Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Reject vs Reject

As much as I hate to give Jace Connors any kind of attention whatsoever, my attention was inexorably drawn to the spectacle of an interview between him and SJdub "gonzo journalist" (read: not an actual journalist) Reuben Baron.

What emerged was perhaps one of the most disturbing incidences of a cripple fight I've ever witnessed.

I say this not to cast aspersions upon disabled people, but because the entire affair bore the lack of dignity characterized these kinds of contests: two people, each with their own personal afflictions, wailing away on each other for the meagre entertainment of others.

But this one bore a deeper element of indignity which made it hilarious, agonizing and saddening all at the same time: the spectacle of watching two deeply defective people devastate one another.

Let's be clear on what makes each of them defective, or rather what doesn't. For Connors, it isn't (necessarily) his mental illness that I consider to be his defect. I myself have been diagnosed with, and treated for, severe depression. I sympathize with many of Connors' struggles because I myself share them.

For Baron it isn't his stuttering, or even his egregiously-annoying voice that I consider to be his defect. In fact, I know numerous people with speech impediments and I understand the struggles they can impose upon people. I sympathize with his struggles because I've seen my friends go through them. In particular, stuttering has been described to be as "literally physically painful" by one particular stutterer I know.

No, I consider the defects of each individual to be defects of personality, defects that each could correct if they so chose.

At least, Connors could potentially correct his if he were undergoing a full treatment regimen (medication, counseling, and appropriate support) for his schizophrenia. The appearance of Connors' mother during the interview indicates that she may perhaps be acting as Connors' enabler, even taking the blame for the carwreck observers have spent the past four days believing he instigated.

Here is the base indignity of what unfolded during that interview: one individual, Reuben Baron, claiming to be acting as a journalist when in fact what he was clearly doing was attempting to extract comments from Connors that would be useful to the agenda of his friend, Brianna Wu. At one point, while Connors is out of the room fetching his mother, he even expresses clear frustration with his inability to get comments out of Connors that he could use against him.

He clearly wasn't aware that the interview was being recorded by Connors, who would eventually use it for his own agenda. I find it hard to feel sorry for Baron in this regard.

Then there is the other individual, Jace Connors, who constantly lies, self-aggrandizes, mocks Baron's speech impediment, utters anti-gay slurs at him (Baron self-identifies as bisexual), and attempts to weaponize each individual's religion against him.

The nadir of the spectacle emerges when Baron asks to speak to Connors' mother, apparently eager to tell his mom on him. Connors mother, however, is a breed not of the internet age in any way, shape, or form. She sucks the wind out of Baron's sails by taking responsibility for the wreck -- calling it a little "slip-slide" -- by telling Baron it was her, not Connors, who was behind the wheel.

Is she just covering for her son? Or was she really driving? At this point I don't know what to believe. While Connors does seem to indicate early in the interview that he was driving the blue Prius -- honestly, who the hell street races in a Prius? -- he's also lied about threatening to shoot guns at Brianna Wu. Why would we take him at his word now, knowing he's a confirmed liar?

Some of the interview seems to confirm what some people have suspected -- that many, or perhaps all, of the so-called "threats" made by Connors against Wu are simply not serious threats. Connors castigates Baron for not realizing that a YouTube video in which he talks about dressing as Batman and doing "Assassin's Creed-style moves" on Wu were a joke. Looking back on it, this seems obvious, but the Connors mythos -- yes, he has a mythos, I'm sorry to say -- was enough to convince some people that these were the genuine words of an obvious madman.

Baron is dead on the money when he says these jokes weren't funny. He was brandishing what appeared to be a real knife while he did them, so no one's laughing. His tortured mental gymnastics trying to dictate Connors' intentions back to him were not necessary. Being unfunny was quite enough.

As for Connors declaring himself the new leader, the "commander" of #Gamergate? That's laughable. And while I fully expect the contemptible Sam "Bring Back Bullying" Biddle to latch onto that in some future hitpiece against the movement that caused his bad behaviour to cost Gawker seven figures in advertising revenue, that doesn't make it any more credible.

(Seriously, Mr Biddle. You should just be happy to still have your job. I suspect it's the last one you'll ever get.)

No one at #Gamergate is following him, and certainly no one is taking his orders.

As for Reuben Baron, someone in his journalism classes should sit down and explain to him that "Gonzo journalism" is not real journalism. Real journalists don't leave their cognizant readers trying to puzzle out how much of what they've been told is real, and how much of it was made up at the "journalist's" whim.

Also, preparing himself before an interview is usually a good idea. It's called "research." Also, when a journalist essentially rage-quits an interview, it's a good sign that this is not a story they should back away from.

In fact, his career will be much better off were he to correct his obvious character flaws and conduct himself like an actual, professional journalist. His agenda may suffer but his work will not.

In future, perhaps we could hope that at least one of these two individuals will not actively seek to participate in a reject fight.

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