But … this is our culture now.
How else will we inculcate virtue except by threatening to kill the social media villain du jour?
No one’s going to actually kill her, probably. We don’t murder people to show the gods how pious we are, as primitive man did.
We just put them in fear for their lives for a week. Don’t tell me that’s not progress.
Christian Cooper, an avid bird-watcher, says he condemns "abhorrent" death threats targeting the woman, who called the police on him during an encounter involving her unleashed dog.
— CNN Tonight (@CNNTonight) May 27, 2020
He hates the death threats, but he’s a little more ambivalent about whether she deserved to lose her job:
“Any of us can make — not necessarily a racist mistake, but a mistake,” [Christian] Cooper said, “And to get that kind of tidal wave in such a compressed period of time, it’s got to hurt. It’s got to hurt.”…
“I’m not excusing the racism,” he said. “But I don’t know if her life needed to be torn apart.”
He opened his mouth to speak further and then stopped himself. He had been about to say the phrase, “that poor woman,” he later acknowledged, but he could not bring himself to complete the thought.
I don’t fault him for failing to predict that his video of the confrontation would get 25 million views in 24 hours, but surely we’re far enough along in the (d)evolution of social media to recognize the potential consequences of turning an enemy into a social media villain. The same pattern recurs when an incident goes viral: The villain is identified, complaints flood into their employer, the death threats begin. At a minimum they’ll be placed on leave; chances are they’ll be fired, if only to end the bad publicity. And then it may be a good long while before any company is willing to hire them again.
I’m not saying Cooper didn’t have a right to feel aggrieved by her behavior or to share his footage with the public, but none of us should be babes in the woods about this in 2020. If someone misbehaved with political implications and you’ve got the evidence of it on your cell phone, you’re taking their life and their livelihood in your hands by posting it. Maybe in this case that’s simple justice: She was clearly expecting that cops would take the side of a white woman in distress against a black man, with unpredictable consequences for his own life and livelihood. (Ask George Floyd about that.) If she was willing to put him at risk, well, payback’s a bitch. If she didn’t want to lose her job, maybe she should have behaved a little better when it mattered, eh?
But you are putting someone at risk when you submit your case against them to an Internet jury. That’s just how it is in our decadent world. It’s of no use to say later, “Please don’t make threats.” The mob will never not behave like a mob once it assembles.
Robert George has a piece on that theme in the Daily News today, calling for more understanding on all sides in these trying times — and reminding people that Christian Cooper was a bit of a “Karen” too.
But Christian did not one of us any favors. He and Amy may not be related, but they’re sure as hell part of the same family of privileged New Yorker. As one Twitter person put, ironically, Christian is the “Karen” in this encounter, deciding to enforce park rules unilaterally and to punish “intransigence” ruthlessly. And how — luring Amy’s dog with dog treats he regularly wears in his handy utility belt? To enforce leash laws?…
In this time, maybe we should all strive to give people some slack over daily comportment — whether social distancing, mask-wearing or more traditional aggravations like, well, leash violations.
Was Cooper a “Karen” in the incident? He crossed a line when he told her he’d do something to her dog that she wouldn’t like, but asking her to put her dog on a leash wasn’t him being peevish or entitled. He thought the dog would chase away the birds he had come to watch in any area designated for bird-watching. Besides, I thought the hallmark of a “Karen” was going over someone’s head to complain to a higher authority about their behavior: “I want to speak to your manager.” In this case, the “manager” was the cops. With a little racial provocation mixed in.