Autopsy of a Viral Tweet

On December 4, 2015, my Social Media world got tossed as I innocently, but rightly, Tweeted the astonishing fact that MSNBC had doxed someone — revealing identifying information about a living person — on live television during an impromptu terror tour of a suspect’s home. The person in question was Rafia Farook — mother of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. Rafia lived in the same townhouse as her son, his terrorist wife, Tashfeen Malik, and the couple’s six-month-old baby girl. Here’s an image of the Tweet I sent after my photographic capture of the MSNBC live feed:

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The Scary Military State of the United States

As a child of Romanian immigrants from the brutal era of communism, I heard quite a number of stories told about how people were routinely arrested and put into prison for the most unreasonable reasons — anything from protesting against the government to just not being in the right place at the right time. My parents were very happy that we live in a country where, as they said at the time, a person could march up and down the streets carrying signs denouncing President Clinton (I suppose this dates me pretty well) and they would never be arrested.

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Did I Almost Blow Off My Left Arm in the Journal Square PATH Station?

There I was last week, all fresh and pressed and ready to teach my ASL course at CUNY when I stepped onto the 33rd Street PATH train at Journal Square and found a red, nylon, lunch bag — with a bottle of water hanging onto it from a mesh pouch on the outside — hiding under the train seat.

I immediately had a flashback to my childhood and wanting to help someone — and not to the unassailable advertising posted all over the PATH stations and television warning us that if you see an unattended bag, you need to immediately report it to the PATH authorities.  Since I had entered the first car, the engineer exited her locked control booth for a shift change, and I told her I found a bag on the floor.

She ignored me and walked off the train.

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No PATH Photos for You!

The other day, I was riding the PATH Train from New Jersey to Manhattan and the Conductor — he’s the guy who manages opening and closing the doors and making announcements while the Engineers “drives” the train — came up to an Asian couple and demanded the woman delete the photograph of the train she took right before boarding. The woman was confused and embarrassed, but she followed the order and the Conductor watched her remove the photograph from her cellphone.  If she’d been using a traditional film camera, would the Conductor have confiscated her entire film roll?  The woman’s boyfriend took a more aggressive perch, and said, “There are no signs prohibiting taking pictures.”

The Conductor brusquely retorted, “There are signs everywhere.  Look for them.”  Then the Conductor left the car.  A few minutes passed and the Conductor came running back into our car to retrieve the train keys he’d left dangling in the control panel switchbox so he could bawl out the woman.  I thought to myself, “Which is a greater threat to the people riding a PATH train?  A tourist taking a photograph, or a Conductor who leaves his keys behind for the taking?”

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Sarah Palin at the Core of Crosshairs

The unraveling of the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona over the weekend warns us against inciting the threat of metaphorical violence in politics to achieve literal ends.  Sarah “Don’t Retreat, Reload” Palin placed herself in the center of the assassin’s intention with her despicable — and clearly terroristic — weaponized “map” of targeted Democrats, that included Gabby Giffords, placed in gun scope crosshairs on her Facebook page.  In the wake of the shooting, the map has been removed.

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Killing without Due Process

The government of the United States wants to legally reserve the right kill you — assassinate you, even, and without legal representation — if you are perceived as a threat to national security.  This is new and chilling news, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the ACLU, are trying to fight in court for those targeted for killing.

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