One of the reasons that blowups seem so important to media people is that media people have an ingrained sense of themselves as the clerical class that has effectively replaced religious clergy as the ordained moral leaders and shapers of society. Media people, in these controversies, reveal their belief that the American people are, by and large, completely irrational simpletons who will be activated to perform heinous acts of violence the minute a prominent person or institution says the wrong thing.
Pretty soon we would figure out that millions of people would die from the coronavirus — a fair few more than died from anti-Asian racism caused by Wall Street Journal headlines. Sure, there were a handful of distressing incidents of violence, and ignorant words were exchanged. But these were not caused by the WSJ headline. And it would be weird if they were. Because not even the deaths of millions of people worldwide from COVID, joined to the increasingly credible conviction that COVID-19 emerged from a poorly managed Chinese lab, have led to organized violence by our simpletons.
It’s natural for humans to disagree about what should be socially acceptable. But from the Google Memo to the latest tweets that get some celeb canceled from a gig, very few of these stories matter. Dave Chappelle’s observation in his latest comedy special is exactly right. “Apparently, they dragged me on Twitter,” he says of one controversy. “I don’t give a f***, because Twitter is not a real place.”