Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s recent comments about the Holocaust have a whole lot of people up in arms. The truth is that she is more about Palestine than anything else, but oddly enough many Muslims have accused her of “not being Muslim enough.”
In any case, her comments were weird and oddly phrased, and yes, they were offensive. Given the opportunity to clarify what she meant, she simply repeated them again and then proclaimed that anybody who disagrees with her is a 4th grad racist.
Which, in my mind, is the bigger offense. The idea that a member of Congress doesn’t understand that calling people who disagree with you names is offensive makes me sad. And worried about what happens next…
The weeping and gnashing of teeth over the demise of the study of History continues. But in a completely unrelated story, the younger generations aren’t just not reading, they lack critical reading skills.
Now… on the one hand, this is hyperbole. The same complaint was made of my generation (Baby Boomers), my wife’s (GenX)*. At the same time, I cannot really argue with the folks on the front lines, who say that it’s all true and that kids entering college today are basically illiterate.
The question is simply this: is the reason people aren’t learning or even studying history because they can’t (or won’t read?
*Before you get all crazy, I was born in 63, she was born in 67. I am a “Tail End Boomer,” while she is a first of the Gen Xers. There’s no weird robbing the cradle here, although when I graduated she was in the 7th grade…
n a corner exhibit of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., which opens this weekend, a submarine control panel, a swoopy-banged wig, detailed whiteprints and a chunk of manganese are on display. Together, they represent relics of a Cold War espionage mission so audacious, the museum’s curator, Vince Houghton, compares it to the heist from Ocean’s 11. This mission, codenamed Project Azorian, involved the C.I.A. commissioning the construction of a 600-foot ship to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine from the ocean floor—all in complete secrecy. “I can’t imagine there’s another country in the world that would have thought, ‘We found a Soviet submarine, under [more than three miles] of water. Let’s go steal it,’ says…
Most of us have long ago said that we believe that Facebook and Twitter (and other Social Media platforms) have the “right” to ban whomever they please, because, “it’s not a First Amendment issue.” In fact, even Trump’s legal team seems to agree with this position.
But solely for the purpose of careful consideration of the ENTIRE issue, let us consider a few things that haven’t gotten much discussion, at least as far as I can find.
Social Media platforms, along with media websites and other types of socially interactive online sites are exempt under section 230 of USC §47 from being held liable for comments (speech) which is shared on the sites in the form of comments and/or posts. The platforms cannot be held legally or financially liable for the users’ inputs, including, by the by, “Main Stream Media” sites such as newspaper comment sections.
Now, again, let us be clear, the Platforms themselves are not the government. I believe that we all agree that given that circumstance, they are free to allow or disallow participation as they see fit. So, banning Alex Jones or Louis Farrakhan or shadow banning Devin’s Cow might be a bad business plan and result in customer blowback, but it is allowable. whether or not they should do it is another matter.
But… let us consider some things here:
USC §47 section 230 is a law, passed by Congress which exempts Social Media and Web Sites from being held liable for the end user comments (speech).
Two leading Congress Members* (and One Cow**) have recently publically declared that if the platforms will not eliminate speech which they find objectionable they will push for the Congress to pass a law which will repeal section 230 of USC §47, thus removing the exemption for Facebook, Twitter, and other web platforms which allow users to participate in the form of comments and/or posts, and making them responsible for the potential fallout from such comments and/or posts.
Did you hear what I said? Congress shall pass a law which causes the free speech of commenter’s to be “chilled” by punishing the platforms which allow it for whatever the commenters may say or presumably do.
“USS Halford (DD-480). Men swimming from the ship, in the South Pacific, 8 May 1944.”
A Fletcher-class destroyer, Halford was built by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and commissioned on 10 April 1943. Sailing straight for Guadalcanal, she was in the thick of the Pacific War and from Dec. 1943 to Sept 1945– just 22 months, she earned an impressive 13 battle stars. Decommissioned 15 May 1946, she went into mothballs at the ripe old age of three and was scrapped in 1970.
I have some vague memories from an earlier age about the man who was credited with writing the National Anthem. I have even been to a number of the locations where he lived and where he wrote the famous verses that would someday become one of the most memorable songs of the country’s history. So it was interesting to read a more complex history of his life.
In the day and age we live with, I believe there would have been massive protests about the use of his name. His views on slavery were complicated but very much in line with the times in which he lived. A slave owner at one point in his life, he later went on to free those slaves and advocate against slavery while at the same time warning the country against the abolitionists. As I said, he was complicated.
What is the difference between something that is “Important” and something that is “Urgent?”
Our own biases, both pattern and cognitive, often prevent us from telling the difference. In a world where pretty much everything is conducted in “HOLY HELL, THIS IS A FIRE!” Mode, it has become even more important to be able to tell the difference. Or at least have an idea of whether or not something requires your complete attention or is just… well… noise.
We humans are experts at recognizing patterns. It’s called “pattern bias” and it is an evolutionary gift that has allowed us to know when to plant crops; when to move to higher ground; when to bundle up and even detect potential danger. The problem with pattern bias is that as often as not, we see patterns that aren’t really there. Instead of investigating and confirming them, we simply accept them as a fact. So in today’s world, when it’s unlikely that a tiger is going to leap out of the foliage and eat you, our natural tendency to look for patterns leads us into other areas. And in our society, the constant bombardment of a cacophony of informational noise serves to fulfill our evolutionary need to look for patterns.
What do I mean? Let’s take a look at my News App* this morning and see what we can learn…
*For the record, I use “SmartNews.” It advertises itself as “unbiased” and for whatever it’s worth, most of the rating places feel it is such. I find it overly busy, requiring a lot of scrolling to get through the stories AND there is almost no mechanism for returning to a story after a push update. I also question the term “unbiased,” although in today’s world that has come to mean “approved news stories.” Overall, as it is free it’s worth what I paid for it, and it is useful to a degree. But I prefer to use my own RSS feeds that I have built through the years.