I’m getting tired of manipulation by sockpuppets

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By Elke Wetzig (elya) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

A member of the Texas House of Representatives is being criticized over his use of sockpuppets and no, he wasn’t playing with children’s toys. He used an anonymous Facebook page to fight against a bond election in his hometown and the mayor is not happy.

If you haven’t heard the term before, a sockpuppet is a fake online name or identity created by someone for a particular purpose — such as winning an election, for instance.

Some people can run an entire cadre of sockpuppets arguing both sides of an issue, having them debate each other in an effort to change the minds of readers. This was a key idea in Russia’s disinformation campaign during our last election. 

Continue reading “I’m getting tired of manipulation by sockpuppets”

We lost Jimmy Breslin yesterday

Breslin received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1986 so yeah, he was that good.

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Jimmy Breslin at the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival. (Wikipedia)

Today is a day of mourning for journalists everywhere. We lost Jimmy Breslin yesterday.

Newspaper reports say Breslin died while recovering from pneumonia. He was 88 and until recently was still writing in his iconic style.

Breslin was the type of newsman that may not exist any longer. He started as a copy boy in the 1940s and he made his mark as a columnist for various New York City publications, reporting on the city’s politics and crime from “street level,” using the lives of average people to frame stories.

As a young teen, I stumbled across his novel, “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” and laughed myself silly. That was my first introduction to Breslin and he has been a favorite of mine ever since.

Continue reading “We lost Jimmy Breslin yesterday”

One way or the other, understanding may cost us all we have

bible

I was doing research for a different post when I came across these two verses.

Proverbs 11:9 — “With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.”

Proverbs 11:12 — “Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.”

That is a good word, “deride,” although we don’t use it very often these days. It means to express contempt for someone or to ridicule.

I’d say contempt and ridicule are pretty accurate descriptions of our national discussion right now.

I don’t know who will win the presidential election in November, but of one thing I am sure — if we don’t stop deriding each other, then almost half the nation will be mad enough to shut down the system regardless of the outcome.

Nobody wins on this path. Nobody.

Don’t trust me, listen to Proverbs again.

Proverbs 11:11 — “By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.”

That wicked mouth is going to tear down the city.

What I love about Proverbs, though, is that you always get the positive with the negative, the answer with the problem. In this case we are told “through knowledge the righteous escape” and “one who has understanding holds his tongue.”

Knowledge and understanding are the answer to contempt and ridicule.
How easy!

But, maybe not.

Solomon says in Proverbs 4:7: “… Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Though it cost all you have.

I wonder how many people are willing to give that much to truly gain knowledge and understanding.

Can you pick up the remote and watch a different news channel? Will you read a different point of view? How about walking a mile in another man’s shoes or simply sitting down and listening to the burdens of a neighbor who doesn’t think like you?

Can you turn off the contempt and ridicule long enough to see that the person on the other side of the aisle really wants to make the world a better place, as well?
I hope so.

Or else it might cost us all we have.

Thoughts on racism

Racism.

In just the last 100 years, we’ve seen genocide in Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, and Armenia. Tens of millions of men, women, and children killed in mass atrocities. Millions tortured and raped and left for dead.

We aren’t innocent in the United States. … 4,000 Cherokee died of cold, hunger and disease on the Trail of Tears. In the 1830s, 100,000 Native Americans were forced from their homes in favor of white settlers and their black slaves.

Racism …. it isn’t a political stance or an applause line in a stump speech. It is ignorance and hate.

And it isn’t Christian.

I read in my Bible that Jesus used a Samaritan as the example of the neighbor you should love, only the Jews bitterly hated the Samaritans. It was so bad that the Samaritans desecrated the Temple at Passover with human bones.

But that didn’t stop Jesus from using a Samaritan as an example of love. Doesn’t sound racist to me.

There was also the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4: 1-42)

How can I do less than follow that example? How can I do less than try and erase racism and hate from my heart?

As Christians, we have become very attuned to speech we believe attacks our faith. It is my sincere prayer today that we become just as alert to racist talk, and just as proud to stand against it.