Alexandra DeSanctis here. I’ll be filling in for Jim on the Morning Jolt for some of this week.
On the menu this morning: a heartbreaking and senseless murder comes to light in Washington, D.C., a new report shows Big Tech’s animosity toward faith-based groups, and Major League Baseball prepares to crack down on tampering with the ball.
Carjacking, an Accident, or Murder?
Last week in Washington, D.C., two teenaged girls attacked and killed an Uber Eats delivery driver while attempting to steal his car. The girls, whose names haven’t been released as they are minors, entered the car of 66-year-old Mohammad Anwar carrying a Taser.
Anwar’s death was caught on video, but I warn you, the footage is horrifyingly graphic.
“This is my car!” Anwar shouts at one point as he attempts to reenter the car, which he had exited to make food deliveries. The suspect behind the wheel then accelerates with Anwar hanging halfway out of the car, stuck between the driver’s seat and the door. At the next intersection, the car veers and crashes between parked cars, and Anwar can be seen flying from the vehicle and landing on the sidewalk, no longer moving.
National Guard members who happened to be present removed the girls from the car, and one of the girls walks past Anwar, lying lifelessly on the sidewalk, without looking at him. Unaccountably, the National Guard members present did not appear to stop and try to help the victim. Anwar died in the hospital from his injuries. Police later said that the suspects had used a Taser on him.
According to the Metropolitan Police Department, the suspects are a 13-year-old girl from southeast Washington, D.C., and a 15-year-old girl from Maryland. They have been charged with murder and armed carjacking. Anwar, a Pakistani immigrant who arrived in the U.S. in 2014, worked for Uber Eats in order to help support his wife, children, and four grandchildren.
In the wake of this brutal and senseless murder, some of the public responses have been especially egregious. For example, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser, who offered no comment on Anwar’s murder, nonetheless tweeted a video on how to prevent carjacking.
“Auto theft is a crime of opportunity,” Bowser tweeted. “Follow these steps to reduce the risk of your vehicle becoming a target. Remember the motto, #ProtectYourAuto.”
Her tweet appears to have since been deleted.
CNN, meanwhile, shared the site’s news story reporting on the murder on Twitter with this thoughtless tweet:
Police said the girls, 13 and 15, assaulted an Uber Eats driver with a Taser while carjacking him, which led to an accident in which he was fatally injured. https://t.co/N6RpLoTu8x
— CNN (@CNN) March 27, 2021
Anyone who’s seen the video or has read about what’s shown in the footage is well aware that the incident wasn’t “an accident” that fatally injured Anwar. The only word for it is murder. One can’t help but wonder if the reluctance to condemn this crime stems from left-wing hesitancy about naming the race of the perpetrators, who are African American.
Hunter Walker, a White House correspondent for Yahoo News, for instance, tweeted over the weekend that “there are a lot of far right commentators sharing this horrific story and highlighting the fact the perpetrators are Black.”
Walker went on to assert that “there are also more mainstream conservatives sharing this story including from outlets like the Daily Caller and GOP operatives. In some cases, they’re cooying [sic] videos taken directly from the far right explicitly racist voices including popular Gab and Telegram accounts.”
But of course, the race of the perpetrators doesn’t matter at all, and no credible source on the right is suggesting that it is the key issue here. What matters is that an innocent man was senselessly murdered, and his horrible death deserves attention and outcry no matter who killed him.
Big Tech Targets Religious Groups, Too
A new report from the Napa Legal Institute suggests that it’s not just conservatives and right-wing groups that have had trouble with social-media and tech companies removing their content. The report highlights the many occasions on which big tech companies have banned, silenced, or otherwise flagged online content from religious groups and individuals, as well.
According to the report, religious leaders and institutions have experienced this behavior from tech companies about once per week this year alone. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Napa Legal Institute president Josh Holdenried has more details:
The previous month, Twitter blocked a post from the Daily Citizen, which is run by Focus on the Family, an evangelical Christian nonprofit, and suspended its account. The reason: a tweet that respectfully challenged the underlying premise of transgenderism. Twitter made a similar move against Catholic World Report, though the company later said it had acted in error. Ryan T. Anderson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center saw Amazon ban his book criticizing transgenderism, “When Harry Became Sally.” Amazon shows no signs of changing course.
Books from specific publishers are often targeted, such as Catholic TAN Books. One of its authors is Paul Kengor, who wrote an anticommunist tract called “The Devil and Karl Marx. ” TAN Books can’t advertise his work on Facebook, or that of Carrie Gress, who wrote a book on “rescuing the culture from toxic femininity.” Facebook has also banned ads for Kimberly Cook’s book, “Motherhood Redeemed.” The offending ad called it “a book that challenges feminism in the modern world.”
When posts are removed, ads are blocked, and accounts are banned, public pushback and media criticism often lead tech companies to rethink their actions. Last October, after the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List was targeted by one of Facebook’s third-party fact-checkers for “misleading claims” about Joe Biden’s policy on late-term abortions, the group went on a media blitz, securing both a reversal and an apology.
There’s no question that tech companies see themselves as having a role to play in our “cancel culture,” though progressives generally prefer to call it something like “combatting disinformation.” But if a book as sensible, compassionate, and rigorously researched as Ryan Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally is no longer allowed to appear on Amazon’s shelves, we are left to believe that, in the view of tech companies, there’s simply no room for debate.
Conservative views on marriage, sex, and gender are, in essence, anathema in the world of the Internet — and, according to this new report, all the more so when those arguments or beliefs are put forth from a religious perspective.
Opening Day Is on Its Way
This Thursday is Opening Day for Major League Baseball, and the Wall Street Journal reports that this season will see a stricter policy from the league when it comes to pitchers tampering with the ball.
Adding sticky substances to the ball is a long-time habit of MLB pitchers, even though it’s technically against the rules. But, until now, those rules have been enforced fairly loosely, at least depending on what exactly the substance is. Here’s more from the WSJ:
Now the commissioner’s office has decided that this method of self-regulation is insufficient. The league sent a memo last week to all clubs saying that it intends to crack down on the use of foreign substances on the ball this season. In addition to collecting balls and having them examined by a third-party laboratory, MLB will also analyze data to check for statistical anomalies that suggest the ball has been tampered with.
This increased emphasis on ball-doctoring is MLB’s way of reining in a practice that had grown from a quirky relic of the game’s past into a sophisticated enterprise designed to give pitchers an unfair advantage.
As the WSJ points out, in the past, teams generally have refrained from challenging opponents for breaking the rule because odds were, their own players were doing the same thing. Here’s hoping MLB decides not to tamper with too much else in the rules this season.
ADDENDUM: Former South Bend mayor and current transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg has a brilliant idea for helping the environment: Let’s tax drivers by the mile!
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says taxing drivers by the mile “shows a lot of promise” and could be a way to fund a big infrastructure overhaul. pic.twitter.com/fkI5nWt7sr
— The Recount (@therecount) March 26, 2021
No matter that such a policy would be offensive in principle, unworkable in practice, and create an enormous burden for low-income and middle-class Americans and rest disproportionately on the shoulders of minorities and those living in rural areas.