Jan
11

Racist or Misanthrope? You Make The Call

The NAACP claims I posted a racist image and has called me out for it. The accusation has made the news. Now bloggers have weighed it. So am I a racist?

I guess I am if you think that being a racist means not recognizing the claims of people of color for special treatment on account of their unique history in the United States.

I guess I am also a misogynist if you think that means I don’t recognize the claims of women for special treatment based on their unique history. But the broader truth is that I am a misanthrope.

I don’t trust folks of all races, genders, or gender identities. I don’t trust them when they claim that my status as white male means I possess a “privilege.” These claims are usually cast as calls for distributive justice. “Give me more,” the claimants say, because I or my ancestors have had less. I am certainly not a white supremacist. I firmly believed all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

If you are reading this, you are probably aware that the NAACP “condemned” me, according to the headlines in newspapers, for posting a “racist” image on Facebook. The image was of three Coors beer cans wearing hoods gathered around a brown beer bottle in a noose. Ku Klux Coors, I called it.

Racism, said the Klan.

Facebook censored the material, a factor that led me to quit Facebook.

Why would I post such a thing? I think identity politics is a cancer. I am a white heterosexual male. I don’t owe people of color, women, transgenders or others a thing on account of my status. I’ll spare no effort to poke at those who think I do. That’s because I am a misanthrope, and believe there is little more dangerous than a self-righteous mob.

So why Ku Klux Coors? Because when the living claim that because “their” history reflects lynchings decades and generations ago the living are entitled to some special solicitude, I cry “bullshit.”

History is littered with the injuries humankind have done to one another. Claims of special status today because of yesteryear’s injustice is simply a way of playing spin the bottle with history.

I was wondered what kind of reception I’d receive in courts after the NAACP attack on me. Some folks avoided me. But a surprising number of folks approached me to thank me for calling out unctuous race pandering. “Things are getting out of hand,” one white man told me. I won’t mention what sort of uniform he wore. He was worried that if I identified him, he’d suffer repercussions. I had the same sort of conversation with a judge, with a radio personality and with others.

In the PC wars waging around us today folks are suddenly afraid of their shadows -- and the color of their skin. God forbid we offend a woman by not believing her. God forbid we don’t show solicitude to the descendant of slaves. God forbid that we don’t celebrate diversity for diversity’s sake. Suddenly, it’s suspect to be a white male.

Forgive if I decline to cower.

Sadly, I’ve seen young millennials express mockery over white male victimhood. Slowly, and by imperceptible degree, its becoming the new normal to regard white males as the possessors of privilege they must be compelled to yield. I call bullshit.

Martin Luther King transfixed a nation by speaking of a nation in which people were judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Our new identity politicians are taking the cowards way out. Blame the white dude – we’ve kept women down, oppressed people of color, and so forth. Is that your hand in my pocket?

Several years ago, I spoke at a public forum. After I spoke, a black politician told the largely African-American audience that “white people need to shut up and listen.” I was stunned. Had a white man said that to people of color it would cause a scandal. When the politico spoke, however, he appealed to a dawning sense of racial entitlement. I am not buying it.

I represent people of color, even though I don’t trust black race panderers. I represent Moslems, even though I am an Islamophobe and believe that the Islam and Western liberalism don’t mix. I represent women, even though I don’t believe them just because of their gender.

No one is entitled to solicitude on account of their identity. That’s a subtle form of idolatry, of the pot saying to the potter, why maketh me so?

I am a misanthrope afraid of self-righteous mobs. The mobs that scare me most now are the mobs of identity politicians. Politics is now pathos, with a new victim crowned as often as possible. Does that make me a racist? If you insist.

But  if that is your claim, you are little more than a race-, gender-, diversity-panderer. I’ll mock your pretensions every time.

And that, my friends, is why I though Ku Klux Coors was well-worth posting, even if I won't be posting it, or anything else, on Facebook.


Jan
10

Saying Farewell To Facebook's Digitopia

It turns out that I am not the only person to notice the recent increase in Facebook censorship. Just yesterday I learned that a lawyer in California who posted something about his willingness to defend people's right to bear arms had his post removed because it violated Facebook's opaque standards. Are we entering a period of "Latte Liberalism," with 20-somethings deciding what is and is not acceptable from a cocoon in Silicon Valley?

Under pressure from Congress and others after disclosures that Facebook has sold the data it harvested from its users to various entities, including Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg announced last year that Facebook would soon enforce new community standards rules. Those rules seem to have gone into effect within the past two weeks.

Until Tuesday morning of this week, I was a Facebook user. I had about 5,000 friends. They were of all races and political persuasions. Conversations on Facebook were often raw and raucous. I like it that way. I’d keep folks around until their personal attacks on me were more annoying than entertaining.

A few weeks ago, the conservatives on the page began to complain to me in private notes that they were frequently censored. I engaged in an experiment. I’d repost some of what they said on my page. I got censored, too. Paradoxically, however, not all comments censored on others’ pages was censored on mine. And some comments censored on my page, weren’t censored on the pages of others.

The algorithm doing the censoring is apparently sensitive to who the user is.

It’s eerie and offensive. Just who is deciding who can speak and who cannot?

I was mulling all this as I read Jaron Lanier’s new book, Ten Reasons For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. He makes a persuasive argument.

Facebook harvests data from its users. It monitors what you like, what you look at, how long you look at it, and its computer, which, by the way, never gets hacked, creates a profile about you. The computer’s algorithm then compares your profile to the profiles of others. The result is sophisticated marketing tool: you are grouped with others who behave similarly. That data is then sold, at great profit, to third parties who want to manipulate you either to vote, purchase or behave in a certain way.

It’s kind of creepy. A digitopia in which a few people get rich manipulating we digital sheep.

Creepy but not so creepy that I was prepared to pull the plug on Facebook.

What set me over the edge was the censorship. I suppose I didn’t mind being data harvested and manipulated. The benefits of Facebook participation – raucous discussion, irreverent humor, poking fun at sacred cows – outweighed the costs.

But then I got a note from a Facebook friend. A photo had been censored from his page. It was a photograph of three Coors beer cans with paper coned hoods gathered around a brown bottle hanging from a noose. It was a beer bottle lynching. This offended the Facebook Community Standards policy.

I was incredulous. The photo was funny, even if offensive. Was this an example of the censor picking on a person or a topic? I reposted the image on my page under a caption: Ku Klux Coors.

All hell broke loose. Persons of color and liberals found it offensive; conservatives found it humorous in a sophomoric way. By morning the censors had deleted the photo. Moments later, I deleted my page.

It’s one thing to be digitally pimped to mysterious corporate and governmental entities. It is quite another to be taken advantage of and also be told what can and cannot be said.

Hours later, I learned the local NAACP and fellow travelers were so outraged by what I had posted they were hoping to have me criminally prosecuted, my law license attacked, and whatever other mayhem they could produce. (They did a press release “condemning” me. To which I say, “Back at you, bro.”)

All at once, I wished I had left my page up, simply to respond.

There is no mob quite so dangerous as a self-righteous mob.

Facebook is not the government. We have no first amendment right to speak on the forum. It can limit the terms and conditions of our engagement.

But I’ll be damned if I will participate in a social media site that tells me “come hither” for free, mines my data, sells the data for profit to others so that I can be manipulated by strangers, and then tells me what I can and cannot say.

I am done with Facebook.

You should be, too.

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About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis

Disclaimer:

Nothing in this blog should be considered legal advice about your case. You need a lawyer who understands the context of your life and situation. What are offered here are merely suggested lines of inquiry you may explore with your lawyer.

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