Monday, April 09, 2018

Media silence about YouTube shooter

A vegan animal rights activist doesn't fit the agenda

For the first time in its history, gunshots rang out at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, on Tuesday. Three people had been hit and the shooter was dead, but the motive for the attack remained mysterious. Even so, gun-control barker Sen. Dianne Feinstein was quick to weigh in.

“Only in America is a shooter unleashing gunfire in an office building a common occurrence,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “Only in America are people evacuating the scene of a shooting with their hands on their heads is a familiar sight.”

Like fellow Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Jackie Speier, Feinstein mentioned nothing about the shooter. The old-line establishment media were expecting a Republican male, an NRA member with a MAGA hat out to take down Hillary voters. As it turned out, the shooter was a woman and not a right-wing conservative type at all. In fact, it wasn’t even close. 

Her name is Nasim Najafi Aghdam and according to news reports, the 39-year-old moved with her family from Iran to California in 1996, when she was 17. According to her website, Aghdam, also known as Nasim Sabz, had YouTube channels in Farsi, Turkish, English, and one channel dedicated to hand art.

With her dark hair and prominent brows, Aghdam bore strong resemblance to Mexican Communist painter Frida Kahlo, but with the rather stunned expression of the first person in a 1950s science-fiction movie to see the flying saucer. Like Kahlo, Aghdam was fond of self-portraits, and she tarted up in gooey gowns, black ninja outfits, and tight leopard-skin gear. In a 2009 protest outside of the Camp Pendleton Marine base, Aghdam donned a black wig that left her looking like a cross between horror-movie hostess Elvira and Cher on a bad-hair day.

The Iranian immigrant styled herself as a “vegan bodybuilder” but her videos might all be titled “How do I Love Me, Let Me Count the Ways.” Nasim the narcissist prances around ranting about the evils of meat, preening for the camera and parodying celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. Unlike Swift, Lady Nasim had little if any talent but her nightmarish videos may have been about more than self-parody.

Her site includes videos about the dangers of anal sex but Nasim didn’t say whether she had a bad experience with that activity, perhaps back in Iran. Likewise, she did not indicate what kind of sex she believed is healthy and clean. Other videos blast popular culture as decadent and tout the benefits of a vegan diet. Nasim believed “animal rights equal human rights,” not exactly a mainstream view.

In one video she reportedly appears in a hijab but from posts on the Interfaith Vegan Alliance site, where she appears as Nasim Sabz, she appears to be an adherent of the Bahai faith. That raises questions about her native Iran, an Islamic state that viciously persecutes the followers of Bahב’u’llבh, who claimed to be the messenger of God long after Mohammed. If Nasim Najafi Aghdam disagreed with Iran’s Islamist regime in any way, or has a beef with Islam itself, it does not emerge in her videos or blog posts.

“BE AWARE!” she explained in one post. “Dictatorship exists in all countries but with different tactics! They only care for personal short term profits” and fool simple minded people by “destroying family values, promoting materialism and sexual degeneration in the name of freedom.” But Nasim believed “there is no free speech in the real world” and “you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system.” And Nasim Najafi Aghdam makes it clear that she is the one being suppressed because YouTube restricted her videos.

To all but the willfully blind, Nasim Najafi Aghdam was a certifiable nut job and how she managed to procure a handgun remains unclear at this writing. A family member warned that she might do something violent, but as in the Parkland shooting that warning went unheeded.

So Nasim Aghdam drove up to San Bruno, walked into YouTube headquarters, and there shot and wounded two women and one man she didn’t even know and who doubtless had no responsibility for the repression of her videos. Then she shot herself to death.

Women don’t normally do that and even in California nothing quite like this had ever happened. Even so, the familiar pattern emerged from Dianne Feinstein.

For the California Democrat, the fault was not with the shooter, a deranged woman she did not even name. The problem was not with the disregarding of a clear warning or possible violation of gun laws. The problem was with America because, as Feinstein said, “Only in America is a shooter unleashing gunfire in an office building a common occurrence.”

The San Francisco Democrats, as Jeane Kirkpatrick observed, “always blame America first.” That holds true for a terrorist attack in Lebanon, a Communist insurgency in Central America, and even a shooting at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno. 


The Red Pill and Candace Owens
In the movie “The Matrix,” swallowing a red pill reveals the truth, while downing a blue pill leaves you trapped in illusion.

Today, in the parlance of some political activists, “taking the red pill” means seeing the lies of mainstream media — and learning the truth.

“People don’t care to watch CNN anymore: People pay attention to YouTubers,” says Candace Owens. Owens is a young black woman who created a YouTube site she calls Red Pill Black. “My second video went trending worldwide with 80 million views.”

My new Internet videos sometimes reach 10 million people; I consider that a lot. This woman’s video reached 80 million?

She released it shortly after a man at a Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing a woman.

At that time, media coverage of racism was everywhere. Cable news talked about “America’s lack of racial progress” and threats to minorities posed by white nationalists. “CNN was trying to sell to me, as a black person, that the KKK was alive and well,” Owens added. “That was ridiculous.”

In her video, she sarcastically shouts, “OMG, Charlottesville! White supremacy is alive and well!” Then she goes on to argue, “Black people have scarier things on the horizon than the almost-endangered species of white supremacy.”

Owens also objects to the way the media cover police brutality. It leads some people to believe that the biggest threat to young blacks is the police.

“Fact No. 1: Approximately 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by other black people,” she says.

I pushed back, pointing out that there still is plenty of racism, and some innocent people have been tortured by police.

“That’s absolutely right. Some innocent people have also been struck by lightning. Sixteen unarmed black men were killed by police officers in 2016. If you are watching CNN you would’ve thought it happened every single day. OK? That’s a problem.”

Owens (correctly) said thousands of young black men were killed by other black men, whereas “sixteen represents .00004 percent of the black community.”

Media coverage of Black Lives Matter, she says, also creates a distorted picture of what’s going on.

“Black Lives Matter actually resulted in more black deaths across the country, because police officers don’t want to answer the call.” (Some authorities dispute that. Killings nationwide did rise after the shooting in Ferguson, but more recently they dropped.)

But Owen’s main argument is that the media mislead. The biggest issue facing blacks today is not racism or police shootings, she says, but dependence on government that began 50 years ago with Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs.

“They incentivized mothers not to marry fathers. That’s why single motherhood is up. The government would give you more if you didn’t marry him.”

That’s a fairly common view among conservatives, but among blacks, says Owens, it’s easier to tell your family you’re gay than to reveal that you’re a conservative.

“My entire family’s on welfare, save a couple people. What [welfare] does is essentially offer you some money and then say, ‘Whenever you work, you don’t make enough, so we’re gonna give you this much money on top of that.’” As a result, she says people think, “I don’t want to make more because the government is already giving me $500 that I don’t want to lose.”

Saying such things brings Owens criticism from social justice warriors of the Left.

“What people don’t understand” though, she says, “is how many black people are excited about what I’m doing … how many are very aware that they have been duped by the Left.”

Owens is far from the first black conservative. But, she says, others “have not been successful in the past because they cared too much about what people thought. … We’re doing it differently … talking a lot of trash.” Giving out red pills.

Having an edgy sense of humor is one way she does it. So is knowing history and literature better than her critics.

“You can feel free to call me an Uncle Tom. You can feel free to call me an Auntie Tom. It does not affect me,” she says. “Do you want to know why? Because I actually read the book. Uncle Tom was the hero.”


Amnesty International’s war on ‘Toxic Twitter’ is an insult to women

Amnesty International, best known for campaigning against human-rights abuses abroad, is turning its attention closer to home.

Alongside raising awareness of the plight of foreign prisoners of conscience, Amnesty now wants to draw the public’s attention to a new group of victims: women who use social media. With its Don’t Let #ToxicTwitter Silence Women initiative, the crusading non-governmental organisation beloved of letter-writing liberals moves from the torture of prisoners to nasty tweets in the click of a mouse.

The starting point for Amnesty’s latest campaign is the assumption that women experience ‘a toxic environment online’ and are ‘subdued to silence’ as a result. Their research explains:

‘Every day, women face violent threats, sexism, racism and more on Twitter. This abuse is flooding Twitter, forcing women out of public conversations – and at times driving them off the platform. The abuse can be more intense for women of colour, women with disabilities; lesbian, bisexual, transwomen, and non-binary people.’

Amnesty’s aim is to ‘make sure Twitter becomes a safe space for movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, and not a place where women are silenced out of fear of violence and abuse’.

For an organisation that has traditionally campaigned around wrongful imprisonment and torture to use the word ‘violence’ to describe online comments – words – is astonishing. Elsewhere, Amnesty asks us to ‘imagine being beaten, electrocuted, having your face cut, having your fingernails pulled out’. Surely no worse than reading a sweary, critical tweet, right?

Words can indeed have a visceral impact; they can motivate and inspire, upset or humiliate people. But the distinction between physical violence and offensive language is important to maintain. And, in reality, most people know this. I suspect few members of Amnesty go around telling victims of police brutality, those who’ve lost family members in Yemen or children bombed out of their houses in Syria, that the violence they have experienced is just the same as hearing hateful words.

As well as redefining violence, Amnesty’s #ToxicTwitter campaign redefines free speech. Amnesty’s support for free speech has long been qualified by calls to restrict ‘hate speech’ and to ‘protect specific public interest or the rights and reputations of others’. But this new initiative goes further and argues that women’s free speech online is only possible with regulation of social media and restrictions on what can be said – in short, censorship. According to this twisted logic, free speech for some requires that others are silenced.

A problem with all campaigns against ‘hate speech’ and online ‘violence and abuse’ is that offence is subjective. One person’s abuse is another person’s criticism. What some might experience as violence, others consider a passionate, heated exchange of ideas. Amnesty’s research covers the abuse received by MSP Kezia Dugdale:

‘In Scotland the phrase would be “Daft wee lassie complex”. It means she doesn’t know what she’s talking about – she’s too young, too female to really understand what she’s going on about. So people will question your intelligence by referring to your gender. That’s probably the most common theme.’

Being called a ‘daft wee lassie’ might be patronising. But offensive? Abusive? Hardly. What’s really offensive is the idea that women need Amnesty International to protect them from such comments.

The blurring of criticism and abuse and the equation of words with violence depend upon women being seen as vulnerable and unable to cope with free speech. The #ToxicTwitter campaign portrays women as fragile rather than robust. But rather than challenging this condescending notion, today’s feminists are at the forefront of seeking out offence. Offence justifies the need for feminism when finding material inequalities between the sexes becomes harder. To be a feminist today means arguing for protection from offence.

In the US, the National Association of Scholars has brought together research showing women are far less favourable to free speech than men. Opinion polls of college students show that women see promoting diversity and inclusion as more important than free speech. Seventy-one per cent of women polled believe that ‘hate speech’ should not be protected by the First Amendment, compared to 56 per cent of men. Thirty-three per cent of women said it was important for colleges to create a positive environment by prohibiting speech that is offensive or biased against certain groups, and a similar proportion said colleges should be able to restrict political speech.

Arguing against free speech has become integral to feminism. Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, questions the need to ‘debate’ (her scare quotes) issues such as workplace sexual harassment. In her latest book, Misogynation, she characterises such debates as ‘dismissal, doubt and disbelief’. ‘Presenting something as “up for debate” leads listeners to think there are two equally valid sides to the story’, she argues: ‘Sometimes there aren’t.’ We see here how criticism becomes interpreted as a denial of the feminist’s worldview, an act of violence that must be prevented. Conversely, demanding censorship and the closing down of debate becomes a validation of the feminist cause.

What today’s censorious feminists have forgotten is that every major victory for women’s rights – the right of women to attend university, to vote, for equal pay, for access to abortion and contraception – was at one time considered grossly offensive by some. If causing offence had been prohibited, not one of these campaigns would have got off the ground. Women’s rights were won not by asking to be protected, but by offending. Rolling back free speech in the name of feminism is truly insulting to women.


Democrats Finally Find Some Media Bias They Dislike

Last month, news anchors at Sinclair Broadcast Group’s TV stations were required to read a script critical of “fake stories” and general bias in the major news networks. Because some of the phrasing mirrored President Donald Trump’s overcooked critique of liberal media outlets, the story triggered widespread and overwrought warnings about authoritarianism and the rise of state-run media.

It’s true that Sinclair, the largest owner of U.S. TV stations, would have been better off following the lead of the big outlets: hiring and working with people who subscribe to the same worldview and then simply letting them do their thing. But as long as we have a media market and inhibit government meddling in speech — thank you, Citizens United and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai — the idea that we are powerless to turning away from “propaganda” is nothing but alarmism. Every Sinclair market has an alternative local news station for viewers, not to mention other sources of information consumers can read and listen to if they desire.

Then again, having read the panicky coverage before watching the Sinclair videos, I was surprised by the innocuousness of the spots. The anchors were plainly reading a scripted public service announcement that claimed there is a “troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories” at major news outlets and then offering themselves as an alternative. They then cautioned viewers to avoid the “sharing of biased and false news” on social media, which is, I am often told, a plague on democracy. “But we are human and sometimes our reporting might fall short,” the script goes on to say. “If you believe our coverage is unfair please reach out to us.”

The rhetoric was a less sanctimonious version of CNN’s apples and bananas commercial from a few months ago — another finger wagging aimed at political foes and competitors. One peculiar complaint about the Sinclair spots is that local anchors were being “forced” — a word widely used by those reporting on the incident — to read opinions they do not share. “I felt like a POW recording a message,” one aggrieved newsreader told CNN. As a writer, I can sympathize with people being asked to say things that undermine their beliefs. In truth, though, no one can force you to say or write anything. If you find the words “fake” and “news” morally and professionally objectionable, quit.

The concept of free will has little part in any of our national conversations these days. You’d think that Russian bots, Facebook posts and local news anchors all have the preternatural ability to burrow into your brain and make your choices for you.

CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter went as far as to claim that viewers were being “force-fed” the Sinclair viewpoint, which would mean that every time an outlet is “leaning forward” or telling us that “Democracy Dies in Darkness” or lecturing us about “fake news,” it, too, is force-feeding consumers their partisan talking points.

It’s clear that the oversized reaction to the Sinclair script is occurring because it flaunted the wrong bias. And considering the often sycophantic treatment the previous administration received from major news outlets, it’s difficult to take those acting appalled very seriously. In fact, those who act most disturbed are in part responsible for the rise of openly partisan journalism. That’s because in many ways, politically motivated news is as much a market reaction as an ideological one.

Take CNN’s full-blown push for gun control over the past few weeks. Is the network any less culpable of the supposed manipulation of democracy when it features a virtually unchallenged — and often fact-challenged — opinion that runs in a loop for a week? CNN wasn’t alone. Surely, it’s not surprising that many Americans might seek out alternative coverage, especially in conservative areas, where Sinclair is strongest. If the wealthiest legacy networks — the ones the public relies on because they have the most access — keep treating one party with standards and an intensity they don’t apply to the other, then no one should be surprised by a pushback.

Maybe it’s for the best. After all, advocacy journalism isn’t necessarily propaganda. Politically motivated journalists tend to concentrate on specific targets, but their work can be worthwhile and factually sound. It’s likely that the news coverage of the Sinclair affiliates, most of which are run independently, are just as reliable as that of the majors. But in a broader sense, competing biases keep the other side challenged. Meanwhile, let’s continue reading all news with the appropriate skepticism and filters.

And it shouldn’t be forgotten that there are plenty of conscientious journalists. Most media bias, it seems to me, is an organic byproduct of journalists’ worldview, not some conspiracy to mislead the public. But everyone has a bias. There’s nothing wrong with pointing it out. Sinclair’s real sin, though, is that it was ham-fisted about the wrong kind.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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