The day got off to a grand start when the first thing that came up on TV was the ending of John Wayne’s “True Grit.” When the Coen Brothers did their (dark) remake starring Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, I wondered which version would survive as the definitive one. Sometimes remakes of classic films obliterate the originals, like “The Thing,” or “Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.” Sometimes the original films are so obviously superior that the remake just vanishes. Sometimes it should vanish, but doesn’t, like the ugly “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” created by Tim Burton. Both “True Grit’s ” are excellent, but so far, at least, the Duke’s Oscar-willing performance has prevailed. Good.
1. From the “You can’t fool all of the people all the time, especially if you’re a callow, arrogant fool” files: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offended an audience made up predominantly of African Americans when she slipped into assumed regional slang to lecture them about the dignity of menial jobs for life
“I’m proud to be a bartender, ain’t nothing wrong with that!” Ocasio-Cortez proclaimed. [CORRECTION NOTE: Originally, the version of this statement I had was an Ebonics-fest that I got off of a tweet from an attendee. This was incorrect: thanks to Chris Marschner for the fact check.]
Actually, the real offense was her content, not her delivery. This is communist cant for the proles: don’t aspire to more than your hum-drum jobs, for you are serving the greater good (and your superior overlords). That’s not the American values system, or American culture, which encourages productive dissatisfaction, personal initiative, and determination to be better and do better.
2. I knew Harvard wouldn’t be able to duck the college admission scandal! Harvard has launched an “independent investigation” into a series of suspicious events that occurred in 2016. Wealthy businessman Jie “Jack” Zhaopaid inexplicably paid $989,500 for a home in the Boston suburbs that was valued at only $549,300. Seventeen months later he sold that home for $665,000, for a loss of $324,000.
The home he purchased was being sold by famed Harvard fencing coach Peter Brand, who was already coaching Zhoapaid’s older Harvard undergrad son, Eric. Brand and his wife purchased a $1.3 million condominium in Cambridge a week after their house was sold to Zhao that just coincidentally had been listed at $989,000, nearly the exact the amount ($989,500) Brand had been paid by Zhao. Shortly thereafter, Zhao’s younger son, Edward, was admitted into Harvard as a student-athlete and member of the fencing team.
Coincidences! It’s all coincidences and circumstantial evidence! Zhao insists that his real estate transactions were completely unrelated to Harvard’s admissions process.
Sure. At very least, Brand should be fired for this multiple conflict of interest scenario and creating an appearance of impropriety damaging to the university.
3. This is what George Will calls “condign justice”... A Nashville woman had dated Gregory Cole for four years until he accidentally butt-dialed her in the midst of a sexual encounter with a man, though Cole had always represented himself as strictly heterosexual. She listened to the whole call, which included explicit sexual conversation and vivid narration of various, uh, actions. The call lasted 1 hour and 28 minutes. Cole’s now ex-girl friend got tested, and learned she was infected with HSV-2, genital herpes, which is incurable. She has now filed a lawsuit against Cole seeking $1 million, alleging battery, infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and fraud.
Good. THAT’s betrayal, and no, she shouldn’t forgive him.
I must add, however, that butt-call ethics require that the one who receives such a call immediately hang up . In this case, however, it’s a good thing she didn’t.
4. More from our moral superiors Down Under: Knee-jerking to the March 15 attacks in Christchurch in which a white supremacist used a helmet-mounted camera to stream on Facebook his massacre of worshippers in two New Zealand mosques, Australia’s Parliament passed legislation this week holding social media executives criminally liable if their platforms stream real violence.
“Together we must act to ensure that perpetrators and their accomplices cannot leverage online platforms for the purpose of spreading their violent and extreme propaganda — these platforms should not be weaponized for evil,” Attorney General Christian Porter told Parliament while introducing the bill, which was passed without the usual procedure of a committee scrutinizing its content first.
The law makes it a crime for social media platforms not to remove “abhorrent violent material” quickly, and such negligence will be punishable by three years in prison and a fine of 10.5 million Australian dollars ($7.5 million), or 10% of the platform’s annual turnover, whichever is larger. The law defines as “abhorrent violent material” acts of terrorism, murder, attempted murder, torture, rape and kidnapping. The material must be recorded by the perpetrator or an accomplice for the law to apply. Platforms anywhere in the world would face fines of up to AU$840,000 ($597,500) if they fail to notify Australian Federal Police if they are aware their service was streaming “abhorrent violent conduct” occurring in Australia.
Objecting to the measure, Arthur Moses, president of the Australian Law Council, the Australian ABA, said the law could lead to media censorship—gee, ya think?— and prevent whistleblowers from using social media to expose atrocities
Executives of Facebook, Google, Twitter, internet service providers and Australian phone companies had met with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and three ministers last week to discuss proposed social media regulation. Facebook apparently “did not present any immediate solutions to the issues arising out of the horror that occurred in Christchurch.”
The solution is to focus on the criminals and the crime, not on hiding it. I see no block on the slippery slope from making real-life transmissions of violence illegal to making social media portrayals of fictional violence equally punishable, and then the portrayals themselves.
The frightening aspect of this story is how many Americans, ignorant of their own Constitution and the essential role the First Amendment plays in keeping us free, will applaud this law. We know Christiane Amanpour will approve of.
I would guess that most of the totalitarian-trending, anti-Second Amendment Democratic Presidential wannabes will cheer it on as well. And at Fark, the snarky news aggregator with 21st Century sensibilities, the story is tagged, “Cool.”