Monday, October 29, 2018

Yelling 'Fire' in a Crowded Theater? Not Exactly

It's been a weird day... I worked until about 6AM, then went home for a long nap, having to get up at 2PM to return to work. At work, I spoke to two of my Jewish friends and co-workers, who both have relatives who are congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, none of whom were harmed, baruch hashem. I was then reminded that the brother of another friend of mine, who had moved to Pittsburgh for grad school decades ago and decided to stay, was a congregant at the synagogue. He was not present for the massacre. I imagine that, if I were to poll my Jewish friends here in New York, that most of them would know congregants of the synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

After this sobering rundown on the situation of my friends' friends and loved ones, I began to indulge in a bit of Schadenfreude by checking out the downfall and probable demise of the platform, which I have been fascinated, and repelled, by for the past year. From its inception, the social networking site has been a haven for trolls and neo-nazis, misogynists and racists... oh my! Their debut on the world stage occurred this past weekend when the synagogue shooter made a cryptic announcement that he was 'going in'. Since the massacre, the Gab spokescreeps have been overactive on Twitter, oddly enough, with a litany of whinging and self-righteous twaddle. In one particularly ludicrous assertion, the Gab CEO claimed to have been 'proactive' regarding the shooter, yet this was after the massacre.

The usual cliche for describing the limits of free speech is yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater, but in this instance, the person is yelling 'burn down the theater with those people inside'.

That being said, I believe that the efforts to deplatform Gab are not really the answer- the entire right-wing media apparatus has been pushing the 'caravan' narrative that pushed the shooter over the edge, and Gab is just small potatoes compared to Fox, Sinclair, and the like.

Besides reading up on the Gab saga, I have been, in the runup to Halloween, been watching classic B horror movies, particularly those starring Bastard fave Vincent Price. Poking around the t00bz, I have found two great PSAs by Vincent Price regarding bigotry, the first from 1947:

The second from 1950:

For a guy who relished playing villains, he sure was a good man.

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