like when food courts replaced downtowns
Friday, June 7 2013
Last night and today marked perhaps the longest uninterrupted rain shower I can remember. It wasn't ever an especially hard rain, but the drops hitting the gutter outside the bedroom were loud enough to drive Gretchen into the teevee room to sleep on the couch.
Today I went to post something on Facebook and learned that something I'd posted had resulted in a Facebook enforcement action, which, in keeping with the increasing corporatization of all public space (and the free speech within it), was completely extrajudicial. The post I'd made was to the Christians for Michele Bachmann Facebook page, a satirical "troll watering hole." There the trolls gather in character and say extremist right wing things to each other in an effort to mock actual right wingers. The post I'd made was in reaction to a picture someone had posted of the overcrowded indoor conditions typical of "cage free" chicken farms. My picture had been of several dozen starving naked holocaust victims standing beneath a caption reading "Our Humans are Cage-Free." Somehow the powers on Facebook that be had gotten wind of this post and decided not only to purge it from the Christians for Michele Bachmann Facebook page but to also ban me for 24 hours from any Facebook activities beyond lurking. As always with Facebook, there was no arguing with this decision; I just had to accept it. I'm getting a sense, though, of what exactly is forbidden. In the past I've gotten smacked down for a satirical "Friends of Hamas" Facebook page, and now I'm getting smacked down for animal rights satire that uses imagery from the holocaust. Could it be that the Chinese-like censors at Facebook are particularly sensitive to satire that seems to come at the expense of Jews? Who can really say? As in China, there really isn't any clear way to know without feeding edge cases to the censors and seeing how they react. Most of the people posting at Christians for Michele Bachmann are clearly made-up troll identities, so if they get smacked down, it doesn't affect their main Facebook avatars. Perhaps I should likewise do my trolling from my various peripheral sock puppets. But I really shouldn't have to be thinking about such things; Facebook is now a de facto commons and, to the extent it lacks true First Amendment protections, culture itself is degraded, just as it was degraded thirty years ago when food courts replaced downtowns.
This evening Deborah came over for an informal meal of mashed potatos and "punk rock gravy." But since I don't eat mashed potatoes, Gretchen opened a can of chick peas for me to dump my gravy on. There was also roasted cauliflower, which is always nice. When I say "informal," I mean that Deborah joined Gretchen and me for our usual viewing of Jeopardy followed by Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell (instead of the usual Colbert Report), which was how we learned about the three 12 year old African American kids who have formed their own awesome instrumental heavy metal band.
Later we watched the Steve Carell vehicle entitled Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a darkly comic look at what life and romance (and road trips) might look like if an asteroid were predicted to destroy all life on Planet Earth in two week's time. A movie like that could fail in a lot of ways, and while it wasn't perfect, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was actually pretty good. There were a few cinematic clichés (he was old and square, she was pretty, young, and wild). But it ended up being a bit deep near the end, and ultimately subverted the biggest cinematic cliché of all.
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