Dixie Sunset — Charles P. Pierce on Juneteenth.
We have Juneteenth off this year here at Esky HQ. There is a move to make Juneteenth a national holiday, which it should be, as long as they don’t sling it to a Monday like they have with so many others. Juneteenth is Juneteenth and should stay that way. It marks the end of chattel slavery in this country and it should be recognized as such.
The moment has come upon us so quickly. Robert E. Lee gone from Lee Circle in New Orleans. John C. Freaking Calhoun off his high pedestal in South Carolina. They had a nice run, didn’t they? The forces of sedition managed to win the peace after they lost the war, and every generation of white Americans went along with it and, every time a civil-rights movement began stirring, the nightriders rode again, the strange fruit appeared on Southern trees, and another memorial to the dishonorable Honored Dead went up in some town square or another. This went on for over 100 years, a criminal erasure of actual American history in favor of a bloody deception.
And then, suddenly, here in 2020, the free ride has ended. Let the army bases named after Braxton Bragg and John Bell Hood be renamed after William Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine. They’re going to run the Confederates out of the Capitol building of the country they tried to destroy on behalf of white supremacy. On that day, I will cheer.
But I will cheer modestly and with no little humility. Because, while Juneteenth should indeed become a national holiday, some of my fellow citizens always will have more of a purchase on it than I have. At the end of his great speech to Congress about the Voting Rights Act, President Lyndon Johnson broke the brains of the Dixiecrats in front of him by saying:
But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.
The hold of sedition and white supremacy over the outward displays of the American character is being broken the way the pedestals have been. That is a liberating moment that I never saw coming. Juneteenth marks the end of slavery. Let it also mark the end of slavery’s legacy over the minds of the people of this country. In September of 1861, Frederick Douglass wrote of his frustration with the fact that the Union would not let African Americans fight for their own freedom.
The national edifice is on fire. Every man who can carry a bucket of water, or remove a brick, is wanted; but those who have the care of the building, having a profound respect for the feeling of the national burglars who set the building on fire, are determined that the flames shall only be extinguished by Indo-Caucasian hands, and to have the building burnt rather than save it by means of any other. Such is the pride, the stupid prejudice and folly that rules the hour.
Even more than the Fourth of July, Juneteenth is about freeing people, and freeing the country of the ideas that held it back for decades. It is about the freedom to enjoy freedom. It is about setting freedom free. It is something for which so many of our fellow citizens of color have died. Let it be their day, and celebrate it for their sake. And, by doing so, maybe we’ll all deserve it one day, too.
Facebook Defends Free Speech — Jay Martel in The New Yorker.
It has come to our attention that a recent post, which falsely warned of a fire in a crowded theatre, led to the trampling of many patrons, in addition to the end of democracy as we know it. After a great deal of thought, and after many meetings with fire-safety groups, along with arsonists and the manufacturers of matches, we here at Facebook have made the difficult decision to continue our policy of free speech. As a result, we will not be altering in any way the post declaring that the crowded theatre is indeed burning when it has never been so much as warm.
This tough choice was made after a thorough reëvaluation of Facebook’s policies, and has nothing to do with our personal opinion, which is that most crowded theatres—including the one mentioned in this post—are not burning. We know that we are going to take a lot of heat (so to speak) from traditional media, which is burdened by having to fact-check the theatre fires they report. And yet, who’s to say that one of those burning theatres in our posts about burning theatres isn’t actually on fire? It’s up to the people in those theatres to decide, usually by looking down from their phones to see if they’re being consumed by hot flames.
You see, we believe in our users and their ability to sense their own aflameness. We also believe in giving them the right to post messages like “YOU ARE BURNING UP! JUMP OUT OF YOUR WINDOW NOW!” as many times as they want (or as their budget allows—please check out our boost-post feature to get more views of your burning-theatre posts). That’s the kind of freedom of speech we like—literally!
The Little Boy may be physically diminutive, but his many posts about voracious wolves have made him big in terms of the number of views and shares. Depriving him of this platform would not only damage Facebook’s fragile information ecosystem but, also, would remove a very important source of wolf news from our site. Though some critics claim that the reported wolves aren’t real, we look to our users to decide for themselves. Our studies have shown that, if our users read enough about wolves being real, they do in fact become real—at least on Facebook—and we need to service the need for information about those real Facebook wolves!
We realize that this decision will upset people inside the company, especially those who’ve been hiding in their offices from wolves.
After another thoughtful evaluation of our policies, Facebook has decided to allow Henny Penny’s numerous posts about the sky falling to remain on the site. Please note that this has absolutely nothing to do with Henny Penny and her barnyard friends being among our biggest ad buyers. This is a policy built on principle, and that principle is that our users are best equipped to tell whether or not the sky is falling, even if the only things they ever read are posts telling them that they are about to be crushed by that thing over our heads, which is, without a doubt, somewhat menacing to begin with.
We can all agree that Henny Penny, though a little chicken, is a very famous one. As a result, what she has to say about the falling sky is newsworthy, whether we happen to agree with it or not. We feel strongly that we would be remiss in not allowing her to express herself, especially when notable followers like Cocky Locky, Goosey Loosey, Ducky Lucky, and Turkey Lurkey are commenting on this admittedly controversial content and sharing it.
This has nothing to do with our personal opinion. To make this bold decision, we’ve had to separate ourselves from that, as well as from any chunks of sky that may or may not have fallen on top of us. In fact, the head of Facebook recently told Henny Penny in a phone call that, while what she wrote did not violate Facebook’s guidelines, he found it to be “harmful and inflammatory.” He then invited her, along with her friends Cocky Locky, Goosey Loosey, Ducky Lucky, and Turkey Lurkey, to a dinner in his den to discuss the matter, because if there’s one thing that the Facebook C.E.O., Foxy Loxy, believes, it’s that only through the free exchange of ideas can our huge appetites for unrestricted access to information be sated.
After reviewing the last few posts by Pinocchio, Facebook has made the difficult but brave decision to leave them up. Users concerned about their veracity are encouraged to click through to Pinocchio’s nose cam.
Doonesbury — You had one job…