June 13th, 2020

mom walk

i should know better by now

Last week Zoom suspended the accounts of three people - two in America and one in Hong Kong - for trying to organize online discussions around topics that the Chinese government considers sensitive (Tiananmen massacre etc). This was done at the explicit request of the Chinese government, who declared discussion of these topics to be illegal.

I know how this shit goes down because i also work at a company with a large office in China and we have also been targeted. The government gets its way by making vague threats against the Chinese employees and implying there will be punishments. They don't need to be specific, they just need to scare the corporate decision-makers into doing their bidding.

Zoom gave some mealy-mouthed statement that they weren't technically able to block Chinese users from their platform so they just shut down the whole forum instead. This might be something that could be overlooked if it was just one event, but Zoom has had several issues with failing to protect the privacy of its users in recent weeks, and the Chinese government has been waging a very public and very aggressive war against freedom of speech in America for several years now, so quite frankly Zoom's mea culpa ain't shit.

However, the truly upsetting thing today is not Zoom, or even the Chinese government. It's the insufferable bunch of right wing yahoos who have decided to use this as an opportunity to make it all about them, again. You see, in the minds of these folks, they are the ones who are truly being oppressed, because a handful of shock jocks and unabashed white nationalists got deplatformed from some American universities and media outlets. They claim to be the original victims of censorship, bullied by rampaging mobs, forced to endure terrible injustices in the name of political correctness. Never mind the fact that none of these "victims" have been physically harmed, arrested or even prevented from continuing to share their views with their audiences. It is they who are the true marginalized peoples of America, and it is they whose rights are being trampled.

Stupidly, i tried to point out that it isn't fair to compare a couple of rich white people losing one source of income to millions of people who are facing daily oppression at the hands of an actual totalitarian government. And that making this comparison is offensive to those people who are literally being thrown in prison just for speaking out against the government.

Well, hooray, so starts the pile-on. It's truly a sight to behold, how angrily and violently these folks lash out against anyone who even suggests that their self-proclaimed oppression might be less urgent than that of other people. Apparently i am the one who is moving the goalposts by going back to the issue of how the Chinese government curbs free speech all over the world. I mean, way to completely ignore the point of the article, you know? It's chilling to think that these gung ho "defenders of free speech" would sooner support the Chinese government because "sovereign rights" than concede that their own claim of being censored is actually kind of overblown.

It's just so exhausting. Like, i can't just add some context to the discussion as someone who actually lives in China without getting the whole "well, American liberals are just as bad" treatment. And when you start there, the discussion just never improves. It feels so disingenuous.

It annoys me because i actually am pretty politically interested. I'm not very active in street-level stuff, but i am interested in the machinations, the big trade-offs, the global intrigue, the grand strategy, that's the politics i really dig. But when it falls into this whole mess of conspiracy theories and blind ideology and points scoring it's just like, what's the fucking point? Do you actually care about politics or do you just care about your own "right" to be an asshole? Why do people spend their weekends derailing other people's conversations?

Anyway, the internet fucking sucks and news at 11.