The obligatory link to Britt McHenry and “The obligatory ‘ESPN reporter acts like an A-hole to parking attendant’ clip,” as Allahpundit described it yesterday at Hot Air:
1. She really is very nasty to the attendant. Sample quote: “Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?”
2. The video’s carefully and conveniently clipped so that you can’t hear what the attendant says.
3. There’s reason to believe that extreme upset at this particular towing company is justified, even if the personal nastiness towards the attendant is not.
4. As I write this, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, an online mob is forming to ensure that McHenry receives her Comeuppance. And odds are very, very good that that Comeuppance will be even nastier than McHenry herself was. I could write more about that but you’re better off reading this pitch-perfect Clickhole parody of outrage mobs instead. Says Lachlan Markay, “The Internet: defining people by their worst moments since 1996.”
To sate the mob, McHenry has been suspended by ESPN for a week, though as Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Free Beacon, “You’ll note that we haven’t seen an unedited version of the interaction between McHenry and the woman she so colorfully insulted. Gee. Odd. I wonder why that is.”
Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard knows. He describes himself as being on “#TeamBritt” if only because of how awful the sort of company who towed McHenry’s car likely is:
A couple weeks later, the company started towing another car from the HOA lot, which also had a properly displayed sticker. But this time the owner came out and confronted the tow-truck diver as he was in the act. The guy refused to put the car down–he insisted that “company policy” dictated that once a car was hitched to the truck, it could not be released for any reason. They nearly came to blows; fortunately someone had called the cops and the police showed up and forced the tow-truck driver to release the car, telling him that was he was doing was essentially stealing.
Our HOA killed the towing contract at our next meeting.
So maybe Britt McHenry was being unwarrantedly abusive and vile. Or maybe she was responding to some deeply unpleasant people who had caused her material harm with total impunity.
But the Internet outrage mob must be fed! All of the Pavlovian elements are here: Young attractive pampered television journalist shouting the worst insults to a clerk earning much less for her efforts and likely working much harder (no matter how loathsome her employers might be). But wait:
Oh, HOLD UP. The Britt McHenry vid is w predatory Advanced Towing?! I have experience w them & guarantee she had reason to be pissed.
— Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) April 17, 2015
Their thing is they tow your car for no reason and then taunt you when you come to pick it up. — Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) April 17, 2015
Dear scolds: No, it isn’t right to act as she did. There’s also context missing. This is not a “parking attendant” & not a normal towing co. — Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) April 17, 2015
Britt probably ain’t a super-nice person, but there’s likely a reason the attendant’s side of this conversation is cut out. — Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) April 17, 2015
Naturally, the pitiful leftwing shell of a publication that once was the Atlantic and more recently home of the infamous pro-Scientology infomercial, sides with both the Internet mob and “the Upsides of a Surveillance Society.” No, really:
Yes, there are panoptical elements to all that. Yes, we should seriously consider—and debate, and perhaps even fear—what those elements will do to us, as a messy human collective. But one of the positive aspects of the presence of all those cameras—all these devices, there to capture not just our beautiful children and our sumptuous meals, but also our worst and pettiest and most immoral moments—is a basic one: Terrible behavior, whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power.
Which can, again, be a bad thing—but which can also, in McHenry’s case, be an extremely beneficial one. It’s good that her behavior has been exposed. It’s good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It’s good that she has publicly promised “to learn from this mistake.” Britt McHenry is “in the news,” she scoffed to a service worker a couple of weeks ago. Now she’s in the news in another way. And that’s because of a thing that doesn’t discriminate between the thin and the fat, the rich and the poor, the famous and the anonymous, the kind and the cruel: a well-placed camera.
Break out the Victory Gin and say cheers to the two-way telescreen: Like Winston Smith, at long last, a journalist finally learns to love Big Brother. At least until he’s got an (R) after his name.
Obligatory Allahpundit-style exit quote:
As I noted previously, @BrittMcHenry‘s real crime was making professional thieves and extorters look sympathetic. For shame, Britt!
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) April 17, 2015
— Jeff B@AoSHQDD (@EsotericCD) April 17, 2015