I do not endorse Twitter mobs. They can do unbelievable damage to someone’s life in a matter of hours, and the meteor-level hatred is often unjustified.
People should not have their careers destroyed for PC-unfriendly jokes or comments that clearly weren’t meant to be harmful. There’s a spectrum there, ranging from a slip that reveals true nastiness, to a good-natured relationship with humor and truth that is common with comics.
Taken at the extreme, most of America (yes, even on the coasts) say or laugh at many things per week that could get them fired if Twitter were listening. So I’m not usually one to jump on when the dog-piling starts.
But this woman calling the police on a black bird-watcher in Central Park is an exception. She deserves what she’s getting. And here’s why.
She wasn’t overheard telling a friend that she’d never date a black guy. Or even saying that she wouldn’t do so because she doesn’t find them attractive, or whatever.
These are the types of opinions and comments that make modern people crinkle their noses and distance themselves from the speaker. Like bad cheese or unwashed feet. And it’s no reason to end someone’s career.
This was different.
This was a white woman trying to force a black man to comply by using the history of America’s racism like a nightstick.
In so many words, here’s what she told him.
If you do not do exactly what I tell you to do, right now, I—a white woman—will call the police (who are there to protect white people) and tell them that you—a black man—are threatening me. And you better be damn well sure that if it comes down to my word vs. yours, you will lose. So do it. Now!
That’s not what she said, but it’s precisely what she communicated.
It wasn’t a good-natured joke or comment in bad taste. It was a revelation of a racism and selfishness so deep that she was willing to threaten a man’s life because she’s a horrible dog owner.
People get shot when women call the police and say they’re being attacked. Especially black men. And she damn well knew that.
She didn’t just know it, she used it as a weapon.
The history of slavery. The history of white women blaming black men for things they didn’t do. The history of the authorities taking their word over that of the accused. All of that.
The entire legacy of America’s oppression of black people, weaponized into a single sentence.
I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.
That’s her direct quote.
We are lucky our bird-watching friend was carrying a mobile Atticus Finch with him. Without that he might have been one more black guy who couldn’t tell his side of the story. Because he was dead.
There aren’t many who deserve to have their careers crushed by Twitter.
But I think anyone who will tell the police they’re being assaulted by a a black guy—because he asked them to put their dog on a leash—definitely qualifies.