Taking Action, Filming Gatlinburg

There is a time to talk, and a time to take action. With Gatlinburg and Sevier County, today I begin taking action.

In three hours time, with the assistance of Scooter Downey from True Legend Films and Cernovich Media, I will begin showing the world just what happened in this region. Through the power of social media, you’ll be getting a first hand look at the disaster that rocked East Tennessee last week and the efforts people took while the fires still burned to rebuild.

What in the fresh hell are you doing? 

When the fires started burning, no one, including local news, understood the gravity of what happened. At 5 PM Monday local radio reported due to smoke from forest fires officials were going “door to door” in efforts to start a “voluntary evacuation.”

Social media told a different story. Area residents were going door to door from local businesses and homes telling people to get out of Gatlinburg because the town was burning. By 7 PM the town was in full-blown evacuation mode. All this information came through social media. The major media outlets failed us.

We’re going to the scene. We’re telling the stories no one’s told. We’re asking the uncomfortable questions that need asking. We’re bringing you the truth, firsthand, on the scene.

How did you get this started?

When I got word of the fires, I took to Periscope to give people as much news as I could get from firsthand sources in the midst of the inferno. I knew the local news failed area residents, so I wanted to get accurate information out to the world in the best fashion I knew how.

I didn’t expect the response. Hundreds of people viewed my Periscopes regularly. I got questions from people as far away as Massachusetts asking about certain structures, expressions of concern and heartbreak, and questions on how to help. This is because Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevier County are more than just places to people locally. They are areas full of memories for people nationwide.

Eventually certain people took notice, and this project was thrown together as quickly as possible to get the true story of the Gatlinburg fires out to the world.

What “true story” are you telling? 

The national press treated this fire like a puff piece. No one outside this area understands the impact this will have on the region because even local outlets aren’t telling the complete story.

There have been reports the Red Cross is turning away relief efforts. This is incorrect.

The body count reported every day has been more than what anyone reported.

More importantly, no one’s been talking about how a community came together from day one to say “What can we do to help?” A local radio show host got a call from a guy who lost his home in the fire. This guy called in while sitting in his van in a west Knoxville Wal-Mart parking lot asking for a place to just park for the night so he wouldn’t get hassled. The radio host kept him on hold and opened up the contest line to people who could help. Within minutes the contest line was jammed.

We aren’t just going to the scene to tell you about the disaster. We’re telling you the stories of the everyday men and women who made the relief efforts possible. We’re talking to those who organized benefits at a moment’s notice. This is the story of a community that rebuilds because it knew no one else gave a damn.

We’re going to show those of you nationally how you can help too.

Where can we see this?

Follow Scooter Downey on Periscope. Follow me on Periscope. You’ll see everything we see if you follow @clsesq and @TrueLegendFilms in real time.

Are you doing anything grey or illegal? 

I’m a lawyer with responsibilities to my family. We are doing nothing grey or illegal to get this story out.

Why do you care so much? You weren’t directly affected.

I didn’t lose anything tangibly. However I have friends who lost everything. Others who volunteered their time, energy, and efforts without asking or being asked. Their stories need to be told.

What pissed me off is when people started making light of this as if it were a political issue or a reason to advance their own personal agenda. Michael Ian Black, a famous comedian, twitted a joke making light of this disaster. Other psychotic nutjobs gleefully mocked the deaths of “trumptrash” while attempting to mourn the deaths and loss of those who voted for their chosen political candidate.

This isn’t about Trump, Hillary, Obama, Black Lives Matter, ISIS, or any cause you want to smear or advance. This is about a disaster created by a historic drought, a lack of preparation for something this catastrophic, and a community that came together while the world around them still burned.

Oh shit. This actually sounds like something we need to help. What can we do?

1. Follow @clsesq and @TrueLegendFilms on Twitter to catch the Periscopes we bring you.

2. If you can chip in $10, text REDCROSS to 90999. That gives the Red Cross $10 to direct in any areas they need. They’re running the shelters, so they will appreciate the help.

3. Another confirmed outlet is Dolly Parton’s “My People Fund.” You can donate some coin there to an incredible relief effort. Dolly Parton set up this fund to provide families in the region who lost their homes in the fire $1000 per month for six months. Given the number of residences lost that goal will be a high bar to hit, but we’re going to see it happen.

4. Go to the region and have fun. See a show. Visit Dollywood. Support local businesses if you can. The economic impact is going to be huge as this area thrives on tourism, so every business needs support.

We’re about to embark on a wild ride. Hope you follow us.

Gatlinburg is Burning, And You Can Help

Gatlinburg, a Northeast Tennessee tourist destination, is burning. No one is discussing the severity of this outside the local news media, and they’re not doing much. Here’s the best information you’ll find on the subject in one spot. As I get information that is verified, I will update this post.

1. How did the fire get started? 

Before Gatlinburg caught fire, approximately sixteen thousand acres of forestry were caught up in wildfires. This was due to a combination of arson and a severe drought in the region. We’ve not had a good rain in months, and that plus jackasses setting fires despite “burn bans” being issued across the region means unprecedented amounts of wildfires. We’ve had firefighters from all over the nation come help out the region, and for that we are truly grateful.

Last night (November 28, 2016) our region got some rain. It also got serious winds, ranging in the realm of 80-100 MPH gusts. This took fires already burning in the Smoky Mountains, knocking down trees and casting burning embers into the city of Gatlinburg.

Before the fires actually started wind damage to existing structures threatened people. Luke Walker, a seven foot tall pro wrestler, was a touch angry on social media that people were being seated at Bubba Gump’s while wind blew siding off the building. The best answer is a combination of wind, existing flames, and a lack of real rain caused the fire.

2. How bad did the fire get?

Really bad. Worse than you’re hearing on any major news outlet or local. When Luke Walker realized the smoke alone was enough to harm people he started running from business to business telling people to get out of Gatlinburg as quickly as possible. The tourists and business owners didn’t take him seriously, until the flames started to get out of hand, destroying several memorable structures.

Local news outlets reported as of 5 PM EST yesterday first responders were going door to door asking for a “voluntary evacuation” of Gatlinburg.  While this is not in dispute, as of publication Gatlinburg is in “mandatory evacuation.” Pigeon Forge is not, despite reports to the contrary.

The flames and smoke were enough for one eye witness to describe it as “Dante’s Inferno.” Vinnie Vineyard, a local taxi service owner, took one of his vehicles into town repeatedly evacuating people until he finally crashed around 8 AM today. He drove through flaming debris and excessive winds. During his night of evacuations he described the smoke as so thick and black you couldn’t see the headlights of the other drivers on the roads.

The fire actually spread into Pigeon Forge, potentially harming a bald eagle sanctuary in Dollywood, a local theme park. Fortunately, it didn’t get far enough to harm any animals in the park.

Another major point of concern was Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which housed numerous aquatic creatures you can’t just pack up in a bag when you’re told to leave. Fortunately, it’s been confirmed the aquarium wasn’t harmed by the fire even though the hills around it were on fire. Marine biologists and staffers are currently tending to the animals in the aquarium and will continue to do so through the facility’s re-opening.

3. How bad was the damage?

The Gatlinburg fire destroyed numerous local landmarks and places of interest. A wedding chapel is destroyed. “Mystery Mansion” is gone. Other areas are questionable, and that’s because the fire’s been contained enough and the smoke cleared for people to actually get boots on the ground and assess damage.

Hundreds of people lost their homes. Several resorts are burnt sticks. It’s hard to give an accurate account of what is standing and what isn’t because the reports from “news” outlets are conflicting with firsthand accounts I’m getting on social media.

As of this writing, over 200 structures are confirmed destroyed. There are still structural fires being fought. Thousands are in shelters set up by the Red Cross.

Three fatalities are confirmed. No names given at this time.
There is a standing curfew in Sevier County from 6 PM to 6 AM. Emergency personnel are asking anyone to stay away from Sevier County at the moment. People may be well intentioned but it’s still an active emergency scene. Residents in the area are asked to refrain from mobile usage so emergency crews can effectively communicate.

4. Holy shit. What can I do to help? 

Glad you asked. First, the easiest thing to do is text REDCROSS to 90999. That will chip in $10 for the Red Cross so they can do what they need to help however possible.

Second, check out Friends of the Smokies. They’re doing a fundraiser right now.

If you’re looking to donate tangible goods, more to come on that. Just keep in mind the best thing to do is find a local drop off point for a major donation site and go there. Attempting to get directly to Sevier County will do you and those in need no good.

This is a disaster no one ever saw coming. It’s a punch in the gut to so many in this region. The outpouring of support is great to see, but this is just day 1.

More to come.

SCAM ALERT: BB&T

This one’s worth the time to post here. BB&T customers are getting scam emails from unknown or fake addresses asking them to call a certain telephone number because their accounts “may” have been compromised due to “fraudulent activity,” and until you call in and verify certain information your account will be put on “limited hold.”

An actual call to BB&T verifies this is a scam email, using mock BB&T logos and official sounding language to prey on your fears that something might have happened to your account, you need to check with the people at the number in the email immediately, or  you will have a “temporary hold” placed on your account until the matter is resolved. Yet there are some people who will be taken in by this because they will read the email, see the BB&T logo, and never bother to check the source of the email to see if it’s real or a scam.  Here’s how to avoid getting taken by the fraudsters working the BB&T angle if you receive one of those emails.

1. Check the info of the sender for the email. If it’s not a BB&T email account, it’s likely something’s up.
2. Call customer service on the back of your BB&T Debit or Credit card, or go to BB&T’s website. Let them know you’ve gotten an email that looks like it’s from them but doesn’t appear to be a BB&T email. Be nice and let the people on the other end of the line know you want to make sure there’s no problems with the account.
3. If BB&T verifies you’re in the clear, change your user name and password just to be safe.

4. Bonus step: If you’ve got the email address in front of you, offer BB&T that address so they can track the sender and figure out who’s sending the bogus emails.

People get taken by phishing scams all the time. They exploit the mark’s trust, using symbols of authority, tapping into the public conscious through vulnerability, and hit people with language that sounds official (i.e. “temporary hold.”) Don’t let yourself get pulled for a sucker. Think before your reflexively dial the number in the email, question whether there’s anything wrong at all, and then act.

In the future as I see more of this happen expect MiD to host more alerts of scams and fraud opportunities as I find them. I plan on doing this as I am proud of the work I do when I go out in public and perform as a card cheat, theatrical pickpocket, hypnotist.  When I work, though, it’s a form of social contract. What I do is entertainment, and if I steal something during a gig you’re going to get it back.  I cannot stand a scammer, thief, or cheat who exploits the needy, so consider this notice to all who would violate those norms.

If you violate the Hustler’s Rules of Ethics, you own a spot as a scam artist in my book, and deserve exposure.

Here are those rules, with a nod to the king of the Cheats, Daniel Madison:
1. Never cheat an honest man (this one will get you here faster than any other violation)
2. Don’t take more than they can afford (a close second to #1 getting you my attention)

3. Palms are for Aces, not handshakes

4. The Court Cards are your best friends

5. Don’t get caught.

Stay tuned. Mediation is Dead, but exposing scammers is alive and well here.

Reddit’s Ruinous Run Of Section 230

Over the weekend I started seeing rumors of Reddit losing the “safe harbor” provision Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act afforded them.

I started looking into the matter, and stopped when I read this piece by Keith Lee, proprietor of the blawg Associate’s Mind.

Give this a read. It’s seriously worth your time and effort, especially if you play around on Reddit or enjoy any of its content. Come back here when you’re done. I’ll wait.

___________

Back? Okay, a few additional thoughts.

I think Keith’s on the money with his analysis of what happened. He’s been a champion of the mantra “Lawyer Up Before You Startup,” and many companies continue to ignore this at their peril. I think Keith takes great pleasure in proving tech companies that love “disruption” wrong at every available opportunity. This is different. We’re not dealing with the future of Pokemon Go lawyering, we’re dealing with a CEO of a website that bills itself as the “front page of the internet” editing content because reasons.

That’s a big enough deal to consider the ramifications as we enter a new era where more people are pressuring social media sites like Facebook and large search engines like Google to flag “fake news” and report it, or reject it outright. What happens when Facebook takes the word of a J-Scho0l professor and decides to start tagging “news articles” as “fake” or “biased?” Does that pierce the protections § 230 provides? Only time will tell.

Next, I know Keith would have gotten a bit more nuanced with his post if he had the ability, but I gather he was short on time and wanted to get his thoughts out there. Give it a bit and I think you’ll see the story develop a little more, and Keith’s analysis a little more than what is on the table at the moment. Right now, it’s too early to tell and Thanksgiving isn’t usually a time for litigation. Since Steve Huffman decided to overreach in such a fashion, and abuse his power in the manner he did, I predict there will be at least one lawsuit, if not more, in the future.

In the meantime, be careful what you post on Reddit until this entire mess is resolved. Enjoy the sideshow that is the various subreddits. Watch, wait, and see what happens before you go whole hog with posting on Reddit again.

And remember if you’re a tech company “Lawyer Up Before You Startup” is a pretty darn good idea.

Stein’s Recount: The Art of the Steal? (Update x2)

One of the first things theatrical pickpockets learn is attention and expectation management. “The Art of the Steal” requires you to learn where people aren’t looking and act accordingly. If the Green Party’s Jill Stein’s efforts to establish a recount in three battleground states is as some now claim, it appears Jill Stein and I studied under similar tutors. Her last ditch effort to raise money for a recount in three states smells fishy at best.  At worst, it reeks of a major confidence scam.

As I outline my theory, and I stress this is a theory, I’ll be using a few terms worth mentioning. The first is “mark.” This is a term con artists used in the days when they frequented carnival midways with rigged games designed to fleece people out of money. If a person bought the scam, the con artist would mark their clothing with chalk as they exited the game, letting other con artists know a particular “gamer” was easy pickings for other predators.

1. Find the mark’s need and offer a solution.

Election aftermath left many people in states of fear, resentment, and unhappiness. They wanted anything  to stop Donald Trump from getting to inauguration day. Potential solutions ranged from petitioning the Electoral College to vote their conscience as “faithless electors” all the way down to implementing algorithms at Google and Facebook to eliminate “fake news” that allegedly handed conservatives control off the Legislative and Executive branches, and several new gubernatorial mansions to boot.

The folks of Pantsuit Nation wrung their hands in fear until Jill Stein came along with a solution that seemed plausible. Get enough funds together and petition for a vote recount in some states. Surely if the votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are closely scrutinized we’ll have proof Hillary won, or at least the Donald didn’t get enough of the votes to get those states’ electors, right!

Stein’s nugget of hope came at the right time and in the right fashion to generate around five million dollars as of this writing. That shows someone trained in the deceptive arts she managed to tap into a vulnerability many people wanted desperately healed.

2. Start the Put-Up 

It’s hard to tell why anyone other than Jill Stein would want $7 million dollars to push for a recount of an election that will most likely not benefit anyone or “raise confidence” in the voting process. The “put-up” is the phase of a confidence scam where the grifter establishes a rapport of trust and support with the mark. Right now with a good number of people “disgusted” in a “rigged” system where one person won the popular vote but the winner triggered enough votes to get the required electors are especially vulnerable to  someone who comes along preaching an ideal of “election integrity.” That message was enough to catch the ears of someone who apparently understood the internet, but didn’t get people.

“If there was hacking or tampering with ballots anywhere, both sides should support a review. America deserves clean elections.”–George Takei, 23 Nov 2016.

Grifters are masters of the put-up. People afraid of losing something are especially vulnerable to a good put-up. This election cycle was largely dominated by fear, and post-election fears continue to escalate. Those buying into Jill Stein’s bill of goods are heavily invested in a mindset of fear, so if this was a scam the odds are people pouring cash into Stein’s coffers are doing so because they think she can alleviate that fear.

As far as trust and credibility with the mark goes, Stein may not have the same level of credibility as some, but she does have the exposure of being a major third party Presidential candidate. People voted for her. Many pundits asked, and people demanded, a third option when the duopoly produced Queen Meemaw and The Donald. The media narrative would rally behind a female presidential candidate asking for a recount to ensure “election integrity.” The put-up, if this were a scam, would already be a slam-dunk.

3. Escalate the game for more of the mark’s money 

In carnival sideshow games, the grifter offers a chance at a greater prize for just another dollar. Sometimes the need taps into an irrational side of our brains which the grifter exploits. Regardless, at some point during the scam, a good grifter is going to ask for more money because of a critically important reason.

On Wednesday, November 23, Stein initially asked for $2.5 million, needed by Friday, 4 PM central, in order to begin the petition for a recount. That sounds suspiciously like scams from “psychics” asking for a certain amount of money by a particular time or date in order to make something happen or prevent a tragedy. It certainly sounds like a scam a televangelist pulled on his flock warning of his death unless $8 million in donations hit his door. Maybe there are good reasons for Stein needing that amount by 4 PM on Black Friday.

If that’s the case, it’s a touch troubling over the weekend Stein changed the total goal to $7 million once the funds started rolling in. David Cobb, Jill Stein’s campaign manager, told LawNewz when asked for comment the initial funding goal was just factoring in Wisconsin. When they “realized” the cost of a recount in the other states, they upped the fundraising goal. That sounds reasonable. A recount costs money, and ventures of any sort often require more funds than initially anticipated.

Taking David Cobb’s word at face value leaves the uneasy with questions. If they only started their fundraising efforts with Wisconsin in mind, why did they begin the fundraising drive with all three states in mind? At what point in time did the Stein team “realize” the $2.5 million would cost more than anticipated? And why did the Stein recount team initially tell donors they could not “guarantee” a recount, but only “pledge” for one, then delete that text?

Take a look at this twit from political comedian Tim Young. It contains the original language on the Stein fundraising website on Wednesday the 23rd. The current text is located at the LawNewz article, circled in red. Why the change? According to David Cobb, the text was changed to make the fundraiser “clearer.” There were no “discrepancies;” it was merely “explanatory text.” Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume from the start everything is on the up and up. From this angle, it doesn’t look too good for Jill Stein, her “recount” fundraiser, or even the rest of her career. It looks like she’s preparing herself for the final phase of the con.

4. Clear the table, insulate yourself, and get out of town.

We haven’t seen Stein do this, so there’s a good chance she’s on the up-and-up with her recount efforts. And reports from the news indicate she is using donor money for good, since Wisconsin will now begin a recount of the vote after Stein leveraged what capital she had to make it happen. If you donated money to the Jill Stein recount fundraiser, it looks like things are OK.

But there’s still two states left. Two states where if the word comes back “no,” the money donated goes to help promote “election integrity.” What that says is as clear as the phrase “Make America Great Again.” The difference is one phrase got a guy into the White House. The other sounds good, but smells heavily of a cheat trying to leave town.

I’m not writing any of this to suggest Jill Stein is a fraud or that her efforts to get a recount started are less than sincere. What I am saying is that from the eyes of someone who’s studied con artists, who has a grasp of the fundamental principles by which people can take your watch, cell phone, and wallet without you ever knowing, if this were a scam it smells like one that needs exposure.

Donate if you wish, but know what you’re buying before you chip in your hard earned money.

UPDATE: I woke this morning to the following Medium post from Marc Elias, the Clinton team’s counsel, regarding Secretary Clinton’s involvement in the recount efforts. Read it if you will, but it’s full of double-speak and proposes no concrete action. And they’re not donating money.

UPDATE x 2: We now know why those lawyer fees went so high so quickly. Jill Stein missed Pennsylvania’s voter recount filing deadline.

Timing is everything, especially when you’re working against the clock before someone calls bullshit.

A Thought Experiment To Ruin Your Night (maybe).

The world near me is literally on fire. Florida beat LSU. I’m in the mood to ruin some people’s evenings. If you’re interested in a thought experiment, keep reading. If you’re the type that doesn’t like to think, and would rather have a nice evening, move on. Nothing to see here.

Still with me? Good, because you’re one of the smart ones. I like having you here. Allow me to present a theory. What if I told you last night started a chain of events where Donald Trump got a second term, and Kanye West held a high level position in his administration? Does that sound like a crazy prediction? It’s nothing different than what we’re seeing right now, is it?

Recently our Vice President Elect, Mike Pence, took a trip to Broadway. The crowd booed his entrance. After the show concluded, Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who plays Aaron Burr, singled out Pence and read a speech to him prepared once the show’s cast, crew and producer knew Pence would show up. You’ve probably seen clips of it by now. Here’s a sample of the text.

“Thank you for joining us at Hamilton: An American Musical. We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of ALL of us. Thank you.”

Let’s Talk About That Joey Styles Joke

Joey Styles, the former ECW and WWE play-by-play broadcaster is now banished from the industry he loves. He did nothing to “expose the business.” Joey didn’t “go into business for himself” on air.  Joey Styles was fired from pro wrestling over a joke referencing the President-elect. No one learned the Election Night Lesson, and now even my beloved pro wrestling has jumped into the world of self-censorship.

On the November 12 EVOLVE pay-per-view event, Joey Styles was in the middle of an in-ring promo with EVOLVE’s ring announcer Joanna Rose. Styles was apparently in an ongoing feud with his color commentator, Stokely Hathaway. During the opening moments of the show, Joey said the following to Joanna Rose:

“Joanna, you look great tonight. And if our next President were here tonight, he’d want to grab you by the…And speaking of my broadcast colleague…”

It was an off-color joke intended to throw heat on Stokely Hathaway. Never you mind this was in a business which regularly toys with racial stereotypes, built itself on everything from self-mutilation to human sacrifice, and featured more “bra and panties” matches than pearl-clutching third wave feminists would count. This was completely unacceptable to EVOLVE promoter Gabe Sapolsky, who twitted out the following to EVOLVE fans:

I deeply apologize for Joey Styles’ comments and am furious

We’ve parted ways with Joey Styles and that’s my final comment on this. Thank you for your support.

It didn’t take much longer for two other wrestling promotions to fire Joey Styles. On November 14, Beyond Wrestling axed Styles with the following twits.

Despite his unprofessional behavior I would like to extend him the professional courtesy of a phone call before making an announcement.

That was at 11:11 AM on November 14. By 11:44, Beyond twitted Joey all the best in his future endeavors.

Joey Styles will no longer be appearing at Sunday’s live event in Worcester or any future Beyond Wrestling live events. Thank you.

The world will never know if the phone call to Styles occurred, or the substance of that call. Did Beyond’s management give Joey a chance to speak on the matter, or was it a simple termination? That is left in the air. What runs clearer are the thoughts of CHIKARA Pro Wrestling’s Mike Quackenbush, who took great pains in a blog post to defend the promotion’s termination of Joey Styles.

The events of the last few days have been just cause to take a look at the state of professional wrestling. The art form that I love, and have dedicated my entire adult life to, is embarrassingly behind the times. It is beholden to outdated tenets that threaten to render it…obsolete at worst, and a punchline at best.

I know there are others, influential and celebrated, that imagine pro-wrestling to be a bubble in which the social norms from a bygone era are still relevant and valid. At CHIKARA, we rail against them, and those ideals, with everything we make. It is one thing to speak, to voice an opinion. It is one thing to call for change, to wish for change, to imagine how that change might come about. It is another thing to make it.

Effective today, we are terminating our relationship with Joey Styles. Effective today, we are instituting a zero tolerance policy for misogynistic, racist, and/or homophobic speech, written or verbal, whether it’s directed toward our cast, our crew, or our patrons. This is the shape of CHIKARA.

Ladies and gents, I give you the pro wrestling version of Twitter.

One person who didn’t seem to understand the significance of Joey’s termination was legendary pro wrestling manager Jim Cornette. During the latest edition of the “Jim Cornette Experience,” Cornette railed against Quackenbush in a hilarious fashion, slammed the outrage culture that bubbled up once Cornette defended Styles online, and questioned why a person who made essentially the same remarks is now set to hold America’s highest office, but another lost a job. “If you can’t take that joke, you need to get laid,” Cornette mused.

I like Jim Cornette. He took the time to speak with me personally during a really serious time for my family. He signed a tennis racket that sits in my office. He’s also one of those guys who’s really nice, wrong on a lot of things, and tone deaf to others. This is my plea to Jim Cornette: Google Justine Sacco. You’ll learn why Joey Styles is no longer welcome in pro wrestling circles, and why he may lose his “day” job too.

You’ll also learn why we have Donald Trump as President-elect.

Banning Pax (Updated)

Pax Dickinson, one of many interviewed in “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” is the latest Twitter banhammer casualty. It’s not a surprise, given Pax embodies everything the “free speech wing of the free speech party” hates. This wasn’t about silencing conservative voices. Pax’s Twitter ban is the tone police telling the world what jokes are funny and which are unacceptable.

I doubt Pax will cry himself to sleep over a Twitter ban. When you make the cover of international newspapers a social media platform becomes a touch irrelevant. The only possible hit Pax takes from this is an inability to retweet material from his business venture with Got News’ Chuck Johnson, WeSearchr. He will still maintain a platform on other avenues, like Gab, and have the ability to broadcast his message through his own blog if he so chooses.

Twitter’s rationale for banning Pax is unknown at the time of this post. It could be any number of his bad jokes someone at the Trust and Safety Council found “offensive” or “hate speech.” Pax won’t apologize for any of it, most likely. From the day he lost his job as CTO of Business Insider due to his “mildly trolly” Twitter account, Pax has been unapologetic for anything he says in the real or digital worlds.

What troubles me most about the ban on Pax is that it’s not political. It’s not about “hate.” It’s about someone finding a few tasteless remarks offensive and using cyber shears to cut his speech from a digital platform. And before people start chiming in about “social consequences” and how Twitter is a private company, free to ban who they choose, I get all that. The squeaking sound you’re hearing is the dead horse you keep beating.

When social media begins censoring humor, it begins censoring that which keeps us sane in a very dark world. There’s enough political discussion floating around Twitter and Facebook right now and fears of “America’s First Dictator” that voices like Pax Dickinson who, to paraphrase Marshall Mathers “says shit just to be saying it,” are welcome changes of tone. I didn’t necessarily find all of Pax’s jokes funny, but humor is different for every person. What some find hilarious I don’t get. That’s the beauty of a world where Lena Dunham and Carlos Valencia are both considered funny.

Strangely, Twitter continues its clueless ban/suspension policy without realizing people like Pax don’t need Twitter. Rather, Twitter needs people like Pax Dickinson. When you take out a voice on a social media platform known for making a few rude remarks, you’ve made it clear to the rest of your user base the platform’s digital punishment isn’t about politics, harassment, or anything else others might claim it to be.

You’re making it clear you want to remove any semblance of thought you don’t like. You’re cutting off the crude joke or two. You’re putting the rest of your users on notice the moment the Trust and Safety Council takes offense with a statement, they’re gone from your platform.

Maybe this is why we’re seeing more ads for Twitter on television these days.

UPDATE: It appears the Twitter ban was part of the latest Twitter purge to eliminate “radical thought,” according to USA Today. This is disconcerting. While the “alt-right,” whatever this term may mean, does contain elements that are truly despicable, it is a political body the world must accept. Whether Dickinson is truly “alt-right” is anyone’s guess, but silencing voices on social media for political motives is disheartening.

“Fuck Off. We Won.”

Chuck Johnson of Got News was approached by someone #WithHer after election results were over. This individual asked him what it was like to elect a racist, sexist, transohomophic white guy into the White House. Chuck’s response was simple and to the point. “Fuck off. We won.”

Pax Dickinson, Chuck’s business partner and co-founder of WeSearchr, is featured as the front page photo of numerous international newspapers following Donald Trump’s Presidential election win. The photo is a pictorial version of Chuck Johnson’s statement: Pax with a red “Make America Great Again” hat, smiling, extending both middle fingers to the camera. He says it without words: “Fuck off. We won.”

What a statement worth unpacking, now that “Elites” are beginning to unravel and reveal their true nature. The promises to re-examine their relationship with working-class white people are telling. Now that protests continue to rise in the wake of what THEY term a “rigged” election, it’s definitely time to take a look at the “Fuck off. We won” message and what it means for those who repeat it as a mantra.

In the aftermath of Election 2016, the Elites, from the media talking heads to those playing at the highest levels of the Oppression Olympics, went through the Kubler-Ross “Stages of Grief.” It’s understandable. The loss handed them by America’s new White Working Class vote (dubbed WWC, “a pro wrestling model” in smugness by one writer) stripped the power away from those who would put genderless bathrooms and dub a green cartoon frog a symbol of hate. Those with the power lost everything, and couldn’t accept it when the final results came in. Even those who weren’t entrenched in elite structures kept pressing with smug superiority about “Faux News” and asking the President-elect’s support base if they’d accept the results, along with the President-elect, when he lost.

Then the “unthinkable” happened, and they lost everything because of their political correctness and identity politics. The “If you disagree with me on (x), unfriend me” approach didn’t work. It built an angry silent majority that wanted to have those “honest discussions” the Elites kept shutting down every time someone reached out to have them. Their ways didn’t work, and it cost them the Executive, Legislative, and arguably the Judicial branches of our government.

Within twenty-four hours of the American public’s identity politics repudiation, those who clung tightly to labels of “marginalized,” “oppressed,” and “disaffected” took to the streets and began protesting the election’s results. It didn’t matter the nation’s Commander in Chief or their chosen, “deeply flawed” candidate called for a smooth transition of power. It was time for the anger stage of grieving to begin, and it’s where we currently sit.

(Denial already passed election night and during the hours after. If you doubt this, watch this video of Chris Matthews praying to the Deity of his choosing in the early hours of November 9.)

Now anger is the word of the day. Protests, some organized by people who didn’t vote, fill the streets. The media elites are those supporting this anger, and no one thinks for a second this even close to strange. Media figureheads with major fan bases like George Takei and Joss Whedon called for open revolt in the streets. Those who would call upon our nation’s 45th President with the term “friend” would tell him they’re watching, and that he must stand for all Americans or else more protests would continue.

Even in his first televised sit-down interview, the President-elect was asked to condemn HIS supporters who committed acts of violence against the “oppressed.” He did. It was a nice gesture, and one I don’t know if I could replicate given the circumstances he faced.

One continued stance seems to seep through current discourse like water leaking through cracked pipes. Conservatives who supported Trump, or those who accept his Presidency, must reach across the aisles and comfort those brainwashed masses who think America just elected its first dictator. The folks who prance about Medium say it’s the conservative duty to demand our President-elect “disavow” hate groups who support him. Even those who reach a more nuanced worldview say it’s time to help the progressives #WithHer “de-Hitlerize” their brains by letting them know the world’s going to be okay.

Then there’s the voice of the people. I didn’t understand Mike Cernovich’s view that it was on the Democratic establishment to reach across the aisle and offer a chance at healing until Rush Limbaugh, of all people, put it into perspective for me. As he ranted last week, during every major change in power, whether conservative or liberal, the onus is always on conservatives to “heal” divides and put a band-aid on the nation’s wounds when a divide exists. It happened with George W. It happened with Obama. And now it’s happening with President-elect Trump.

As anger flows on the left, and they revel in it, maybe Pax Dickinson and Chuck Johnson were right. “Fuck off, we won” might be the mantra conservatives need to adopt.

If the progressive elites and their huddled masses in fear won’t accept the results of a free and fair election? Fuck off, we won. If those who had the power took it too far and decided naming and blaming was the best course instead of figuring out where the hell they screwed the pooch and fixing it? Fuck off, we won. Those who “can’t even” and are “literally shaking” after levers are pulled and ballots counted? Fuck off, we won.

Humility and grace are wonderful traits in any human being. When the same people are demanded to display those traits, regardless of the circumstance, maybe it’s time to consider a different approach. After all, if those who had the power can’t bother to display the same when it’s their time, then maybe it’s time for a different approach.

Maybe “Fuck off, we won” is the appropriate response to the Elites.

The New York Times’ Broken Promise

It took the Paper of Record three days to turn an about-face with its decision to “re-dedicate itself” to journalism. Friday’s letter by Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. to the New York Times’ subscribers promising more fair and unbiased coverage was undone Monday with reportage Steve Bannon, President-elect Trump’s new Chief Strategist, was the “voice of racism.”

All it took was a weekend for Sulzberger Jr.’s conciliatory remarks to mean nothing. After all, we’re often reminded of the chestnut “Actions speak louder than words.” Michael Shear’s hit piece on Steve Bannon just told the world the Times doesn’t give a damn about keeping promises to readers or subscribers. It’s going to be more of the same at the Times, and they know you’ll continue to eat it up each day.

Mind you, no one expects Shear to be nice to Steve Bannon, or give him a tummy rub. Bannon probably wouldn’t allow a NY Times reporter within thirty feet of him. With two thirds of the article devoted to the same name-calling that cost the Pantsuit Nation folks a chance to see a President Hillary, it’s clear Shear, if not the Times, is only interested in advocacy reporting. Fuck journalism and actual reporting of news when you can get the CAIR folks calling the President-elect a threat to our nation’s Muslim population, right?

Arthur Sulzberger Jr.’s letter to his subscriber base wasn’t sincere in the least. Monday’s edition proves it. It was a plea for mercy asking subscribers who trusted the Times for years to not leave. It was the cheating spouse or lover begging for one more chance, a “this time things will be different.” Fortunately those of us willing to give the Grey Lady a second chance didn’t have to wait long before she reverted back to the problems that put her in this predicament to start. Tigers don’t change their stripes, and those interested in leveraging the power of the Fourth Estate to advance a personal agenda don’t give up that power overnight.

Steve Bannon isn’t going anywhere, no matter how much Michael Shear, the Times’ publishing staff, or others want to think otherwise. Reaching out to partisan bodies for comment on how he’s the “voice of racism” or “anti-semitic” is a dull move smacking of the same smugness that brought Donald Trump the Presidency.

One of the few effective working mediators I know, G.C. Hutson, posted to his Facebook page two thoughts worth mentioning. Here’s the first, and it’s a “maybe.”

1. Maybe, just maybe…
…calling anyone and everyone who in anyway disagrees with your ideology a “vile deplorable racist misogynistic xenophobic piece of hillybilly shit,” backfired a little.
Crazy, right?
But.. maybe, we stop doing that.
Perhaps ACTUALLY being inclusive and non-marginalizing as you CLAIM, would work better in the future.

Another, more damning sentiment worth the time of the journalist who claims it’s time for a new world, one where both sides are given a fair and balanced treatment.

As ridiculous as I consider all “political correctness” to be, not even I realized the depth of its disfavor, across the nation.

It cost you ALL of the elections.
The Presidency, The House and The Senate.

If you hear NOTHING else I ever say, absorb my following words:
…your constant desire to “force” people to think like you didn’t work…
…it simply pushed those opposing sentiments underground.

Which is why, no one saw the elections results coming.

You didn’t open-up dialogues.
– You lectured.
– You oppressed.
– You dismissed.
– You mocked.
– And you marginalized.

And it failed.
Big time.
You became EVERYTHING you claimed to oppose.

The Times is gone, replaced as Carlos Slim’s personal blog. Your mainstream news networks abandoned you for personal favors from the establishment elites. They fed you a steady diet of talking heads and think-fluencers, and when you finally rejected that they plead for one more chance.

It took them three days to break their “promise.”

Who’s left to trust when the media is corrupt? It’s really simple, when you think about it.
The New Scum.
And we’re already watching.