July 10, 2008

Beyond White Whine

Hank Williams has a great post in which he explores the 2008 definition or racism.

Today, racism’s definition is so circumscribed, that for many it is almost impossible to find a valid use case. For many, it would require calling a black man a nigger or saying, I hate black people, or doing something equivalently overt. Of course, for some, even the use of the word nigger does not warrant the racism label, since black people use it amongst themselves. It’s not fair, defenders say, to give a word to black people that white people can’t use.

Interestingly, for many, it’s also not valid to label language as racist if it not in the form of a statement. It’s a bit like Jeopardy. Any potentially racist language is not racist if you change the form to a question, or in Loren Feldman’s case, a joke. Then you can, apparently, say absolutely anything.
Read it.

Hank gives rich context for his thoughts, life context, which many of Feldman's minions lack. While I'm not sure I agree with Hank that silence = support, I do believe that the social media power brokers actually saying something useful on the topic would be a Good Thing. This is a racially traumatized country, and this industry is no more healthy. They might start with asking Feldman what precisely he intends to do to execute threats like these directed at Lynne D. Johnson:
You are an unethical piece of shit. YOU ARE A LIAR. And you did it on purpose to help fastcompany. Shame on you, I will never stop till I have your job, bank on it. - loren feldman

Tim she is a complete liar. And she will pay, you'll see my friend. - loren feldman
From the man who has proclaimed, "Black People Are Lame," and "Black People Can't Get It Together," I find the righteous indignation over backlash created by a Big Brand not wanting to be associated with a Web 2.0 minstrel act a bit much.

While Feldman obsesses on whether Winer made the call or Scoble made the call, the bottom line is some future enemy would have made the call if one of his past associates hadn't.

In the end, it is how it has always been: you own your own words.


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Nathan Rein said...

Yeah, I can't believe anyone's so tuned-out as to think the Verizon deal wouldn't have eventually got quashed. No major U.S. brand -- old media, new media, whatever -- is going to associate itself with a figure who's best known for an Internet video called "TechNigga." Someone probably got called on the carpet at V-CAST for letting it ever get this far.

Tom said...

First, let me just say this isn’t an attack on you. I will admit that I think I disagree with you. But I also might legitimately not understand something and if that’s the case I’m asking for your help to understand it further.

Now, first, I’m hoping you can concede that the techn**** video might just have been satire in poor taste. It’s important to my point which is that the idea that Loren Feldman is a racist is debatable. He might be, I don’t think he is, but it’s possible. But it’s also possible that he’s not.

If he’s not, than the techn***** video is just starire in poor taste which is in turn just a mistake on his part.

Now looking at Ms (or Mrs, I never know which is right) Johnson’s comments they were inaccurate by her own admission. So she also made a mistake. You can claim her mistake was less than Feldman’s mistake but one way or the other we’re probably just looking at two people who made mistakes here.

So, and here’s where my point comes in, in your post you quoted Loren Feldman as saying…

You are an unethical piece of shit. YOU ARE A LIAR. And you did it on purpose to help fastcompany. Shame on you, I will never stop till I have your job, bank on it. -
Now I agree with you that his statement there is wrong. Immoral even. But his threatening Ms (Mrs/Miss/whatever) Johnson’s job for a mistake is exactly what the protestors did to him. So if these two people are on even footing (which is a point of contention which I’ll address in a minute) than both his threats and the protestors threats are either both right or both wrong. Because both are saying that it’s ok to take someone’s job away based on you feeling what they said was bad.

OK, so now the question comes down to is it to take someone’s job away because you feel they are a bad person.

To look at that point I ask you to place yourself back in the 40s during the time where the House Committee on Un-America Activities existed. At that time, Hollywood formed a blacklist of actors/writers/producers that might have communist leanings and refused to employ them. Two things to remember here…

1. The Black list was not by Government edict. Hollywood created it voluntarily.

2. These “communist leanings” are no different than how a lot of actors feel now, Sean Penn for an example has made a point of calling Castro, a communist leader, a genius. So, if he lived in the 40, Penn wouldn’t be able to find work.

So my question is this, was the blacklist right in your opinion? Because if it wasn’t than so too are the protestors wrong for working to take Feldman’s job away.
Again, they are fine in thinking Feldman is wrong just as the people who formed the blacklist were fine thinking communists were bad but where the blacklist makers went wrong is in thinking they had the right to take another’s job away based on how they felt and that is exactly what the protestors did here.

So I guess my question is: Do you see what I’m saying here? Or more accurately, if you think I’m wrong where is the flaw in my logic?

P.S. Sorry this is so long