Saturday, December 30, 2017

Hell Hath No Fury, Courage, Honor, or Proportionality...,


WaPo |  On the Internet, the logic of road rage reigns supreme: Alone before your screen, without trusted friends and other social mediators to provide context or perspective, and with no relationship between yourself and the offender, vastly disproportionate responses to perceived slights begin to make sense. In daily life, you might respond to an obnoxious joke or snide remark with an eye-roll or a barb of your own, but online, the temptation to retaliate in much stronger terms looms.

Often — too often — it takes the form of campaigns to get people fired.

Last week, Vanity Fair released short video features of several of its staffers providing New Year’s resolution ideas to various politicians, among them Hillary Clinton. Their suggestions for Clinton essentially amounted to don’t run again. The tone of the video struck many, including our own Erik Wemple, as “snotty and condescending,” and some felt the content of some suggestions (one writer quipped that Clinton should take up knitting, for instance) was sexist. Backlash came swiftly, Vanity Fair apologized, and an infuriated twitter mob has been demanding that the editors and writers involved in the video be summarily fired ever since.

Firing the Vanity Fair staff responsible for the video wouldn’t make the video go away, nor would it do anything for the candidate’s low favorables. The urge to drive people who have said or done offensive things out of their jobs isn’t about pragmatism; it’s punitive, and remarkably unprincipled.

And it’s common.