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Baby Elephant Stomp [Dec. 21st, 2011|01:22 am]
[Current Mood |annoyed]

Tonight the local news reported--with a screen shot of the tweet in question--that the president of the GOP's student club at the University of Texas, Cassandra Wright, had sent out a rude and slanderous tweet about Barack Obama, to wit: "My president is black, he snorts a lot of crack. Holla!”    Cassandra is, by the way, white and blonde and cute as a button in her picture   She's the second student GOP prez to spout off on Twitter...the one before her, Lauren Pierce,  considered that it was "tempting" to Republican students to shoot Obama.  Lauren is also white, blonde, and pretty.   Cassandra (or Cassie as she prefers to be called) and Lauren both thought Lauren's tweet was just a joke, something to giggle about,  just freedom of speech...which is why I have a pang of sympathy for Cassie's grandmother, quoted as saying she didn't think her granddaughter would write something like that.  No, sorry, ma'am, but Cassie's already demonstrated a lack of common sense and political awareness that makes her tweet all too believably hers. 

Young Republicans learn political behavior from older Republicans, and it's clear Cassie and Lauren (and maybe the rest of the club) are following in the footsteps of the divisive, the racist, the fact-avoidant, those who confuse sound-bites with facts, rumors with truth, insults with cleverness, and whose behavior is roughly on the level of third-to-fifth grade mean-girls' cliques.   They expect their behavior to be excused--to be laughed off indulgently--because they are who they are.  They don't expect to be held accountable (and it's hard to hold a Republican accountable...you cannot get most of them to face facts and add two and two.)   (It is worth noting that the Elephants are exquisitely sensitive to criticism from the other side, and cry foul and politicizing as if their toenails were being pulled out.)   But still--these young women aren't children anymore, and they should be learning how to assess sources,  how to assess the logic of someone's argument,  etc.    Beyond that, they're plenty old enough to learn that some forms of discourse make diverse communities stronger and some do not.   They're old enough to find for themselves (since their parents and culture so far have not handed one on) a value system that puts the health of a community above the giggle-content of a snarky remark.   They have had, in college, the opportunity to learn to think...and clearly they have not.   

Lauren Pierce did issue a rather weasel-like apology for her tweet (saying it was "tasteless"--no, dear, it was actionable if you'd said it in a line at an airport.  Where joking about things like shooting presidents or wanting to shoot presidents gets you yanked off your flight and into a windowless room.)   She gets five points out of a hundred for that, though, because it was probably the best she could do.  Cassie Wright, so far, has no points on the board.   She's not saying anything (and nor is the student Republican club...you'd think someone would have the guts to say  something.)

So here's the thing, Misses Pierce and Wright:  it's past time to grow up.    Understand that you don't live in the protective bubble of Elephantine isolation when you engage in social media.   You can say whatever you want--but others can say whatever they want about what you said.   Not just other Elephants patting you on the back for being clever, but...everybody. 


[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-23 05:13 am (UTC)
I'm uncertain of your point here. Yes, flamewars and pile-ons are typical of the internet. Been flamed and piled on more than once, and those who did so thought they were justified. Anyone who posts anything but puppies and kittens and rainbows on the internet is likely to get flamed by someone...and Miss Wright is of a generation that has had internet access since at least middle school. So...she knows about things going viral. When it happened to her friend Miss Pierce, she thought it was funny. That kind of takes her out of the innocent victim category, even if she does get piled on.

Are you suggesting that the media should not have reported this? That it should have been politely ignored on the grounds that the poor little thing didn't really mean anything by it? If that is your position, I can't agree. The resurgence of open racism is highly troubling, and along with the predominantly right-wing hate-mongering aimed at immigrants, gays, homeless, etc. suggests to me that all such instances should be reported.

From my point of view--as an old woman, as a mother, as a veteran, as a citizen of this country--I find Miss Wright's behavior in both instances--her reaction to Miss Pierce's tweet and the public reaction to it, and her own tweet--appalling. It's not that she dislikes or disagrees with President Obama; it's that she expressed her dislike in a combination of racism and slander, and quite obviously thought she was being clever.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2011-12-23 06:47 am (UTC)

Re: pardon me, anon was me!

Well...her parents/parents' associates/legal staff can now instruct her in appropriate discretion, and while it may limit some options for awhile, it probably won't forever. There are enough people who agree with her (especially in a red state) that she'll likely have no real problem finding a spouse or a job--though maybe not the ones she wants most. Depends on whether she was actually contemplating hooking up to a political hotshot.

But you're right that the internet's various traits do make large pile-ons much more likely, and more lasting, than back when I was in college. It was much easier for prominent families to disappear indiscretions back then, and even in non-prominent families, the audience for idiocy was just not that large, usually. Thinking of my high school class...most of us had no way to get even 15 seconds of fame locally, let alone nationally or internationally, whereas now any kid might be the next viral YouTube video by doing something stupid in a spectacular way.
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