggering” to the group. The participant, however, said that McNeil’s opinions didn’t disparage African Americans.

A caveat: There were about 20 students on the trip and many conversations. This is not a comprehensive inventory. But the tensions between McNeil and the students — a predominantly White group with progressive sensibilities — led some participants to withdraw from interacting with him as the trip wore on.

So these were rich liberal white kids. An older white man questioned their woke assumptions about “cultural appropriation,” and that hurt their feelings. The older white man supposedly said that high incarceration rates among black Americans might be a result of high black crime rates, and not racism. Hey maybe he’s wrong about that, but that’s a debatable proposition — though not to these rich white progressive snowflakes, who were “triggered.” I would very much doubt that a New York Times reporter would deny that white supremacy exists, but I would imagine such a figure saying that it is not as ubiquitous as these teenagers think it is.

Over nit-picky crap like this, the Times cashiered an irreplaceable resource of science reporting expertise. That newspaper doesn’t want to be a newspaper anymore; it wants to be a day-care center to coddle woke crybabies.

Aaron Sibarium of the Washington Free Beacon peeked in on a private Times employee Facebook group, and reports on infighting there:

The Washington Free Beacon reviewed a series of postings to a Facebook group for current and former Times staffers, where a tense debate is unfolding over McNeil’s exit. One camp argues that his dismissal was justified and another asserts it set a troubling precedent, which the New York Times union should have done more to prevent.

“What ever happened to the notion of worker solidarity … to giving a fellow worker the benefit of the doubt,” asked Steven Greenhouse, who spent three decades covering labor issues for the Times. “And why didn’t the NewsGuild do far more to defend and protect the job of a long-time Times employee, one who at times did tireless, heroic work on behalf of the Guild to help improve pay and conditions for all NYT employees?” McNeil had excoriated management’s attempts to freeze pension plans in 2012, calling those involved “belligerent idiots.”

Times crossword columnist Deb Amlen accused Greenhouse of an excessive focus on the “perpetrator,” arguing that he and others should shift their attention to the people McNeil had “harmed.”

“Why is it that the focus in discussions like this almost always [is] on ruining the perpetrator’s life, and not those who were harmed by [his actions],” she asked. Reached for comment, Amlen told the Free Beacon this is a “private group” and that she would “appreciate it if you do not use anything I said or wrote.”

“Harmed.” When Sibarium reached out to Nikole Hannah-Jones for comment, she doxxed him by releasing his phone number onto Twitter, in violation of Twitter’s policy. But we know that nobody will ever hold Hannah-Jones responsible for her actions. She’s untouchable. After all, she runs The New York Times, and tells Dean Baquet and A.G. Sulzberger what to do — including, it appears, to fire an old white man after 45 years of service to the Times, and who happens to be one of the most valuable science reporters in the nation, for spurious ideological reasons.

What does this say about the Times‘s commitment to serious journalism? To providing its readers with the best possible coverage on urgently important news (McNeil was the lead Covid-19 reporter)? It is clearly more important to the Times leadership mollify the zealously woke screaming meemies in the newsroom than it is to serve the readers who pay the salaries of the whole lot.

What is it going to take for sane, serious people to regain control of The New York Times? 

 

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Disney Cancels The Mandalorian Star Gina Carano Over Provocative Social Media Posts: https://reason.com/2021/02/11/disney-cancels-the-mandalorian-star-gina-carano-over-provocative-social-media-posts/

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Gina Carano is a former MMA fighter, outspoken Republican, and co-star of Disney's The Mandalorian. On Wednesday, Lucasfilm—the Disney-owned studio that produces The Mandalorian and other Star Wars properties—denounced her social media posts and said there were no plans to include her in any future projects.

"Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future," said Lucasfilm in a statement. "Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable."

This statement apparently referenced a recent Instagram post of Carano's that did indeed contain a tortured and offensively hyperbolic analogy. Carano did not "denigrate people based on their cultural and religious identity," however. And while Disney is within its rights to cease working with an actress who occasionally makes provocative right-wing comments, it's impossible to ignore the double standard at play here, since similarly provocative statements from liberal Star Wars cast members have not resulted in any sanction.

Here is what Carano wrote on Instagram:

Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don't realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views.

This was a very flawed comment: For one thing, Nazi soldiers absolutely beat Jews, in the streets and elsewhere. Carano is right that part of the Nazis' agenda was to persuade German citizens to hate and fear their Jewish neighbors—but what happened in 1930s Germany is not remotely similar to what is happening today in the U.S. The Nazi Party's demonization of the Jewish people led to genocide. The media's demonization of the Republican Party—which is not directly referenced in her post, but it's assumed that's what she meant—is obviously not comparable to the Holocaust.

That said, Disney is wrong to say that Carano denigrated Jewish people, or that she is "abhorrent" for making such a comparison. She's a celebrity with an obnoxious political opinion, which is not exactly a rare animal.

And that's the bigger issue with Disney's decision to drop Carano: hypocrisy. If the studio doesn't want to work with actors and actresses who make over-the-top Nazi comparisons, it has a major problem on its hands: Pedro Pascal, the star and eponymous character of The Mandalorian, once sent a tweet likening Trump's immigration policies to Nazi concentration camps.

This is not so surprising: Hollywood is chock full of people with quirky political views making dramatic analogies. As Bloomberg's Eli Lake pointed out, Sean Penn is an apologist for former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez. Benicio del Toro dedicated an award to the memory of murderous Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. Nick Cannon praised Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a repugnant anti-Semite. (ViacomCBS fired Cannon for his remarks, but rehired him after he apologized.)

Carano has occasionally made other controversial comments: She has criticized universal masking and suggested that combating voter fraud should be a major part of the Republican agenda. Disney apparently abandoned plans to give Carano her own show following one such post back in November.

Some conservatives have called for a boycott of Disney following its decision. While I'm not the biggest fan of boycotts, it strikes me as reasonable for conservatives to be upset about this double standard. Why does Disney care more about Carano's dumb but relatively inconsequential Instagram post than it does about China's ethnic cleansing of the Uighur Muslims? If the company thinks "denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities" is abhorrent, then perhaps it shouldn't be working so closely with the Chinese Communist Party, which earned a "special thanks" in the credits of Mulan.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/10/2021 at 11:34 AM, swordfish said:

If you ain't black, don't even think of dropping the "N" word.....No matter the context.....

Unless your name is Lyndon B. Johnson. Probably the most racist president ever............until he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Then he was deemed a hero. Allegedly, after signing the new law, he turned to the two governors in the room and said to them..........."we'll have those n-----s voting democrat for the next 200 years." It's all about the vote. Always has been, always will be.

Last week, while at that gym, I was watching FOX and CNN side by side. While FOX was celebrating the start-up of high school sports on Long Island, CNN was promoting racism by marketing white on black crime. 

This morning, while FOX was focusing on the return of kids to the classrooms, CNN was promoting white on Asian hate crime. The more divided we become as a country, the more the Dem's have minorities wrapped around their finger. 

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Americans' Lust To 'Cancel' One Another Should Spark Soul Searching

https://reason.com/2021/02/19/americans-lust-to-cancel-one-another-should-spark-soul-searching/

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After annoying some progressive activists years ago over a column I wrote about a property dispute between a predominantly Latino school district and one of its neighbors, I had to sit through a meeting where I was questioned about my ethnic sensitivity. It was a weird feeling given that my column covered land-use matters and not race or nationality. Fortunately, my critics were polite and the editors had my back. Life went on.

Nevertheless, the incident provided a "note to self" moment. Imagine what can happen to those who say or write something that's too close to—or slightly over—the (ill-defined) line. I've published 200,000 words In recent years, canceling has become quite the phenomenon. It's the result of our overly politicized culture where many people like to shame and destroy their enemies. Since it seems that we're all now members of warring political tribes, there are plenty of enemies to go around. Social media platforms make that shaming process fast, fun, and easy.

Did you read about the 30-year-old executive who, before boarding a2013 flight from New York to South Africa in 2013, sent out snarky tweets from the airport? She joked about a German with body odor, Brits with bad teeth, and then—to her regret—let loose an offensive tweet about AIDS and Africa. Despite having only 170 followers, the tweet went viral. Her career and reputation were ruined by the time the flight landed in Cape Town.

Last week, we learned that The New York Times ousted a top reporter, 45-year veteran Donald McNeil Jr., after 150 fellow employees demanded his firing. They learned that he had used the N-word while representing the newspaper during a 2019 trip to Peru. In his apology, McNeil explained that he was "asked at dinner by a student whether I thought a classmate of hers should have been suspended for a video she had made as a 12-year-old in which she used a racial slur."

McNeil said he "asked if she had called someone else the slur or whether she was rapping or quoting a book title. In asking the question, I used the slur itself." The Times took an unyielding approach. "We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent," the newspaper's top editors said in explanation. No wonder so many normal, non-racist Americans are concerned about canceling.

Intent should always be a factor. Not that these incidents usually are judicial matters, but our legal system provides a guide. There are much stiffer penalties for those who plot an elaborate murder and for those who accidentally kill someone through recklessness or even by accident. If intent doesn't matter and due process is denied, then we all better clam up, keep our heads down, and not look at anyone the wrong way.

Certainly, private companies are free to set their own standards. I'm legally allowed to spend my weekends speaking at neo-Nazi rallies, publicly praying for an Islamic state, or organizing the local chapter of the Communist Party, but my employer has every right to dismiss my "at will" contract after learning about any of those activities. (Note: Do not call the editor or "cancel" your subscription. That was only a joke.)

Many of us, however, feel frustrated by the inconsistent standards. The Times embraced "zero tolerance" with McNeil, but took a different approach in 2018 when it hired Sarah Jeong, who had used the hashtag #CancelWhitePeople. Among her many odd tweets: "Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins?" I ponder the intent of that question.

What do we do? There are no simple answers, but we can embrace general guidelines. Canceling was designed to attack public figures. How about cutting non-public figures slack? Let's recognize a statute of limitations. Saturday Night Live featured a hilarious skit about cancel warriors who doxed 5-year-olds for their insensitive words. It should make us think twice before ruining someone's life because of a stupid teen-aged post.

Despite the Times' editors' arguments, I think intentions matter. So do apologies. And how about recognizing that punishments ought to fit the transgression? People who incite online mobs ride a moral high horse. Let's view them for what they really are: the online version of Mean Girls, who take perverse pleasure in humiliating others.

I'm not calling for policy or legal changes, but for Americans to do some soul-searching as they navigate a brave new social-media world where small mistakes can be telegraphed to millions. The bottom line: Let's be more forgiving and embrace a broader culture of open dialogue.

 

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Syracuse University Is Not ‘Okay’

https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/02/syracuse-university-is-not-okay/

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Have you ever configured your fingers in such a way that could signal your support for white supremacy and deny the humanity of your friends, colleagues, teammates, classmates, or other peers? I’d be surprised if you hadn’t.

Remember the Brett Kavanaugh hearings? Forgotten among all of the boofing, games of Devil’s Triangle, and careful examinations of the nominee’s high-school calendars is the pre–Christine Blasey Ford controversy touched off when a former clerk’s hand incidentally formed the “Okay” symbol behind Kavanaugh while he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Zina Gelman Bash, the clerk in question, is a Mexican-American Jew, so the idea that she would be spreading coded white-supremacist messages in Congress was always ridiculous on its face. Fortunately, while the very-online #Resistance crowd jumped all over her, even left-leaning outlets such as Vox acknowledged that the symbol’s occasional use by racists on 4chan did not mean that any and all use of it should be seen as racist.

After all, even Democrats such as President Biden and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have used the gesture in the past. And why wouldn’t they? Few Americans spend their time monitoring shady Internet forums to find out what words, phrases, and symbols the fringes are trying to appropriate. Fewer still believe that the fringes should be ceded whatever it is they’re trying to appropriate without so much as a fight. After all, the “Okay” symbol has an actual purpose — and an important one in the context of activities such as scuba diving. Why should we rewrite all of our society’s rules and regulations to accommodate a small number of vile lunatics? They don’t deserve that kind of power.

Most college students — or at least those at Syracuse University — seem to disagree, though. On Tuesday, a member of the women’s lacrosse team posted a picture of her making the “Okay” sign on her leg on the team’s Instagram page. Big mistake. Before you could say “Okay” ten times fast, the outrage mob was off to the races, insisting that the post was at best obtuse and offensive, and at worst a sure sign of bigotry and a toxic atmosphere on the team.

 

The mob’s power play worked, and the team released one of the most self-flagellating statements you’ll ever read. It begins:

Yesterday, as part of a social media campaign, a player on our team was “taking over” our Instagram account. One of the posts included a hand gesture that is interpreted by some as a white supremacy sign. The image was a background to a question sticker, but the hand gesture in question was clearly visible. Though it was never intended to do so, this justifiably offended and upset some.

Even this goes much too far. Was all of the offense and anger really justified? Was there any supporting evidence to suggest that the student who made the post even knew that the OK symbol was sometimes appropriated by hate groups, much less that she was using it with similarly bigoted intentions? No, but sadly, the statement gets much, much worse. It goes on to call the post “an unacceptable lapse in judgment and lack of awareness on the part of our entire team,” apologize for being “negligent and hurt[ing] people in the community we love so much,” and insist that the team is “grateful that the lacrosse community has held us accountable.”

Is it the responsibility of every American citizen over the age of 18 to monitor white-supremacist sites and understand their intricacies? How, exactly, is the rest of the team complicit in this supposed atrocity? Was anyone really hurt?

Most disturbing is the “thank you, sir, may I have another”–ism on display in the bit about being held “accountable.” What is it that they’re being held accountable for, and by whom? I, for one, do not appreciate the team’s inviting the mob to hold the rest of us accountable to its nebulous, ever-evolving standards by subjecting us to an endless torrent of online harassment.

To be clear, I don’t blame the students on the team for bowing so quickly and so low to the mob at their doorstep. I doubt very much that they wrote the statement released on their behalf, and would venture to guess that at least some of them are not happy with its contents. The culpability lies with the adults who threw these young women under the bus without a second thought to make their own lives just a little bit easier. Head coach Gary Gait, for example, is one of the sport’s most revered figures. Yet he did nothing to stand up for the team, instead calling the post a “mistake” and consenting to the tarnishing of the players he’s paid to mentor and protect. This is part of a larger trend of powerful adults and institutions failing in their obligation to shield the powerless from unfair criticism and unjustifiable consequences.

There’s only one word for it: cowardice.

 

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