Friday, June 29, 2018

Litigation to stop FOSTA with an injunction filed in DC federal court, by EFF

Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced today it is assisting two human rights organizations, an activist for sex workers, and a massage therapist in litigation to get an injunction against FOSTA, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Sex Trafficking Act, main link here. The case is Woodhull Freedom Foundation vs. United States.  The PDF for the filing in Washington DC is here.  Woodhull's link is here
David Greene has an explanation of the litigation in a separate article here. 

The article discusses the erosion of Section 230, and the ambiguity of the law in what constitutes “participation in a venture”, with the terms “assisting, supporting, or facilitating.”  The broadening of a base law automatically reduces Section 230 downstream liability exclusion. The article also notes the enlargement of the law to facilitate online prostitution.

Facilitation of trafficking was already a violation of most platforms’ AUP’s or TOS, but a site or user would be shut down only when reported, not caught pro-actively. Even hosting companies have added trafficking to AUP’s, as well as forbidding activity like online pharmacies, or private weapons sales or sometimes instructions in weapons.  Social media companies and hosting companies are bracing for future erosion of Section 230 (and, correspondingly, copyright liability protections, as now in the EU with Article 13, etc) because of global pushback on free speech by tribalistic politics, with polarization of extremes on the right and left. 

Update: July 1

Jon Brodkin has a story in Ars Technica about the lawsuit. 

A site called "Erotic Review" blocked all access from the U.S. because of uncertainties created by the law (Brodkin story). 
Update: July 17

EFF reports that the hearing will take place at 4 PM July 19, address in the article. 

Woodhull et al offers a detailed explanation of the legal complaint and plea for injunction here

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dancing Baby settlement protects Fair Use in the US, even as the EU waits on Article 13

Corynne McSherry of Electronic Frontier Foundation reports settlement of the 2007 “Dancing Baby” case, Lenz v. Universal, where Universal had made what seems like a frivolous claim based on the background music.
One of the points was whether Universal should have considered Fair Use before making the takedown notice demand.
The article notes how critical the Safe Harbor provision is for the Internet as we know it today. The piece doesn’t mention how Article 13 of the Copyright Directive in the proposed EU Single Digital Market would negate protection of downstream liability for copyright in Europe.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Facebook publishes Community Standards, examines the Hard Questions on hate speech or "dangerous speech"

Today Facebook issued a post on its Community Standards, which is quite long and segmented and shows that nuanced response to complaints is a work in progress, that often has to be sensitive to situations around the world. 

Like Twitter, Facebook now says it will ban people clearly connected to terror organizations or certain other groups grossly objectionable (presumably white supremacy).

Facebook says it does not allow “hate speech” even when legal, but refers to a post on its “Hard Questions Blog” by Richard Allan, link. It points out that Germany has a very short fuse on hate speech and has been known to raid homes for speech that would be acceptable in the U.S. 
Facebook recommends a page by Timothy Barton Ash on the “free speech debate”, with emphasis on Turkey (I like the term “hyperreality”). And it also points to the Dangerous Speech Project, by Susan Benesch.  The concept is broader that hate speech and deals with conditions in particular countries or regions or special circumstances.  The site considers Donald Trump's calling migrants "invaders" as dangerous.   For example, my own speech, in that incident when I was a substitute teacher (July 27, 2007) might have been viewed as “dangerous” but was not “hate”.
But Milo Yiannopoulos has used the term “Dangerous” in a different context, to call out what he sees as hypocrisy and hyper identity politics (or intersectionality) on the political left. It is also the name of his book and publishing company (Miami), and site.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

On Medium, Haque warns Americans that we are slouching into fascism because of our own personal values

Umair Haque issues a real tongue lashing to self-confident, libertarian and individualistic (and complacently so) Americans in a Medium essay, “Is America Undergoing a Fascist Collapse?” Then, “What Americans still haven’t learned from how democracies implode”, link.

Haque believes that this is very personal, and comes from a common belief that some people are “born better” than others, and is particularly validated by American history, starting with slavery, of course.

He also claims that in the 1920s and early 1930s, pro-fascists look to Americans to support their ideology.  His comments seems to imply Trump is now complicit with North Korea in order, as Trump says, simply to prevent future nuclear attack on the US homeland – “America first”.
It’s particularly troubling because at a personal level, men, in particular, as Leonard Sax points out in his reissued book “Why Gender Matters”, naturally  like to be affiliated with other men who are stronger than them – everybody wants to play for the Yankees. Winner takes all, indeed.
It is possible than a legacy online essay supporting this idea,  I had written in 2004 actually contributed to the blowup when I was working as a substitute teacher (July 27, 2007 here).  I saw it as just a mathematical tautology, in totally impersonal terms.  But people were “offended” by it when they found it.  Oddly, China seems to be bringing the idea back by proposing its social credit score to be implemented by 2020.  Communism and fascism can look so much alike.

On the “drama” blog, Feb. 26, 2012, I recount a sermon by a precocious teenager that all giving should be personalized, not simply done from a distance with money.  Now we see Facebook desperately trying to get people to run others’ gofundme and action campaigns from their own personal accounts rather than at a distance. I do my giving privately and impersonally through an automated process set up at a bank, in conjunction with a trust.  I just talked about this last Friday here.  But Facebook is trying to push the idea that other people who are “different” from you can be personally important (with all kinds of reminders about birthdays and the like) and some friends seek confirmation with chain letter messages.  And in the gay community Rayceen Pendarvis is known for conducting mandatory, personalized “hug-ins” (LGBT blog June 18).   Another trend, some people will present someone with disabilities as their “best friend’ on FB or social media, something I just won’t do.  But given what Haque says, I see where this silent, internalized clinging to upward affiliation and “meritocracy” is headed.
Picture: a random ("alt-right"??) demonstrator at Lafayette Park in front of the White House on June 23

Sunday, June 24, 2018

How to get published and get lots of clicks (warning: satire)

Well, here is an ultimate blogging story, that either Blogtyrant would find amazing.

It’s a  narrative now on a blog belonging to an upstate New York native (pun) named Chris Spies, now on his site “Discordant Years” which seems to invent alternate personas, rather like the characters in my own “Angel’s Brother” manuscript, where the plot is predicated on a 20-year old ethical hacker finding the parallels between a friend’s private manuscripts and a threat to the real world (and the two have to meet in a physical confrontation, I know) -- and you don't know who is real and who is a fantasy.  (Heaven help us if Russia really invades Finland, which starts to happen in my novel.) 

Spies explains how he crafted a short article now on his Wordpress blog, originally titled “Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid for My Coachella Trip”. with a fictitious female persona.  But the piece was originally invented for what he calls a "clickbait factory" (as Chris characterizes it), The Odyssey Online, as Chris explained above (the long story is also on Medium, which has a relatively inexpensive paywall along interaction with other writers). Buzzfeed also ran this postmortem, and called Chris's activity "catfishing", as if to interest filmmaker Nev Shulman. 

There’s a lot of commentary about on “The Odyssey Online” about the whole thing and Internet morality, starting here. (Chris's piece was removed.)  The site has little to do with Homer's poem. 

There were a lot of rules you had to follow to “get published” on this site, as he explains in his long piece. 
What’s worrisome to me is that the current political climate may become ever more hostile to bloggers, like me, who want to stay totally independent, as I’ve explained ad nauseum here before. But the idea of invented personas and viral clicks seems to invite a screenplay and maybe some sort of project at the Sundance workshop.  Chris's narrative sounds like the treatment of a film that an indie distributor like A24 or The Orchard would relish. He should get Final Draft right now. What if Barry Keoghan plays him? 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

"Blogtyrant" site acquired by Wordpress guru, while proposals around the world keep threatening Internet freedom as we have gotten to know it

Australian blogging guru Ramsay Taplan has informed readers that he has sold his “Blogtyrant” domain to Syed Balkhi, a well-known WordPress guru.  

Ramsay operated the coaching site to motivate bloggers for over eight years. He says that he wants to work directly on environmental and climate change issues, even by buying land and planting trees.  Back to the real world!

Ramsay had tweeted at the end of May that he was becoming increasingly concerned over the efforts of big business to control the online world.  I have discussed all of these in my own blogs, including net neutrality repeal, the undermining of Section 230 (the Backpage-FOSTA mess), the outrage over “surveillance capitalism” and "information clutter" in social media,  and recent alarming proposed changes to European copyright law.

Taplan had advocated that bloggers become aggressive in getting subscribers and then in offering promotions, rather than using conventional ad platforms (like Adsense) for revenue. Some of his ideas may have sounded controversial as to the risk-taking involved.  I think his ideas worked best for narrowly focused small businesses with very specific products and services to sell, to very well informed consumers. He once worked out an example for a chess blog on either openings or endgames, and recently world champion Magnus Carlsen has formed a company offering an app that will do just what Ramsay suggested.

However, some of the spectacularly successful early mommy blogs (like Heather Amrstrong’s “dooce”) had developed his ideas.  But that sort of success with a larger content pool is hard to maintain today, and getting harder given the political climate.

We don’t know how Syed will handle the site, but it might venture even more into technical topics like the best ways to do backups, more on how to do https, more on TOS issues with hosts, and how to improve security for Wordpress sites, and possibly some material on how to meet the various legal exposures that are shaping up around the world. He would do well go get to know the work of Electronic Frontier Foundation (in the U.S., in San Francisco). 

Ramsay, now in his early 30s, shows an engaging cat and dog on his Twitter page.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A note on responding to "calls for action" with your own social media accounts, and for demands to "join us, or else"

I feel I need to interrupt the news stream and remind readers of my own skin in the game, or lack of it (given the recent interest in Taleb’s book).

I get requests (phrased as demands, almost as threats) all the time to join protests, and to raise money for people or causes through action buttons on my own sites and especially social media pages.  I’ve also seen a lot of unwelcome female flirting, extending a problem I took up her with respect to Twitter at the end of 2015.

Indeed, this trend has increased recently as Facebook has taken steps to try to get users to interact more personally, and to de-emphasize amateur news propagation.  Just today, ProPublica weighed in on this with respect to distinguishing ads from articles, and Tim Lee from Ars Technica replied on Twitter.
I generally don’t run other people’s campaigns under my own name, or “join in”, unless I am really prepared to make a real (and immediate) commitment addressing the specific problem.  Otherwise, the activism gets pretty meaningless. 

There are constant protests over very narrow issues often interpreted in polarized way. I don’t waste my energy on taking extreme or uncompromising positions (either online or by shouting in demonstrations), most of all based on combativeness predicted on tribalism and intersectionality. I don't respond to overhyped emotional outbursts or manipulations online. (OK, if I wind up going to the gallows for being on the wrong side, so be it;  sometimes you do have to join the resistance and drop everything else, but not now.) 

Rather than reacting to narrow political (or "tribal" or "intersectional") "emergencies", I try to emphasize connecting the dots, and dealing with an issue like free speech from the view of many threats to it acting in combination, so you can't afford to waste all your political capital on just one of the sub-threats.  (Like Backpage-FOSTA may be more critical than network neutrality, for example.) 
I do have a lot of work to finish, to make my work pay for itself, which could become a critical issue itself soon.  I am making headway on the music, novel and screenplay (all interconnected behind the scenes).  But I have to keep up my own momentum. I am more interested in "connecting the dots" than in anal retentive focus on just one problem at a time. 

That’s why I’ve also stopped volunteer activities where I am just a “prole” and have no real commitment to the cause or connection to the people.

There are projects that I am aware of that could change this for me.  I have to be discrete about them right now.  But in time, there could be changes in my strategy.

I don’t feel obligated to answer flirts just because someone Friended me on Facebook.  But it seems that some people feel that Facebook is trying to get everyone to “play ball (with 'us')” and not just “watch” (like in the movie “Rebirth”) and that somehow they are entitled to unwelcome contact with me or others. I would add that, given the way I work, I have little need for Snapchat and the idea of sharing images that will disappear. 

I also want to remind everyone that the whole system of user-generated content that we count on for public participation is in trouble, from a lot of sources:  FOSTA, copyright developments in Europe, and (less so) the erosion of net neutrality, and most of all the desire to cut down on “surveillance capitalism” and information clutter.  So I have to remain even more focused on my own work.  And, yes, I see personal ability to assimilate and adapt to inevitable social change as itself a moral issue.

One aspect that I have noticed particularly in left-wing sites:  aggressive demands for donations on the theory that soon you will be silenced as an individual and that you must join “us” to protect you.  Well organized tribal activists would love to see user generated content shut down, to force independent speakers to join up,  because UGC tends to dilute group solidarity especially on intersectional issues. There is indeed some cultural Marxism being promulgated. 

We’ve seen things disappear before become of ecological impacts – look at how the gay community lost he baths in the 1980s.  The same sort of thing can happen with this.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

GDPR makes browser fingerprinting "illegal"; CA proposes bill to get rid of bots

Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning webmasters that browser fingerprinting will be illegal in the EU under the GDPR, as in this story by Katarzyna Szymielewicz and Bill Buddington, link

Browser fingerprinting can look at browser settings of a visitor and distinguish from all other visitors, for ad tracking.

This would be illegal under the GDPR with notifying users and allowed opt-in.

From what I can see, a site using Blogger and adsense, or using Wordpress and the most common plugins, would not create a problem. But some plugins for adware probably do.

There is also concern about a bill in California, SB1001, which would make it illegal to use an automated account or bot to connect with citizens in the state without notifying them (story).

There are concerns that hackers could cause legitimate sites to be marked as bots.

You can see Yahoo! 's story in the "Bots and Ballets" series about concerns over the fake news propaganda bots and the 2018 midterms here. Tribalized voters need to become more literate. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hosting providers and tech companies set a dangerous precedent in banning customers associated with white supremacy, even out of public pressure

It’s good idea to review the sudden eagerness of many private web services to ban right-wing extremism (or neo-Nazi’s) shortly after the Charlottesville incident, starting with Daily Stormer when it publishing an article belittling a car ramming murder victim (Verge article).  Receiving complaints, a domain-registrar gave the site 24 hours notice before Cloudflare also banned it (over an accusatory statement), and pretty much everyone else blackballed the site.

This has happened to a few others sites, also.

It is a slippery slope to single out one ideology for special banishment.  You could try to say the same about radical Islam. Of course, if the ideology calls directly for violence, there might be more justification.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has prodded the web services into strict TOS and into seizure of names to prevent reregistration.
While these private companies are within their legal rights, to do what they believe the public wants, their actions are deeply troubling and could spread into other areas, EFF argues. In past decades, association with communism provoked the same reaction. 
Play the embedded video on YouTube and read the filmmaker’s comments on the issue.

Update: June 20

Yahoo reports that Twitter users have had accounts temporarily disabled even for hyperlinking to mainstream stories that contain a public figure's (Stephen Miller) personal information (cell number).  If you visit this story on Yahoo, be advised that the cell number in the picture is no longer valid.  But it is particularly disturbing that a blind (non-embedding) hyperlink got a user in trouble.  This trend seems to be increasing.
  Update: June 24

Some hosting companies and services mention the idea of harm to their "goodwill" by unusual customer behavior in their AUP's.  "Goodwill" isn't a real dictionary word, but generally means reputation for acting in the best interests of most customers (it's a common term in the life insurance business).  This sounds more problematic given these times of "resentment politics", demands for "radical solidarity" and "skin in the game".  

Monday, June 18, 2018

Startups use blockchain technology to fund new small newspapers

After layoffs from the cost-cutting hedge fund that owned the Denver Post, some journalists and editors are forming their own newspaper, the Colorado Sun.  Jaclyn Peiser reports in the New York Times Monday here.

They are assisted by Civil Media Company, which will use blockchain technology and its own crypto currency to start over 1000 publications, the story reports. People who purchase their currency tokens gain voting interests in the media companies. 

Civil’s site, “the decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism”, is here.  The Kickstarter site for the Denver operation is here.

It will take some more study to see how this works and whether it could apply to what I do.
Wikipedia attribution link for Denver skyline by Hogs555, CCSA 3.0  My own last visit was in 1994.  There is actually a Quebec street near the airport. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

"Timcast" video re-examines the question of men taking risks to protect women and children in hostile emergencies

Tim Pool, on his “Timcast” on YouTube, examines an ethical dilemma in his 13 minute video “Why Men Are Refusing to Help Women and Children”. (The video is part of Patreon.) 

When I spotted the video, my first reaction was to wonder if this would be a tome about the responsibilities that go with gender, in some older-fashioned views. Yup, right now, I’m reading Leonard Sax’s “Why Gender Matters”.

The video starts with an account of a woman in London shaming two middle aged men on the underground subway who went to another car rather than help her when a mentally ill man attacker her.  The woman blamed to two “cowards”, not the perp.

But the Tim goes into other cases where “good samaritans” were blamed, or sometimes criminally charged (or even suspected of illicit motives with minors) when they went to the aid of a woman or child.  

Tim also mentions the problems with the NRA's "good guy with a gun" argument.  David Hogg should watch this video! 
I’ve encountered a few such situations myself.  One of these I explored here.  But, yes, as I’ve also explored the problem on Aug. 12, 2014 here (“Personal Ethics” label). I think this video could supplement a discussion of Nicholas Taleb's recent "Skin in the Game" book. 

Update: June 19

What if you witness an auto accident and are not involved.  Do you have to stop?  Should you?  Here is what one lawyer in Florida writes

Thursday, June 14, 2018

EU Copyright Directive and Article 13 change would require mandatory pre-screening filters for copyright, but where? What would happen in the U.S.?

The EU Copyright Directive threat thickens.  Now EFF offers a letter from a number of Internet personalities, indicating that in Europe, at least, filtering would be mandatory. 

Perhaps worse is a “link tax” proposal which would apply to any news snippet or quote used to attract attention to a link to a news story, as explained here by Jeremy Malcolm. 
In Europe, a publisher would not be free to offer its material to a “creative commons”.  This has already happened in Spain, which caused Google news to pull out.

What is behind this?  Why shouldn’t a publisher who owns his material offer it for free if it wants?  In fact, I’ve been criticized for competing with myself by offering my book text free online, when the publisher price (except for Kindle) is way too high (and I’m getting calls from companies offering deals to somehow buy down these list prices – another business model).  One time I had a conversation with Mark Cuban (Blogmaverick) about this by email, and Mark said bluntly that many establishment publishers would view me as unfair competition because I have low costs (no unions, no employees, no guilds).  I think it’s rather silly to imagine that “Do Ask Do Tell” could threaten the financial viability of Marvel and Disney and billion dollar movie blockbusters.  (Cuban would probably be a decent POTUS  And, Oh yes, I did tweet that Marvel could use David Hogg as a new superhero playing himself.  I am hardly a threat to any studio.)

Then, let’s remember the Righthaven mess of about a decade ago, where a copyright troll sued bloggers for unlicensed quotes (and photos) from plaintiff small-town newspapers, under a theory that the troll was protecting old fashioned newspapers from going out of business.
“Protectionism doesn’t protect.”  I just tweeted that.

It really does sound as though the mandatory filters in EU would prohibit an author from posting his own content for free if it were sold in book form through normal publishing (even self-published).

But what sounds more relevant is the question as to where the directive would take effect. 

Would a platform have to filter all content if it could be viewed from inside the EU, or could it block a site that had not been screen from viewing in the EU altogether?  Or would this only apply to content uploaded by users or customers within the EU?  I am trying to find out.  It’s relevant that EU law doesn’t have a “fair use” doctrine like the US.

Furthermore, despite all the attention to large social media platforms, who do have the resources to do some automated filtering (however fuzzy and inaccurate) hosting providers, who service customers who run their own websites (often with Wordpress) could not possibly screen all content before posted for hypothetical copyright infringement of some EU publishers.

In the U.S., major media have paid zero attention to this issue, so far.  

In May, 2017, Jeremy Malcom of EFF had warned of a preview in the US to what has blown up in Europe: the concept of an “imaginary value gap” among legacy music and film sites and probably book publishers, having to compete with lower cost content that piggybacks on establishment work.
Oh, “Article 13” reminds me of “Article 15” when I was in the Army.  No, I never got one, and no, it won’t ruin your life.

Update: Later June 14

Ars Technica's Glyn Moody writes this "only" applies to providers like Facebook and YouTube and Twitter who sequence content for users.  This would not seem to apply to hosting providers.  The link is here.  The writer's own blog posting on Blogger is here

EFF tells me the rules would apply worldwide to any content if the company had assets in an EU country.  But it's unclear if the company could break off EU assets into separate companies, or the law would apply at the holding company level. 

Axel Voss, architect of Article 13, seems hostile to protecting user generated content if it costs publishers anything, since platforms can leverage it so much relative to "legitimate" content.  He seems to want to go after fake news, too; link

This is obviously not very well thought out by anyone. 

Major Update: June 20

A committee in Brussels passed both Articles 11 (link tax) and 13 (filtering) today, but a final vote in the EU Parliament probably won't happen until December, Verge story

Friday, June 08, 2018

Would the EU's proposed Copyright Directive affect American content creators? Also, Paypal cuts off a service apparently for mere use of P2P which could risk copyright infringement

Electronic Frontier Foundation has two particularly disturbing reports about copyright today.
One of these, by Cory Doctorow, warns about the EU’s pending vote around June 20 on a new copyright policy (“the EU Copyright Directive”), which could be voted on by the countries between July and September.  Interpreted literally, platforms would have to scan all user generated content for copyright infringement against a known database before posting. The article says that the service that would be most affected is Wikipedia
Google actually does screen YouTube videos against known digital watermarks for possible infringement.  I generally will not embed videos that look like they are illegal copies (although whether that could lead to liability for me is unclear – a case in NY says maybe, Feb. 17 post).

Theoretically, any social media or blog posting that is only text would have to be screened, which would seem to catch the poster’s own self-published work.  Some sources question whether screening itself is mandatory, and there may be a "moderator's paradox" with this law in the EU, just as there is with FOSTA in the US. 

The article mentions the proposed “link taxes” and gets into a discussion of link licensing, which makes no sense in the US (except for that NY case maybe) – generally (since a court opinion in 2000) a link has been viewed as like a bibliographic footnote.  The tax might be limited to links that actually quote the material inline;  but a license might have to come from each EU country. In practice, it seems that publishers can simply put up paywalls if they don't want free linking. I've long said that large social media companies like Facebook ought to be able to sell consolidated paywall access to readers. 
In the US, DMCA Safe Harbor is supposed to take care of this sort of thing (however imperfectly). 

But it is also unclear whether this would matter to Internet posters in the U.S., or whether American companies would feel compelled to comply (they practically have forced GDPR compliance on American sites out of practicality already – the odd “minority rule” idea in Taleb’s “Skin in the Game” book).  Along these lines, Brexit suddenly sounds like a good thing, because I guess the UK is not involved (although the UK is not completely out yet, and countries might have to comply to trade with the EU anyway).  Maybe more nationalism paradoxically could protect Internet users from the effects of rules like this.

I had not heard of this threat until today when I checked EFF's site.  YouTube already has plenty of Chicken Little videos on this problem. 

The other shocker today is an article by Joe Mullin where companies called Arbel and Soulseek found a donation arrangement through PayPal suddenly cut off over a supposed terms of service violation, because the companies were using P2P, which theoretically could facilitate copyright infringement, even though the companies said they did not condone it from their users and were not aware of specific infringements. The article notes that P2P was viewed as a "brand risk" (by Paypal?)  This case is rather confusing (EFF tweeted it today) .  I have the ability to take credit cards and Paypal on one of my Wordpress sites for my books, but have used it only once.  But this raises a whole range of theoretical questions for me to ponder with my own “business model.” 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The "husband as sole provider" idea is not dead

Here is (another) Intellectual Takeout article, this time by John Elliott, with some relevance to my own life, with a bit of abnegation (as from the “Divergent” books and movies) thrown in for good measure.

No controversy about some of them, like, how much debt. 
It’s the last one, “Will you let me be a stay-at-home mom?”  It seems rather alien to myself to feel sexual interest in someone who will become dependent on me.  But in the past I did not value the idea of having my own children at all.  In later years, I have some reason to question my previous indifference.

Generally, I.T. presents itself as a libertarian site, and many of the articles are such. But this article seems to point to the idea that gender confers obligation regardless of one's choices.  I can remember a time back in the 1950s when a woman's magazine article (why did I read it?) wrote, "who would you rather have a college degree, you, or your husband?" 

Friday, June 01, 2018

"Intersectional" complaints against food businesses could spread to other areas (including Internet sites)

I think I was most recently in Portland OR in 1996 for meetings on my book.  But lately the social justice warriors have attacked small food businesses there to absurd ends.

Andy Ngo has a revealing op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Would you like some strife with your meal?

These were mostly locally branded businesses, not (trademarked) franchises.

In one case a restaurant was forced by harassment to change its name because it seemed to be supporting “colonialism”.  Well, Anthony Bourdain has criticized that on his visit to the Congo.

I don’t see how “white people” selling burritos from a truck is “stealing Mexican culture”. (By the way, a lot of people who self-identify to Census as Hispanic are of largely European heritage if you go back far enough.)  Later, other ethnic restaurants were harassed for taking away market share from down to earth places owned by “POC”.  I usually prefer regular “MAGA” food when I travel, but the idea is stupid.

There does seem to be a case of a bakery not properly serving a black person (this is not Masterpiece Cakeshop), and that is legitimate to complain about.  It’s fine for Starbucks to close everywhere for diversity training for an afternoon, by the way.

The market share complaint could spread to other areas.  For example, my blogs, they way I run them, might take away “market share” from partisan (especially Leftist) sites begging for money.

The most absurd idea of all reported in the article is the “Reparations Happy Hour”.

No, the art work today is not from Portland.