Why Mark Croce Went to the News about Pat Kane

skybar

We can Buffalove ourselves to death, but someday this region will undergo a social and cultural enlightenment that’s been far too long in coming. Don’t let the shiny new buildings and downtown playgrounds kid you—we’re still downright medieval in other areas.

Whether it’s over 40s in Lanacaster desperately refusing to let go of base racism, or our continued tolerance of political leaders who express hatred and prejudice with impunity, western New York has a long way to go before it truly becomes the city of “good neighbors” it claims to be.

Call American Indians “redskins”, you’re not being a good neighbor. Spit out “Damn Asians” or “n***”, you’re not being a good neighbor.

Although you knew that, too many of our “neighbors” don’t.

Let’s turn now to this story about the allegations that hockey star and very wealthy local Patrick Kane raped a woman. Kane is entitled to a presumption of innocence in court. His accuser, however, is entitled to basic respect. Trials are what we use to find the truth – they’re not perfect, but they’re the best we have. The Buffalo News reports that Kane’s accuser had visible signs of injury and that she called the authorities and went to the hospital almost immediately after the incident at Kane’s home.

It makes sense at this early stage, given the very little we know, to not rush to judgment about Mr. Kane – neither about his guilt or innocence.

But when a woman says she’s been the victim of sexual assault or rape, we can’t dismiss that. We should take it seriously, and I don’t think we are. WBEN spent the better part of one afternoon this week basically accusing the accusing victim of being a liar and a gold-digging bitch. The Buffalo News Sunday does the same exact thing. The first part of this article glosses over the limited facts about the alleged rape, but a full 80% of that article – give or take – is devoted to SkyBar owner Mark Croce going out of his way to portray Kane’s accuser as a lying, gold-digging whore of a bitch.

The Buffalo News is irresponsible for printing what Croce describes because he has no clue whatsoever that what he supposedly saw (let’s not rush to judgment on its truth or falsity, either) bears any relation – direct or indirect – to the underlying allegation that very wealthy privileged hockey star Patrick Kane raped and assaulted some nobody girl no one knows.

Accuse a hockey player of rape and people set up sites to crowdfund his legal defense. Accuse a hockey player of rape and you hear a lot about the “presumption of innocence”. Accuse a hockey player of rape, and you’ll see some pretty blatant slut-shaming from a prominent bar owner, and the Buffalo News uncritically contributing to rape culture. Bros, I suppose, before hoes.

Know this: the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network says that 98% of rapists never spend a day in jail and 68% of women never report their rape or sexual assault.

It’s not hard to guess why.

But Croce told The News that he and several of his employees noticed a young woman “hanging all over” Kane at SkyBar for at least two hours that night, putting her hands on his arms and “being very forward, very flirtatious with him.” He said he does not know the woman and does not know her name.

“It was almost like she stationed herself near him and was keeping other women away from him,” Croce said. “I noticed it and kind of laughed about it.”

A bar manager that night also noticed the woman’s behavior with Kane, Croce said.

Croce said the woman and a female friend “followed” Kane as he left the nightclub with a couple of male friends around 3 a.m. last Sunday.

“I don’t know if this is the same woman who made the rape allegation against him,” Croce said. “I only know what I saw that night on my own premises. If you’re going to ask what happened between them after they left that night, how would I know?”

That’s a tremendous volume of words and space to basically regurgitate what amounts to little more than rank speculation. But it doesn’t end there.

Croce said he has been inundated with media requests for interviews. He said he decided to speak to The News on Saturday night because he is upset with media reports that “insinuate” that Kane was out of control during his time at SkyBar.

“I’ve got no skin in this game. I am only telling you what I observed,” Croce said. “(Kane) was acting like a typical young guy his age, out having fun with some of his buddies. A lot of people were coming up to him, asking to have pictures taken with him. He was a gentleman. Pat had a couple of drinks and maybe a couple of shots. He was having a good time, but he wasn’t stumbling or doing anything obnoxious.”

Croce said that, in his opinion, some news media reports make it appear as though Kane is guilty of rape.

“This is America, the place where you are still innocent until proven guilty,” Croce said.

He said that, to his knowledge, Kane has visited SkyBar “two or three times” in the past several years and never caused problems there.

To hear Croce tell it, he’s vomiting up his speculation to the News – which is dutifully transcribing it – to ensure that everyone knows that Kane wasn’t drunk.  Why would that matter?

It matters because he doesn’t want the authorities or the victim to come after SkyBar for any liquor law violations or “dram shop” liability. Specifically, under New York law, if a bar serves an obviously intoxicated person who goes on to injure some third party, that injured third party may sue the bar for money damages. Croce is covering his own ass here, and the News didn’t even comment on his motive to provide these speculative details to its reporters. I mean, let’s just start the portrayal of Kane’s accuser as a whore-who-had-it-coming so that she thinks twice about suing SkyBar.

The thinking here is as misogynist as the host on WBEN who also jumped to the conclusion that Kane’s accuser is a lying gold-digger. He’s very concerned that Kane is being portrayed as “guilty of rape” (I haven’t seen that, so who knows what he’s talking about), so Croce figures he’ll denigrate Kane’s accuser by telling the Buffalo News all about the girls hanging all over Kane at the bar.

Not only do we not know if this was the same girl accusing Kane of rape, but being a flirt at a bar doesn’t give anyone the right to commit a rape later on.

Also, Croce is being duplicitous when he says he has “no skin in the game”.

Croce said that plans had been made for Kane to visit SkyBar on Saturday night with the Stanley Cup, the coveted National Hockey League trophy that Kane and his Chicago Blackhawks teammates won June 15.

But, apparently because of the controversy over the rape allegations, that visit was canceled, Croce said at about 8 p.m. Saturday.

Having Patrick Kane bring the Stanley Cup to your bar, and then canceling due to a rape allegation, is Croce’s “skin in the game”.

I agree that people shouldn’t rush to judgment and conclude that Kane is a rapist, although that presumption of innocence is a matter for judge and jury – not for anyone else. By the same token, it would be just swell if people could avoid concluding that Kane’s accuser is a gold-digger or a whore or whatever. Let the matter play out. Let the facts come out. Consider how you would react and feel if it was your daughter or wife or mother who accused someone – perhaps someone rich and prominent – of sexual assault or rape, and bigshot businessmen were running to the papers to insinuate that they had it coming. Consider then the responsibility of the news media to report on that businessman’s motive to speak in that way.

By the way – Paul Cambria is Kane’s defense lawyer, but consider this from an earlier News piece,

In an odd coincidence, the wife of Kane’s lawyer, defense attorney Paul Cambria, posted a photo of herself, her husband and another couple at what appears to be SkyBar.

“Hey … Pat Kane in da house!” she wrote.

Cambria and his wife could very well be called to testify as witnesses as to what they observed at Skybar that night, as far as Pat Kane is concerned. Query whether – or how – that affects his ability to be Kane’s lawyer here. I direct your attention to Rule 3.7 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers.

We don’t know what happened, and neither does Mark Croce. Mark Croce should STFU and the News was irresponsible for uncritically reporting what he says he saw.


Editor’s note: Commenting has been disabled on this article after a commenter left information that purported to identify the alleged victim in this case. 

The Buffalo News Needs to Get Rid of Comments

nerd

The contemporary axiom is “don’t read the comments”. In the Buffalo News’ case, it should be amended to, “don’t allow the comments”.

Blogs have comment sections. A decade ago, I’d write a blog post, people would comment, and I might occasionally respond. Sometimes, a dialogue could be had as these commenters developed their own personalities and points of view. Although things could get heated, if the original author of the post being commented-on was involved, there was a chance for something more than just trolling and sniping.

But the Buffalo News isn’t a blog, and its authors don’t participiate the comments sections, ever. The experiment whereby news media solicit comments from viewers or readers on straight news stories has got to end.

Not the story comments to Facebook – whatever, that’s different. I’m talking about comments that appear directly under the online publication of a news story – whether it’s WGRZ, WIVB, or the Buffalo News, and whether it’s Facebook or Disqus or something else. There, comments offer no value and are little more than petri dishes that help to grow and disseminate some of the most vile and disgusting behavior from people hiding behind a cloak of undeserved anonymity.

Here at the Public, I write (so far) exclusively for the online audience. We use Facebook comments, which is different because, for the most part, Facebook demands that users sign up using their real names. But comments and debate or discussion don’t happen, because the shield of anonymity is essentially gone. Anonymity had its downsides, sure, but the upside was that insiders felt safe bringing up things that they could never do on the record. I miss that, to a point.

But what specifically prompts me to write this piece has to do with an article that the Buffalo News published about a laudable new paper. “Karibu” will publish in English, Karen, and Arabic to cater to new immigrants in Buffalo. Refugees. Legal residents. Immigrants help to form the backbone of this country. They come to this country full of hope and promise for a better future for them and their kids; to leave oppression or poverty and work hard to improve their lot. They start businesses. They pay taxes. They participate in commerce. They become Americans.

Because their path here was not easy, they are not, contrary to popular opinion, more prone to commit crime or otherwise squander their opportunity.

The mentality in Buffalo and western New York when it comes to race and immigration is too often not an enlightened one; we see it in the news with Joe Mascia and Carl Paladino. But the comments left at the Buffalo News’ website in response to the article about Karibu were as heartbreaking as they are hateful.

Here are some ugly examples, as they appeared mid-day on Wednesday:

Notice how few of these people have the stones to put their real names behind these vile comments. Why? If they’re proud enough of their race-hate to type them out and click “publish”, why hide behind anonymity? These people are not a credit to the News, they are not a credit to Buffalo. Simply put – these people with this mentality are keeping us down far more than any immigrant.

Buffalo News Comments

At long last, Buffalo News. It’s time to turn comments off. They serve no one’s interests. They serve no legitimate purpose. It reflects poorly not only on the News, which still maintains them, as well as on the area at-large. There is no legitimate discussion happening there, and with no participation or reasonable moderation, they add no value.

Enough is enough.

Who Runs WBEN’s Social Media?

In February, there was a brawl at the Walden Galleria, and WBEN posted to Facebook about it.

…that is, WBEN posted about it twice.

Here is the video of that fracas.

On July 20th, there was another brawl at the Walden Galleria. Here is video of that particular event:

Its Always a fight in front of my store!!! lol at least i caught this one on camera for myself.

Posted by Timothy Moore on Monday, July 20, 2015

 

WBEN posted nothing about it. No questions about whether people will continue to shop there, or whether they “feel safe”. Nothing. Complete social media silence. That second video went as viral locally as the one from February, yet WBEN ignored it completely.

I wonder why? Can anyone spot the difference?

At this year’s Italian Festival, a fight shut down the event early one night. WBEN posted about it – again, not once

but twice.

Here’s the video that WBEN’s social media manager felt compelled to share:

Seriously I’ve been here for five minutes. #stayclassybuffalo

Posted by Zachary Binks on Saturday, July 18, 2015

 

The second post was to inquire whether the festival should be moved away from North Buffalo because some unsupervised teenagers got into a fight.

Over this past weekend, a massive brawl among teenagers shut the Chautauqua County fair down early. Nothing on WBEN’s Facebook. Not even on its website.

I wonder why? Maybe WBEN could ask-troll its followers whether the Italian Festival should move to a safer locale like the Chautauqua County fairgrounds in Dunkirk?

Who runs WBEN’s social media, and why do some brawls find their way to WBEN’s Facebook page multiple times yet other brawls merit no mention whatsoever. I’m so confused about what WBEN considers to be newsworthy, or share-worthy. Can anyone else figure it out?

Buffalo Hate Radio Trollbaits Race and South Carolina

roof

 

It took a heartless massacre to finally convince even some Southern conservatives that the Confederate flag doesn’t deserve state sanction, and should be sent from state grounds to a museum somewhere. This article nicely sums up the sordid factual history of the flag in question,

…history is clear: There is no revolutionary cause associated with the flag, other than the right for Southern states to determine how best to subjugate black people and to perpetuate slavery.

First sewn in 1861 — there were about 120 created for the war — the flag was flown by the cavalry of P.G.T. Beauregard, the Confederacy’s first duly appointed general, after he took Manassas, Virginia, in the first Battle of Bull Run…

…But never did the flag represent some amorphous concept of Southern heritage, or Southern pride, or a legacy that somehow includes everything good anyone ever did south of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery excluded…

…In 1948, Strom Thurmond’s States’ Rights Party adopted the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia as a symbol of defiance against the federal government. What precisely required such defiance? The president’s powers to enforce civil rights laws in the South, as represented by the Democratic Party’s somewhat progressive platform on civil rights.

Georgia adopted its version of the flag design in 1956 to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling against segregated schools, in Brown v. Board of Education.

The flag first flew over the state capitol in South Carolina in 1962, a year after George Wallace raised it over the grounds of the legislature in Alabama, quite specifically to link more aggressive efforts to integrate the South with the trigger of secession 100 years before — namely, the storming of occupied Fort Sumter by federal troops. Fort Sumter, you might recall, is located at the mouth of Charleston Harbor.

Opposition to civil rights legislation, to integration, to miscegenation, to social equality for black people — these are the major plot points that make up the flag’s recent history. Not Vietnam. Not opposition to Northern culture or values. Not tourism. Not ObamaCare. Not anything else.

That’s it. It wasn’t until the middle of the last century that this battle flag became a potent symbol – not of Southern heritage, but of opposition to civil rights for black people; it wasn’t until the federal push to ensure civil rights for Southern blacks during the 1950s and 1960s that this flag flew to protect white supremacy and the supposed right of Southern whites to continue to subjugate black people.

Any bleating about “history” and “pride” and “heritage” you see or hear online, in print, or on AM hate radio is a manufactured lie. It is false – that flag represents white supremacy and treason in the long view, and more recently, opposition to equality and civil rights in the short.

But if you’re a hate radio station, nothing is too low. For WBEN, the station of old, white omniphobes, the push to relegate the flag of sedition to museums is a perfect opportunity to bait that audience, and that audience doesn’t disappoint.

During the 24-hour period of Monday through Tuesday, it posted several things to Facebook with respect to the Confederate battle flag.

and this,

and this,

Now, let’s look at the comments, because Buffalo.

And this, because why the hell not?

More comments you say?

Reducing a symbol of treason, white supremacy, and slavery to clickbait/trollbait is what Buffalo’s hate radio station is good at – riling up the same omniphobes who think Carl Paladino is right on.

Here’s what the President said, as described at Talking Points Memo:

During an interview on the podcast “WTF with Marc Maron,” Obama argued that while America has made some advancement in terms of race relations, “What is also true is the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. We’re not cured of it.”

Obama added, “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination.”

Yeah. He used the word “nigger”, echoing in large part a description of the Republican “Southern Strategy” as described in the early 80s by campaign strategist Lee Atwater,

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Here’s Wednesday’s “online poll”:

This Confederate battle flag – and every other symbol of the Confederacy – should not be given any state sanction. It is a symbol of hatred, ownership of people as chattel, and white supremacy. The only “heritage” it celebrates is has to do with the ownership and subjugation of black Americans.

The 1st Amendment allows local malcontents to wave that flag all they want. It does not require state or municipal governments to sanction it, nor does it require that Wal*Mart or Amazon sell it.

Enough.

Dobosiewicz Suspended, Issues Non-Apology

apologyOn Wednesday, The Public exposed a set of Tweets that “Airborne” Eddy Dobosiewicz published Tuesday night. In commenting on the riots and demonstrations in Baltimore, Dobosiewicz referred to human beings of whom he disapproves as “animals”, and used an image of baboons climbing all over a car to illustrate his point. When you conduct a Google image search of the picture he used, this comes up:

In order to illustrate some point he wanted to make about predominately African-American demonstrators, he used an image of a British drive-through safari park.

The Buffalo News reports that WKBW and WBBZ both suspended Dobosiewicz due to his online outbursts, which he has at long last deleted. The News‘s Tim O’Shei spoke with Dobosiewicz, and it’s important to analyze what he has to say for himself.

“My intent,” he said, “was to speak to humanity and say, ‘People, let’s act like humans.’ I was trying to shed a light on man’s inhumanity to man, not on a particular race of people.”

At the time, Dobosiewicz had a beginner’s 150 Twitter followers, so for him to suggest that he was speaking “to humanity” is somewhat of a stretch. Illustrating the “evils of man” by depicting black people as monkeys or apes seems also to be ridiculous.

“I’m a comic. … I say things in a sarcastic way and I suppose things got taken out of context, but believe me, my intention was not to offend any one particular group of humans,” he said. “My intent was to kind of jolt everybody into reality. We’re doing bad things out there, folks, and the world is spiraling out of control.”

Comics are supposed to be funny. But beyond that, there was nothing sarcastic about what Dobosiewicz wrote—it was just mean and racist. The part that’s truly outrageous, though, is the notion that “things got taken out of context”. Nothing could be further from the truth—if you go back and look at the original post that brought this all to light, it includes a verbatim reproduction of the entire Twitter exchange that Dobosiewicz held with multiple people on the subject. The entire context was there—it’s just that Dobosiewicz was insistent on insulting his critics and doubling down on his dubious “point”.

Who’s looking, by the way, for “Airborne Eddy” to “jolt everbody into reality”? Again—150 followers and he’s got scary-important opinions about how “the world is spiraling out of control”? If you’re a comic—write something funny. If you’re trying to be a pop sociologist, write something intelligent. If you’re a hateful and unthoughtful hack, post a pictures of monkeys to depict black rioters.

On Tuesday, he said, a longtime colleague, who is a comedian currently working in Baltimore, posted a photo of another comic who was caught in the riots. “He posted this picture of this guy in a hospital bed with his face all bloodied and bandaged, a neck brace on, eyes swollen shut,” Dobosiewicz said. “It was horrific.”

Though he acknowledged that “in hindsight, I should have kept my mouth shut,” he made his initial tweet, then after seeing the criticism, changed the picture and eventually deleted the post.

Which comic is this who was hurt in the riots? Why didn’t Dobosiewicz repost the image as part of his commentary on the subject? Is that the “context” about which he’s complaining? But remember, too, how Dobosiewicz claimed he didn’t delete the original picture because it was so palpably racist, but because it was too “playful”?

He knows full well what he did, and the “playful” excuse was a lie.

“Regretfully, I wasn’t clear in the message I was trying to get across and it came across as racist,” Dobosiewicz said. “Anyone who knows me knows I’m not racist.”

It came across as racist becuase it was racist. Actually, I received several messages from people who have had extensive dealings with Dobosiewicz on east side projects and told me quite the opposite. One East Side activist, who asked to remain anonymous, said,

…it is a well known fact that Airborne Eddy has done nothing to help the east side but find ways to line his pockets. From endorsement deals with Sobieski Vodka, to his property he purchased 5-6 yrs ago in the Fillmore district claiming he was going to reopen it (former tavern, never happened), to his money-making tours.

I could go on and on here. I just wanted to Thank you for calling him on his latest round of bullshit. My children, all highly educated, employed with not even a parking violation, have to deal with people like this, and it makes me sick.

It’s the monetization and privatization of nostalgia. In response to my quip that Dobosiewicz had destroyed his reputation, one person wrote,

He did not destroy his reputation. He just gave it a more public outing.

Another posted the original article to Facebook with this,

During my first year at the Terminal I tried to work with him but just couldn’t—there was that certain ambiguity that finally revealed itself back then and now, today… Re: Dyngus Day—I always wondered how one could celebrate a heritage of abandonment with rampant drunkenness and total disregard for the people who live there now. Yeah, i said it…

People beg to differ about, “everyone who knows me”. Also,

Dobosiewicz pointed out that his office is on the East Side, “the area of the city that has the most African-Americans. They’re all over the place. They’re my neighbors. I’ve lived next door to an interracial couple for 30 years.

“They’re all over the place”. 

“Anyone who knows me – my friends, my family, people that I’ve worked with – they’re absolutely clear that there’s not a racist cell in my body. For someone to take things out of context simply for the attention that has been garnered by this thing, it’s regretful. I truly regret causing any upset to anyone, but that was not my intention. My intention was to shine a light on what craziness is out there in the world.”

No. You don’t get to say you “regret” something while quite literally in the next breath accusing me of taking, “things out of context simply for the attention that has been garnered by this thing”. Yes, I brought attention to his racist Tweet, but not for my sake. Like Eddy says, he makes his living in a black neighborhood. The racist imagery he used to condemn black rioters is his fault—not anyone else’s. Indeed, people pointed out that it was racist and he attacked them on Twitter. He mansplained and whitesplained his way through the evening, and the Public‘s article didn’t appear until 12 hours later—plenty of time for his head to cool and for him to think and retract.

But in the end, the best he could do is the standard, passive-aggressive, sorry-if-you-were-offended non-apology apology. As to his future at WBBZ and WKBW,

“I would hope it’s an open question,” he said. “I would hope that cool heads and common sense prevail. I don’t know that yet.”

Based on the reaction from some that I saw all over the internet yesterday, I’m sure a great many Buffalonians share Dobosiewicz’s attitudes and opinions, and there’s no question that he will find a happy home at some media outlet somewhere. There’s some rank ignorance out there. If we don’t confront it, what good are we?

Airborne Eddy Has Opinions About Baltimore

abe
“Airborne” Eddy Dobosiewicz is one of those generally benign, uncontroversial Buffalo celebrities. Most people who know of him, know him to be a keeper of what’s left of the East Side Polonia flame. He organizes Dyngus Day festivities, is involved with the Broadway Market, and on Twitter calls himself a “Jocular jokester, reflective raconteur, purveyor of the ages”. In other words, he is a peddler of nostalgia—distributor of a Buffalo that long ago moved to Cheektowaga or Lancaster or Charlotte. Especially when black people moved to the East Side and Polish people began to move out.

Dobosiewicz is the “co-founder of Dyngus Day Buffalo and president of Dyngus Day LLC”. He is a mogul in the local nostalgia industry, which is far more powerful and influential than racial harmony or social justice. Dyngus Day and its parade, in particular, have become uniquely Buffalonian expressions of nostalgia; it’s Polish St. Patrick’s day, where red replaces green and the hijinks are fueled with Tyskie instead of Guinness. It’s also something of a spectacle to watch a people and a heritage return to the neighborhood they abandoned and fled long ago—replaced by new people and a different heritage—and overrun it with binge-drinking and everything that goes along with it. This article is a nice recap of the trouble with Dyngus Day.

At what point does your ethnicity relinquish claim to an area that it no longer inhabits? Why does this white ethnic group feel entitled to waltz into someone else’s backyard for a celebration?

Exactly. You should see the comments rolling into it now that it’s been brought to people’s attention—the author tells me it’s like “white person reactions to being accused of racism bingo“.  There’s a fine line between celebrating heritage and treating a neighborhood like a safari park as tour guides tell you what used to be here or there, while you’re comfortably pedaling your bike or sitting in an open-air bus. Airborne Eddy is the guide of guides; the mother of all local nostalgia moguls.

Right now in Baltimore, there are demonstrations taking place, protesting the homicide of a black man while in police custody. The vast—overwhelming—majority of protests have been peaceful. A small number of people have resorted to violence, looting, assaults, and other crimes. Civil unrest is a police matter—it’s neither unexpected nor especially rare. The trap you can fall into, though, is projecting all of the telegenic violence onto the entire demonstration as a whole, and then casually dehumanizing and delegitimizing the underlying, valid grievances. Freddie Gray didn’t die—the police killed him.

People have a right to protest. People have a right to be angry. People have a right to be loud. It’s also shocking how much empathy people have for buildings and glass and TVs and things than they do for the life of Freddie Gray. I’m not justifying violence, looting, or crime—I’m saying that Freddie Gray was the straw that broke that particular camel’s back.

Back here in Buffalo, where Spring has sprung and the hibernation has ended, there’s been a lot of whitesplaining and hand-wringing in local media over what’s happening in Baltimore.

Apropos of nothing, Airborne Eddy—a Polish guy who promotes Polonia nostalgia in a predominately black community—decided to casually dehumanize the protesters in Baltimore. He derided them as “animals” and accompanied his original tweet with an image of what appear to be baboons climbing all over a small hatchback, like in a safari park.

That was jaw-dropping, and by the time the Tweet was brought to my attention, Dobosiewicz had deleted it and replaced it with the same verbiage but an image of wild dogs feasting on a dead carcass. On Twitter, people wanted to know if Eddy deleted the Tweet because he realized how racist and offensive it was. Instead, he doubled down and made a mockery of himself in the process. The protesters in Baltimore are overwhelmingly African-American. The image of black people as monkeys is as offensive as it gets—the “coon caricature” that came out of the antebellum South to justify slavery and reinforce the notion that blacks are inferior to whites and, in point of fact, not even human, but apes.

This is how a reputation self-destructs. This is how the champion of white nostalgia in a black neighborhood takes himself down.

A Lesson in Censorship

bsccc

Let’s agree that April Fools’ Day has always been awful, but the age of social media has rendered it insufferable. Of the myriad nonsensical and obvious jokes that get churned out by the amateur comedians in every marketing department, ever, there are but one or two gems. Parody and satire are, to me, funnier and more effective than pranks. 

The Buffalo State student paper – the Record – put together an April Fools’ Day edition this year. Changing its name to the “Wreckerd” and publishing satirical and comedic fake news stories, like the Onion does all the time. Admittedly, the Onion is put together by comedians, not by journalism students, but “comedy is hard” and a valiant effort was made to try and make the Buff State community laugh. 

The articles from the “Wreckard” is visible online here at this link. There’s an article lauding a “landslide” victory for student government, poking fun at anemic voter turnout by indicating that the winner received 9 votes out of the 15 cast. Poking fun at the school’s mascot, the “Wreckard” wrote that actual tigers escaped from the zoo to defeat (well, maim and kill) another team on the football field. This parody of a restaurant review / travelogue mocks Americans’ weak and shallow understanding of Mexican culture, among other things. Brian Williams is low-hanging comedic fruit, student fashion is made fun of, Cuomo bans “snacturing” or “snacking”,  the Buffalo School board voted 7-1 to “fill the potholes in Carl Paladino’s face”,  this editorial explains how to obey the “heaven or hell” billboards and stay out of hell, pokes fun at weed, and jokingly suggests that Buff State’s President authorized drone strikes on UB.  

It doesn’t matter whether you think any – or none – of those stories are funny. It was clearly and obviously parody, published on April 1st, and done in a spirit of parody and satire of student life at Buff State. These kids aren’t professional comedians, nor are they professional journalists. They are students who are learning. One thing’s for sure – there was nothing mean-spirited or hateful going on. 

But other students – Buff State’s student government – freaked out over the “Wreckard” to such a degree that they summarily froze the Record’s funding and demanded that every copy of the joke paper be recalled and destroyed. 

It has come to our attention from many students and faculty members that some of the topics discussed in the ‘Wreckard’ satire addition [sic] were offensive to members of Buffalo State and the surrounding community.”

Please note that your budget has been frozen, all publications of ‘The Wreckard’ must be removed from campus tomorrow by 5PM and relocated to your office.

Offensive? Not as offensive as bull-headed censorship.

The Record’s faculty adviser, Annmarie Franczyk, wrote,

The April Fools edition of The Record clearly was satire from the obviously altered name and typeface to the topics, which no one should believe to be true. The edition was witty, smart and sharply written and was meant for nothing more but the entertainment of the student body.

Indeed, it was all of those things. Here is how the student government responded to the reaction to their over-reaction:

Hello Community & The Record, After much consideration; we have reconsidered our actions about freezing your newspaper budget. Our initial actions were made based on the concerns we received from several students. As United Students Government, students come first. The removal of the “April Fools” edition of the paper was called in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable. However, The Record you’re our students as well! & the freedom of speech and press proves that us limiting your distribution, is not right. After considering both sides of concerns, we will continue on reaching out to The Record for a meeting where a medium can be reached. We appreciate all of the efforts from alumni, media, and students pertaining the issue. Communication is the most important tool of all, and we would like for The Record to be a wonderful platform for communication to our community, as well as making sure students feel comfortable and protected by USG. Once again, we look forward to talking to The Record at their earliest convenience. Thank you to all. -USG Team

What the actual hell is this all about? This semi-lilterate nonsense is as stupid as the original yanking of funding. The arbitrariness of that de-funding, and the on-a-dime turnaround underscores the question of whether the student government is competent enough to hold its authority over the Record’s pursestrings. The student government’s duties do not surely extend to, “protect students from feeling uncomfortable” – as poor an excuse for censorship as you’re likely ever to see. A paper’s duty – even within the context of a parody issue – isn’t to make people feel comfortable. Its job is to inform and, in this April Fools’ Day issue, entertain. There’s no need for the Record to engage in a tete-a-tete with anyone to reach a “medium”.

Luckily for students, the Record reported on its own de-funding, and subsequent re-funding. At no time, for instance, did the student government indicate to the paper which article(s) was supposedly “offensive” or made readers “uncomfortable”. The administration had to get involved, and wrote:

While the The Record’s April Fools’ satire edition may have been upsetting to some and certainly pressed the boundaries of humor, I am concerned that the United Students Government’s decision to freeze the paper’s funding may infringe on students’ right to free speech.  Because The Record is a recognized student organization, United Students Government provides oversight of the paper, not the college administration.  However, I will reach out to the leaders of both organizations in the coming days to encourage a swift resolution.

Why are people throwing shade at the “Wreckard”? What was upsetting? How did it press “the boundaries of humor”? I didn’t see anything controversial in there. I have to suspect that the fake review of the Mexican restaurant was offensive, but only if you failed to read the actual content, and stopped at the headline.

The only criticism that deserves to be levied in this case is against Buff State’s humorless and hyper-sensitive student government, and its rush to censor and violate the 1st Amendment rights of the Record’s staff; even humor is protected speech.

It seems everyone got a little extra education at Buff State last week. The Record learned how tenuous speech and press rights can be. Student government learned at once how to behave like a fascist dictatorship, and then quickly learned how to change its mind and couch its wishy-washiness in nonsensical faux-empathy. The administration learned how to be mealy-mouthed and effectively patting the over-reactive student government on the back for its censorship by denouncing the paper’s attempts at humor as upsetting envelope-pushing – which is untrue.

In the end, the Record’s staff learned that free speech and press can be protected sometimes simply by getting in touch with the Buffalo News and Jim Romenesko, and shaming the hell out of the illegal actions of student government.

There was nothing at all offensive, controversial, or “uncomfortable” in the Wreckard. It was a funny satirical take on student life in Buffalo, and other matters. People need to stop being such humorless pricks and not destroy free speech rights because of someone’s “comfort”.

April Fools’ Day may be the worst, but it’s not as bad as censorship.

Fox Terror Network

Moaz

Muath al-Kasasbeh during the Hajj

 

Every time the so-called “Islamic State” releases a gory, vicious, inhuman snuff film, normal, civilized people who use social media call on everyone to not share the video or its images. Why? Lots of reasons. Snuff films aren’t exactly high art, worthy of sharing. Watching someone being murdered shouldn’t be reduced to rubbernecking or entertainment. It adds insult to the fatal, abhorrent injury – that is a person who had a family, love, hopes, and dreams. Innocent, the murdered victim’s last, agonizing moments oughtn’t be how he or she is remembered. 

But aside from all of the “because we’re human beings” reasons, there’s an even more important one – the “Islamic State” death cult wants you to share those videos.  They want people to see these slickly produced HD images of slaughter because they want to terrorize you, and they want to recruit more homicidal psycopaths and bloodthirsty teenagers. 

It should go without saying, then, that responsible mainstream western media also wouldn’t publicize, share, or otherwise promote ISIS propaganda. Until this week, that was true. 

What’s changed? ISIS released a video that shows a captured Jordanian Air Force pilot being burned alive in a locked cage. Reading that sentence is, itself, horrifying. Seeing the images should be unthinkable. Yet certain right-wing media outlets, including Fox News, have chosen to release and share the ISIS video showing a human being burned alive.

There’s nothing so low that Breitbart wouldn’t stoop to, but Fox News? Here’s how it justified what it did:

The reason we are showing you this is to bring you the reality of Islamic terrorism and to label it as such. We feel you need to see it.” After displaying the images, Baier added, “Having seen the whole video, it is something you cannot unsee. Horrific and barbaric, as well as calculating and skilled at high-tech propaganda.” FoxNews.com later uploaded the full-length, 22-minute video on its site.

Well, no. You can’t unsee it, and it’s horrific and barbaric. But I don’t need to see it to know that. Previous ISIS execution films have shown a masked man beheading helpless, innocent captives.  In what way is that act of beheading a living person more or less horrific or barbaric? If barbarism and brutality are now on the Fox News menu of acceptable content, why an immolation but not a beheading? What part of the reality of “Islamic terrorism” are we not meant to understand, and how does a burning advance that discovery more than a beheading?

What’s happening, though, is that Fox News is now a willing, knowing ISIS partner. ISIS produced, shot, and directed the immolation of Muath al-Kasasbeh, but it needed a distributor to get it to as wide an audience as possible. By selling murder to its viewers, Fox has now become part of the ISIS propaganda machine. It is for ISIS what al Jazeera was for bin Laden a decade ago.

What we can glean from this is that some media think that it’s too much for Americans to see images of the flag-draped coffins of our fallen heroes, but watching a man being burned to death in a cage is something we’re not only supposed to see, but Fox wants us to see as part of its own political agenda.

Make no mistake – by sharing and showing these images, Fox News is a direct, knowing participant in ISIS’ terrorism.

Kim Jong Un Dictates to Sony

The Interview is a satirical work of fiction that apparently so angered the hermit-like Stalinist North Korean regime that it famously unleashed its crack hacking squad on Sony Pictures.

An astonishingly un-American series of reactions took place throughout the day Wednesday when Pyongyang’s hackers invoked 9/11 to threaten moviegoers. First, Sony said it would let cinemas opt out of showing the movie, and major chains including AMC and Regal announced that they would not screen it.

Later in the day, Sony decided to pull the movie altogether and has no plans ever to release it.

What kind of bullshit is this? We’re letting Stalinist hackers dictate what American moviegoers get to see? North Korea – which made no such complaints against Team America : World Police – is now censoring American motion pictures? Are there any other programs or movies that Pyongyang would like me to not watch? Should Kim Jong Un be on retainer with the MPAA to rate movies as “PA” or “Pyongyang Approved”?

Jeff Simon in the Buffalo News is absolutely wrong. The Interview doesn’t “go too far” – it’s a comedy, for God’s sake. It’s satirical. Who will be the arbiter of what does and doesn’t “go too far”? A Stalinist dictator who inherited his post from daddy and grampa?

When a crazed, heavily armed lunatic shot and killed 12 and injured 70 in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, the studio didn’t pull “Dark Knight Rises” from American cinemas.

We hear a lot about how diplomacy equals appeasement, which isn’t at all true. Appeasement is appeasement – unilaterally pulling a movie (with no quid pro quo),  succumbing to blackmail and threats is appeasement. North Korea wins because Sony is obviously run by idiots, and next time Kim Jong Un gets a diseased bug up his ass about something in America, he’ll make more threats because, apparently, that sort of shit works. Maybe theaters and studios will just pull any movie that receives a vague and anonymous threat. This Esquire piece is spot on: this is simply idiotic and gutless.

All of this has proven Seth Rogen and James Franco right. They clearly saw, from the beginning, what the monster in North Korea fears most: to be ridiculed. They will no doubt soon be venting their rage against the companies that have blocked and delayed their movie, and their rage will be justified. Everyone is ridiculous except them. That may turn out to be the deepest irony of the Ridiculous War of 2014: that Seth Rogen and James Franco, a couple of Hollywood stars in a gross-out comedy, are the only two people involved in the whole affair who have emerged with their dignity intact.

Remember: North Korea didn’t intimidate anyone into killing this movie:

Area Cretin Laments Death of America

When It was OK to be anti-German

Robert Knapp of Lewiston, NY has some very important thoughts about America and how far its fallen. Perk up your listening ears, and make sure you pay close attention to any dog whistles you might hear.

What happened to my America? When you could walk down any street at any time and feel safe – not be shot at or mugged.

The premise here is that America was once a country without any crime, petty or grand. There was never an America where it was safe always to walk down a street without fear of being victimized by some crime or another. Ever. Crime has existed since the dawn of time, and violence is, for better or worse, what made our country what it is.

When you could say “Merry Christmas” and nobody would be offended.

No one is “offended” when someone says “Merry Christmas”. But it is a fact that there are several holidays in December, not all of which are celebrated by everyone. Some people find it just as kind and polite – if not more so – to simply say, “Happy Holidays”.

I remember an America when you could say, “Happy Holidays” and nobody would be offended.

When regardless of the language you spoke at home, in public you spoke English, and did not have Spanish as a second language.

That passage right there is just the author’s more politically correct way of using an anti-Latino epithet. Seriously, why not just say, “fucking spics” while you’re at it? Notice how the first part of the sentence is open to myriad native languages, but the only tongue the author singles out for his offense and ire is Spanish. Here’s a thought – just ignore the Spanish text on whatever sign is so offensive to you.

When people were innocent until proven guilty.

 

Based on the general tenor of this screed, I’m going to guess that this author is referring to the cops whom grand juries cleared of wrongdoing in the homicides of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Well, people are innocent until proven guilty.  By juries. At trial. That doesn’t mean the general public, prosecutors, or police can’t suspect that these people are guilty – it just means that a jury and judge must be impartial.

When we were all Americans, without a race before it.

America is a made-up country that was never homogeneous and was created by and for immigrants and refugees. Some of us were 3/5th Americans. Some of us had no rights at all. Until the 20th Century, women couldn’t even vote. And this isn’t a new complaint  – it goes back at least over a century. I’m not sure what panacea this gentleman has concocted for himself, but it’s ok for Americans to call themselves whatever they want. It is, after all, a free country.

When a human life meant something, and a person who took an oath to save people did not leave a young girl dying on the roadside.

What?

When our motto was to “speak softly and carry a big stick,” not to wimp out and carry a feather.

Teddy Roosevelt coined that phrase around 1901 to characterize his foreign policy ideology, which at the time was focused, somewhat ironically, on the subjugation and colonization of Latin American countries. As for “wimping out”, the US has been involved in nation-building Asian land wars almost continually since 2001. So, who knows what this guy’s talking about?

When a red light and a stop sign meant stop, not ignore it.

Traffic scofflaws are on a recent uptick? People never ran red lights and stop signs before n0bummer?

We were known as a “melting pot.” Now we are a dumping ground.

The racism and xenophobia really aren’t veiled at all – thinly or otherwise, is it?

We are well on our way to becoming a Third World country, with people living in cardboard homes and sewage running down our streets.

Well, no we’re not and I’ll repeat: who even knows what this guy’s talking about? Is this some call for making housing more affordable, or for a massive public works project to fix our crumbling infrastructure?

No. Paraphrasing – he’s just saying these garbage (“dumping ground”) brown people are shitting and pissing in the street like they do in Wetbackistan where they came from.

What happened to my America?

It never existed. You made it up. It’s a figment of your imagination.

Incidentally, “Knapp” is a German surname. Here’s what they said about German immigrants way back when. What happened to Mr. Knapp’s America? You know, the good old days when you could own a black and hate the Hun?

Sheesh, that’s compelling. Who let you in?

1 2 3 4 11