MIB III: The Social Justice version.

The secret conference taking place in a room below San Francisco city hall is about to begin, the gentle purring of the air conditioning a dramatic contrast to the riotous demonstrations outside. Groups of indigenous earthlings, i.e. people like you and me (which does not include the SF board of supervisors), chant and wave signs saying, “earth for earthlings” and “save our bodies from extraterrestrial predators.” Meanwhile, counter demonstrators, also native earthlings, wave signs saying,”we were planted here by aliens” and “every living creature entitled to a fair share of carbon.” Inside, as the conference gets underway, the two sides, human and alien, sit—as their appendages and misshapen bodies allow—on opposite sides of a long table. On my right is a representative group of human political leaders past and present: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill, and guest celebrity Alyssa Milano. On my left are representatives of various illegal alien species: Edgar the Bug, an Orthopterous Exomorphs, a belligerent race of insect-like aliens; Boris the Animal, an intergalactic criminal and the last known member of the Boglodite race; Serleena Xath, the evil, shapeshifting Kylothian queen in the human form of a lingerie model; an unnamed Worm; Lauranna, princess of the Zarthans. MIB (Men in Black) agents K and J provide security. Why’s security needed?

Edgar the Bug has already been making threats if it doesn’t get its way. “Have you ever pulled the wings off a fly? Wanna see the fly get even?” he sneers at K and J. Such threats are no joke. K once described Bugs thusly, “Imagine a giant cockroach with unlimited strength, a massive inferiority complex, and a real short temper is tear-assing around Manhattan island in a brand new Edgar suit.” Living on Earth includes a lack of oversight from the different alien races’ leaders. Most venture on hedonistic binges partaking in vices that are forbidden on their home world, as if they are German tourists in America, or tourists from anywhere in Amsterdam. Lauranna came to Earth decades ago, so she could hide the Light of Zartha, which if it got in the wrong hands, could lead to the demise of Zartha. The Zarthian true form is unknown, but they always appear as human females, adopting the appearance of various nationalities, usually Japanese, or British blondes.

The topic of the conference is “administering social justice between the indigenous inhabitants of planet earth (earthlings. i.e. you an I) and the illegal aliens.” Real off-planet aliens. Thankfully, neither the Alien nor the Predator franchises are included, or the everyone would be eaten, which, if you have to live in San Francisco these days, could be the lesser evil, but once again, I digress. How many true aliens are actually living here? Only the MIB know for sure. I am the moderator of the conference, hopefully safe in my titanium steel cage, with the guns of K and J ready, because who knows what these aggressive creatures might do if they get mad? I’m even more worried about the aliens. Anyway, let’s get started. I will open this intergalactic social justice conference with a statement from each side. “Mr. President, how about articulating the official earth position?” Three former presidents each defer to the others, until Mr. Churchill’s voice rumbles to life.

Churchill: “There is a hush over all Europe, nay, over all the world. Alas! it is the hush of suspense, and in many lands it is the hush of fear. Listen! No, listen carefully, I think I hear something yes, there it was quite clear. Don’t you hear it? It is the tramp of armies crunching the gravel of the paradegrounds, splashing through rain-soaked fields, it is the tramp and slither of uninvited aliens, worse than the tramp of two million German soldiers and more than a million Italians, going on maneuvers. Yes, only on maneuvers! They said, many years ago, ‘ we only want to hide the light of Zartha, nothing more’, just as the camel told Abdul he just wanted to warm his nose. Now look at what we have. Loathsome bugs bigger than Shaq, drinking from toilets while insisting on using human facilities. Shouldn’t human females have the right to use a toilet without being chomped on by a rogue Orthopterous Exomorph? What’s next, aliens laying eggs in unsuspecting human bodies, then protesting being separated from their babies?”

Ms. Xath, since you have taken such pains with your makeup today, can I assume that the alien contingent has chosen you for their spokescreature? Serleena: “You earthlings have some colorful sayings, not the least of which is ‘assume makes an ass out of u and me.’ I will indeed speak for the undocumented visitors, but not because of my makeup, rather because I can change myself into anything, including the freely salivating gigantic carnivorous lizard/insect that threatened Ripley in Alien, Alien 2, Alien 3….Alien 50+.” While continuing to stare balefully at Edgar, who briefly challenged for leadership until Xath chomped off a leg (which he replaced by ripping off a leg of a passing human and fastening it to his hip with industrial fasteners), she hissed, “we’re here, we’re queer, you will accommodate us, or your end is near.”

Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm, and Serleena is not lacking in enthusiasm. As for her, it’s, xe’s or whatever pronouns such a creature deigns to adopt, that lingerie model look reminds me of Christine Keeler, and we know how she ended up. She was so famous that at one point she said ‘the only two people in the world who wouldn’t take my phone calls were the Pope and Marlon Brando. After that it was all downhill. I have survived and possibly I should not hope for more than that.’ We’re all for social justice, but what would that look like here?”

Suddenly, Lauranna stood. The gasps were audible. How dare she! Serleena was in charge, Edgar was ready to mow down her opposition, but Lauranna challenged them all with, “great question, what does social justice look like? It looks like the Light of Zartha, the very reason we from other worlds came here and want to stay here!” The other extraterrestrial delegates sat mute, realizing that each species had the same problem—none cared for justice, each wanted to be treated more equally than the others. They knew no way to resolve their differences except by force. Why not let Lauranna speak? “I came here centuries ago, in your time measurement, to hide the Light of Zartha, a precious jewel which bathes all in a sense of universal justice. What is justice? You earthlings once knew what universal justice was. You called it, in your vernacular, ‘having your day in court’: The opportunity for each party to tell your side of the story, to be heard, and to have a judgment rendered. Court used to be the disputing parties giving their side, without all the complicated rules, procedures, appeals, publicity and confusion. Your peers—humans you lived among day after day would hear both sides—bathed in the emanations of the Light, would listen, discuss, then render a generally fair verdict.

“The winner of the judgment would be compensated by the loser, the loser would pay restitution. What a beautiful idea, that the human who had done the wrong was given a chance to make their victim whole, the wronged human given a chance to forgive. With the restitution and the forgiveness, the Light would shine on your community, the loser would be restored to fellowship, justice was done. No one used the term social justice, no one believed that wrongs could never be forgiven nor demand that those innocent of the wrongs still owed something to those who were wronged and long dead. But you humans covered up the Light, forgot it was there. Now look at what you have. Instead of justice, grievance. Instead of restitution, greed. Instead of forgiveness, venom. Serleena does not speak for all of us. We beg you, uncover the Light once again, let its emanations bathe us in love and justice. Only then will all of us—earthlings and extraterrestrials—know what is right and what is wrong. We will be free to choose right.

The conference ends with tumultuous cheers, the clapping of hands and waving of tentacles!

The China Syndrome and satire whack-a-mole.

Disclaimer: This post is a pastiche of reporting and opinions from multiple websites, including ESPN, TheAthletic, National Review, TheResurgent and even Babylon Bee. I have written a little but mostly it is other writers, too many to give credit to each one.

Believe me, the China situation bothers me. . . . But at the end of the day, I have a responsibility to my owners to make money,” then–NBA commissioner David Stern said in a 2006 interview. He may not have known then where his allegiance to the bottom line would lead the league and the game he helped to grow. To hear him tell it then, Stern was intent on turning the NBA into an exporter of American values. Under his leadership, the league began its “Basketball Without Borders” program, which initially sent NBA players to run basketball camps in geo-politically tense parts of the world. “NBACares” television spots dominated game breaks. “We’re going to keep right on showing them,” Stern told Sports Illustrated when asked about public annoyance with the frequency of the ads. “Because social responsibility is extremely important to us.” Back in 2006, even the NBA commissioner defined “social responsibility” as exporting our values of individual freedom and opportunity.

Of all the possible new markets, China has always been the crown jewel: a basketball-crazed country deprived of a quality domestic product. China’s basketball roots go deep—Mao Zedong was a big supporter, and the People’s Liberation Army has long seen the game as a popular pastime. Stern saw the potential and opened the relationship in 1987 by offering NBA broadcasts to China Central Television for free. That was then, this is now.

From broadcast rights for free to billions at stake, from exporting OUR values to groveling before totalitarian “values”. Compare the NBA’s utterly craven responses to China’s threats over the Morey tweet with their boldness in pulling an All Star game from Charlotte, N.C., over the state considering a ban on letting transgender people use bathrooms for the oppose sex. NBA players were similarly dragooned into that controversy. “I recognize this was a tough decision for the NBA, but I respect the choice. Discrimination of any kind cannot be allowed,” said Stephen Curry (what the heck does that mean, Mr. Curry?). Carmelo Anthony said, “Believe it or not, we’re always put in tough situations. Some things you can talk about, some things you can’t talk about. I think the NBA has to decide where that line is and when to cross it.

NEW YORK, NY—In an effort to salvage its relationship with China, the NBA is now requiring all players to stand for the Chinese national anthem at the beginning of every game. The official song of the People’s Republic of China, “March of the Volunteers,” will be played at the start of all professional basketball games, whether at home or abroad. All players, fans, coaches, and employees will be required to stand and solemnly sing lyrics including the following:

The NBA’s hypocrisy is just the same as that of Apple’s Tim Cook, who also threatens boycotts and blockades of states that allow religious freedom, while saying nothing about religious freedom in China. If you own an Apple product, you should expect it to work without censorship if you bought it in Hong Kong, but if you’re friends with China, like Apple, it won’t. The Quartz News app, for instance, won’t work because Apple removed it at the request of the Chinese government, because it’s a bit too on-the-nose about the Hong Kong protests. In America, you can buy a Volkswagen and criticize Angela Merkel. You can turn around and sell financial products back to German buyers who hate president Donald Trump. The same goes for Japanese and Korean brands. But free trade with China has certain conditions attached. Chinese companies act in lockstep because the government controls them. The government controls every aspect of its people’s lives, from what they eat, to what they believe. Economics 101: Under pure Communism, all business enterprises are owned by the State. Under pure Fascism, the business enterprises are “private”, owned by individuals and shareholders, but the State controls them. Which is China’s system?

And the conditions have an insidious effect. There are layers of self-censorship and self-abasement that extend into America. The NBA doesn’t just abase itself in order to keep its access to China’s lucrative markets. The reporters who cover the NBA are afraid to criticize the league and its president. ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, who followed the controversy over the 2017 all-star game in Charlotte, has been studiously silent on this controversy. ESPN, his Disney-owned parent company, which editorialized extensively in favor of the NBA’s anti–North Carolina protest, is running only the most pro forma news coverage of the NBA controversy. Someone leaked an internal memo from ESPN management insisting its staff, long willing to talk about American politics, refrain from talking about Hong Kong and Chinese politics. Disney, which now owns most of Hollywood, is reliant on Chinese viewers for its billion dollar box offices. ESPN’s actions come months after Paramount changed Tom Cruise’s famous jacket from Top Gun for the sequel. The patches for Taiwan and Japan disappeared. Tencent, the Chinese film company that also has ties to the NBA, helped produce the new movie.

United and American Airlines wiped Taiwan off their Chinese website maps because China demanded it. Marriott fired an Omaha, NE based employee for liking a pro-Tibet tweet after China excoriated the company. Apple, Inc. has likewise bent over backwards for China. Try to find the Taiwan flag in the emoji keyboard while in Hong Kong and you will come up empty. Apple also adhered to Chinese demands that iCloud data of people in China be stored on servers in China. The Chinese undoubtedly want this to be able to monitor its police state.

Facebook has run counter to most American corporations. Though the company could undoubtedly make massive amounts of money off one billion tech savvy Chinese citizens, the company refuses to do business in China. It has allowed platform access in Hong Kong, but just the other day blocked Hong Kong’s police force from using WhatsApp. The police were purportedly using the service to track protesters. It is rare to see an American company put freedom ahead of Chinese money.

If Chinese authoritarianism is able to spread into American life through corporate power, because corporations are set up to serve shareholders and have trouble thinking ethically beyond that, some are saying perhaps it is the duty of the state to interrupt the exchange mechanism through which this corruption proceeds. I don’t agree. Such a “solution“–giving the State more power–is too much like Chinese totalitarian thinking.

Faced with similar pressure, Comedy Central and the writers of South Park performed much more admirably. Last week, the show aired an episode, “Band in China,” which mocked the Chinese government for its constant attempts to censor criticism and the American entertainment industry for its willingness to assist in those censorship efforts as long as the profits continue to roll in. China, almost as if to prove the show’s point, responded to the episode by “deleting virtually every clip, episode and online discussion of the show from Chinese streaming services, social media and even fan pages.” In turn, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker reacted with a fake apology mocking the NBA for “loving money more than freedom and democracy” and the Chinese government for its attempted censorship.

Surprise: 1 picture and 1 paragraph are SATIRE, from the BabylonBee. Can you figure out which paragraph is satire? If you can’t, does it say more about you or about how absurd this situation has become? I think the latter. (the paragraph is the one following the picture of the Chinese flag in the background of the NBA all-star game). I do have a unique solution: Like South Park, flood China with so many videos, TV shows and other media satirizing totalitarianism (not just theirs) that they will be overwhelmed–satire whack-a-mole!