His t-shirt featured the outline of Mickey Mouse’s head. But rather than the mouse’s face inside, there was an image of the Blue Lives Matter flag. I did a triple-take to make sure I had seen what I thought I had seen.
Why? What could possibly compel this shirt to exist? As I attempted to enjoy the train ride around the park, these questions turned over in my head.
“Lee was no hero. He was neither noble nor wise. Lee was a traitor who killed United States soldiers, fought for human enslavement, vastly increased the bloodshed of the Civil War, and made embarrassing tactical mistakes.“
I GOT INTO TOWN JUST AFTER SUNSET. The lights were on at a place called the Brick House Grill, and if you were out on South Main Street on a Friday night in February, chances are, that’s where you were going. So I went in, too.
I took a seat at the bar. A man two stools over from me struck up a conversation. I told him I was a journalist from Chicago and asked him to tell me about this town. “You know how this town is called Anna?” he started. “That’s for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed.’” He laughed, shook his head and took a sip of his beer.
Let us be grateful for small mercies. Thank you Twitter for banning political advertising. Given that such advertising is by its nature biased, tendentious and hard to check, Twitter is behaving as a good publisher should. Politicians may make full use of its outlet. That is democracy. But as the organisation’s chief, Jack Dorsey, points out, with social media awash in “micro-targeting, deepfakes, manipulated videos and misinformation”, those who control it should keep it as clean as possible. Money may not buy truth, but it should not drown fairness.
What is the First Amendment for? I ask my students this every year. Every year, several people quickly respond that the First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to speak without restriction. True, I say, but what is it for?