Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Battle of Hong Kong

The battle of Hong Kong is still raging. Most savvy commentators on this side of the world see it as yet another skirmish in the great ideological battle between freedom and authoritarianism. After all, Hong Kong boasts of a very large degree of freedom. Mainland China, not so much. The citizens of Hong Kong are protesting to retain their freedom. And yet, Hong Kong belongs to China. It is not an independent territory. And as Cornell University Professor Eswar Prasad wrote  in the New York Times six weeks ago, China no longer really needs Hong Kong the way it used to need Hong Kong.

I posted about it at the time and I continue to believe that this underlying economic reality explains a great deal of what is happening in Hong Kong today. It is good to keep in mind that Hong Kong is not Beijing and therefore analogies between what is happening in Hong Kong today and what happened in Beijing thirty years ago are surely off the mark.

Among those who believe that Hong Kong’s citizens are fighting to keep the city free are Joseph Sternberg. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sternberg suggests that the protests are designed to disrupt the local economy. Which would presumably make the Chinese authorities understand how valuable the local economy is. He is suggesting that there is method to the madness, but one still retains some considerable doubts… it feels a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Dare we mention that Chinese leaders do not respond well to pressure. Witness Tienanmen. 

Sternberg’s comments, along with several others, try to measure the impact of shutting down the airport. That is, shutting down a main transportation hub. The shutdown, coupled with the mass protests, has brought much of Hong Kong’s business to a halt.

Anyway, allow Sternberg his point of view:

There is confusion about what this mass popular mobilization means for the economy because the protests are disruptive by design. This week’s airport shutdown called attention to a longer-running decline in travel to Hong Kong in recent weeks. Meetings have been canceled, conferences postponed.

How can this be good for a tiny territory whose main business is doing other’s people’s business—serving as a hub and conduit for trade and finance across a region? And this isn’t the only blow to Hong Kong’s reputation. No firm relishes putting its employees in danger simply by asking them to commute to and from work; no one enjoys sending frequent security updates to staff. Growing numbers of companies have to do both in their Hong Kong offices.

Surely, many business leaders are now questioning their commitment to Hong Kong. Yet, Sternberg suggests that doing business in China is worse, and that the intrusive hand of the Chinese state will stifle initiative in Hong Kong:

This is leading to murmurs about whether Hong Kong remains a viable place to do business. Some leaders in the expat business community warn of “significant” damage to the territory’s reputation from the upheaval. Another common theme is that when it comes to business attitudes, the protests are as bad as the Chinese intrusions into Hong Kong’s legal system that triggered them.

This analysis brought to mind a recent Facebook observation by economist David Goldman, an on-the-ground observation of Chengdu, China:

Just came back from a few days in Chengdu, the capital of Szichuan province. It's a high-tech hub almost wholly rebuilt in the past ten years with new high-rises, subway system, highways and other infrastructure. It's twice the size of New York City and its GDP of $210 billion is about the same as that of Vietnam or Portugal. Not only the high-end malls but neighborhood shopping areas look prosperous. The eight-lane main arteries through town are congested at rush hour. It looks east to the New Sik Road rather than West. And I saw exactly five Westerners during my stay (including visits to the main tourist sites, e.g., the national panda reserve). Hefei, Yangzhou, Nantong and other regional centers are now the epicenter of China's growth, and they are directed toward the 1.4 billion person internal market. I spent some time with the head of a big IT company who said he won't hire Chinese with a B.A. from US universities --- they went overseas because they didn't score high enough on the much-tougher Chinese university entrance exams (PhD's are a different story). The Chinese just aren't that into us, and the US is increasingly less relevant to China's economy. Most of what's happening is happening in places you've never heard of, among people who speak languages you didn't know existed.

It’s great to consider the battle of Hong Kong in terms of the war of liberty against totalitarianism, but an up chose view of the Chinese economy by someone who knows his way around economies, is also useful. I would underscore Goldman’s last point, namely that, however much China has stolen intellectual property from America over the past years, it does not really need very much from America right now. And it probably needs less than we think from Hong Kong.

By and large, Western leaders have not commented on the situation. One marked exception was President Trump’s recommendation that President Xi Jinping sit down to have a conversation with the leaders of the Hong Kong movement.

As interventions go, it was singularly inept. Doesn’t anyone in the White House remember that, during the Tienanmen demonstrations in 1989, the Chinese premier Li Peng sat down on national television with a student named Wuer Kaixi? Wuer was dressed in pajamas and took the occasion to berate and humiliate Li Peng. This contributed to the view in the Politburo that the demonstrators were like the Red Guards and were about to visit mayhem and calamity on the country. You remember the consequences.

Anyway, Michael Van, writing on Pajamas Media suggested that the protests are short sighted and will ultimately damage Hong Kong. They are, as he argues, fighting a losing battle.

Yes, it is very courageous what the protesters are doing. But history teaches us that there is no way they are going to win this battle. Quite the opposite is true. If history is anything to go by -- and it usually is -- these people will end up with less freedom than they currently have.

That's why I'm very critical of the Libertarian Party's and other Westerners' public support for the protesters. Do they actually know what they are doing? It goes without saying that the protesters are extremely courageous. It should also be clear that I hope they'll get what they want. But the sad fact of the matter is that it's far more likely that China will step up its oppression of Hongkongers. This will not end well.

He continues:

As for those who call on Western leaders to voice support for the protesters: again, history has shown that Beijing does not respond well to international pressure. Rather than taking a step back, it only causes the communist leadership to step it up a notch or ten. It's sad -- it's terrible even! -- but it won't help Hongkongers one bit to have President Trump, Prime Minister Johnson, or President Macron condemn China's government. If anything, it'll just make matters worse.

A sobering assessment, indeed.

The same can be said of Raymond Zhong’s analysis, which appeared in The New York Times a few days ago. Zhong was assessing the impact of closing the airport. About which many protesters themselves appeared to have second thoughts. They even apologized for their bad behavior.

Zhong explained, quoting Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong:

Many of Hong Kong’s most important industries — trade, finance, tourism — depend on ready access to the skies. If the antigovernment demonstrations this summer have tested the semiautonomous territory’s political union with China, then the airport disruptions have threatened something much more basic: the easy accessibility that makes Hong Kong such a valuable gateway to China for the rest of the world.

“People who didn’t have to come were starting to rethink their plans already,” Ms. Joseph said. The turmoil at the airport, she said, “is the icing on the cake.”

All sides in the unrest seemed to take a pause on Wednesday. Online, some protesters circulated apologies about the intensity of the violence at the airport the previous night.

When the protesters closed the airport many local business leaders turned against them. They understood that Hong Kong’s economic viability was being risked.

The demonstrators proved they had the ability to paralyze an important economic artery, but the strong reaction that Tuesday’s chaos elicited from businesses, travelers and the mainland Chinese news media means that protesters may be more careful about trying such tactics again.

Zhong continued:

The instability, combined with the trade war between China and the United States, has already rattled Hong Kong’s economy. The territory’s stock market has plummeted in recent weeks, and forecasters have slashed estimates for economic growth. The local economy expanded 0.6 percent in the latest quarter from a year earlier. The figure was unchanged from the quarter before and is the slowest pace of growth for Hong Kong since the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

Some residents have started considering new contingency plans for their families and their wealth.

Once people start reconsidering their commitment to Hong Kong, and once businesses find that conditions are no longer conducive, the city state will suffer. And it will suffer gravely, even without any military intervention from Beijing. If business move to Shanghai, the damage will far exceed what anyone is now predicting.

Zhong concludes, on a faintly optimistic note:

One factor that has potentially mitigated the economic impact is that the disruptions have not affected cargo flights. The Hong Kong airport handles 5.6 million tons of cargo a year, more than any other airport on the planet. But more airfreight is carried nowadays by wide-body passenger planes, and those shipments have invariably faced delays.

Beijing does not have to punish Hong Kong. Its citizens are doing that all by themselves. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Girls Are Not Alright

Let’s see… things are not going very well for America’s girls. They are suffering from notable emotional problems and mental illnesses. Therapist Mary Pipher has the culprit in her sight. Hold on to your hats: it’s social media and smartphones.

Before presenting Pipher’s (and her daughter’s) exposition of how bad things are for girls in America today, I will remind you that, a quarter century ago, Pipher wrote a best selling book, later become a motion picture, called Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls.  The clunky title, in and of itself, ought to have warned you off the book. It’s a feminist tract, designed to do for adolescent girls what feminism had done for adult women. 

Whereas feminism had empowered women, it had not empowered girls. Thus, Pipher issued a “call to arms” to empower girls. If women are victims, then surely girls are pre-victims, bullied, harassed and demeaned by sexist men and oppressive patriarchs.

Since Betty Friedan promised that women who became feminists would naturally gain better mental health, Pipher offered the same promise with the same nostrum. The world had been aligned to oppress women. Women were suffering from a malady that had no name. Through Pipher the world discovered that girls too were suffering from the same problems. Now, by exercises in empowerment girls would be liberated, as were women.

Dare I say, the social experiment has not been a rousing success. Five decades of feminism and the workplace is fraught with sexual harassment. Apparently, all of that raised consciousness and sensitivity training has done what it was not supposed to do. It has made women victims, picturing them as weak and vulnerable. Or it has made them dangerous, even radioactive. While ideologues cry out for justice-- and who can really argue against them-- the truth remains that #MeToo has damaged women’s prospects in the workplace. 

However just the complaint or the accusation or the indictment, bringing down powerful men does not make women powerful. True power lies in building things, not in fighting against the patriarchy. And besides, why would anyone trust a woman who might, for all we know, be dedicated to overthrowing the patriarchy and to living out her jejune radical ideological fantasies. 

The feminist game plan, applied to the workplace, has seen more women rise in corporate ranks. But, it seems not to have garnered women very much respect or trust. As for the promise of enhanced mental health, it has not been quite what was promised. Unless you believe that hooking up is a good thing for women, and for their reputations. And unless you believe that the fertility crisis among older women is good for their health. And let’s not forget the spike it divorces, the increasing reluctance of anyone to get married, the increase in eating disorders and depression and anxiety… and you would have to say that five decades of feminism has not exactly fulfilled Betty Friedan’s promise.

And now, two and a half decades after Mary Pipher sounded the alarm about the way America brought up girls, the outcomes are clear. Things are getting worse for American girls. In a standard confusion between causation and correlation, Pipher suggests that the fault lies with… social media and other assorted techno gadgets. 

The moral is clear: Pipher cannot bring herself to take responsibility for the mess that she and some of her sisters produced. They are getting in front of the problem by shifting the blame. You can read her Wall Street Journal article from beginning to end and you will not find the least hint of a sense of responsibility for what she has done.

Like Friedan, Pipher has certainly contributed to the troubles that teenage girls are facing. Blaming it on social media and iPhones is far too convenient. It would have been more persuasive if she had been able to show that girls around the world, granted access to the same gadgets are suffering the same mental health problems. I suggest that she cannot do so because it isn’t true.

As for how feminism contributed to the problem, one would note that it has stripped young women of all social roles. It has made them into persons, not wives and mothers. It has unsexed them while at the same time insisting that they enjoy sex exactly as men and boys do. It tells them to be upfront, to assert themselves, to go for the gusto and to lean in. When it does not work, they blame men. So, no rules, no customs, no courtship, no division of sexual labor, no defined roles within the family… such is the feminist ethos. Too many American girls are lost and abandoned by adults. I am confident that they do not have Tiger Moms.

In the end, what did you expect? 

Pipher writes:

I have friends with debilitating problems like cutting and OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder],” a girl named Jordan recently told us. “It’s frustrating because I can’t help them. I mean, I’m only 14 myself.”

Young Americans have become unwitting guinea pigs in today’s huge, unplanned experiment with social media, and teenage girls like Jordan are bearing much of the brunt. In conversation after conversation, adolescent girls describe themselves as particularly vulnerable to the banes of our increasingly digital culture, with many of them struggling to manage the constant connectedness of social media, their rising levels of anxiety and the intense emotions that have always been central to adolescence.

Girls in 2019 tend to be risk-averse, focused on their studies and fond of their families. They are also experiencing high levels of depression and loneliness. A 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 36% of girls report being extremely anxious every day. They are particularly worried about school shootings, melting polar ice and their ability to afford college.

These girls have been brainwashed. They have been enlisted to fight to save the planet, to give their lives over to radical action against the patriarchy. 

Since the rules and roles designed to produce constructive relationships have been discarded, tossed onto the trash heap of history, these girls are living out the dream of being independent and autonomous. Which means, as no one ever told them and as their feminist foremothers never understood, being alone:

But girls today aren’t as self-sufficient as their counterparts in earlier decades: They are less likely to possess driver’s licenses, work outside the home or date.

They are also more solitary. Research from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future project shows that, since 2007—the dawn of the smartphone era—girls have dramatically decreased the amount of time they spend shopping, seeing friends or going to movies. We found that many girls spend their Saturday nights home alone, watching Netflix and surfing social media.

If you enter a world where you do not know the game, do not know the rules, do not know the players, you will suffer from anomie. Today’s girls, having been disabused of any defined place in society suffer from panic attacks. Pipher continues:

When girls do eventually leave home, they often find themselves ill-prepared to navigate “real life.” In 2011, the American College Health Association reported that 31% of female freshmen said they had experienced overwhelming anxiety or panic attacks; by 2016, that had shot up to 62%.

Apparently, social media plays a role. Because, in the absence of defined rituals like dating and courtship, these girls are lost and bewildered:

The American Association of Pediatrics now warns that too much social-media use can lead to depression and anxiety. Social media works against basic developmental goals—physical, cognitive, relational, sexual and maturational. Girls sleep with their phones and react to every notification. As they create more interesting, supposedly happier virtual personas for themselves, their real selves diminish. Girls collect “likes” instead of making friends. They can be devastated by a cruel text or a tepid reaction to a selfie. Long before they hold hands with a date, they are exposed to online pornography and misogynistic messages.

In a sense, modern girls are never truly alone and never truly with others. In a 2018 national health survey by Cigna , girls reported the highest levels of loneliness on record.

“Honestly, sometimes I wish we were living in the ‘olden’ days, when kids hung out with friends and went on dates,” Genevieve, 16, told us. “But that just isn’t what my friends and I do.”

Many of the girls we interviewed articulated many of social media’s drawbacks even as they declared that they can’t live without it. “After an evening online, I go to bed feeling unhappy,” Izzie, 13, told us. “I wonder, ‘What did I do all day long?’ Then I wake up and do the same things the next day.”

Now, why do you think that these girls long for the “olden days” when they could hang out with friends and go on dates? Well, for one they have been liberated from such social constraints. They cannot prepare for traditional female roles, so they are less likely to find themselves in such roles. If they do, they will immediately believe that they are being oppressed. It does not make for a happy home or a happy marriage.

For her part Pipher encourages team sports and volunteerism. We concur heartily. And yet, those are surely not enough. Without structured social activities, without being a girl or a woman means something more than biology, these girls will remain lost. Unless of course they have Tiger Moms who prevent them from wasting their time on their phones. As it happens, Pipher suggests that girls make a pact with each other and choose to put their phones down at, say, 9:00 p.m. 

But, think about it. These are children. They are not adults. They ought to have parents in their homes, parents who can enforce rules about the use or misuse of cell phones. How strange to see Pipher discounting parental authority.

She notes that the girls have generally good relationships with their mothers, but they probably do not have good relationships with their fathers… because, you know, never trust a man… especially a patriarchal male.

Pipher continues, offering solutions:

Mothers and fathers need to protect their daughters (and sons) from the culture’s noxious elements and connect them to life’s goodness and beauty. In an increasingly complicated world, much of the answer is simple: Unplug and do the things families have done since the beginning of time—tell stories, laugh, work together and talk through life’s big questions.

Huh… life’s goodness and beauty… how about another dose of psychobabble. The answer is not very simple, especially when so many children live in broken homes or live in homes where their parents never bothered to get married at all.

As for a solution, how about family dinners, how about routinized family activities. And how about teaching some of these girls how to make a home, how to cook dinner… Naturally, in our day and for a Mary Pipher such ideas never cross their minds. If they do cross anyone's minds, the immediate response is that cooking dinner is a sign of oppression... producing neurosis and psychosis and mental illness and general misery. As it happens, girls who have been brought up to reject such roles seems to be suffering from all the emotional problems that liberation was supposed to cure.

And yet, if girls are going to have homes they ought to know how to make a home. Assuming that their mothers know how-- not very obvious-- they can engage in constructive activities like peeling potatoes and grilling zucchini and even setting a table. If not, they can go to war against their fathers and brothers, accusing them of being abusive for not doing enough housework.

Nowadays, girls are being recruited and trained to be the vanguard of the revolution. Pipher concludes on a dispiriting note:

This generation of girls, we found, is particularly eager to make its opinions heard and defend its rights. “I stand up for myself and others,” Greer, 16, told us. “It gives me hope, because when other girls accept themselves like I do, we can take all that energy and launch the Industrial Revolution of girl power.”

If that is what they have been brainwashed into thinking, they are lost. We should not be surprised to see that they are suffering from an epidemic of mental and emotional problems.

Their adult overladies should begin by taking responsibility for what they have done. These girls did not learn the lessons of girl power from their smart phones. They learned them from the culture, and not from men. Time to step up and accept responsibility, ladies. That would be a step in the right direction.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Israel Bans Anti-Semitic Congresswomen

American politicians are now falling all over themselves to denounce Israel for refusing to grant entry to two of its most vicious enemies. While they are damaging Israel with their words they are also defending the legitimacy of Jew hatred. Go figure.

As you know, Israel, following the rule of its own laws, is not going to allow Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib to use their position to promote anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli propaganda. The Jewish nation has said that it will allow Tlaib entry to the West Bank in order to visit her ailing grandmother.

Perhaps it would be good to ask how the Democratic Party has been working to legitimize anti-Semitism, but that would apparently be too much. Best to bash Israel for defending itself against terrorists and their enablers.

Of course, the Congresswomen were not going to visit Israel. They were going to visit what they call the occupied territories. They were not going to meet with Israeli politicians, on either side of the political spectrum. They were going to Israel to denounce that nation as a Nazi cabal against poor, innocent Palestinian terrorists. They were going to legitimate the Palestinian strategy of destroying Israel through a propaganda war mounted and sustained by Western leftist dupes.

Not wishing to miss the chance to countenance anti-Semitism, The New York Times editorialized about the group that invited the Congresswomen:

The visit Ms. Omar and Ms. Tlaib were contemplating was not to Israel proper, but to the West Bank, where they were to visit Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem, as well as Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, on a trip co-sponsored by a Palestinian organization, Miftah, that promotes “global awareness and knowledge of Palestinian realities.” 

The truth lies elsewhere. Miftah supports an anti-Semitic blood libel. Apparently, the Times did not see fit to publish this fact:

On March 27, 2013 MIFTAH, a Palestinian non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1998 by Hanan Ashrawi (Chair of MIFTAH’s Board of Directors), published an article by Nawaf al-Zaru that repeated the antisemitic blood libel.1 He wrote, “Does Obama in fact know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’… ?!  Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals…?! Much of the historical stories and tales about Jewish blood rituals in Europe are based on real rituals and are not false as they claim; the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover …” (translated from the original Arabic by NGO Monitor).

As you probably know, Ashrawi has been banned from entering the United States.

To say that Omar and Tlaib might learn something in Israel is fatuous cant. They have no intention to do so. They want to embarrass Israel, to damage its international reputation. And to make it look weak. In truth, strength means not allowing them to enter the Jewish nation. Obviously, editorialists at the Times and elsewhere are rushing out to say that Israel is weak for defending itself.  

The Times believes that Israel would be showing strength if it allowed these two women to come to its country and to use the visit to call for its destruction. Keep in mind, they are not interested in dialogue or debate. They do not believe in being better informed. They are leftist fanatics who have only one agenda.

In truth, they want to give aid and comfort to the enemies of Israel and to the enemies of democracy. It is especially rich to see so many people defending Omar and Tlaib on the grounds that democracy demands that Israel submit to defamation and libel, and being strong means giving these women a platform to denounce Israel as a criminal conspiracy and to call for Israel’s destruction. 

And no, Israel has not turned these women into martyrs, as Richard Haass weakly suggested. It has shown them for what they are, anti-Semitic bigots who want to continue their propaganda war against Israel. As for making them into martyrs, those who are are far more agitated over the ban than they ever were about the BDS movement or about the manifest anti-Semitism of these women are elevating their message… to the detriment of Israel.

The Mental Health Factor in Mass Shootings

Recent events in El Paso and Dayton have again raised the question of a possible link between mass killings and mental illness. Gun control advocates argue that mental illness does not correlate with mass murder, perhaps because most of the mass killings in this country have more to do with gangs and drugs. Others are terrorist acts, whether the Boston Marathon, San Bernardino, Ft. Hood or Orlando.

No one believes that better mental health treatment could have stopped terrorist actions, but, some of the killings are committed by the mentally ill… and surely we should stop those if it is at all possible.

It is easier to treat a few hundred psychotics than it is to remove a few hundred million guns from the nation. And yet, when Patrick Crucius opened fire in El Paso the initial outcry was that we should declare war against bigotry and against guns. 

Still and all, James Holmes in Aurora, CO, Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook and Jared Loughner in Tucson seemed clearly to be suffering from psychoses. In some cases, Holmes in particular, a psychiatrist had identified him as dangerous. And yet, the law has made it devilishly difficult to commit anyone involuntarily. Lanza was once diagnosed as autistic, which seems clearly to have been in error. In the case of Nikolas Cruz in Parkland, FL. everyone knew that he was dangerous. Everyone knew that he had a serious problem. Beginning with school officials, through the local sheriff’s department and the FBI, no one did anything.

In the hue and cry, we have largely lost track of Connor Betts, the Dayton shooter. Since Betts was sympathetic to socialist causes and Antifa, the press has done yeoman work in blotting out his actions. Better to place the emphasis on the bigot in El Paso. 

Now, we discover, via the Dayton Daily News that Betts had received psychiatric treatment. Surely, he should have received more. We do not know whether he told his psychiatrist what he had planned-- one suspects that he did not-- but we do know that he saw a psychiatrist a few times. 

The Oregon District gunman had three mental health counseling receipts on his person when he died, according to preliminary autopsy results.

The Dayton Daily News examined the results, which typically include photographs of items found in a person’s wallet or pocket.

The bloodied receipts were for April 5, June 10 and another date that couldn’t be read. 

They were for $50 payments. Two were marked for mental health counseling, the other for mental health services….

Multiple people who knew the shooter have told the Dayton Daily News that Betts had told them he had several mental illnesses, including depression and possible bipolar disorder.

Additionally, the shooter had cocaine, alcohol and Xanax in his body, the results say.

Naturally, the Dayton Daily News uses the news story to debunk claims that mental illness had anything to do with the murders. It’s all in for gun control, but all out when it comes to treating psychosis.

First, it reports on the Ohio Governor Mike De Wine’s proposals:

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine focused on mental illnesses last week in his response to the Oregon District shooting. Among other proposals, he called for increased access to inpatient psychiatric care, “wrap-around services,” early intervention training, online mental health services for students, training on risk factors, and red-flag legislation to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Of course, mental health professionals have been crawling forth to explain that there is no real link between mental illness and mass murder. And yet, one suspects that they have skewed the research to promote a leftist political agenda.

As it happened, whatever diagnosis you want to affix to Connor Betts, the signs were clearly there:

Betts had a history of threatening women who he felt had wronged him. Multiple witnesses said he was disciplined in high school for creating a “hit list” of girls he wanted to rape and kill. His band performed a genre of music that focuses on violent imagery including raping and killing women.

Similarly, we do not know anything of Nikolas Cruz’s psychiatric diagnosis, but we do know that he and Betts ought to have been flagged as potential threats to society.

Is it too much to try to figure out how to identify such individuals before, not after, they commit mayhem. One of the problems with blaming it on guns is quite simply that it causes us to look away from the madness brewing in our communities, madness that is easily identified by many people who are not mental health professionals.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The War Against Revenge Porn

You would think that everyone would side with Carrie Goldberg on this issue. A victim of revenge porn and a lawyer, she has been fighting a lonely fight against cyber crimes, including cyber stalking and revenge porn.

Clearly, she and many other women are victims of such defamatory assaults. If they were children, they abusers could be prosecuted more easily. And yet, it was not until this year that New York State could manage to pass a law outlawing revenge porn. 

Think about it, one of America’s most liberal states, where just about everyone is a feminist, allowed these assaults on women to go on, unmolested. You would think that this would be a leading feminist issue. Along with stalking and other forms of psychological terrorism. And yet, while some women do militate for more stringent laws, for the most part the issue feels like a second thought.

This is so because feminism has gone all in on abortion rights. To the point that it has made abortion its signature issue. To that it has now added workplace sexual harassment… via the #MeToo movement. But, cyberstalking and revenge porn… these seem to be of secondary concern.

Several years ago I was watching a television show on Investigation Discovery channel. The story involved a young opera singer, just out of school, who was stalked, harassed and abused. A man had stalked and threatened her family and friends. When an opera company hired her to sing, the stalker would call in bomb threats. 

Anyway, the local constabulary declared itself to be powerless. By the law’s lights, he had not done anything, and besides they did not know where he was. In time, she hired a private detective-- or perhaps it was a government police agency-- and they managed to track down her stalker. He was living free in Singapore. So they notified the authorities in Singapore. 

Apparently, the Singapore legal system takes a very negative view of men who cyberstalk women. They promptly arrested and tried the man… and sentenced him to several years of imprisonment.

The comparison is striking. It would be good if movement feminists could take up this cause and work with Carrie Goldberg… who, seems today to be an army of one.

Anyway, the New York times reports on what happened to her. After breaking up with a man she met on OK Cupid, the started his campaign to punish her for rejecting him:

Four months in she ended the love affair, and he launched a grotesque inversion of it, bombarding her with texts, emails and phone calls, sending mendacious messages to everyone she knew on Facebook, even filing a fake police report that landed her in jail. Goldberg moved apartments, spent more than $30,000 in legal fees and lost the respect of her boss and co-workers. However, it was his threat to distribute naked photos of Goldberg, including a sexually graphic video he’d filmed without her knowledge, that caused her the most distress, not least because there was no way the law could stop him. Back then, the dissemination of nonconsensual pornography — the preferred term among activists for what’s often referred to as “revenge porn” — was legal in New York State, and it remained so until earlier this year.

Think of this, Roe v. Wade has been the law for nearly fifty years. Obviously, cyber crimes are of more recent vintage. Still, it was not until last year that the movement to end them started taking root:

Such experiences are alarmingly common. In 2017 the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization formed in 2013 to fight online abuse, found that more than 10 percent of social media users are victims of revenge porn, with women twice as likely to be targeted as men. These statistics aren’t an enormous surprise given that many people these days meet their romantic partners online — 39 percent of heterosexual couples and 65 percent of same-sex couples, according to a recent study by sociologists at Stanford University and the University of New Mexico — and go on to conduct a great deal of intimacy by way of smartphone and computer, whether sexting or video-chatting. What is most worrisome, Goldberg makes clear, is that until our legal system catches up with these new realities, our culture’s unchecked reliance on communications technologies, combined with the ever-collapsing distinction between so-called “real life” and “what happens online,” will remain a paradise for men (and they are mostly men) who traffic in the nonconsensual distribution of sexual imagery, decimating the lives of adults and, increasingly, teenagers and children.

And yes, if I could offer any advice, I would recommend that people stop sending pictures of their genitalia over the internet, to anyone at any time. And yet, the fact that someone has sent such a picture does not mean that the recipient should have the right to distribute it to the world at large. 

Goldberg herself took up the cause and applied her own legal talents to it:

In 2014, with little more than the resolve to become “the lawyer I’d needed,” Goldberg quit her job at the Vera Institute of Justice, rented a tiny, windowless office in a shared work space in Dumbo and hung a shingle as a victims’ rights attorney specializing in sexual privacy. In the five years since, her firm — now 13 people strong — has removed more than 30,000 nonconsensual images and videos from the internet, jailed more than a dozen offenders, and successfully sued the New York City Department of Education on behalf of a teenage girl who was gang-raped by classmates in her school’s stairwell and then suspended for lying. Goldberg also helped craft a dozen states’ revenge-porn laws and promote the first federal bill aimed at protecting victims of revenge porn. 

Among the problems is something called the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which absolved internet providers of responsibility for user-posted content. Evidently, the law will need to be changed. Free speech does not allow defamation, slander or libel. It should not permit revenge porn or cyber stalking:

Goldberg reminds us that “the internet was a very different place” in 1996, when the Communications Decency Act was signed, with a small provision called Section 230 declaring that interactive computer services were not publishers and therefore weren’t liable for user-posted content: “There was no Google, Reddit, YouTube or Twitter. Mark Zuckerberg was in middle school, and Amazon was an exciting new website that only sold books.” She believes that the “free speech purists and tech heads” who claim the law enables the internet as we know it today are missing the forest for the trees. Section 230, she writes, “is the No. 1 reason the internet is a safe space for peddlers of fake news, graphic death threats, conspiracy theories, Russian propaganda, racist slurs, Nazi hate speech, anti-L.G.B.T.Q. vitriol, vivid promotions of violence against women, instructions for how to make your own bomb and phony dating profiles offering sex in someone else’s name,” which is to say it’s the “enabler of every … troll, psycho and perv on the internet.”