All posts by Thomas L. Knapp

#leavingtwitter is Tiresome Performance Art

Photo by Ben Schumin. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Photo by Ben Schumin. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Have you ever encountered a klansman at the grocery store? I have. I instantly recognized him as a member of the Ku Klux Klan because I’d seen him speak (sans hood) at a Klan rally (I was one of the protesters, not one of the klansmen) and on local TV repping the organization.

I didn’t speak with him, both because I didn’t want to and because I didn’t have to.

I also didn’t roll my cart to the front of the store, abandon it, loudly announce that if he was allowed to shop there I wouldn’t be shopping there, stomp out in a huff, and tell all my friends that if they ever wanted to talk to me a grocery store, I’d be at the one across town.

Shortly after Elon Musk purchased and took control of Twitter, the hashtag #leavingtwitter began to trend as various people (including “celebrities,” many of whom I’ve never heard)  metaphorically stomped off of the platform because … well, because.

There are lots of reasons to leave Twitter.

Some of those reasons — it’s turned into a time-wasting addiction, it feels creepy to be advertised to based on the algorithm’s surveillance of one’s interests, etc. — make sense to me. It’s not that they’re good or bad per se. They’re just personal choices that make sense to the people leaving.  And with numerous alternatives to choose from, it’s not like #leavingtwitter means doing without social media. No biggie.

The biggest factor driving the #leavingtwitter trend, though, seems to be the equivalent of noticing the klansman in the grocery store and storming out theatrically. That’s incredibly dumb.

Yes, Musk has told the Bad People they can stay (or return), with wider permissions to say Bad Things on his newly acquired platform.

But nobody has to talk with the Bad People or listen to the Bad Things. Everyone’s free to ignore the Bad People, and can even block those Bad People so as to never be forced to notice their Bad Shouting.

Good Person A can get her social media “groceries,” and Bad Person B can get his, without the two ever interacting at all beyond Good Person A noticing Bad Person B’s presence and hitting the “block” link.

So far as I can tell, #leavingtwitter is largely an exercise in performance art — tiresome performance art.

If other people (even Bad People) saying what they want to say (even Bad Things) troubles you that much, especially when you have the power to keep that speech out of your own “hearing,” you’re as much a part of society’s problems as they are.

The cure for bad speech is more speech, not self-imposed exile.

Do as you like, but I’m not #leavingtwitter.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

Thankful 2022

Thanksgiving board

It’s that time of year again. As I write this, the US Thanksgiving holiday approaches and many of us take stock of just what we’re thankful for.

I recently ran into a situation that summarizes my biggest “thankful” takeaway from 2022: A crowded Walmart. As in REALLY crowded. Uncomfortably crowded. “Please let me out of here” crowded.

No, I don’t like shopping, nor am I fond of packed crowds in stores. In fact, for a few years in the early 2000s, I suffered a PTSD-like effect. I just couldn’t tolerate it and simply fled more than once.

But this is 2022, and crowded stores mean that the COVID-19 pandemic panic is over. I couldn’t wait to get out of that Walmart, but not because everyone’s face was covered and everyone was WORRIED sick about the possibility of GETTING sick.

That’s not to say that COVID-19 is over.  As of mid-November, according to Worldometer, the US was still experiencing nearly 40,000 new cases, and suffering more than 300 deaths, per day. Whether we think of that as “pandemic” or “endemic,” the virus is obviously still with us and likely to remain with us. Many of us have lost loved ones and that can still happen.

But we seem to be done with the irrational panic that politicians and “public health” authorities used as an excuse mangle the economy, keep us separated from family and friends, and force us to wear  masks — the equivalent, vis a vis the spread of viral infection, of lucky rabbit’s feet, St. Christopher medals, or “Whip Inflation Now” buttons — nearly everywhere we went.

I’m thankful beyond words that the public has finally calmed down (despite the best efforts of the aforementioned politicians and bureaucrats), and hopeful that we’ll get some measure of accountability for those who turned a bad situation into a worse situation because they believed they could get away with doing so.

In talking with friends about their holiday travel plans, I’ve run into not so much as a single “is it safe?” worry of the type that characterized 2020 and lingered through 2021. Grandparents will see their grandchildren this Thanksgiving and/or Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Yule/etc., and vice versa, some for the first time in nearly three years.

A return to “normal” political polarization, wars and rumors of wars, etc. may not be an improvement, but it’s at least a relief that — for me, anyway — overshadows the various bad news elements of 2022.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY

“Respect for Marriage?” Not Really.

Joseph F. Smith (then president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) with five wives and their children, circa 1904. Public domain.
Joseph F. Smith (then president of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) with five wives and their children, circa 1904. Public domain.

On November 16, the Respect for Marriage Act achieved 62 votes for “cloture” in the US Senate, meaning that it will proceed to floor debate and likely — after reconciliation with the House version, which passed in July — become law.

That’s a good thing, but let’s not make it more than it is. The long title of the bill reveals its true purpose:  “A bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and ensure respect for State regulation of marriage, and for other purposes.”

The bill has two core provisions.

First, it applies the US Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause to “marriage between two individuals.” If two people — ONLY two people — get married in Massachusetts then move to Texas, Texas has to recognize them as married.

Second, it requires the federal government to recognize a marriage “if that individual’s marriage is valid in the State where the marriage was entered into.”

Both provisions are all well and good, but “respect for state regulation of marriage” isn’t the same thing as “respect for marriage.”

Actual respect for marriage would involve getting both federal and state governments completely out of the business of deciding who can be, or is, married.  Not just “on the basis of the sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of those individuals,” but completely.

Marriage is one or both of two things: A personal commitment (often, but not always, with religious implications) and/or a contract.

The personal commitment side is not and never has been any of government’s business.

As to the contract side, if there’s any role for government at all, it’s in adjudicating disputes between the contract’s parties with respect to the contract’s terms — and the number of parties to that  contract is irrelevant to that governmental role.

If I get in a car, turn the key, and start moving down the road, am I driving? Yes, I am — even if I don’t have a license from the government to drive.

Likewise, if I get married, I’m married whether or not I have a license from the government to be. I’ve been married for 22 years. No government license, and no need for one. It just so happens that I’m married to one other person rather than, say, five other people, but in the latter case I’d still be married, whether government “recognized” that or not.

The only relevant questions, where government is concerned,  surround whether the parties to a contract consented (and were competent to consent) to and complied with its terms.

If truth in advertising laws applied to Congress, the “Respect for Marriage Act” would be called the “Respect for Continued, Slightly Less, Government Meddling in Marriage Act.”

Good start. But let’s take this all the way.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION/CITATION HISTORY