G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Linda Tirado, the woman who was given $62,000 by random internet people after her post about her state of poverty went viral at Gawker, Jezebel and Huffington Post, has a video out at her website of herself talking about her poor dental situation.
She correctly points out how important a nice set of teeth is to getting respect and good work in our society. Unfortunately, her good points on the topic are masked by her gimmedat attitude as well as our knowledge that her situation – from her alleged poverty to even the problem with her teeth – is largely of her own lack of initiative and a poor future-time orientation which she seems to have picked up in a package deal with her wholesale purchase (or was it an inheritance?) of the liberal mindset.
Here I will go through Tirado’s initial post, her recent video, and some of her follow-up comments to show that she is a huckster and a whiner and that her donors are all dupes. It’s mainly a response to those who think that Tirado’s dramatic tooth exposure means that she deserved public sympathy and the $60k in donations and that there is no room to say that she did not have a hand in causing much of her current situation. I’ll also analyze some of her writings and commentary to point out that she’s full of herself that the therapy she says she underwent as a child may not have done the trick.
She went to Cranbrook, a boarding school attended most famously by Mitt Romney. She traveled to Europe after high school. She received music lessons as a kid. She’s married to a Marine with whom she says she owns a house. She worked on political campaigns. She quit her job before all of this to go back to school and was seeking ways to obtain “that sweet sweet free money”. (Oh, and for fun, here’s a post where she asks the Gawker forum whether she should consider being unfaithful to her veteran husband who hasn’t been the same since Fallujah; she wonders if she should tell him first or just do it).
After her windfall, Tirado said she was going to spend two nights in Vegas with her husband. She claimed that she never sought out the attention for her post and didn’t ask for money. But when the post received a little bit of interest in Gawker’s forum section, she asked Gawker Media editors to promote the piece to its main page which launched it into outer space. After that she set up the GoFundMe account.
And so, what exactly is wrong with her story?
First, Tirado is only poor because of a series of poor decisions she chose to make. Her relatively privileged upbringing cannot be ignored. The title of her post, “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts”, carries the connotation that she was poor and then started making terrible decisions because of that circumstance. But based on what we’ve learned about Tirado after her essay went wild on the internet, she doesn’t make poor decisions because she is poor. She is poor because she makes bad decisions. The causal arrow is crucial. I’m of the opinion – probably in line with most – that people who are born into poverty deserve more attention than people who squander their privilege and end up in the same boat.
Second, Tirado was given money under false pretenses. If dental problems are the cause of most of her woes today, as she asserts in her Youtube video, she should have posted something about that issue and seen how much money she could raise. Depending upon the way the wind was blowing on the internet that day, it’s not hard to imagine that she could have raised just as much money as she did in her poverty plea. Dental problems do have a negative impact on people’s job prospects and incomes. People are judged negatively if they have bad teeth. Tirado turns especially passionate in her video when she talks about how good teeth are status symbols. Her complaint on that front runs extremely deep in the sense that if she thinks this is a problem – she comments derisively about people with perfectly straight teeth – then she’ll have to rewire the natural human response to that particular trait. If Tirado wants to fix the “problem” of people responding differently to people with disparate physical attributes then she’s talking about a Harrison Bergeron situation.
And then there is Tirado’s defeatism, a worldview which is a vice to some and a virtue to others. Liberals read nobility into acceptances of personal defeat, and so to them Tirado’s Eyore impression was heroic at best and deserving of a few bucks at the least.
Tirado goes into detail about how her teeth came to their current state. She says that when she was about 20 she was T-boned in a car accident. Her car was totaled and her molars were cracked. She took the $9,000 from the insurance company in order to get a new car and only later told the insurance company that her tooth situation was causing her pain. The insurance company said that when she took the $9k she essentially settled the complaint in full. She complained on her video that she didn’t know the legal protocol, and, further, she didn’t know that she needed a lawyer in order to file for medical damages. She also didn’t say how much dental care at that early point would have cost. Certainly it would be much less than the $30,000 in work she claims she needs today. But she had the opportunity, and that’s all that the downtrodden have asked for, right?
At one point in the video testimony she admitted that programs to fix dental problems were out there for her to take advantage of – if only she had known about them. That’s the defeatism shining through. Tirado posits at the beginning of every single complaint that she was constitutionally powerless to remedy her setbacks because of her epistemological problem. Claiming not only ignorance but also the lack of opportunity to not be ignorant is a convenient cover for a life of screw ups.
Tirado talks about not being able to eat in front of people because of her dental situation. But she’s able to do this:
I smoke. It’s expensive. It’s also the best option. You see, I am always, always exhausted. It’s a stimulant. When I am too tired to walk one more step, I can smoke and go for another hour. When I am enraged and beaten down and incapable of accomplishing one more thing, I can smoke and I feel a little better, just for a minute. It is the only relaxation I am allowed. It is not a good decision, but it is the only one that I have access to. It is the only thing I have found that keeps me from collapsing or exploding.
I mean, it is understandable that someone would turn to quick and easy fixes to mask their immediate problems. But is it impossible? With the liberal worldview we are seeing an increased conflation of difficulty and short odds with a certain impossibility. That’s the vein that Tirado’s essay has tapped. The Left considers these one in the same. Helplessness and ignorance.
As with her decision to smoke rather than save money, Tirado admits that she is unwilling to invest in her own future. She wants pleasure now:
I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It’s not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn’t that I blow five bucks at Wendy’s. It’s that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase.
And then there is this:
You have to understand that the piece you read was taken out of context, that I never meant to say that all of these things were happening to me right now, or that I was still quite so abject. I am not. I am reasonably normally lower working class. I am exhausted and poor and can’t make all my bills all the time but I reconciled with my parents when I got pregnant for the sake of the kids and I have family resources. I can always make the amount of money I need in a month, it’s just that it doesn’t always match the billing cycles.
This is an important passage. The telling phrase is “but I reconciled with my parents”. This reeks of the ultimate goal of leftists – deracinate the family completely and foist all financial obligations onto society – or ‘the haves’. It has been a critique from the right and from people like Christopher Lasch that the ideals laid out in Marxist-styled progressivism leads to the deterioration of these familial bonds. Knowing that society will fill in the gaps historically occupied by the family turns family relationships into an untended garden. Relationships are not manicured; bonds are broken; rifts grow larger than they would if the parties knew that their family members are close to their last resort.
All the time at my restaurant job and just being around people who are poor I see petty differences destroying relationships between family members. Any complaint a child has against a parent or other family member becomes grounds for complete separation. It’s also part of “Can’t judge me” culture, which Tirado embraces:
I don’t like begging. I don’t like explaining. I don’t like hearing the tone. I don’t like it when people assume that I am making some shit up when it really is something that just happens to people like me a lot. When you can’t afford to pay ahead a month, despite your best intentions, sometimes the billing cycle and the pay cycle don’t match up quite right and you can’t quite make everything on time. And when you can’t afford emergency care, sometimes the damage compounds until you wake up and realize that it’s unsalvageable. And for approximately the billionth time this year, you have to decide that practicality wins over pride. Again. Because pride isn’t something you get to have.
Family relationships are busted because a parent or other family casts judgement on a stupid choice made by the younger person. This rebelliousness has been a virtue since the 1960s, but we are starting to realize that there is a downside. When a person wants to snuff out the judgement of their family they also often snuff out their most immediate support system. Embracing radical autonomy leads to the erosion of these bonds. It means you don’t care about me and I don’t care about you, and we’re all the worse for it.
Tirado talked about herself in a Gawker post before all of this went viral, displaying her pattern of making excuses for her own poor outcomes:
My stellar hubris as a teenager means I’m ineligible for any subsidized loans for my first year back until my GPA returns to something not so laughable. I’m wondering how they expect success if there’s no time to plan, but apparently people in my situation have usually gamed everything out before they reapply. I applied to see if they’d even let me in before I started to worry about funding or majors.
So how could we have all that much sympathy specifically for Tirado when a.) there are other people who don’t have access to the internet who are faring much worse, b.) she blew off her medical issue and allowed it to fester, c.) she continues to waste money on cigarettes, d.) she admits and fully embraces her poor future-time orientation and its requisite choice of immediate satisfaction over future benefits. Why should we think that any of those qualities she exhibits are caused by poverty rather than being the cause of her poverty?
But the liberal worldview does not allow us to ask how Tirado got to that point. Because that is being judgemental, and that’s a big no-no.
Other points – Tirado says that the work she needs to fix her teeth will cost about $30,000. She was given twice that amount, and will use the rest in order to write a book. That despite her own admission that she has no clue how to write a book. If she wanted to “pay it forward” she could perhaps use her windfall to fix her teeth and then give the rest to other individuals who need dental work. Or she could donate it to a group that would put the money to good use – a group that might invest it in such a way that the $30,000 will create more than $30,000 worth of benefit to others. If Tirado keeps the money and tries to raise awareness about dental problems then she’s probably putting that money to poor use. She’ll squander that money because she doesn’t seem to have the skills to work that kind of operation. And that’s a big if – more than likely she’ll keep the money for herself and not put it to any higher use. That will be the true test of whether her life problems are the result of being poor or just the result of being a poor decision-maker. I’m guessing it’ll be the latter.
Hoax stories fascinates me. It’s not so much the people perpetuating the hoax, but the machine that makes it such that we all hear about a story that someone fabricated that somehow rises to the level of Truth – or at least what some people believe to be The Truth. Every hoax requires someone believing that the underlying events were true. It is that psychology – that lack of good sense and skepticism – that interests me.
What is the mechanism that turns an event that consists solely of someone saying that something happened into a major news story? Also, does the mindset that is conducive to falling for hoaxes have an generalizable patterns? Does the liberal slant of the media mean that hoaxes will tend to be perpetuated by people whose hoaxes are based upon liberal grievances? A hoax is only a hoax because we hear about it. “The medium is the message,” as
Malcolm Marshall McLuhan wrote. It would stand to reason that hoaxes will take on some of the characteristics of the medium through which they pass.
Dave Weigel discussed the latest hoax which was perpetuated by The Bachelor producer and ABC employee Elan Gale:
This is fairly fucked. Yes, people on the Internet want to believe salacious stories. Reporters want to publish stories that people read. If there’s a great reward, and little downside, to be had in publishing bullshit, the Internet’s going to get more bullshit. As one of my colleagues put it, ” ‘Too good to check’ used to be a warning to newspaper editors not to jump on bullshit stories. Now it’s a business model.”
Here’s a recap of what Gale did. Long story short, he made up an elaborate story about a woman named Diane who was complaining at an airport terminal about a flight delay. Gale told her “eat my dick” at one point. People thought all of this was funny for some reason as if saying “eat my dick” is humorous in 2013. Several days later Gale admitted that he was pulling everyone’s leg, but of course he cast it off as just a big joke. I don’t buy that, but it doesn’t really matter. Whatever his intentions Gale received a tangible benefit from the untruth. Gale picked up something like 140,000 Twitter followers because of the hoax. That’s a substantial following, and it actually has a monetary value. Twitter followers actually have weight. They are not currency because they can not be traded (yet), but a large following connotes power, prestige, and status. And Gale received all of those followers, and BuzzFeed received 1.3 million pageviews (from the original post and also a substantial amount of traffic from the follow up retraction-nonretraction) which brought them advertising revenue.
What Gale has done is essentially taken what I’ll call an “attention tax”. He grabbed a little bit of attention from tens and hundreds of thousands of people. I first heard about this story when I was driving home from Thanksgiving dinner. I had my attention focused on the road and the radio while I was driving. My girlfriend was reading BuzzFeed (why, I don’t know, but we’ll work this out later). Our attention was not necessarily being applied to its highest purpose, but nevertheless, the story captured her attention. She in turn captured my attention. For the record, she thought the story was funny, and I had to make a passing comment after she read me the story while I was driving that even if it were true the story had no comical value. It just wasn’t funny. Gale’s delivery wasn’t funny, and his antics in battling this fictional Diane were not clever. I could have done a much better job, I thought.
Anyway, Gale and BuzzFeed — or Gale *because of* BuzzFeed — essentially stole our attention and reaped the financial benefits. But nobody will care enough to do anything about this model. Some people who followed Gale might unfollow him, and some people might make decisions at the margin to not read BuzzFeed (but it’s a hard site to avoid at this point).
Weigel did a good job of tackling this downside of the internet and the media outlets that have sprung up through it. But there are two things wrong with Weigel’s hand-wringing. First, there are plenty of other hoaxes that have taken place that don’t get the same attention that Gale’s did. I figure that that is a function of a couple of things: Gale’s hoax did not hit on identity issues; it was not perpetuated by someone who would be protected from criticism in knee-jerk fashion; second, Gale’s hoax took place largely on Weigel’s turf and was carried out by someone else in big media.
My other problem with Weigel’s post is that he’s fallen for hoaxes himself and never issued a corrective over it. Granted, he didn’t get 1.4 million pageviews from his parroting, but back in March 2012, Weigel regurgitated what we now know is a lie about George Zimmerman saying “fucking coons” on the phone call to the Sanford police shortly before he shot Trayvon Martin. Now, whatever you think about Zimmerman’s behavior that night, there is pretty much no doubt that Zimmerman said something other than “coons”. The Zimmerman case, if not a hoax all the way through, had many of the same elements as a hoax. The main difference is that this hoax was perpetuated by a group of people rather than one individual, as is usually the case with hoaxes. But it should be considered a quasi-hoax because it was based on a series of lies and untruths and repeated relentlessly and uncritically for a long period of time.
1. The woman whose pity story about living a life of poverty, having bad teeth, having two kids, being shunted into the back of the kitchen in her restaurant job, and having to kill roaches while living in a pay-by-week motel went viral at Gawker and then at Huffington Post. The woman, Linda Tirado, laid out all of the reasons she doesn’t – or can’t – want to not be poor. At one point she said she smokes because that’s all there is for a hopeless poor person to do. Tirado capitalized on the story’s popularity and set up a fundraiser. She was given $62,000 by hundreds of dupes throughout the country. She says she will use to fix her teeth. She will now write a book.
It’s no big surprise that Tirado has been less than forthcoming about her situation. Turns out that some of the things she wrote about are not her current plight. She is married to a Marine. Her teeth don’t seem all that bad. She goes to school at Southern Utah University where she is a member of the College Democrats. She’s billed herself as a political consultant. On her blog she has a picture of herself with President Obama. She bought a home with her husband. She went to private school. Here’s something she wrote in a note of gratitude to the many people who’ve fallen for her sob story:
I have been privileged while poor, because I am fucked up and spent decades in therapy, because I have been given access to these words, I am well-suited to this.
The woman has many, many mental issues but simp liberals on the internet for some reason only read the truest and noblest intentions into every sob story they read on the internet.
2. Glenn Greenwald absolutely spanks Mark Ames for his fixation on Greenwald for allegedly bogarting the Edward Snowden NSA documents. Ames only cares about Greenwald’s stewardship of the documents because Ames thinks Greenwald is a Koch operative. Usually, internet arguments often end in a stalemate, but that is not the case here. Greenwald’s basic point – in response to detractors cackling that the Snowden documents are public domain – is that Snowden risked his job and his life to procure those documents. He chose to leak to Greenwald and a few other journalists so that they could curate them, judge them, and post them in a responsible fashion rather than just dump them on the internet. Greenwald supplements the smackdown by pointing out that Ames is now employed by Pando Daily, in which libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel has invested.
3. A black teacher at Minneapolis Community and Technical College who was teaching about structural racism pissed off 3 white male students and was reprimanded. Here’s her response:
In the wake of the reprimand, Gibney told City College, “I don’t feel safe in the class anymore.”
“I definitely feel like I’m a target in the class. I don’t feel like students respect me,” she continued. “Those students were trying to undermine my authority from the get-go. And I told the lawyer at the investigatory meeting, ‘You have helped those three white male students succeed in undermining my authority as one of the few remaining black female professors here.’”
4. Violence in county jails has increased dramatically in California after the state started diverting inmates from state prisons. Not surprising, but this poses a problem for county jail inmates who are more likely to be serving time for non-violent offenses. This reminds me of the time when I was 19 and got arrested for an outstanding traffic ticket. At booking I was in line just in front of a guy who was being charged with attempted murder. He looked like Jeffrey Dahmer.
5. Noam Chomsky talked about the same topics he’s always talking about. But he did go in one interesting direction in an interview with Salon. It’s worth quoting at length:
Each time labor has been attacked—and as I said, in the 1920s the labor movement was practically destroyed—popular efforts were able to reconstitute it. That can happen again. It’s not going to be easy. There are institutional barriers, ideological barriers, cultural barriers. One big problem is that the white working class has been pretty much abandoned by the political system. The Democrats don’t even try to organize them anymore. The Republicans claim to do it; they get most of the vote, but they do it on non-economic issues, on non-labor issues. They often try to mobilize them on the grounds of issues steeped in racism and sexism and so on, and here the liberal policies of the 1960s had a harmful effect because of some of the ways in which they were carried out. There are some pretty good studies of this. Take busing to integrate schools. In principle, it made some sense, if you wanted to try to overcome segregated schools. Obviously, it didn’t work. Schools are probably more segregated now for all kinds of reasons, but the way it was originally done undermined class solidarity.
For example, in Boston there was a program for integrating the schools through busing, but the way it worked was restricted to urban Boston, downtown Boston. So black kids were sent to the Irish neighborhoods and conversely, but the suburbs were left out. The suburbs are more affluent, professional and so on, so they were kind of out of it. Well, what happens when you send black kids into an Irish neighborhood? What happens when some Irish telephone linemen who have worked all their lives finally got enough money to buy small houses in a neighborhood where they want to send their kids to the local school and cheer for the local football team and have a community, and so on? All of a sudden, some of their kids are being sent out, and black kids are coming in. How do you think at least some of these guys will feel? At least some end up being racists. The suburbs are out of it, so they can cluck their tongues about how racist everyone is elsewhere, and that kind of pattern was carried out all over the country.
During a visit to a bookstore yesterday to observe Small Business Saturday, President Obama purchased “The Sports Gene” by David Epstein. The book tries to figure out what makes certain groups who are isolated by racial similarities or geographic compartmentalization excel at certain sports. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book (based upon blurbs; I haven’t read it) deals with Jamaican sprinters.
Epstein received some pushback from academics and colleagues when pursuing the book. They were of course afraid that delving into the topic of race and group differences would lead to a slippery slope of acknowledging innate differences in intelligence.
Epstein’s comments about Obama’s purchase were interesting. He uses an interesting term to describe the subject of his book:
“I’m pleased and certainly surprised he picked up my book, but not at all surprised he’s interested in the topics,” said Epstein, who was reached by The Daily Caller News Foundation via email.
“I don’t think the president does nor should shy away from topics like gender and race — and certainly not from the science of genetics — that are important to Americans and humans generally,” said Epstein, adding that he wants to use the stage of sports to explore the deepest questions about “human biological diversity.”
“I hope he enjoys using sports to delve into evolution, genetics, and questions about nature and nurture as much as I did,” Epstein told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
1. In order to marginalize the skewed incidents of quasi-random black-on-white violence, journos are instead having a shadow discussion over whether or not ‘Knockout Game’ is a trend, an epidemic, or even a game. This misses the point which is, as Colin Flaherty says in this interview, part of a larger pattern of quasi-random crimes perpetrated by black youth which also takes place in the form of ‘flash robs’ and pure old fashioned street-level group attacks. The real story is not that this has risen to trend or epidemic level – what is a trend? what constitutes an epidemic? – it’s that the crimes have occurred and it is beyond random chance that it is almost unanimously black youth who are carrying out the crimes. What is a trend is that the news media is now covering these crimes. And, oh, forgive us who’ve been writing on these crimes and patterns for a while now for spending a little bit of time discussing their social significance. The stories have been hidden for so long that there’s a lot of catching up to do.
a. Matt Yglesias talks more about the time he was the victim of a quasi-random street attack.
b. Emma Roller seems to want more hard proof. As far as street-level crime goes all of the Youtube videos documenting these crimes is as good of evidence as you’re going to get. And it’s completely damning. Besides that, cities don’t go all that granular on street crime. And victims are often hesitant to come forward to either talk about their attacks or call it what it is.
c. Jamelle Bouie thinks that this is all white hysteria. But this is the same guy who wrote a piece denying black-on-black crime exists. Bouie missed the point on that topic as well. Perhaps conservatives are framing the issue of black-on-black crime poorly – but what is really driving the concern about black-on-black crime is that the *levels* of the crime are extremely high relative to other racial groups. Bouie got mired down in making the point that most crime is intraracial. Yes, of course it is. But, again, that misses the point. Seems that Bouie thought he had a real winner of an argument there given his propensity for re-tweeting that article.
2. Just ruminating here on why the mainstream media so inconsistently labels things a trend. A series of individual events of a similar character and nature are more likely to be labeled a trend by the mainstream media in this order:
a. If the gatekeeper-reporter likes the pattern and likes the people engaging in it. Ex: Flash mobs, quinoa.
b. If the gatekeeper-reporter does not like the pattern and does not like the people engaging in it. Ex: Cyberbullying.
c. If the gatekeeper-reporter likes the pattern but does not like the people engaging in it. Ex: Joan Walsh’s response to libertarians rallying against the NSA.
d. If the gatekeeper-reporter does not like the pattern but does like (or sympathize with, feel guilt for, or seek to excuse) the people or group engaging in it. Ex: Knockout, flash robs.
3. A crowd-sourced escape from poverty? Linda Tirado has made a series of bad choices in her life. She’s poor but writes well enough to be published by Gawker (which isn’t saying much) such that people felt the need to give her something like $50,000. Her story sounds like it’s embellished for effect. Not that I’m against duping idiotic liberals out of their money.
4. Women regret past sexual escapades while men wish they’d had more. The author of the article detailing some research on the topic doesn’t want to chalk any of this up to evolution.
For one, I always find it hard to believe that modern young men’s sexual decisions are guided by an evolutionary desire to reproduce with as many women as possible, when most are terrified by the thought of accidentally getting someone pregnant.
5. Rod Dreher was almost fooled by the story of waitress-hoaxtress Dayna Morales. He thought that the bigoted receipt message she received was “awful”, but he’s glad he waited to report on the story.
Tim Cavanaugh has a good piece at The Daily Caller pointing out that the New York Times finally met a series of similar events it didn’t think qualified as a trend. Cavanaugh writes:
America’s newspaper of record, which eagerly reported on bogus trends in church burnings, the looming bee extinction and other subjects, doubts the “knockout game” is a thing.
The New York Times has discovered that the media panic over the “knockout game” — in which primarily black youths engage in random, violent, racist attacks against mostly white victims — is just a product of “fear sown by reports” that “may have racial roots.”
Really, the point of all of this argument about the nature of “Knockout Game” – whether or not it’s a trend or a game – is that it would be considered a trend if whites were targeting blacks. Contrary to what a lot of prestige pressers are saying, the interest in the trend of the media choosing to never address the racial component of the crimes, however many there are. The news value is not that these crimes are occurring with enough frequency such that it would be wise for all of us to stay inside. Instead, the value of the entire collection of these quasi-random attacks on strangers without monetary motive is that they are almost unanimously carried out by black youth. But by focusing on whether or not this rises to the level of an actual trend or whether it is an actual game is really missing the point.
But as for Cavanaugh’s point about the Times, a couple years ago, Slate’s Jack Shafer called out a New York Times piece which reported on a supposed trend of criminals wearing New York Yankees ballcaps during the commission of their crimes. Shafer wrote:
Despite un-announcing the trend, the Times persists, offering this evidence: “Since 2000, more than 100 people who have been suspects or persons of interest in connection with serious crimes in New York City wore Yankees apparel at the time of the crimes or at the time of their arrest or arraignment.” It also musters anecdotes about several crimes committed by people wearing Yankees garb.
Imagine if the Times devoted a piece to the trend of hoodies being worn during the commission of crimes.
It is no surprise that Dayna Morales, a gay waitress from New Jersey and a former Marine, most likely lied when she told the world that a family of 4 stiffed her and left her an anti-gay message on their dinner receipt.
Morales, whose story went viral after she emailed it to a gay-friendly website, produced the receipt on which was written “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle.” Morales sent a picture of the receipt which showed that she was left no tip on a $93.55 tab.
The family, whose name was not published unlike with the Red Lobster waitress hoax story, said that they finally came forward after the story would not die and after Morales was given $3,000 in an outpouring of support.
They provided a copy of the restaurant receipt and a copy of their Visa bill to NBC 4 New York which showed that they spent $111.55 at the restaurant. Morales and the restaurant had no good explanation for the discrepancy.
The accused wife in this story told NBC 4 that she thinks that there was a bit of confusion when the family were first seated at their table. She said that when they were being seated the hostess told them that “Dan” would be right with them. When Morales, who has short, spiked hair, showed up to the table the wife said something like “whoa, you’re not Dan.” When Morales first told the story, she said that the wife said “Oh, I thought you were going to say you’re name is Dan. You sure surprised us!”
It’s pretty easy to see what’s going on here, assuming that the documents that the family provided to NBC 4 are legitimate. Morales was pissed at what she thought was a slight from the wife of the family. Carrying that chip on her shoulder – and even though the family tipped her generously – Morales thought that the message that she wrote on the receipt herself was a good enough representation of what that family *really* thought about her.
A similar communication gap probably led to the Red Lobster receipt fabrication from Toni Jenkins. What likely happened in that case was that the young couple at the center of that story had to leave the restaurant to take care of an emergency. They took their food to-go shortly after ordering at their table. Jenkins likely interpreted this as the couple not liking her for some reason. In Jenkins mind it seems it was only a small leap from there to assume that they didn’t like her because she is black. In fact, our society now trains people of minority status to think that every rejection of any kind is due to the minority’s minority-ness. Once that assumption is locked and loaded, it’s only a very small white lie to attach a fake bigoted message to the receipt.
When I was reporting on the Red Lobster receipt story the handwriting expert that conducted the analysis of Jenkins’s handwriting made a curious and unprovoked comment to me. He said that nearly all of the anonymous handwritten fabrications that he’s seen have come from women. I perked up at that because I’ve noted the same thing before.
The tendency here is to focus on the minority group members who perpetuate these hoaxes. But, instead, I look at sex. Under the auspices of hate acts, women are more likely to use these accusations to garner sympathy. Susan Smith and Bethany Storro claimed that blacks attacked them – the former claiming that a black man abducted and murdered her children while the latter claimed that a black women threw acid in her face out of jealousy. Back during the 2008 election a young woman falsely claimed that a man carved the letter ‘B’, signifying ‘Barack Obama’, on her face during a robbery attempt. Recently, two lesbians were found to be lying about a reported hate crime.
To me, this is an interesting sociological question that no serious academic will ever be allowed to actually study. If they did, the question would be framed as “why do women feel the need to perpetuate hate crime hoaxes more than men?” as if it is society’s fault.
Since that posting one of the more infamous hate crime hoax stories came from a lesbian named Charlie Rogers in Lincoln, Nebraska who said that she was raped and mutilated by some rednecks because she was gay. As with these other two cases Rogers was given money by a bunch of gullible morons.
Another twist on the Morales story is that the former Marine said she was going to donate the $3k she received in donations to the Wounded Warrior Project. That donation has not been confirmed.
White rapper Macklemore won Best Album at the American Music Awards last night. The win was a travesty, as Macklemore beat out a superior rapper and album in Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, but his victory speech was even worse.
Sitting alongside his production partner Ryan Jones, Macklemore spoke about Trayvon Martin. He quoted Martin Luther King before making a political statement about Trayvon Martin’s death and “the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying through racial profiling and the violence that follows it.”
Macklemore is half right. Hundreds and hundreds of black kids do die each year because of racial profiling. But what Macklemore willfully ignores is that it is black kids profiling other black kids that is the cause of so many of these deaths. And then there is “victim profiling” which is when a criminal targets a person perceived to be weaker or not street savvy. This tends to befall whites and other non-black minorities. Victim profiling is something Kendrick Lamar touched on in his superior album on the track “Money Trees”:
You looking like an easy come up, ya bish
A silver spoon I know you come from, ya bish
And that’s a lifestyle that we never knew
Go at a reverend for the revenue
The ironic thing is that even though Macklemore won the award and used it as a platform to talk about Trayvon Martin, Kendrick Lamar essentially rapped about someone like Martin. Lamar’s album was all about his own struggles growing up in Compton. It details the life prescribed to most black people who live in Compton and Miami Gardens and other similar cities. Lamar’s album could have been the soundtrack to Martin’s life. I still maintain that Martin was not a “bad kid” but instead one that wanted to act hard, both at school and in his neighborhood and also that night when he crossed paths with George Zimmerman.
The New York Times tackles “Knockout Game” and pretty much writes the article you’d expect. But, as always, it’s fun and important to pay close attention to the tactics used to downplay the existence of obvious patterns.
Here’s one sample among many in the article:
And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.
But police officials cautioned that they had yet to see evidence of an organized Knockout Game spreading among teenagers online, though they have been reluctant to rule out the possibility.
There is particular concern within the department that widespread coverage could create the atmosphere where such a “game” could take hold in New York.
The bait-and-switch here is that instead of asking whether or not there are lots of incidents of these “random” attacks – and ones with racial disparities between the perps and victims – they ask if it is all part of a game. It doesn’t actually really matter to the victims and to the worried public whether or not this is all a game with a set of rules that is discussed and hashed out by its players. What truly matters is whether people are getting beaten up for no reason other than the passing amusement of the perpetrators. But by questioning whether there is some sort of organization to it all, the New York Times gets to avoid discussing the issue directly. “Is this happening?” versus “Is this happening in game form?” are two different questions, and it’s much harder to prove that this is all a sick game than it is to just acknowledge that for whatever reason and by whatever rules, black teenagers are targeting non-black people for no reason other than to try to knock them out cold.
It’s been both amusing and frustrating seeing people take up this topic. I’ve had two co-workers start talking about “Knockout Game”, probably after they saw an article on Facebook. I felt torture inside. I felt like a hipster who’d noticed a band waaaay before everyone else noticed them once they’d gone mainstream. One of the co-workers who asked me if I’d heard about the “game” (and I did an internal eye-roll, fuck you, and somersault all at once – it was a mixed bag of emotions) started rambling on about it. I let him ramble because I wanted to see how your regular apolitical person thinks about these stories when they see them in the news. He finally keyed in on the racial element without my coaxing. Then he said “but there are probably groups of white kids doing this too.” So I had to jump in and tell him that of the dozens if not hundreds of reports of “random” attacks by groups of teenagers that I’ve seen, absolutely zero have been white kids. He said “yeah, you’re right, but I just had to say that so I didn’t feel racist or anything.” This is pretty much the wavelength which the New York Times is working on, but more sophisticated.
1. Charles Murray points to a write-up at Brookings from Russ Whitehurst about a recent, robust, randomized study on the effects of pre-K on outcomes for kindergartners and first-graders.
Based on what we have learned from these studies, the most defensible conclusion is that these statewide programs are not working to meaningfully increase the academic achievement or social/emotional skills and dispositions of children from low-income families. I wish this weren’t so, but facts are stubborn things.
2. Peter Hitchens on the manipulation of crime statistics in England (h/t Heartiste).
3. Though the data wasn’t provided, a researcher from Australia found that it takes kids today about 90 seconds longer to run a mile compared to kids 30 years ago. Cardiovascular health fell an average of 6% per decade between 1970 and 2000. Endurance has decreased about 5% per decade across all nations.
4. Interesting but completely unsurprising results from an analysis of racial preferences of users of an online dating app. I say unsurprising because anyone who pays attention to the world will not be surprised by any of the vectors. The limitation on the analysis is that it measure response rates to “yes’s”. But if there are general racial differences in how many “yes’s” then the response rate might be skewed. (h/t Robert VerBruggen)
5. Peter Turchin: the overproduction of elites has fucked everything up: “A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions.”
6. Why men have larger noses than women. (h/t Razib Khan)
7. This article has been everywhere, but it is familiar to many here. Other women, and not the patriarchy, are the source of slut-shaming and other such mean girl behaviors.
8. WSJ had an article about the obsession over running marathons and also the appearance of marathon stickers. I wrote about this a year ago and made some similar observations, mostly about the stickers that people place on their cars to show everyone in the world that they ran a marathon (or at least half of one).
9. A large company that gets government grants usually given to small businesses. Many of the grants are given to the company, MicroTech, because it has a Hispanic CEO. The company hooked up with another one called MicroLink in order to game the system. I’m sure this happens all the time, but we never hear about it:
Rabiah Y. Sutton, a former contract specialist at MicroLink, recalled Truitt and Wharton telling her that they were starting a new company with a retired Army officer who is Hispanic “to get access to some socioeconomic designations that they couldn’t participate in because MicroLink was owned by two white males.”
This reminds me of the arrangement of TELACU — a Los Angeles-based “community development corporation” that largely subsists on government grants. TELACU was started by Latinos with civil rights grievances and has outgrown itself.