Ed Driscoll

Because They Could

“Why Did BuzzFeed & Co. Target Justine Sacco for Online Assassination,” asks John Nolte at Big Journalism:

Friday night, a young New York-based communications director had her life destroyed on social media while she was out of touch with the world and could not defend herself. Justine Sacco was on a flight to Africa and had no Internet access when BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski apparently got the ball rolling by tweeting out to his 100k-plus followers that Sacco was responsible for what “may be the worst tweet of all time.” By the time she stepped off her flight, Sacco found herself a national pariah and fired from her job.

Here’s the tweet that caused it all:


Yes, it’s tasteless. But it’s also the sort of Sarah Silverman-esque snark you can hear in any comedy club at 11:30 on a Friday night in any major American city or college town — or on a comedy show on Viacom’s Comedy Central or Time-Warner-CNN’s HBO channel pretty much anytime. And as Ace notes, with more on the back story of what happened yesterday, “it’s a joke. And not a joke at Africans’ expense, either. It’s black humor commentary about her soft, safe white life.”

Nolte concludes, “That elite media lynch mob is  threat to all of us. Sarah Silverman-lite is a threat to no one. Dear Elite Media: Please lecture us some more about bullying — especially BuzzFeed.” Read the whole thing, which is a cautionary warning in leftwing media, groupthink, and the power of mobs, and a reminder that even if you’re a member of the establishment left as Sacco appears to be herself, you’re not immune to having your life blown-up when the mob gets bored:

If you’re a corporation, unless you’re prepared to stand by your employees when they tweet something stupid — and they will — as Kate at Small Dead Animals tweets, “if you have any type of employee, doing anything important for your organization – close their Twitter account.”

And do not miss Sunny Bunch at Washington Free Beacon on “Sating the Hungry Mob,” which begins with a cautionary clip and quotes from a 2009 South Park episode:

Prof.: No one wants her to die, little boy. We all simply … need her to. Do you understand?

Train driver: Look, kid: Throughout history, people have found it necessary to engage in human sacrifice.

Prof: In ancient times, humans would commonly pick one lovely girl, adorn her with jewels, treat her like a goddess, and then … watch her die.

Bystander: We Americans like to think we’re more civilized now. But the truth is, our lust for torture and death is no different than it was in gladiator times.

Bunch then moves on to ten tweets from Twitter users ginning themselves up into a bunch of extras from a 1930s Universal horror film — you almost expect them to grab torches and pitchforks. And it really is just a movie to them, as Sonny writes:

As I wrote, the “grab the popcorn!” tweets were my favorite. Because, in a very real way, they are the most revealing. More revealing than the threats of rape and murder; no one is actually going to rape or murder the woman in question. They just want to see her suffer. It’s a tremendous source of entertainment for them, better than buying a ticket to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Because in this case, the suffering is real. It’s a real person who is being humiliated, frightened, and impoverished. It’s a real person they are terrorizing for making a joke they disapprove of. Movie fear’s got nothin’ on real person fear.

Although, it’s a very different kind of fear — movie fear usually features shots of the victim suffering for the audience to feast on. Here, we’re left to imagine the horror that awaited Sacco when she landed — which likely adds to the Twitter mob’s sense that there are no consequences to their actions. It’s real, but it’s not “real” real, as Whoopi Goldberg would say, excusing away a different set of horrors inflicted upon another heretofore unknown victim of an otherwise bored representative of an even larger media conglomerate.

Future sociologists looking back on the fall of America, or heck, western civilization, may want to note the small steps towards the abyss that were trodden this week. The past few days featured the emergence of Footie Pajamas Boy, a presidential surrogate who aims to sell us all on his boss’s scheme for socialized medicine, and who looked for all the world like the sexless Eloi from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. To complete the equation, last night, the Morlocks were out in force on Twitter. And in the middle, both an unknown PR person and one of the few macho traditional Americans left in American media were deemed corporate non-persons and dispatched to Room 101, but not before plenty of bloodsports to sate the proletariat mob.

As Mark Steyn warned in 2011’s After America, H.G. Wells’ Time Machine is coming true, 900,000 years earlier than Wells predicted. And to bring this post full circle with the tweet atop it, so is George Orwell’s 1984.

Or to put it another way: