Cowards By Design/False Dichotomies

There’s a lesson to be learned from Sony pulling The Interview and Paramount wussing out and following suit, barring theaters from showing Team America: World Police in protest.

Corporations make bad stewards of our values.

A corporation doesn’t exist to promote freedom of speech. It doesn’t care about net neutrality or overturning restrictive regulations. It doesn’t give a flying fuck if it’s services are used to terrorize a segment of the population or defraud another. It has no qualms about seeing species go extinct or a disease laying low whole populations.

Because a corporation is a junkie. A junkie with an ever growing need for cash.

A corporation can appear on any side of an issue if it thinks it will make more money that way.

Oh sure, a privately held corporation can have some opinions about the world other than “but how do I get paid,” but sooner or later those get crushed under the Italian loafers of venture capitalists and the stink of day traders on the open market.

There’s a reason I fear this future where corporations have more power than democracies: because the bottom line is a drug more potent than heroin, sex, and sugar rolled into one.

So remember that the next time you’re cheering “disruption.” Be terrified by that the next time you’re wondering why Millennials are accusing a company of “censorship” because it is pulling a product from its supply chain. Because that’s an acceptance of the corporate paradigm at a level deep in the bones. One that says actions only matter when those with enough capital take them.

That might makes right, and not the other way around.

False Dichotomies

There’s been a little blip in the past 24 hours of some people tearing their shirts over because other people are very vocal about the pulling of The Interview but aren’t vocal about weightier issues that are part of the public discourse right now. That online threats are somehow illusory when directed at people and real when directed at the actions of large corporations.

I get the need to call people out on actual, and even perceived, hypocrisies. What can happen in the wake of such calling it, however, is the enforcement of narrative the shorthand for which I like to call “slavery vs. the holocaust.” That’s the most extreme and distressing form of this rhetorical tactic: because it’s a argument that makes losers out of everyone involved.

Guess what?

You can hate that Sony punked out and caved into terrorist demands and you can think that online trolls should be stopped from harassing women game developers and you can believe that #blacklivesmatter and that America’s civic institutions are structured in such a way that racist, abusive cops are sheltered from justice and that this needs to change.

Heck, if you’re my definition of a “good person” you believe all this stuff. You can even make noise about it all to varying degrees. (I would hope that you make more noise about police brutality, racism, and harassment but I’ll take every ounce of willpower we can muster.)

That’s not the point of those who are ribbing the people who have been silent on the social justice issues. They want to shame the people who are quiet until something affects them. Here’s where I see a lack of understanding of the human animal: most people don’t notice shit until it is hurting them. This is an unfortunate part about humanity and maker knows I want it to change. If we taught The Network I think it could change in a generation or two.

All that shaming does right now is create second order fights over what’s more important. Who has it worse. That’s bullshit. It sure as hell doesn’t build solidarity. Better to see the opportunity for a teaching moment. To reason by analogy. To make the case for how injustice impacts us all.

Anything else is wasted breath.