The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for November, 2019

A Brief History of Facebook

Facebook recently sponsored a Federalist Society event at which Brett Kavanaugh was the keynote speaker, despite objections from its own employees and public protests. The speech was understood by many to be an attempt to rehabilitate Kavanaugh’s image in the wake of credible sexual assault allegations. This comes on the heels of Facebook saying it would not vet political ads for accuracy and making white nationalist propaganda outlet Breitbart a “trusted” news source. Indeed, Facebook clearly seems to have chosen to cozy up to the authoritarian right rather than use its influence to defend democratic norms (or sexual assault survivors, for that matter).

Steve Jobs and internet developers of the early computing era came out of a sixties counterculture that saw decentralized communication and individual expression as a bulwark against totalitarianism. There is perhaps no clearer example of this than the famous MacIntosh “1984” ad that appeared during the Super Bowl. In the commercial, Big Brother gets smashed by the power of personal computing. In real life, we can see how Jobs’ utopian vision ultimately failed (with some exceptions in the area of social media activism). Increasingly, as massive technology companies like Facebook partner with the present-day, Russia-corrupted, disinformation-sowing GOP, they’ve become the very Orwellian entities that the Cold War-era developers thought they were rebelling against.

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Those Woke Kids Today

Stories about bad behavior by “today’s coddled youth” have been so cherry-picked, massively blown out of proportion and weaponized by Fox News, you’d think it was the biggest crisis the country faced instead of, you know, fascism and the end of democracy and destruction of the planet via climate catastrophe. So when someone supposedly on our side speaks in generalities like “woke culture,” they’re tapping into a frame that’s used to demonize the entire progressive movement.

The “plastic finger” line in the second panel is of course taken from the Jimi Hendrix song “If 6 was 9”, which contains the immortal lyrics:

White collared conservative flashing down the street
Pointing their plastic finger at me, huh
They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die
But I’m gonna wave my freak flag high

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Secular Assault

A few weeks ago, Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech at Notre Dame that appalled even many devout Catholics. The full quote in the first panel, which I had to paraphrase slightly for brevity, is “Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

Sometimes I can’t believe it’s 2019 and we are still having to relitigate the Enlightenment. This idea that morality can only come from Biblical teachings (and yes, I believe he is only talking about his own preferred holy book and not the Koran or the writings of the Buddha) is absurd and certainly not borne out in practice. Look no further than Barr’s own disgusting hypocrisy, telling lies in the service of a wildly corrupt would-be dictator, enabling the destruction of the planet, the brutal treatment of refugees, cruelty toward the poor under a system of predatory greed and ever-widening inequality. Not to mention his disregard for the First Amendment’s prohibition of a state religion. And yet progressives are constantly scolded these days as “intolerant” while smug theocrats like Barr get a pass.

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Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

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