Saturday, April 2, 2011
Levels of anger.
Meet Rebecca Black. If you've been online recently, you probably have already heard of her. She's a 13 year old girl from Southern California whose parents spent $4,000 so she could record a song called Friday, written by people who run a vanity recording company called Ark Music Factory. It became available on iTunes and YouTube in February and got about 1,000 hits in the first month. But for some reason, it went viral and caused a firestorm. People decided the insipid little ditty was the worst song ever and she became an object of worldwide derision. YouTube disabled comments on her video after things got particularly nasty, including some death threats.
Seriously. Death threats against an eighth grader because her silly little song became Internet famous.
Here's another person you've probably heard of if you've been online recently. Terry Jones is the jackass from Florida who threatened to have an International Burn A Koran Day last year, but was talked out of it. As you might guess, talking sense into a pinhead like this has no promise that it will stick. On Sunday, March 20, he got his 30 followers worked up enough that they decided to throw a Koran into a fire and he got some news agency to pay attention.
Flash forward about twelve days later and nine time zones away. 20 people are dead in Afghanistan in the wake of riots caused by anger over one Koran being burned by one idiot and his smattering of followers, a "church" that couldn't beat the 100 or so members of Westboro Baptist in a fair fight.
In the United States, death threats are almost like a hobby for some people, but in 2011, it's damn rare that anyone goes through with one. As much as I hate the meme "it happens on both sides", in this case it happens to be true. Some woman has been charged with threatening Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin over the passing of an anti-union bill. Why what she did is criminal and some of the remarks by Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck either count as comedy or protected free speech is unclear to me, but I never studied law.
The uncomfortable fact is this. There are a lot of places in this world where Muslims aren't as evolved as the rest of us. Christians and Jews can definitely get their knickers in a knot over slights and blasphemies, but their protests rarely rise to the level of mass destruction of property or murderous rage.
In the United States, for example, we save that level of violence for celebrating major sports championships.
I'm such a hermit, I really don't connect with the mob mentality very much. It would be nice to think that we are slowly outgrowing it, but if we are, the progress is so slow as to be undetectable.