The communications director for the Internet giant that owns popular websites like Match.com, Dictionary.com, and Vimeo has been fired over “hateful statements” in a tweet that came from her account.
I won’t argue that she didn’t deserve to be canned. Or that “freedom of speech” justifies her ignorant and hurtful comments. My only question is “now what?”
I’m going to be painting with a very broad brush here, so I beg your indulgence and patience.
So there’ll be a lot of tumblr ink spilled on this (as there should be). And a lot of people will come away from this feeling better about themselves. Either because they believe that they’re not as casually bigoted as this woman seemed to be. Or because they’re smart enough not to be so blasé about it.
One of the reasons I stopped tumbleblogging actively, especially on race and politics, was burnout. You can only read and write about stuff like this so much before you start to wonder if anyone is listening or learning anything from these sorts of things and pushing for some real changes.
In other words, tumblr seemed to be part of the problem. Tumblr seems to exist mostly to assuage the consciences of some very liberal and very privileged white people who were competing among themselves to see who was the most progressive of them all while simultaneously reaping the benefits of an unfair system.
And so Justine Sacco will be sacrificed on the altar of public indignation. She will suffer so that others may live on comfortable knowing that at least they’re not as racist as she is. For a little while she’ll be an ersatz scapegoat for a society that refuses to recognize (or consciously ignores) it has some pretty deep problems when it comes to institutional discrimination.
Nothing will really change because there’s no real reason to change anything.
And with that, I’m back.