Canceling the New York Times (and Twitter, too)

Two weeks ago, I tried to read a New York Times article and couldn’t; I had reached my monthly limit.  BUT!  A monthly subscription was only £4 per month; since I am used to paying that every week for the Economist, it seemed like a bargain.  Plus, by subscribing, I would be sending money to a newspaper that devoted itself to the highest ideals of journalism in an age where so much fake news is coming out of Washington.  It seemed like a great opportunity.

And it was, for a couple of weeks; I stayed up to date with the earthquakes in Lombok, Indonesia, and soldiers in Afghanistan, and fires in California and bombings in the Middle East.  I sighed at the Trump articles.  I read recipes for food that I would never probably make, but that I could dream of.  For just £4 a month, t was a pretty great deal.

But then Sarah Jeong.

I didn’t know about her until I read the full-throated defense published in the Times, which led down the rabbit hole of google articles.  There were articles saying it wasn’t a big deal, that it WAS a big deal, that it needed to be taken in context, that racism is never something to take in context, that she was only joking, that the Grey Lady was being hypocritical by supporting Jeong and not other writers with Twitter histories.

Then I started asking myself some questions:

  • If Sarah Jeong was (insert race), and she had written, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old (insert other race) (insert gender)”, would I find that acceptable?
  • If Sarah Jeong was (insert race), and she had written, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old (insert other race) (insert gender)”, would the New York Times have asked her to join the board in the first place?
  • If Sarah Jeong was (insert race), and she had written, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old (insert other race) (insert gender)”, would they be defending her as aggressively as they are right now?

So if Sarah Jeong was white, and she tweeted, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old black women”, would I find that acceptable?  No.  Would the New York Times have asked her to join them?  No.  Would they be defending her?  No.

If Sarah Jeong was Muslim, and she tweeted, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old Jewish women”, would I find that acceptable?  No.  Would the New York Times have asked her to join them?  No.  Would they be defending her?  No.

If Sarah Jeong was black, and she tweeted, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old Mexican men”, would I find that acceptable?  No.  Would the New York Times have asked her to join them?  No.  Would they be defending her?  No.

If Sarah Jeong was white, and she tweeted, “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men”, would I find that acceptable?  No.  Would the New York Times have asked her to join them?  No.  Would they be defending her?  No.

I went through every permutation I could; I almost made an excel spreadsheet in my head of every option, and couldn’t find any that I would defend.  I also couldn’t figure out why I should support an organization that would defend her this aggressively.  

So I #cancelledthenewyorktimes, as Jeong may have tweeted.  I told them it was about Sarah Jeong.  The person/bot on the other end tried to lure me back by giving me three months free (if you’re looking for a few cheap months, feel free to subscribe, then threaten to cancel – you might get the same offer).

But then I did something I’ve been considering for a while: I #cancelledtwitter.  If a rule of life is to manage the downside and let the upside take care of itself, Twitter seems to just offer potential downside with…well, little upside.  So a few clicks and my account was gone.  My tweet history was mostly retweeting articles, posting about buying local, and trying to get companies to publicly acknowledge my complaints, so it wasn’t a big loss.  With only a couple thousand followers, I doubt I’ll be missed much, anyway.

It’s back to the Economist for me – once a week, high-level news – and this blog.

 

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