A special Rumpus Note from comedian Eugene Mirman regarding a commenter at NPR:
Yesterday NPR posted something re-explaining their terms and conditions for commenters on their site after inappropriate comments were posted regarding the tragic attack on Lara Logan.
Apparently, you can’t just write idiotic, sexist or racist things anonymously. Why? Surprisingly, it’s not because NPR is run by well-meaning communists obsessed with elitist manners (look no further than Stalin and Mao Zedong for proof). It’s because it doesn’t help the dialogue — and they frown upon libelous personal attacks. Still, one anonymous commenter was disappointed in NPR’s trite, age-old message of not blaming the victim. Oh liberal, public radio when will you see how much women endanger themselves by not taking more karate and being so pretty? Below, is the comment:
Look, most of us don’t know what it’s like on the ground in Egypt or war-torn regions in general. But you know who probably does? Lara Logan. I bet she has a pretty good idea of the levels of risks involved, because she’s traveled all over the Middle-East reporting on conflicts for many, many years.
But this is almost not what annoys me about the comment. It’s the idiotic example he uses as a parallel to the situation:
“If I (a middle aged white guy) hang out on a Harlem corner at 1am with a bag of dope and $2500 hanging out of my pocket and get robbed and/or killed, I suppose I should scream victim. Oh the humanity!”
First of all, does this person not know that’s a dumb thing to do anywhere in the world (except a forest or private boat), mostly because you would be arrested by police-people who are on the lookout for just that type of thing? Also, does he think it’s the 1970s? Would it have killed him to use the much more contemporary example of Baltimore (though still dumb) and not an area of New York where Bill Clinton works? I think if an older white-guy stood on any corner in NY City holding a bag of “dope” (it’s slang for drugs — in 1964) with money hanging out of his pocket, people would assume he was insane, dangerous, or a particularly terrible DEA agent. But I think if this guy really wanted to put himself in a dangerous situation, he should go to the suburbs — where there is heightened fear of the unknown — I recommend the corner of Lowell and Woburn Streets in my home town of Lexington, MA. I’m sure a very concerned parent would call the police right away (unless a mix of white, Jewish, Asian and Indian teen hockey-players on skateboards robbed him first).
Regardless of where it’s dangerous to stand around visibly holding drugs and money, I think that is such an incongruous analogy to entrenched journalism which is fairly vital to the function and flow of democracy. However, if that middle-aged white guy did stand around doing that in Egypt, was mistaken for a Jew and then brutally, sexually attacked, I guess he’d think it was to be expected.