Some Online ‘Mobs’ Are Vicious. Others Are Perfectly Rational.

Join us: facebook.com/unitedhumanists

Isn’t it amazing what people can do when they put their minds together? On a Monday in July, a casting announcement blitzed the Hollywood press: Scarlett Johansson would star in a forthcoming drama as Dante (Tex) Gill, a real-life 1970s underworld kingpin who, according to Deadline, “flourished in a male-dominated business of massage parlors and prostitution by essentially taking on the physical identity of a man.” Within hours, though, suspicions were brewing.

Online commenters noted that Gill appeared to live as what we would now call a transgender man, not a woman “cross-dressing” to get ahead. Trans actors and writers asked whether this rare role as a trans man should perhaps be played by a trans man. By the time Daniella Greenbaum, a conservative writer at Business Insider, defended Johansson for just “doing her job,” the wrath she met was so forceful that her editor scrubbed the column from the web. Twelve days into the controversy, Johansson announced her decision to “respectfully withdraw” from the project.

Greenbaum’s new project was just beginning. First she wrote and shared a letter of resignation, criticizing Business Insider’s editor, Nich Carlson, for “capitulation on the part of those who are supposed to be adults to the mob.” Of Johansson’s withdrawal, she tweeted: “The mob claims one more victim.” In an op-ed for The Washington Post, she bemoaned the “policing of speech and opinion” by a “social media mob”; in another, for The New York Post, she warned that the online crowd was gaining strength and that “the mob only gets hungrier when it eats.”

It has been a summer of Hollywood mobbings. When the actor and director Mark Duplass recommended that his fellow liberals might get something out of following the conservative pundit Ben Shapiro on Twitter, the crowd rebuffed his suggestion so strongly that he was forced to issue a formal apology. An online crew dredged up old tweets in which James Gunn, the director of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, made jokes about pedophilia, so Disney axed him. And when 4chan and Reddit dwellers resurrected a risqué “Dexter” parody from 2009, in which the comedy writer Dan Harmon simulated the rape of a plastic baby doll, Harmon nuked his Twitter. Big Hollywood players, fearing the next takedown, are redrawing contracts and purging feeds.

 

Each of these online storms seems, at first, to follow the same script: Locate the target and pummel them with outrage until reputational damage has been sustained. Zoom in, though, and crucial distinctions emerge. The supposedly bloodthirsty mob that robbed Johansson of her role appears, on close examination, more like a critical consensus — one in which genuine stakeholders, including trans Hollywood players, responded spontaneously to dispiriting news. Johansson and her film’s producers had simply failed to read the room and were treated to a sustained round of sincere and mostly uncoordinated boos.

The mobbing of Gunn was another animal entirely. Mike Cernovich — the same internet figure who helped foment Gamergate (a sustained harassment campaign against feminists in the gaming profession) and Pizzagate (a conspiracy theory claiming that liberal politicians were molesting children in a Washington pizzeria) — was one of a few right-wing trolls who spied an opportunity to engineer an outrage campaignagainst a liberal “elite.” Together they pounded it into Twitter until they got results.

But recent rhetoric attributes it all to the same shadowy force: The mob has claimed another victim.

Our popular understanding of a “mob” is more than a century old, tracing back to an 1895 book called “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind,” by the French polymath Gustave Le Bon. Just as critics of “Twitter mobs” worry about people’s behavior when they move from real life to the internet, Le Bon was skeptical about the shift from an agrarian society to city living. The urban crowd, he wrote, is marked by “impulsiveness, irritability, incapacity to reason” and “the exaggeration of the sentiments.” A man on his own “may be a cultivated individual,” but “in a crowd, he is a barbarian.” Over the next several decades, Le Bon’s work attracted many influential fans: Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler.

In the second half of the 20th century, though, sociologists began to puncture these assumptions. Carl Couch argued in a 1968 paper that crowds often appear irrational only because they are working against the “established institutions of the day” — a “mob” was merely what authorities called it when “people organize their behavior on the basis of a different set of norms.” Far from being hyperemotional and irrational, crowds were ruled by the “highly rational” insight that their power was in their numbers. And despite a reputation for destruction, crowds “have generally been as gentle as a loving mother when compared with the established authority.”

Whether a group is labeled a “mob” often does have more to do with its aims than its tactics. The angry crowds coded as mobs are those whose actions are later condemned by history — the pogroms that murdered Jews in Russia or the lynch mobs of the Jim Crow South. Those whose ideas are eventually adopted and normalized become, in hindsight, revolutionaries.

Mob members are also often styled as an underclass, armed with a peasant laborer’s pitchfork and torch — as though the primal fear is that society’s discontents, a mass of people “beneath” you, will rise up, and not in a spirit of reason, fairness or mercy. Just about everyone, these days, seems eager to claim that underdog status — but there are those who lack institutional power because of discrimination, and then there are those who are kept out of polite society because they are amoral ghouls. The true nature of a mob becomes a lot clearer once you differentiate between the two.

The Johansson “mob,” for instance, was dedicated to challenging a fault in the status quo, punctuated by trans actors’ insights into the ways Hollywood was embracing their stories but still boxing them out of participating in telling them; it seemed less interested in punishing Johansson than in gaining opportunities for trans people. (As the actor Jen Richards told The Hollywood Reporter: “In an ideal world, I would like anyone to be able to play any kind of part. That’s the kind of freedom I want for myself and the kind of freedom I want for others” — a kind of thoughtfulness easily obscured by lumping her in with an irrational “mob.”)

The Gunn mob was led by a clutch of far-right men who only frame themselves as outsiders and use as their weapon the most thoroughly accepted norm they can find: that pedophilia is indefensible. The insincerity of their complaint — or the fact that Gunn apologized for his jokes years ago — doesn’t matter, because the goal isn’t to change anything; it’s merely to destroy a rival. As one 4chan user wrote of the Harmon mob, which formed in the wake of the Gunn win: “If they get to take scalps for someone making racist jokes, we get to take scalps for them making pedophilia jokes.”

Like a pitchfork, Twitter is an imperfect tool. Its brevity suppresses nuance; its virtuality opens the door for insincerity; it incentivizes people with no true investment in a controversy to weigh in anyway. And the internet has primed us to demand instantaneous results: When everything we want to know or buy can be accessed with a few clicks, perhaps we expect that justice be served just as swiftly. Members of some crowds acknowledge that these conditions are less than ideal. But for disingenuous outrage trolls, the blunt instrument of outrage is an end in itself: The crude result of getting someone fired is the entire point.

 

It’s true that internet mobs are rarely sated until they achieve some reduction in their target’s authority and power — often a firing. (They’re occasionally referred to as “lynch mobs,” as though losing a career opportunity were a kind of modern extrajudicial killing.) These mobs may not literally have the power to rip words from the web or push an actor off a call sheet, but they intuit that a big-enough public-relations disaster can force corporate interests to do it for them, whether the corporation finds the complaint valid or not.

It may be the employer or the publisher who ultimately makes that call, but it’s the mob that gets the attention — and some targets are beginning to find that blaming the mob is a smart P.R. move. No surprise, then, that so many “mobbings” are slickly converted into opportunities for grandstanding among self-styled freethinkers, their individuality under assault by the politically correct masses. Courting wrath on the internet can give you a powerful tale of persecution to share, surfing a wave of raised fists to fame. Greenbaum, for instance, rode her mobbing from The Washington Post to The New York Post and onward to Fox News, where she perched in a guest chair opposite Tucker Carlson and spoke about the “silencing” she experienced. And Carlson, for his part, found a way to indict the irrational masses and the liberal elites in the same breath. “Even the biggest Hollywood stars,” he marveled, “are no longer safe from the mobs they created.”

 

Source : https://nyti.ms/2MD2npD

Advertisements

Nine-year-old boy dies after beating by Buddhist monk.

Join us : facebook.com/unitedhumanists

Nine-year-old boy dies after beating by Buddhist monk.

Bangkok (AFP) – A nine-year-old Buddhist novice has died after a beating by a Thai monk who allegedly battered him with a stick and slammed his head against a pillar, officials said.

Monk Suphachai Suthiyano, 64, flew into a rage during a prayer session last weekend when the young disciple disrupted the ceremony with his “playful” behaviour.

The monk allegedly assaulted Wattanapol Sisawad with a bamboo stick at the temple in Kanchanaburi, two hours west of Bangkok, striking him on his back several times before bashing his head into a pillar.

The child fell into a coma and passed away late Thursday, a hospital worker at Kanchanaburi provincial hospital told AFP on Friday, requesting anonymity.

The incident comes as Thailand, a majority-Buddhist country, grapples with multiple other scandals among its clergy, including cases of extortion, sex and drug use.

The suspect, who was defrocked on Sunday following his arrest, was charged earlier this week with assault.

Police Captain Amnaj Chunbult said the charge will be revised to “assault resulting in death” once he receives official confirmation.

The boy’s mother Sukunya Tunhim told Thai media in a taped phone call she “will not forgive him (the monk)”.

An official from the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the National Police Office in Bangkok confirmed an autopsy had already taken place, and that the boy’s relatives have reclaimed his body.

The Buddhist faith is bound with everyday life in Thailand, making it commonplace for most men, even children, to spend some time in a monastery as a novice.

Monks are virtually beyond reproach in the country’s villages, but the ruling junta has taken a strong line against clergy who break the law.

Earlier this month, Thailand’s infamous “jet-set monk” — so-called after footage emerged of him carrying a Louis Vuitton bag on a private jet — was sentenced to 114 years in prison for money-laundering and fraud.

In May the abbot of the popular “Golden Mount” temple in Bangkok surrendered to police after $4 million was found in bank accounts in his name.

The case came on the heels of an ongoing investigation into whether the National Office of Buddhism had misused millions of dollars under its control.

Authorities last year floated the idea of introducing digitised ID cards to better track monks with criminal convictions.

Source : https://yhoo.it/2xEXdTQ

Canada defiant after Saudi Arabia freezes trade over rights criticism.

Join us: facebook.com/unitedhumanists

Canada defiant after Saudi Arabia freezes trade over rights criticism.

OTTAWA — Canada on Monday refused to back down in its defense of human rights after Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa’s call to free arrested Saudi civil society activists.

In her first public response to Saudi Arabia’s actions, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women’s rights are human rights.”

Riyadh on Sunday recalled its ambassador from Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave. The Saudi government also banned new trade with Canada, although it was unclear if it would affect existing annual Saudi-Canadian trade of nearly $4 billion and a $13 billion defense contract.

The moves were a stern rebuke to Canada after the country on Friday expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia, including prominent women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi, and called for their release.

Riyadh said that amounted to “a blatant interference in the kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols.”

Saudi Arabia’s sudden sharp response to criticism shows the limits of reforms by Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who runs its day-to-day government. He has launched a campaign of social and economic change, but has not eased the absolute monarchy’s total ban on political activism.

In recent months Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on women driving, but it has also arrested activists, including more than a dozen high-profile campaigners for women’s rights.

In the fist comments by Washington since the dispute erupted, a State Department official said the United States had asked Riyadh for details on the detention of activists.

“We continue to encourage the government of Saudi Arabia to respect due process and to publicize information on the status of legal cases,” the official added.

On Monday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir criticized Canada’s calls to free arrested civil society activists as a position built on “misleading” information.

The moves, carried on the official Saudi Press Agency, caught diplomats in Riyadh off guard. Both the Saudi and Canadian ambassadors were away on leave at the time.

The kingdom will suspend educational exchange programs with Canada and move Saudi scholarship recipients to other countries, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported on Monday.

“It would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of the opportunity to study here,” Freeland told reporters.

Neighbors and allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates said they stood with Riyadh, although they did not announce similar measures.

Saudi state airline Saudia said it was suspending flights to and from Toronto, Canada’s largest city.

As heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed is in line to become the first Saudi king from a new generation after a succession of six brothers dating to 1953. He has ambitions to diversify the economy from oil exports and ease some social restrictions. But his reforms include no changes that would liberalize a political system that allows no public dissent.

Amnesty International said the response to Canada showed that it was important Western countries not be intimidated into silence over Riyadh’s treatment of dissenters.

“Instead of pursuing human rights reform, the government of Saudi Arabia has chosen to lash out with punitive measures in the face of criticism,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

Riyadh has a record of responding robustly to Western criticism under Mohammed bin Salman.

“Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot. If you want to open up your country to the world, you don’t start expelling ambassadors and freezing trade with countries such as Canada,” said Joost Hiltermann, regional program director for the International Crisis Group.

Source : https://nbcnews.to/2vp9Kuk

 

Tokyo medical school admits changing results to exclude women.

Join us : facebook.com/unitedhumanists

Tokyo medical school admits changing results to exclude women.

One of Japan’s most prestigious medical schools has admitted deliberately altering entrance exam scores for more than a decade to restrict the number of female students and ensure more men became doctors.

Tokyo Medical University manipulated all entrance exam results starting in 2006 or even earlier, according to findings released by lawyers involved in the investigation, confirming recent reports in Japanese media.

The school,  which initially denied knowledge of the test score , said it should not have occurred and vowed to prevent it from happening again.

It said it would consider retroactively admitting those who otherwise would have passed the exams, although it did not explain how it would do so.

“We sincerely apologise for the serious wrongdoing involving entrance exams that has caused concern and trouble for many people and betrayed the public’s trust,” the school’s managing director, Tetsuo Yukioka, said at a news conference. He denied any previous knowledge of the score manipulation and said he was never involved.

“I suspect that there was a lack of sensitivity to the rules of modern society, in which women should not be treated differently because of their gender,” he said.

Yukioka said women were not treated differently once they were accepted, but acknowledged that some people believe women were not allowed to become surgeons.

The manipulation was revealed during an investigation into the alleged “backdoor entry” of an education ministry bureaucrat’s son in exchange for favorable treatment for the school in obtaining research funds. The bureaucrat and the former head of the school have been charged with bribery.

The investigation found that in this year’s entrance exams the school reduced all applicants’ first-stage test scores by 20% and then added at least 20 points for male applicants, except those who had previously failed the test at least four times. It said similar manipulations had occurred for years because the school wanted fewer female doctors, since it anticipated they would shorten or halt their careers after having children.

It is not clear how many women have been affected, but the practice started in 2006, according to Japanese media, potentially affecting a large number of candidates.

The education ministry official’s son, who had failed the exam three times, was given a total of 20 additional points, which eventually elevated him to just above the cutoff line.

The report said the manipulation was “profound sexism”, according to lawyer Kenji Nakai.

He said the investigation also suggested that the school’s former director took money from some parents who sought preferential treatment for their sons and that the manipulation was part of a deep-rooted culture that lacked fairness and transparency.

Nakai said the report only covered the latest exam results because of time constraints, and that further investigation was needed.

Nearly 50% of Japanese women are college educated — one of the world’s highest levels — but they often face discrimination in the workforce. Women also are considered responsible for homemaking, childrearing and caring for elderly relatives, while men are expected to work long hours. Outside care services are limited.

Studies show the share of female doctors who have passed the national medical exam has plateaued at around 30% for more than 20 years, leading some experts to suspect that other medical schools also discriminate against women.

The revelations have added weight to claims of institutional sexism in the Japanese workplace and education, frustrating efforts by the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to create a society “in which women can shine”.

While women’s representation in the workplace is rising, Japan compares poorly with other countries in promoting women to senior positions. Many female employees find it difficult to return to work after giving birth.

The education minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, said exam discrimination against women was “absolutely unacceptable,” adding that the ministry planned to examine admission procedures at all of the country’s medical schools.

The gender equality minister, Seiko Noda, told public broadcaster NHK: “It’s extremely disturbing if the university didn’t let women pass the exams because they think it’s difficult to work with female doctors.”

The revelations sparked fury on social media. “I’m 29 and will probably never get married,” said one poster. “Women are pitied if they don’t, but Japanese women who are married and working and have kids end up sleeping less than anybody in the world. To now hear that even our skills are suppressed makes me shake with rage.”

Another said: “I ignored my parents, who said women don’t belong in academia, and got into the best university in Japan. But in job interviews I’m told ‘If you were a man, we’d hire you right away.’ My enemy wasn’t my parents, but all society itself.”

The lawyers also said that the university’s former chairman and president had received money from the parents of applicants whose entrance exam scores were padded, according to Kyodo.

They allegedly raised the exam results of the children of former graduates in the hope that the parents would make donations to the school, the news agency said.

Source : https://bit.ly/2nlVJt2