Common Sense with Dominick Bonny – Hate, Inc. Part 2

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This week host Dominick Bonny talks to a local man who was the target of a hate symbol directed at him. He proposes a way to make the internet and therefore society more tolerant and functional for all.

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Common Sense with Dominick Bonny – Hate, Inc. Part 2 Transcript and Sources

PART 1

Welcome to Common Sense, I’m Dominick Bonny and I want to pick up where I left off last week, which is what happens when toxic masculinity, toxic online culture and toxic gun culture combine. In today’s episode I am going to continue to examine the modern industrial hate complex online, also known as social media, talk to a local man who has been personally affected by a symbol of hate directed at him, and propose some common-sense measures to make the internet less awful, our society more functional and us – dare I say – happier? 

But first I want to clarify a few things for anyone who might be confused as to the nature of this program. While I cover news topics and also give my opinion about them, I try to do so in the most entertaining way possible. Because let’s face it, who wants to watch a boring snoozefest hosted by someone completely lacking charisma? Not me, and I’m sure you don’t either. Covering the news and giving my analysis and opinions would make me a columnist if I was writing for a newspaper, but this is a visual medium and I can do much more with this program than I can with a blank piece of paper. For instance, I can wave my hand and show you a duck! Can’t do that in a newspaper. So in addition to being an opinion columnist, I am also an entertainer. Why do I want to make that clear? Well, if there’s one thing Rush Limbaugh taught us over the course of his career it’s that if you call yourself an entertainer you can say absolutely anything and not be held to any standards. So there you go. This is a news and opinion show and I am an entertainer. Therefore I can follow in Rush’s footsteps and say whatever I want. Now, all kidding aside I will get serious here for a moment and reveal the actual animating spirit behind this program. It’s not to troll right-wing extremists or the lukewarm left that has become so woke it forgot that people living in poverty have more common interests than divergent ones, regardless of skin color. While that is fun, I can do that from anywhere. The point is also not to change anyone’s opinions. I am not so naive that I think that’s even possible to change peoples’ minds with reason, logic, facts and data. No, what I trying to do here is to perform some of the duties of the fourth estate before half the media establishment was castrated by a both-sides standard that is impossible to maintain and the rest became lapdogs of one special interest or another, whether that be a political party, Wall Street or whatever. When functioning properly, the fourth estate, or the media, or whatever you want to call it, holds leaders accountable and helps chart a path forward for society using critical thinking, by asking questions and educating the populace. At its best, the fourth estate functions much like the philosophers of the ancient world, who helped society and its leaders chart a proper course because they were the only ones with the knowledge to rule justly. The philosopher Plato used the metaphor of the ship to explain this concept. The shipowner is the general population, but they have no knowledge of seafaring. The sailors represent politicians, who vie with each other over who gets to steer the ship. But it’s the navigator, who represents the philosopher, who is not involved in the struggle for power, who has the ability and the freedom to study the stars, consider the alternatives and advise the rest of society on the best path forward. It’s philosophers, not politicians, that successful ancient societies gave deference to. Remember that politicians are not kings, and they are definitely not the ship owners. They exist to serve you, the people. As Mark Twain is frequently credited as saying: “Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly, and for the same reason.” Stick around after the break as I talk to a local Jewish man who after quarreling with his neighbor woke up one morning to a swastika on his neighbor’s shed, pointing right at his backyard and home.

PART 2

Welcome back, Jim Goodwin is a retired psychologist and veteran who doesn’t get along with his neighbor, but what started out as a run-of-the-mill spat between two guys who share a fence line was escalated when his neighbor decided to display a swastika on the side of his shed that faces Jim’s backyard, where he and others from the local Jewish community regularly gather to celebrate Jewish holidays. Let’s take a look at that interview.

This is an example that proves that symbols of hate do pop up right here, in our deceptively bucolic little community. People tacking up swastikas or displaying shrines to Nazi war criminals isn’t something that just happens somewhere else. It’s right here, in our community, and I think it speaks to the increasing normalization of hate speech and symbology online as well as the rapidly disappearing line of demarcation between what was once the extreme rightwing, neo-Nazis and white nationalists and mainstream Republicanism. Stay tuned after the break for my thoughts on how we can counter hate, not by ignoring it or avoiding the topic, but rather by changing the systems that regulate Big Tech.

PART 3

Welcome back, In 1832 the French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States to see what made democracy in America possible. And as Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomerantsev write in their recent article titled “The Internet Doesn’t Have To Be Awful” in this month’s issue of The Atlantic Magazine, quote “Toqueville’s interest in American institutions reflected more than mere curiosity: In his native France, a revolution launched with similarly high ideals about equality and democracy had ended badly. His parents had nearly been guillotined during the wave of violence that followed the momentous events of 1789. By contrast, American democracy worked—and he wanted to understand why.” endquote I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of his famous book, Democracy in America, it’s a book we should all have our shelves, but to summarize what the Frenchman found was that Americans were good at democracy because we PRACTICED democracy. In his book he wrote quote: “Not only do [Americans] have commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fêtes (parties), to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes (an-tip-o-deez); in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools … Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States.” 

Democracy in America was working because from the top all the way down to small communities, we built systems to ensure communication, cooperation and enough mutual respect to make progress on whatever problem was at hand. But the systems the internet has brought into our lives works to do the opposite. To quote the authors of the piece, quote “Conversation in this new American public sphere is governed not by established customs and traditions in service of democracy but by rules set by a few for-profit companies in service of their needs and revenues. Instead of the procedural regulations that guide a real-life town meeting, conversation is ruled by algorithms that are designed to capture attention, harvest data, and sell advertising. The voices of the angriest, most emotional, most divisive—and often the most duplicitous—participants are amplified. Reasonable, rational, and nuanced voices are much harder to hear; radicalization spreads quickly. Americans feel powerless because they are.” endquote. 

If we allow ourselves to be held in thrall to systems that elevate the most extreme points of view and marginalize rational points of view, we should expect to see more extremism and violence spilling out on the streets of America, or as the trolls on 8chan would call it “real-life effort posting.” We need an internet that promotes democractic values instead of destroying them – that makes conversation better instead of worse. But how can we change the system to make it better? Well, we per usual these days it’s European countries that are leading the progress here, while American languishes behind. They’re focusing on the algorithms, which means that social media companies are not held responsible for each tiny piece of content, but they are responsible for how their products distribute and amplify material. That is, after all, what these companies actually do: organize, target, and magnify other peoples’ content and data. Shouldn’t they take responsibility for that? Again from Applebaum and Pomeranstev’s article: “The regulatory focus in Europe is on monitoring scale and distribution, not content moderation. One person writing a tweet would still qualify for free-speech protections—but a million bot accounts pretending to be real people and distorting debate in the public square would not. Facebook and other platforms already track and dismantle inauthentic disinformation and amplification campaigns—they all have invested heavily in staff and software to carry out this job—but there is hardly any way to audit their success. European governments are seeking ways that they and other civic-minded actors can at least monitor what the platforms are doing.”

Time will tell if Europe’s attempts at regulating social media will work, but one thing we do know is that taking a hands-off approach is not working here. But what could the future look like if we took this issue seriously and had informed representatives who had some basic grasp of how the internet and technology works? Again Applebaum and Pomerantsev, quote: “Let your imagination loose: What would it really mean to have human rights online? Instead of giving private companies the ultimate decision about whose accounts—whether yours or the president’s—should be deleted, it might mean online citizens could have recourse to a court that would examine whether they violated their terms of service. It would also mean being in charge of your own data. You could give medics all the information they need to help fight diseases, for example, but would also be guaranteed that these data couldn’t be repurposed. If you were to see advertising, political or otherwise, you would have the right to know not only who was behind it, but how your data were used to target you specifically. There are other possible benefits too. Rebuilding a civically healthier internet would give us common cause with our old alliances, and help build new ones. Our relationships with Europe and with the democracies of Asia, which so often feel obsolete, would have a new center and focus: Together we could create this technology, and together we could offer it to the world as an empowering alternative to China’s closed internet, and to Russia’s distorted disinformation machine. We would have something to offer beleaguered democrats, from Moscow to Minsk to Hong Kong: the hope of a more democratic public space. Happily, this future democratic city is not some far-off utopia. Its features derive not from an abstract grand theory, but from harsh experience. We often forget that the U.S. Constitution was the product of a decade of failure. By 1789, its authors knew exactly how bad confederation had been, and they understood what needed to be fixed. Our new internet would also embrace all of the lessons we have so bitterly learned, not only in the past 20 years but in the almost two centuries since Tocqueville wrote his famous book. We now know that cyberspace did not, in the end, escape the legacy of John Perry Barlow’s “weary giants of flesh and steel.” It just recapitulated the pathologies of the past: financial bubbles, exploitative commercialization, vicious polarization, attacks from dictatorships, crime. But these are problems democracies have solved before. The solutions are in our history, in our DNA, in our own memories of how we have fixed broken systems in other eras. The internet was the future once, and it can be again… if we apply the best of the past to the present.” endquote. 

So are we going to be slaves to systems that exploit us, make us angrier and more divided as a nation? Or are we going to use the lessons we have learned in the past and demand a better future for ourselves and our children? The choice is ours. Join me next time, for more Common Sense.

SOURCES:

  1. On Plato’s Ship of State Analogy: https://digressionsnimpressions.typepad.com/digressionsimpressions/2018/02/on-platos-ship-of-state-analogy.html
  2. US judge bars man from hanging swastika in view of Jewish neighbor: https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-judge-bars-man-from-hanging-swastika-in-view-of-jewi sh-neighbor/
  3. Neighbors head to court over swastika display: https://www.wenatcheeworld.com/news/local/neighbors-head-to-court-over-swastika-display/article_a532b43c-e4e6-58a2-85dd-7023c5b3286c.html
  4. Report: Extremist groups thrive on Facebook despite bans: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/mar/23/report-extremist-groups-thrive-on-facebook-despite/?fbclid=IwAR2Yx7wznfwkkTrJLFpRY14KPPXaWbfz6Zm6mT9e4oQY8WUQPioGsgaTXsE
  5. Big tech CEOs face lawmakers in House hearing on social media’s role in extremism, misinformation?: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/25/facebook-google-twitter-house-hearing-live-updates/?utm_campaign=ext_rweb&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=extension
  6. New Evidence Points To Coordination Among Extremist Groups Ahead of Capitol Riot: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/24/980754255/new-evidence-points-to-coordination-among-extremist-groups-ahead-of-capitol-riot?utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR0qHSr6kv3So3045cAs0ql8-JPfAtOVSW52-0jt0nhV0buDuzzpbTu7C0o
  7. The storming of Capitol Hill was organized on social media: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/06/us/politics/protesters-storm-capitol-hill-building.html
  8. WATCH LIVE: The CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Twitter are testifying in a congressional hearing about misinformation, Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/watch-facebook-google-twitter-testify-misinformation-hearing-2021-3
  9. Social media use may play important role in youth suicide, expert says, https://www.healio.com/news/psychiatry/20201005/social-media-use-may-play-important-role-in-youth-suicide-expert-says
  10. Section 230: The little law that defined how the Internet works: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/28/what-is-section-230/
  11. Gatekeepers: These tech firms control what’s allowed online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/03/24/online-moderation-tech-stack/?itid=ap_geoffreya.%20fowler&itid=lk_readmore_manual_6
  12. Q: Into the Storm, HBO: https://www.hbo.com/q-into-the-storm
  13. Q Clearance: The Hunt for QAno‪n‬: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/q-clearance-the-hunt-for-qanon/id1534027012
  14. Many QAnon followers report having mental health diagnoses — including paranoid schizophrenia and Munchausen syndrome by proxy: https://www.rawstory.com/many-qanon-followers-report-having-mental-health-diagnoses/?utm_source=push_notifications
  15. What is Section 230 and why do some lawmakers want to revoke it? The News with Shepard Smith: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/26/what-is-section-230-and-why-do-some-lawmakers-want-to-revoke-it-.html
  16. How to tackle mis/disinformation with a human-centered approach, ODI Think Tank: https://odi.org/en/insights/how-to-tackle-misdisinformation-with-a-human-centred-approach/
  17. What is QAnon? A Thread by Abbie Richards: https://twitter.com/abbieasr/status/1349882923302969344
  18. YouTube still hosts extremist videos. Here’s who watches them: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/03/10/youtube-extremist-supremacy-radicalize-adl-study/
  19. What is Parler? Conservative Social-Media App Denied Apple’s App Store Access: https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-is-parler-app-apple-android-11610478890
  20. TECH – Social media platform Parler is back online on ‘independent technology’: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/15/social-media-platform-parler-back-online-after-being-banned-by-major-tech-companies.html
  21. How cartoonists are tackling the gun debate after the Boulder and Atlanta shootings: https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2021/03/24/cartoons-guns-boulder-atlanta-shooting/
  22. Grocery Store Shooting: Who Is Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa?: https://denver.cbslocal.com/2021/03/25/grocery-store-shooting-who-is-ahmad-al-issa-ahmad-al-aliwi-alissa/
  23. Boulder Shooting Suspect Makes 1st Court Appearance: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/25/981134760/boulder-shooting-suspect-will-appear-in-court-thursday-morning
  24. Boulder shooting suspect’s gun looked like a rifle. But it’s a pistol. Experts worry it’s helping people skirt gun laws: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/03/25/boulder-shooting-suspects-gun-looks-and-operates-like-rifle-but-its-pistol/6997038002/
  25. One week since Atlanta spa shootings: What we know: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/local/one-week-since-atlanta-spa-shootings/85-dfb769df-f258-4d1e-8ab0-e7177ce85972
  26. Atlanta Shootings: Asian Americans Speak Out About Hate Crimes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VcH4XeG-i4
  27. A Timeline of School Shootings Since Columbine: https://www.security.org/blog/a-timeline-of-school-shootings-since-columbine/
  28. Report: U.S. averages nearly one mass shooting per day so far in 2017: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/report-u-s-averages-nearly-one-mass-shooting-per-day-so-far-in-2017/
  29. YouTube still hosts extremist videos. Here’s who watches them.: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/03/10/youtube-extremist-supremacy-radicalize-adl-study/
  30. How Money Flows From Amazon to Racist Troll Haven 8chan: https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-money-flows-from-amazon-to-racist-troll-haven-8chan
  31. Info on Dylann Roof: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dylann_Roof
  32. Zimmerman reportedly sells gun that killed Trayvon Martin: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/george-zimmerman-sells-gun-kill-florida-teen-trayvon-martin/
  33. How Does Online Racism Spawn Mass Shooters?: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/04/online-racism-4chan-8chan-shootings-elpaso-dayton-texas-ohio/
  34. Voters back Joe Biden’s gun control plan. It’s not clear if the evidence does.: https://www.vox.com/22348212/joe-biden-gun-control-background-checks-assault-weapons-ban-boulder-atlanta-shooting?fbclid=IwAR3KyktJ33zynBBEj8OyLckZUNpLZZC7YwIcNsLR7lzt72Cp39WgJ25tW20
  35. What “No White Guilt” Means to People Who Are Not White: https://medium.com/@DBonny/what-no-white-guilt-meansto-people-who-are-not-white-d895f5e4168a
  36. Swastika Removed From Apple Capital Loop Trail: https://www.kpq.com/swastika-removed-from-apple-capitol-loop-trail/
  37. “Papa Says It’s Safe”: 20 Astounding Gun Ads: https://www.motherjones.com/media/2012/12/gun-ads-bushmaster-mattel/
  38. How to Put Out Democracy’s Dumpster Fire: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/04/the-internet-doesnt-have-to-be-awful/618079/
  39. Man arrested at Atlanta grocery with six guns, body armor, police say: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-arrested-atlanta-grocery-5-guns-body-armor-police-say-n1262016?cid=sm_npd_nn_fb_nn&fbclid=IwAR28bGgRrDvs_QOvAANcY4Un2VG-ouMuyEatGXWZCJQK9v_qm-Om-VmhVH4
  40. Gun violence in the United States: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States