Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, Racist Hate….and The Dick Van Dyke Show

Forget what your dad is telling you, kid: listen to Buddy.

Forget what your dad is telling you, kid: listen to Buddy.

Question: If Ta-Nehisi Coates’ racist and hateful, anti-white, anti-US essay for The Atlantic is respectable public discourse, why isn’t Dylan Roof’s manifesto?

I think it is fair to that we know what the standards, or rather double standards, are in Barack Obama’s America. We have repeatedly been told by progressive activists that “hate speech” either isn’t or shouldn’t be protected by the Constitution, but the essay “Letter to My Son” by a regular Atlantic contributor, published by the magazine as literature, shows that “hate speech” is a narrower category in the progressive universe than its catchy name would suggest. Pompous, pretentious, labored, and smug anti-white, anti-American speech isn’t hate, apparently, but rather wisdom.

I just want to know what the rules are now.

Blogger/law professor Ann Althouse threw a link to the long piece by Coates to her readers without comment, as is often her technique. Actually, she highlighted a comment to the essay by one of the readers of Metafilter, who gushed,

I sat in the parking lot of my gym for 30 minutes reading that amazing, amazing piece. I’m rendered inarticulate by its power, by its purpose, by how fucking important it is and how I wish every person in this country would read it and really hear what he’s saying. And, just, goddamn. It’s so good. It references MLK in the same breath as Wu-Tang, and it’s all woven together so fucking effortlessly, but the references aren’t winky nods to pop culture, they’re buttressing an argument that is already so strong and undeniable and.

Althouse left off the last line, which was…

God. I know this sounds hyperbolic, but fucking hell, I hope this letter is taught in civics classes and literature classes for decades to come.

The Professor is correct: the positive reactions to this monstrosity are at least as fascinating as the essay itself. Read it all the way through, if you can. I found the long article extremely hard to get through. The prose is the sort of over-worked, straining-to-be-poetic slog that black revolutionaries and poets of the Sixties used to excel at, often from prison; Eddie Murphy did some hilarious imitations of them. Style and pretentiousness aside, the essay is tragic, frustrating and deeply sad: if this or anything even close to this is a common state of mind among African Americans, then it is small wonder progress in U.S. race relations is regressing. Continue reading

Unethical Website of the Month: Million Hoodies Movement for Justice

Different hoodies, different races, same ethics...

Different hoodies, different races, same ethics…

Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is, in its own way, as racist as “Chimpmania,” and, I would argue, far more harmful.

The Chimpmania racists live on the margins of respectable civilization. They are the direct ideological descendants of those who wore hoods and lynched blacks in the South, but they operate in the shadows. Their hateful words and beliefs are almost universally recognized for what they are, the product of ignorance. The vast majority of Americans of any race or creed would be mortified to be associated with the site, or with anyone who read it.

In contrast, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice projects the sheen of respectability, and aims to advance legitimate, if debatable causes: the elimination of police militarization, and the banning of profiling. It is, however, as racist in its assumptions about whites as Chimpmania is regarding African-Americans, just more subtle. Continue reading

Blog Moderation Ethics: The Racists Come To Ethics Alarms

I went into this with my eyes open, so I am accountable.

The left's favorite racist, Woodrow Wilson.

The U.S.’s  favorite racist, Woodrow Wilson.

When I poked the hornets nest of the nauseating racist website Chimpmania, I knew I risked having  Ethics Alarms being descended upon by the ideological clones of Simon Legree and Woodrow Wilson. My routine response would be to nix such posts, as I similarly make sure other vile screeds never see the light of a laptop.

However, the Ethics Alarms post in question was about the importance of not censoring vile websites, because of the First Amendment, naturally, but also because people with unethical views are more dangerous when they hide in the shadows. It is important that we know about them and their thought processes; sometimes, with persuasion and patience, we can even bring them back to civilization. It is also important that we consider and understand how such individuals came to have their humanity so darkened and warped.

I am not the government: like Facebook, Ethics Alarms is not obligated by law or principle to allow every comment, no matter how offensive, to be seen and read.  To the contrary, it is obligated to maintain an environment  conducive to productive ethics discourse, enlightenment and debate. In this case, however, I recognized the apparent hypocrisy of extolling the benefits of allowing racists to roam free on the web while personally censoring the comments from the very same racists whose rights the original post was defending. Continue reading

Unethical Website of the Month: Chimpmania…And The Unethical Petition Opposing It

CensorshipA good friend sent me a link to a Change.org petition put up by Heidie Stanton-Sharpe of Mukilteo, Washington, suggesting that I sign it. Heidi had announced that she wanted to take down a website called Chimpmania, writing,

“This website spews hatred and promotes violence against people of color. It targeted my family and posted pictures of my children. It is vile and extreme and if the internet is an international forum we should have regulations about promoting violence against people. It’s not humane, it’s barbaric and there is no place for that type of behavior anywhere in society and most definitely not on a public forum.”

Heidi did not articulate a legal or Constitutional justification for closing down a website (because there is none) , and I was surprised that my friend would support such an effort. Spewing hatred is acceptable free speech for the most part. I think the Daily Kos  and right wing talk show host Mark Levin spew hatred, but I’ll defend to the death their right to do spew it.  “Promoting violence” has to become threatening and genuinely illegal before it qualifies as conduct that can justify censorship; what is inhumane and barbaric is a matter of opinion. Being in the mood to flag civic ignorance as I watched live feeds of a responsible, brave, unquestionably correct jury verdict in the Zimmerman case being protested around the country, I started to write my friend a little primer on the First Amendment. I decided to check out the website in question first, though, and “Cowabunga!” as Bart Simpson used to say* in such situations. Chimpmania is one ugly, hateful racist website. Continue reading