John Althouse Cohen on the Covington Boys

"The encounter was so mundane that you have to wonder what other non-events will be used to try to destroy you or me."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From Cohen's post yesterday:

I also think about what will happen if I ever have a kid. Would my 16-year-old always stay on the right side of the face police? Or might he occasionally be awkward at that age? … (I say "he" because so much of the vituperation that's been directed at the Covington kids has been explicitly based on their gender.) …

When I see a post saying the kid's "smirk" (always that same exact word choice) is proof that there's something bigoted or wicked about him, I wonder if the person saying that has gone through life always making an appropriate facial expression for every social situation. Presumably not, but let's say that is the case — would you want to be someone who always makes what others consider just the right expression?

The whole post strikes me as much worth reading. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds (InstaPundit) for the pointer.

NEXT: My right to be forgotten is your right to die 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m at a conference the next 2 days, so I’ll miss the fun. But suffice to say

    1) As this has grown to be about victim narratives on both sides, both sides have been crazy, but among the crazy left I have not seen things being particularly gendered, other than general invocations of privileged, which can be about whiteness as much as maleness.
    Doesn’t mean it’s not going on, but bare invocations about the evil other side should be done with care.

    2) Similarly, I’ve seen smirk, but not just smirk. Heck, I called it a grin in the epic thread last week. Again, seems a bit like discarding all the outliers to a narrative you’re into.

    In the end, I think the general point that social media feeding frenzies are not fair and rarely lead to justice is a good one. Society has been slow in adapting to this new social atmosphere.
    But it’s overplaying your hand to argue that any judgement of someone’s facial expressions as an action, not as proof of general wickedness is off the table. And it is overplaying your hand to insist the liberals exemplified by the extreme left, or these anti-men smirkaphobes posited in the OP.

    What that overplaying does is create a persecution narrative that leads to rhetoric just as heated as any you accuse the left of.

    Anyhow, sorry I won’t be able to respond to what is no doubt going to be some entertaining responses, but I hope this gets things going!

    1. No matter how unreasonable the Left is you can count on Sarky to come up with a way to defend, minimize, or divert from it.

      1. Its why the Lefties like him have been losing so much ground these past years.

        More and more Americans are fighting back against stupid Lefty bullshit.

        1. Yawn. You are so fucking boring.

    2. “I called it a grin…”

      IIRC you called it a particular type of grin.

      1. It was a grin. A nervous grin. If you look at the whole video and not just still images, he seems like he’s confused.

        There’s not really a “narrative” to show. The whole thing is on video. I would guess averaging 3 racist taunts per minute, but all of them that were intelligible were by the “Black Hebrew Israelites” towards whites in general and the kids in specific. There were some chants from the high schoolers, but nothing intelligible, and definitely nothing that sounded egregious.

        Then, Phillips clearly barged through a crowd that was just standing there banging a drum. He went up to the kid who grinned (in my mind, nervously and confusedly) while Phillips banged a drum in his face for a short while, and then moved on. There is literally no story to tell.

    3. An idiot invaded his personal space and could have been a very dangerous individual to have done that. He held his ground, which he had every right to do. So what would have been the correct facial expression you would have wanted to see that would not have been criticized? A scowl, a grin, a smile, sadness, fear, crying, stoicism? Come on name it. Of course there is no appropriate facial impression when someone invades your personal space but maybe anger, and I commend him for not showing that emotion. But hey, if it fits your agenda keep beating it to death.

      1. The problem according to Sarcastro is not people’s lives being ruined for nothing. It is that this happening is making them think they are victims. You really have to have a broken moral compass to look at these events and draw that lesson.

    4. Wonder what kind of conference Sarcastrated goes to? Could it be an international clown convention? And if it is a clown convention does he get there by riding in one of those tiny cars with like 20 other clowns?

    5. I don’t think you are insufferable.

      I welcome your commentary on this and everything else.

      I’m anti-Trump, pro choice, and I’m not a fan of the hats.

      However I think we are making a mistake to double down on vilifying these kids. I think we are making a mistake to say, “yeah, maybe sort of a tiny mistake by our tribe, but YOUR TRIBE IS WRONGER CAUSE YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO BE WRONGER.”

      No. Their reaction to the reaction may or may not be novel or worth discussing on its own.

      Aren’t we supposed to take all the information and just get it right? Don’t we look BETTER if we react faster and louder to correct ourselves so that they don’t get to score political points?

      These kids did NOT do anything bad. In fact that was restraint for teenage boys. They were remarkably well behaved in the grand context of things.

      What is our goal? To win when we’re wrong? To be intolerant when we have a great opportunity to show our CONSISTENT tolerance?

      Why be what they accuse us of or what we accuse them of? That’s not any kind of moral or practical victory.

      1. Nice to see a little intellectual honesty. Even an immigrant who can barely speak English will defend the MAGA hat kid.

        1. You’re fargin’ right!

    6. 2) Similarly, I’ve seen smirk, but not just smirk.

      google for “smirk”+”covington” 178,000 results with the #1 being the Washington Post; and NYT, LAT, CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc etc all referred to ‘smirk’. Looking for, or even using, outliars gets no credit.

      …seems a bit like discarding all the outliers to a narrative you’re into…

      The media including Facebook & Twitter, all agreed on the narrative: “smirk”.

      1. That’s some confirmation bias there. Grin + covington returns 226,000 results.

    7. May the chairs be uncomfortable and the speakers boring!

      I think you’re nitpicking on those two points. The point that this was a non-event is absolutely right. Kids on a field trip confronted by adults whose agendas they didn’t understand.

      The fact that many still reject that truth or hang onto an argument that – regardless what happened – the kids didn’t all react in an ideal fashion, is bonkers.

      These kids WERE persecuted and few of us are so naive to think it won’t happen again.

      1. It will happen again. And the kids don’t deserve it. And we need to figure out how to deal with the way our mob response interacts with the odd ways the world now scales in the social dimension. Of course, the right seizing on this as part of their great cultural victimization narrative is just as unhelpful as anything the left did.

        But that can be true, and I can think the kid was being an a-hole.

        1. The Right taking the Left to task for being a crazed mob and taking the media to task for being reckless/a crazed mob does not mean the Right is “just as unhelpful as anything the Left did.”

          The attempt to spin it otherwise – ie the Right “seizes” or “pounces” or plays victim – only serves to paper over the extreme wrongness of this mob. The rhetorical pat on the head of ‘yes, we need to be better’ is unconvincing.

          By “the kid” I assume you mean the kid who had a strange man come drumming up to his face and opted to smile at him? You’re not doing yourself any favors with your conclusion about his character.

          1. The choice of ‘the lesson here is that the left is all super crazy and bad’ is not going to help, even if it makes you feel good.

            I’ll engage about which side is worse online some other time.

            Finally, as has been gone over exhaustively, saying someone is being an a-hole != someone is an a-hole. I’m saying nothing about the kid’s character, only his behavior in that video.

        2. “It will happen again. And the kids don’t deserve it.”

          But you’ll be right there doing it, just like you did this time. And then lecturing everyone about how they should behave and how wrong it is for the right to react to the left’s bullshit.

          1. Your sense of proportion seems on the fritz.
            Saying the kid was being a jerk isn’t quite at the level of doxxing him and all his teachers and lord knows what else on twitter.

            As for your sudden aversion to judging people for their behavior, you are doing exactly that in this very comment, so maybe rethink your issues.

            1. edit: Your issues with my comment.

            2. “Your sense of proportion seems on the fritz.
              Saying the kid was being a jerk isn’t quite at the level of doxxing him and all his teachers and lord knows what else on twitter.”

              No, my sense of proportion is just fine. You were an eager participant in the on-line pile on and continue to be one, even after most of your brethren have realized it’s better to just slink away.

              “As for your sudden aversion to judging people for their behavior, you are doing exactly that in this very comment, so maybe rethink your issues.”

              Another typical moronic comment from Sarcastr0. I don’t have a problem with judging people by their behavior. Your judgment of the kid, while excusing the two groups of adults using racist and/or homophobic language, while excusing Nathan Phillips banging a drum in his face, while excusing the repeated lies from Nathan Phillips, and your pathological need for you to share your judgment, reflects very poorly on you. See, I’m judging you by your behavior. Your actual behavior. Not a picture.

              1. your pathological need for you to share your judgment, reflects very poorly on you.

                You see how hard you’re projecting, don’t you?

                1. ‘How DARE you judge a kid’s actions based on a video of said actions. Especially when you don’t judge this other guy’s actions based on his later contradictory statements. Disagreeing with me is the height of sanctimony!!

                  On the other hand, I will judge you with an obsessive fervor. And not just your actions, but your thoughts and you character. And most of all, I judge you for judging.”

                  1. Nathan Phillip’s conduct was in that same video. So was the conduct of the Black Hebrew Israelites. You didn’t feel the need to criticize them, even though they were the actual bad actors. No, you offered excuses for their behavior.

                    1. Yeah, I can’t call one person an a-hole without calling out every other a-hole in the world first, lest I be guilty of bias.

                      This is the weakest of attempts to change the subject.

                    2. Had I made an argument remotely like that, that would have indeed been a silly argument. But I didn’t. And I suspect you know that I didn’t.

                      This is one of the reasons you are not worth engaging. You are either to intellectually dishonest, or stupid, to respond to what people actually write.

        3. “Of course, the right seizing on this as part of their great cultural victimization narrative is just as unhelpful as anything the left did.”

          And you wonder why I think you are even more partisan than Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland. It’s stupid shit like this.

          1. Yeah, you’re being super helpful about this isse, I’m just not noticing it very well I guess.

            1. What issue? Morons like you piling on kids for doing nothing wrong while excusing the adults who were the actual bad actors? Yes, calling you out for your bullshit is super helpful.

              1. I don’t think the issue with social media frenzies will be solved by pinpoint namecalling on the Volokh Conspiracy.

                1. What about jumping on the Volokh Conspiracy to say you think the kid’s an asshole, even though that’s not what the post was about? Cause that’s what you did. But tell us again about how concerned you are about social media frenzies.

                  1. I never claimed that was solving a problem. You, on the other hand, did exactly that at 1:13. You’ve also claimed I am making the problem worse. Which is good for my ego, but certainly untrue.

                    1. “I never claimed that was solving a problem.”

                      So tell me again how concerned you are about social media frenzies.

                      “You, on the other hand, did exactly that at 1:13.”

                      And I stand by that. Calling you out for your bullshit helps solve the problem.

                      “You’ve also claimed I am making the problem worse. Which is good for my ego, but certainly untrue.”

                      It says a lot about you that contributing to a problem (that you supposedly decry) would make your ego feel better. Nothing good, but still a lot.

  2. “Anyhow, sorry I won’t be able to respond to what is no doubt going to be some entertaining responses, but I hope this gets things going!”

    No need to apologize. The board is always better without your sanctimonious drivel.

    1. Indeed.

    2. What are you two whining about? I sometimes agree with his points, and sometimes disagree. But “sanctimonious” is hardly the adjective I’d use. Stop being such snowflakes. Grow a pair and accept comments that challenge your own belief system. It won’t kill you.

      1. “What are you two whining about?”

        I’m not whining about anything. I’m expressing genuine pleasure at his impending absence.

        “But “sanctimonious” is hardly the adjective I’d use.”

        It’s good for both of us that you aren’t me.

        “Stop being such snowflakes.”

        The only whining I see is you.

        “Grow a pair and accept comments that challenge your own belief system. It won’t kill you.”

        Something about a pot and a kettle comes to mind.

        1. Pointing out that you two are crying about having someone present a different view isn’t whining. Unless you’re admitting every time you’ve used those terms (which I bet is a lot), you were “whining.”

          Fact is, you don’t like Sacrastr0 because you don’t like his points. But you can’t actually disagree with them using facts and logic, so you respond as you did instead.

          1. “Fact is, you don’t like Sacrastr0 because you don’t like his points.”

            No, I don’t like Sarcastr0 because of his rare combination of intellectually dishonesty and sanctimony.

      2. Sanctimonious is an entirely apt term for him.

        That you respond with outright name calling is unsurprising.

        1. You call me a name, and then defend jph12’s via sanctimoniousness regarding name-calling. Do you read jph’s comments?!

      3. Look at Sanctamonica over here….

      4. If anyone wants to honestly challenge my belief system, I’m game.

        If someone wants to drop a trollish bomb in the comments and run away, and maybe follow up with a series of dishonest responses that deliberately misinterpret any responses, well I know better.

        1. My comment addressed the OP. That you think it’s trollish shows more how you cope with disagreement than anything else.

          The responses have been largely name-calling, calling be wrong, and calling be a bad person. Which is all fine, but also the emotionally driven responses the right likes to call snowflakes being triggered.

          The thing is, I’m not on the right, and I think it’s fine. Snowflake isn’t a great insult for me, because being mad on the Internet is fine, so long as you know that’s what you’re doing.
          Most of the regulate on this site come to vent as much as debate, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      5. “Stop being such snowflakes.”

        They weren’t snowflakes. Snowflakes are individuals that refuse to even hear the other side and want to live in a bubble. They are objecting to someones comments. That’s not being a snowflake. That’s just engaging in an argument.

  3. This guy worries about what he’ll tell his children about how they could encounter problems with ‘the police’* out in the real world? He’s worried about how his children might be treated unfairly by the majority in society? He’s worried about “the talk?”

    Pampered White Right-Wing Lives Matter?

    Poor, poor, pitiful Jonathan Althouse Cohen

    Carry on, clingers.

    * the “face” police, not the genuine, armed, privileged racial profiler police, or course

    1. Exactly, white people don’t have to worry about hair-trigger violent cops.

      It’s not that some cops sometimes overreact and kill people of various races, it’s that the pigs are the shock troops of White Supremacy. Kops and Klan go hand in hand, dude!

      1. You must take comfort from the idea of ‘very fine people’ on all sides . . .

        while wondering why your aspirations have been crushed in the culture war.

        1. You’re the one who says your goals of “progress” are being achieved, so by all means explain to Tamir Rice, et. al., how much “progress” they’ve experienced.

          1. Progress in America has required, and will continue to require, decades. Overcoming inertia, backwardness, bigotry, superstition, selfishness, and other factors requires time, effort, skill, and luck.

            In the Tamir Rice context, the substandard police officer was fired, as I recall, and the culpable municipality paid a large settlement or judgment. That seems to constitute progress since the time of Emmett Till, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Mickey Schwerner, Laura Nelson, and hundreds of others.

            1. Was the tobacco tax, which the later Eric Garner tried to avoid, the product of backwardness, bigotry or superstitition?

            2. “That seems to constitute progress since the time of Emmett Till…”

              I thought that you were of the opinion that we weren’t harsh enough on people accused of sexual assault.

              1. I love it when right-wingers voluntarily discuss race, gender, sexual assault, and similar issue in public.

                Mostly because some young Americans may not recognize, as they develop lifelong voting patterns, how bigoted and backward Republicans and conservatives are.

                And thanks to the Volokh Conspiracy for bringing unvarnished conservative views to a broader audience.

                1. Your side owns the tobacco tax. How did you think the tax would be enforced, by Unicorn Police wielding daisies?

                  Carry on, Klingon.

              2. “I love it when right-wingers voluntarily discuss race”

                I love it when you voluntarily discuss anything, Arthur. You regularly present the best arguments for your side.

                1. The side that has won the culture war, has shaped American progress throughout our lifetimes, and is positioned to continue to improve America against the wishes and efforts of those who pine for illusory good old days?

                  I’ll accept that.

        2. well, there are no fine people on your side, ever

        3. ‘very fine people’ like those that take the constitution serious. Like people that want to honor the Surrender at Appomantox? A surrender that included the victors treating the defeated with respect and provisions that the defeated would be allowed to honor their soldiers as heros? But to hell with the facts. Lies are required if your side lost an election.

    2. Come to Spokane, the cops are just as trigger happy as anywhere else. Of course in the city of Rachel Dolezal the only young black men are in the air force so they have to shoot white people.

    3. Rev. ALK is back to publicly expressing his open bigotry. Thanks Reverend for being an icon of the Left.

  4. Smirk: noun, a facial expression which communicates that “I see right through your bullshit, and I’m not buying any of it.” Any smirk directed at a SJW, or at any member of the favored oppressed minorities, such as blacks, hispanics, Native Americans, feminist females, or any gender not hetero male, especially a smirk worn by a presumptively racist, misogynistic privileged white male, or anyone wearing a MAGA hat (which is an offense against humanity in itself) constitutes an unforgivable facecrime (See George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Facecrime, a term used in Newspeak) for which the minimum punishment is perpetual ostracism.

  5. I saw this video, and I was outraged…on behalf of the students. For them to stand there patiently, while some random decided to hit a drum 8 inches from their face…that demonstrated remarkable restraint and patience. That was Gandhi level patience. To be villified for it? Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

    My usual logic towards these actions is to ask…what if the sides were switched. Would it be OK then?

    What if the students had marched up to the Native American protest while loudly hitting a drum inches away from the Native Americans? Should the Native Americans have backed away? Taken off their tribal apparel? No.

    What if the students had been yelling the things the Black Israelites had? What would be the response then? Why is there no widespread condemnation from the media? We know the answer.

    True equality means actually treating people equally, no matter their race or gender…and that doesn’t seem to be a priority for much of the media these days. Instead, one particular storyline is always emphasized…and others are dropped, ignored, and hid under the rug.

    1. So far, I have not seen any comments (including from far-right loons and far-left loons) that have supported in any way the Black Israelis. This situation was not one that I have followed closely at all, so I am open to being shown that I have missed such supportive comments.

      1. Well, no. They just dismiss the BHI folks as kooks, ignoring the constant stream of racist and homophobic insults they hurled at the kids for over an hour, including repeatedly calling one of the Black students a nigger.

        They also ignore the other Native American who confronted the students with an f-bomb laced rant about how they should go back to Europe, and how native Americans had been on the Americas for millions of years.

      2. “So far, I have not seen any comments (including from far-right loons and far-left loons) that have supported in any way the Black Israelis.”

        I guess you haven’t paid attention to the ever shifting story from Nathan Phillips. Shoot, he hasn’t just had comments, he’s had newspaper articles and TV interviews. Plus, there’s what Jerry B. said.

        And I notice you ignored the Native American part of the comment. I’ve seen plenty of people supporting them, including that sanctimonious douchebag Sarcastr0 right here.

      3. Guess you missed this glowing piece, then.

        https://nyti.ms/2UdOaD2

      4. You are not looking for any such comments, I suppose, which is why you haven’t seen any. Look no further than the NY Times, who ran a sympathetic article on the group involved, called the Hebrew Israelites:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/23/us/-
        black-hebrew-israelites-covington-catholic.html

        1. Reason’s mediocre commenting software requires you to remove https when posting a link:

          http://www.nytimes.com/2019/01…..holic.html

        2. To many black people, Hebrew Israelites are a harmless part of their communities, said Todd Boyd, a professor of race and pop culture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, one of many cities where the group can be seen working the streets. More alarming to many African Americans, he said, is “seeing a white guy in a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.”
          ———-
          That is unbelievable.

      5. You miss the point here. It’s called “uneven response”.

        Black Israelites throw racist, vulgar insults for hours. Liberal response: “meh, whatever. Sure, it’s not good. Next?”.

        White Catholic teenager looks at someone and smiles oddly. “RACIST! Punch him in the face! This is what’s wrong with America!”

        See the problem?

      6. New York times literally had a puff piece nicely explaining the black Israelites with only slight condemnation. Why are you always so lacking in facts sm?

    2. Never forget the the original narrative was that the boys were a racist hate filled mob who had surrounded Phillips and harassed him.

      That their fallback position has become ‘he smirked at the professional agitator attempting to harass him with a drum’ would be laughable if these people had any sense of humor or propriety.

    3. Here’s a better parallel. What if a Maga-wearing older fellow had marched up abd beat the drum in the face of a ratty “I’m with her” T-shirt wearing student.

      No doubt calls for him to be charged with assault and intimidation, and of a minor for all that!

  6. I think I’ll wait and see who gets sued…I know that the Sandmanns’ high-powered lawyer is from Atlanta. Any media corporation based in Atlanta which smeared the Sandmanns should be getting legal advice about now.

  7. My main reaction to this whole affair was something like “Can’t people laugh about some weird, crazy stuff happening anymore?”

    If this event hadn’t been publicized, it’s easy to imagine that both “sides” of participants would have had a good chuckle about it later on and forgot about it within weeks.

    But no. The state of the culture is that large numbers of people are in a tizzy. They are on the verge of mental breakdowns, lashing out deliriously, given to bizarre spams of virtue-signalling and self-flagellation.

    Joy Behar actually admitted that Covington happened because “we’re desperate to get Trump out of office.”

    1. I haven’t seen a lot of *self* flagellation.

      1. Every public statement I’ve seen from Phillips has not contained anything remotely mentioning his own culpability. At least nothing that he hasn’t subsequently altered to fit the know facts as they became available.

    2. It’s ironic Trump may be a great president from a libertarian viewpoint — he has ground government to a halt so almost nothing gets done and no major laws passed, which inevitably restrict freedom in favor of someone’s agenda.

      1. Trump is not a great president from a libertarian perspective.

        He has some very bad policies that decrease net liberty.

        The only libertarian agenda that is served by short term govt. shutdowns is that it shows why giving the government so much power in the first place is a mistake.

        But no one really learns that lesson anyway. The taxpayers don’t get their money back and market solutions are rarely implemented permanently as a result of these shutdowns.

        Trump is an authoritarian populist who looks at trade they same way all statists do: that there MUST be a winner and a loser, rather than a voluntary exchange of goods and services to the benefit of all. He thinks paying someone else for a service is losing some battle. You are losing the trade war to your gardener.

        1. “He has some very bad policies that decrease net liberty.”

          Like what?

          “trade”

          Oh, right. So when you say “liberty”, you actually just mean border-related issues and the supposed “liberty” of open borders and unilateral U.S. tariff elimination.

          It will generally be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign industry for the encouragement of domestic industry, when some tax is imposed at home upon the produce of the latter. In this case, it seems reasonable that an equal tax should be imposed upon the like produce of the former.

          Adam Smith

          1. I believe Trump’s trade war policy does decrease economic liberty. It involves more than equaling some foreign tariff policy. His fundamental belief is that America being wealthy enough to buy more products from abroad than they buy from us is LOSING a trade war.

            Even if you agree with him on that, it’s still some form of coercion based protectionism that is not libertarian.

            But that’s not the only way he is anti libertarian.

            Isn’t he still fighting drug wars and such?

            No. He’s

            If you think his We can argue over how awesome they are

            1. Sorry for the typos. I don’t see the edit feature on here

              1. There is no edit function to see. There is only [preview] so you can proofread and correct your post before hitting [submit] to post,

                I think the theory is to prevent someone from posting, getting a reaction, and changing the post trollfully.

                Other sites’ comment system allow editing after post, either within a time limit or at any time, and one I use allows you to delete posts and repost after editing (too much trouble, most users end up posting a typo comment).

                They all have have problems.

  8. I am very anti-Trump.

    I am very pro choice.

    I believe white privilege is a thing.

    But can’t we just admit that these kids really did nothing wrong, and that everyone who vilified them made a mistake to do so given the entire context?

    Why shouldn’t we admit that? What difference does it make how outraged the right is about this vs. other things?

    Shouldn’t we anti MAGA folk be the first and loudest to want to get this correct?

    What do we n

    1. I am very anti-anti Trump

      I am prochoice on most choices which don’t involve killing human beings.

      I believe white privilege ain’t what it use to be.

      But early in the dispute, when RedState “admitted” the kids were wrong, I assumed there was a left/right consensus against the kids, and that ended the matter. I didn’t want the kids to be in the wrong, but I figured if there was something to be said in their defense, RedState would have said it.

      It turns out many of the righties were themselves rushing to falsely condemn the kids – as if the righties didn’t want to be accused of waiting too long to board the Outrage Express.

      And I bought it – everyone else was jumping off the bridge, so I supposed I should too.

    2. Seems to me from the video that the kids were clearly acting like smug assholes, much like any large group of 15-17 year old boys is likely to do if left unsupervised and not given anything purposeful to do. To the extent there is a story here it is of an irresponsible school that let their kids run wild on a field trip and annoy grown-ups. That isn’t a very exciting story though.

      So the left, enraged by MAGA hats, tried to create a narrative that went way overboard in the accusations people started making towards the young men, but the right responding with equally idiotic stories that a large group of fit and athletic young men was “threatened” by an old man with a drum is equally pathetic. Sometimes the partisan divide really creates amazing amounts of stupidity.

      1. You know, if somebody walks up to you and bangs a drum in your face, unless you kick them in the balls, you’re not the asshole, they are. They weren’t “running wild” or “annoying grown-ups”, they were minding their own damn business while waiting for their bus to arrive.

        1. And accompanied by adult chaperones – – – – – —

      2. “To the extent there is a story here it is of an irresponsible school that let their kids run wild on a field trip and annoy grown-ups.”

        I’m truly curious who you think they were annoying. The Black Hebrew Israelites, who were shouting racist and homophobic things at them? Nathan Phillips, who walked right up to one of them and started banging a drum in his face? Is there some mysterious third group of adults that have escaped notice thus far?

      3. Which video of the event did you see?

        The short version posted by twitter account 2020fight (supposedly a woman named Talia living in California “Teacher & Advocate. Fighting for 2020.” which CNN found was set up Dec 2016 traced to Brazil)?

        Or one of the hour or more videos that caught the whole context?

      4. What I’m saying to you is that we shouldn’t let it matter what the right’s response was. OUR response is what matters. We should be louder and faster to do the right thing once it becomes clear that these kids were wrongly villified.

        And by “we” I mean normal people who don’t make money off of the fight between the tribes. I mean those of us who just want to do the right thing at any given time. We do have the power to influence our friends to do the same.

        You can have other disagreements with the political right. It doesn’t matter if immigrant children have it worse than these white kids. It doesn’t matter if the right is equally guilty of hysteria and exploitation of narratives.

        On THIS topic the anti- MAGA tribes reacted badly. It was perfectly human to react badly based on the cherry picked shots of the video. It was too easy to let our biases take over.

        Why not let it be a teachable moment where we learn the lesson?

        What’s the goal? To “win” every debate regardless of right and wrong?

        We are human. We won’t always get it right initially. But the goal shouldn’t be to double down when we get it wrong. It should be to END UP being right and improve.

        1. Hear, hear!

      5. Parts of what you say are wrong. Not all of your post. Just parts. The parts that mention facts. The facts, you got all the facts wrong.

        1. Which facts are those?

    3. “and that everyone who vilified them made a mistake to do so given the entire context?”

      Not every wrongful act is a “mistake”. Sometimes wrongful acts are deliberate misdeeds, and I think that’s the case here.

      1. Okay. I understand that some gleefully villified them and do not care if they were wrong to do so.

        But I’m saying that’s a MISTAKE to do. It’s a mistake to falsely vilify even if you hate their tribe overall. It doesn’t help your tribe in the grand scheme of things to justify that vilification.

        I’m not really disagreeing with you, Brett. You’re probably right. But I think it’s sad when any tribe doesn’t just take the moral high ground and try to get it right, rather than punish their political enemies for the sake of punishing.

  9. I had expected many posts on many blogs by now, of all the school boy haters faces at inopportune public moments. I have seen enough candid shots to know that every public figure has pictures taken with mouth agape, fingers pointing, eyes half-closed, even with finger up nose, and it astonishes me that haters from each side have not compiled collections of smirks and grins and wide open mouths.

    1. In the days after Sandy Hook, I wrote in several complaints to NPR about how their photographs were choosing pictures for the NPR web site.

      Pics of Obama were invariably sad, distinguished, thoughful, statesmanline.
      Pics of NRA vice president Wayne Lapierre were invariable with mouth open, bad lighting, making him look like some kind of ghoul.

      Naturally, NPR did not bother to write back or correct the pictures.

      1. Obam with a subtle halo around him was a common feature of the newsrags of his time in office. The images of conservative opponents to leftists are often, to your points, not flattering.

        1. Plenty of conservatives — including Republican Party officials — provided balance in that context by circulating images of the Obamas with bones through their noses, of the Obamas as chimpanzees, of the Obamas surrounded by fried chicken and watermelons . . .

          Carry on, clingers. So far as being a bigoted, right-wing rube could carry anyone, I guess.

          1. Plenty of liberals regularly refer to Clarence Thomas as “Uncle Tom”. What’s your point?

  10. I think the media wished this incident would be a teachable moment – they meant about racism and white privilege and so on, but they wished on a monkey’s paw and it became a teachable moment about the media.

  11. Have the Covington Boys actually suffered any harm whatsoever from being in the Social Media whirlwind? The school’s reputation may have been slightly damaged (although probably not among the type of people who shell out money to send their sons to an all-boys Catholic school), but the boys themselves seem just fine, and are probably enjoying their new found notoriety. Especially the “smirker”, who apparently wasn’t much of an athlete, but now has some social standing.

    1. You mean aside from the doxing, and the death threats to them, their families, and their school, and the people trying to get them banned from their chosen colleges? How about the fact that any student of their school, even if they didn’t go to the demonstration, or actually aren’t pro-life, may have the same self-righteous MAGA haters biased against them when it comes to hiring or association?

    2. Do you think the “Boys,” especially those who have been named publicly, will need to be careful about which colleges they choose to attend, or which professor’s class to take? Don’t you realize that their notoriety for doing exactly nothing wrong and doing exactly everything right will have negative consequences precisely because of the default condemnation mindset that led to their entirely inappropriate notoriety? If you don’t then you are ignorant, willfully blind, or a troll.

      1. I really doubt that Notre Dame or Liberty U will have a problem with them.

        Harvard? Maybe but who wants to go to Harvard? Overpriced and full of smug SJWs, right? The MAGA hat boys wouldn’t like to be there anyway.

        1. Ouachita Baptist surely has a few openings for the right type of student . . .

    3. Let me guess you are also an apologist for female teachers who rape male underage students because “hey….at least the kid got laid…” right?

      1. Jimmy the Dane: “Let me guess you are also an apologist for female teachers who rape male underage students because “hey….at least the kid got laid…” right?”

        Well … there /is/ something to that.

  12. Not sure who John Althouse Cohen is but I’m glad to see he’s finally joined the 21st century.

    Memes, viral videos, and social media/blogs are powerful, cultural factors that can affect anyone at anytime, and are virtually uncontrollable.

    Everyone should expect what they do and how they act in public can be posted on-line.

    1. He is Ann Althouse’s son.

  13. An idiot invaded his personal space and could have been a very dangerous individual to have done that. He held his ground, which he had every right to do. So what would have been the correct facial expression you would have wanted to see that would not have been criticized? A scowl, a grin, a smile, sadness, fear, crying, stoicism? Come on name it. Of course there is no appropriate facial impression when someone invades your personal space but maybe anger, and I commend him for not showing that emotion. But hey, if it fits your agenda keep beating it to death.

    1. Imagine if Mr. Sandmann had held up a hand to ask Mr. Phillips to stop drumming in his face.

      “MAGA teen mocks Native American with “How” sign.

    2. And depending on which video you watch you can probably see most all those expressions.

      The ‘smirk’ is a cherry picked freeze frame.

  14. What Phillips was doing is a favorite tactic, get up close in someone’s personal space so they raise their hand to shield themselves or push him away. Phillips was trying to provoke the kid into doing this so he could claim he was struck or assaulted.

    These situations are really why the left is going after stand your ground laws. Without them the kid would have been legally wrong to refuse to retreat, or even to stand there frozen in fear.

    1. An evangelical street preacher sticking a cross less then a foot from your nose and loudly haranguing you is one thing an American Indian beating a drum and chanting inches from your face is something else entirely.

      Or, maybe, just maybe they are essentially identical.

      1. …less than…

    2. Stand your ground laws are about use of force in self defense.

      They don’t mandate retreating rather than not doing anything; he’d still be legally allowed to stand there minding his own damn business.

      (Equally, even in an SYG state, you can’t use force to “defend” against the “not an attack” of someone being near you being loud, which is not a crime or an assault.)

      1. (Well, okay, maybe an assault, but not battery.

        And not something you could use significant force against in any case.)

    3. This has nothing to do with stand your ground laws.

      Stand your ground laws are legal defense motions. Like the insanity plea. It has nothing to do with your civil right to be in a public place. Stand your ground legislation, is in response to judges, instructions to juries that a person is not allowed to defend themselves and are required to retreat, rather than defend the ground they hold. Stand your ground laws required a judge to affirm a persons right to defend themselves,

      1. Yes, stand your ground laws are generally what you describe.

        The right to stand your ground in public – to not be displaced by unlawful force or intimidation – long predates those laws. The right to peaceable assembly noted in the Constitution originates there.

        Responding as if these laws and the underlying right are unrelated, or to avoid the OPs quite reasonable assertion that opposition to SYG laws is predicated on a desire to weaken or obviate this natural right, is misguided at best.

  15. It’s known as Facecrime.

    Quote:

    “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a tele-screen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself?anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: FACECRIME, it was called.”
    – George Orwell’s 1984, Chapter 5

  16. Would my 16-year-old always stay on the right side of the face police? Or might he occasionally be awkward at that age?

    Worse, we’re talking about a picture…Who hasn’t looked a bit awkward in a picture?? Particularly one taken when you not consciously posing.

    Personally, I can point to hundreds (and perhaps low thousands) of pictures where I have a goofy expression on my face.

    1. “Personally, I can point to hundreds (and perhaps low thousands) of pictures where I have a goofy expression on my face.”

      Jim Carrey has about two billion.

    2. I have awkward resting face.

  17. I recognize that grin. It’s the grin of someone who somehow winds up very close to a possibly crazy person who doesn’t want to upset the possibly crazy person and doesn’t know how to get away from the person. It’s the grin one gets when a seemingly crazy person sits down next to one on a crowded bus.

  18. The one thing that is largely left out is the media picked a kid, a 16 year old boy, who was almost assaulted and definitely targeted for harassment by an adult. I don’t quite understand the left’s fluid definition of “bullying” but if banging a drum inches away from a child’s face isn’t that then I don’t know what might constitute actual bullying.

    At least when the manufactured outrage machine selects a target to pick on it is usually an adult and someone who is used to getting flack such as a politician, public official, etc. but this time they actually picked a CHILD. And I don’t think you can ever over emphasis that it was a CHILD that grown men and women in the media chose to denigrate causing the school, the target, and his classmates to receive death threats, etc. It’s hard enough to have “the talk” with a kid these days let alone explaining to a 16 year old what a death threat means and going through basic safety training about being followed, self defense, etc.

    No wonder parents are quietly pulling their children out of Covington. What chances do you think any kid from that school have at getting into any kind of exclusive college? None. Pretty sure they see “Covington Catholic” on an application it will go right in the shredder.

    I hope a lot of people have to pay dearly on this one.

    1. “I don’t quite understand the left’s fluid definition of “bullying” but if banging a drum inches away from a child’s face isn’t that then I don’t know what might constitute actual bullying.”

      The key point to understand about the left’s definitions, is that they always depend on whose ox is gored. Always. They can’t decide who the victim and who the aggressor is, until they know their group membership and cause.

      Because the end, and nothing but the end, justifies everything.

      1. And what exactly justifies the right’s actions?

        God? Guns? That’s how your daddy did it?

        1. Which actions, O ape?

          You see, that’s how sane, rational people think: They look at the action and the circumstances, and form their judgement from that.

        2. It comes down to the distinction between deontological and teleological ethics. The left is so all-in on teleological ethics, utilitarianism really, that you can’t even accept that there’s any other sort of ethics, or understand people who approach ethics from a deontological standpoint.

          Utilitarianism rejects the idea that acts can be wrong apart from their consequences. While it’s tempting to believe that you can be justified in doing anything at all, if the consequences are good enough, the basic problem with this approach to ethics is it leaves you radically vulnerable to rationalization.

          If you’re contesting an election where the opposition isn’t really that much different from yourself, just has different policy preferences within the universe of reasonable preferences, utilitarian ethics limits what you can do to try to win, because the consequences of losing are not great, so you can’t do anything that itself has bad consequences in order to win.

          OTOH, if you’re contesting an election with Literally Hilter, whose policy preferences approach infinitely bad, what can’t you do to win? Utilitarianism tells you that if the cost of losing is high enough, you can do just about anything to win, because the benefits will exceed the costs. So you tell yourself your opponent IS Literally Hitler. And refuse to listen when people point out you’re full of it.

    2. It is also possible that – at least some – of the parents are pulling their kids because the school administration, and the Diocese jumped on the PC bandwagon and reflexively condemned the children in their charge before getting any facts about the matter.

      I’d also note that the two considerations are not mutually exclusive.

      1. I’m sure some are motivated by the PC response too, but you can throw that into the same bandwagon that the media jumped on. If my kid went to Covington I would pull him out immediately and probably keep him out of school entirely for the rest of the year if possible. That is just so he can enroll in another school starting in the Fall and hopefully just be able to apply for college using that school’s transcript. I would also encourage my kid to take a “gap year” or maybe look at international schools.

  19. “We know the smirk is a smirk of evil smirkness because MAGA hat.”

    They know the kids are their Other, so no holds barred.

  20. It is entirely an internet phenomenon that has nothing to do with ideology or political party or “liberal media,” and everything to do with all people enjoying being outraged and shaming others. Read Jon Ronson’s great book “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.” Read all of his great books, while you’re at it.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.