As of press time, Missoula schools no longer live under threat of violence originating from clowns. The ZooTown Klown has been not just apprehended but unmasked, as a 15 year-old boy screwing around on Facebook. It was the thrilling conclusion to a story in three acts—act one, in which the county informs parents of clown-related threats, and act two, in which the police remind residents to please not just attack clowns, many of whom are “reputable professional entertainers.”
Setting aside the question of how many professional clowns Missoula can support, I think we should put the blame for this hysteria squarely where it belongs:
the internet teenagers society. Sure, it’s social media’s fault for ushering in a golden age of hoaxes. And it’s teenagers’ fault for simulating clown-themed terrorism on Facebook. But it’s our fault for making that funny.
Over the last 15 years, our culture has become so fixated on safety that it’s no wonder teens are teasing us. We have made identifying and protect ourselves from perceived threats the only sacred element of American life. Teens must overthrow all that is sacred. In this sense they resemble satirists, who exaggerate the foibles of their times. Our time’s most protruding foible is fear. You can read all about this wild, totalizing theory in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, which also contains many clown jokes. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!
Last night’s debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was less a war of words than a long disagreement over whether they mean anything. “It’s all words,” Trump said early on. “It’s all sound bites.” He interrupted often, but it was usually just to say “wrong” or “no.” One of Clinton’s claims he so denied was that he had called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt American manufacturing—which of course he had:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
That’s not a screenshot; it’s embedded. The tweet is still up, despite the false and increasingly popular rumor that his campaign deleted it during the debate. Even Chris Hayes of MSNBC bought into it last night, although he apologized this morning. Like all the best hoaxes, this is one we want to believe.
Bernie bros are like raccoons. We know they’re out there, but we have a hard time actually laying hands on one. On Friday, Mashable ran a story headlined The bros who love Bernie Sanders have become a sexist mob. Emily Cahn writes:
[W]ith the Iowa caucuses now days away, a subset of Sanders supporters has become extremely vocal. Their messages, which are oftentimes derogatory and misogynistic, are geared at Clinton supporters (or anyone who disagrees with Sanders for that matter). They’ve even become prominent enough to earn a nickname: the “BernieBros.”
As examples of Bernie bro behavior, the story screenshots two Facebook comments on a photo of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Hillary Clinton. The first is from Carol Jean Simpson, who writes, “I am no longer voting for you. You should have supported someone with integrity instead of a lying shitbag like HRC. #FeelTheBern.” That’s derogatory. But it’s not misogynist(ic), and the astute reader will note that Carol Jean Simpson is a woman. The second commenter, Scott Lockhart, writes, “Their vaginas are making terrible choices!” Now that’s the kind of cartoonish misogyny we’re looking for. Unfortunately, Scott Lockhart turns out to be a parody account.
Yesterday, a person who claimed to represent the “hacktivist” group Anonymous posted information to the data-dump site Pastebin that outed various public figures, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, as members of the Ku Klux Klan. There are a lot of reasons to believe that data is not real, and no good evidence to suggest that Cornyn or any of the other figures named in the documents are involved with the Klan. I totally fell for it yesterday, partly because “Senate majority whip is a Klansman” is such a good story—too good, in retrospect, to be true. But in my defense, Anonymous has been planning to out Klan members with a document dump on November 5.