Tuesday, January 22, 2019

"CovingtonGate" shows just how easily inflamed an indignant public can get regardless of facts, adding to pressures to put brakes on the Internet

The American public seems to be like kindling for a wildfire, from a single account on social media.
So it seems with Twitter’s finally suspended an account @2020fight that supposedly offered a selectively edited 4 minute video of the encounter between some Covington Catholic School students and American Tribal Leader Nathan Phillipps at an American Indigenous Peoples Rally.  Here is Danie O’Sullivan’s story. It seems likely this was a foreign bot. 

I won’t belabor the consequences for the school in Covington KY or for the teenagers.  I note in looking at the many videos that Nathan Phillipps was indeed scared of the kids at first as he started playing music.  I do believe that Nick Sandman tried to quiet the other boys and his facial expression was simply a matter of remaining still and calm to defuse a tense situation until the bus came and the kids left. The many detailed news accounts show how easily the facts could be manipulated for those who wanted to find racism and white privilege (and Trumpism) in the boys’ conduct.

Still, the indignation of those determined to attack white privilege wherever they can keeps an incident like this alive and likely to add to the likelihood of incidents, as Reason argues in a followup article. It looks like there will be libel lawsuits (James Barrett, Dailywire).

Frank Bruni has an op-ed about the dangers of the way the Internet can feed mob mentality, and frankly it is getting to the point that it could become perceived as a national security issue, as I noted Saturday with other asymmetric issues.  Already, as I noted on Nov. 21 a movement to “slow down the Internet”, limited downstream liability protection and user generated content.

That even needs to be viewed in the context that the continued shutdown has weakened law enforcement and probably increased the risk of some sort of incident that could justify Trump’s declaration of a national security emergency.  Rachel Maddow got into that on MSNBC today (Issues blog) and David Hogg even mentioned it this evening on Twitter.  

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