Before we start, a few arty shots by the professional who photographed the show Friday night. The first one is helpfully annotated:
And this one has some fancy Photoshop filters, but I don’t know what they are. J.C. probably does.
That’s Kate with her hair all over her face. Nice pix, Brian Rozman Photography.
And so, we move on.
I think one of the things that drives me insane about the way my industry has been destroyed is the way it’s changed the public’s view of what constitutes publication. People my age came up in the newspaper business after the time of the big press moguls; the chains were ascendant, but the old principles were still in place. Publishing was a sacred trust, with ethics and responsibilities, and while this was a spectacularly flawed group of people trying to carry them out, we made a stab at it.
A few weeks ago I mentioned my troll, about how trying to get some of the shit he wrote about me taken down was a futile exercise, because no one seemed to be in control of a huge platform used all over the world to publish stuff.
But that, it turns out, is like talking to Watergate-era Ben Bradlee compared to trying to get some accountability out of today’s young tech millionaires. A front-page NYT story on Yik Yak today made my blood run cold, then a little hot with rage, although why bother? Why get upset? Nothing seems to bother them:
Like Facebook or Twitter, Yik Yak is a social media network, only without user profiles. It does not sort messages according to friends or followers but by geographic location or, in many cases, by university. Only posts within a 1.5-mile radius appear, making Yik Yak well suited to college campuses. Think of it as a virtual community bulletin board — or maybe a virtual bathroom wall at the student union. It has become the go-to social feed for college students across the country to commiserate about finals, to find a party or to crack a joke about a rival school.
Much of the chatter is harmless. Some of it is not.
“Yik Yak is the Wild West of anonymous social apps,” said Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at University of Maryland and the author of “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.” “It is being increasingly used by young people in a really intimidating and destructive way.”
Yes, that’s Yik Yak — an anonymous, micro-local slam book. A slam book that feeds on itself and fuels itself, and would it surprise you to learn it was founded by two frat boys, who zealously defend its anonymity and think the answer to hate speech, etc., is for individual posts to be “uprooted” or “downvoted.” God, I hate this bullshit:
ALEX GOLDMAN: Colgate University is a tiny private liberal arts school – just 3,000 students, way up in the mountains in Hamilton New York. It’s the most beautiful college campus in America, according to the Princeton Review, located in the 11th friendliest town in America, according to Forbes. But not according to Melissa Melendez, who is a student at Colgate.
MELISSA MELENDEZ: one of the first things I saw about me, was “bash that bitch’s head in.”
ALEX: Melissa saw that comment — and much worse — on an anonymous social media app called Yik Yak. Yik Yak lets you see posts or “yaks” as they’re called from users within a 10-mile radius. So it’s no surprise that it’s really popular at college campuses. People can post anonymously on yik yak about lame frat parties, or hot RAs or boring classes. But at Colgate last semester, the site also became a screen onto which the student body’s ugliest, most bigoted and violent thoughts were projected, for everyone to see. And Melissa Melendez and her friends were target of those thoughts.
That’s from a podcast transcript on the same subject. And here’s an Atlanta magazine story, ditto. The founders of Yik Yak – whose names are, I’m not kidding, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, sound like two of the most entitled, miserable little brats in western civilization, and I hope someone sues them back to the stone age. People too stupid to understand that a totally anonymous communications platform might be used for racism, threats and hatred? They belong there.
All of which put me in a wonderful mood to read this Conor Friedersdorf explication of the Ferguson report. I haven’t read the source material yet, mainly because just the excerpts are enough to make the top of your head blow off:
We spoke… with an African-American woman who has a still-pending case stemming from 2007, when, on a single occasion, she parked her car illegally. She received two citations and a $151 fine, plus fees. The woman, who experienced financial difficulties and periods of homelessness over several years, was charged with seven Failure to Appear offenses for missing court dates or fine payments on her parking tickets between 2007 and 2010. For each Failure to Appear, the court issued an arrest warrant and imposed new fines and fees.
From 2007 to 2014, the woman was arrested twice, spent six days in jail, and paid $550 to the court for the events stemming from this single instance of illegal parking. Court records show that she twice attempted to make partial payments of $25 and $50, but the court returned those payments, refusing to accept anything less than payment in full. One of those payments was later accepted, but only after the court’s letter rejecting payment by money order was returned as undeliverable. This woman is now making regular payments on the fine. As of December 2014, over seven years later, despite initially owing a $151 fine and having already paid $550, she still owed $541.
And that’s only the cash-chiseling part of the police department. There was also this stuff:
… in August 2010, a lieutenant used an ECW in drive-stun mode against an African-American woman in the Ferguson City Jail because she had refused to remove her bracelets. The lieutenant resorted to his ECW even though there were five officers present and the woman posed no physical threat.
This is simply too much outrage for a Monday. So let’s try again tomorrow.