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[flagged] An internet mob falsely painted a Chipotle employee as racist (cnn.com)
103 points by curtis 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments

Ha - they offered to hire her back and she declined. Gotta agree there. Who wants to work for a company that outsources its hire/fire decisions to a vote among random Twitter users?

The question now though is, are there any employers left that don't do that?

I think it'd be naive to suppose that there's some company out there that's gonna stand up to the mob. A company is first and foremost attempting to make money. The mob isn't ever going to review the history and actions of the company either in the moment or even after the fact, groupthink isn't complicated enough for that, so company's will likely default to what Chipotle did.

Corporations can signal their values through acting morally and with regard to the health and safety of society. Check out Patagonia. They donated $10 million saved in tax cuts to environmental groups.

Tyler Cowen covers other instances in his new book: Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero.

So the public exposure of ordinary folks (a.k.a. "social media") has led to an intrusion of PR into HR. Anybody in America tempted to look with scorn on China's new social credit system would do well to notice the similarities. And the differences aren't that surprising either - China's is controlled by the government; ours is controlled by corporations.

I remember when the news about Jussie Smollet broke, the usual SJWs on Twitter erupted in a tweet storm like they always do. (I follow a lot of great programmers who have a wide array of opinions and ideologies outside of their technical expertise) As what many have come to accept as the truth came out, no one ever retracted.

These are smart people, some of which have very high feedback here on HN. It seems to me however that their highly tuned critical thinking skills take a backseat to a desire to be mad about the state of the world, with little regard or accountability to what their words can mean.

These are smart people, some of which have very high feedback here on HN.

All HN points mean is that more people on HN agree with you on a topic than disagree with you, or that you brought something the people here found interesting. They are in no way a proxy for smartness. There are some very intelligent and insightful posts by people with 10 HN points, and some completely dumb posts by people with around 16700 points.

Well played sir, I was worried 16700 was a snarky put down to the person you were replying to, but actually it is a nicely self deprecating reference to yourself.

> more people on HN agree with you on a topic than disagree with you

They don't even mean that. There's a (500?) karma threshold for being able to downvote, whereas anyone can upvote.

Downvoting is available for accounts with at least 501 karma.


I’ve heard that termed as “recreationally outraged” and find it fits quite well in many cases (where those doing it don’t take the time to investigate before getting riled up).

Experience shows that experts tend to lack humility. That's also why experts who are humble are more admired than usual, and why experts who fall from humility tend to fall out of popularity at the same time.

Lynch mobs are deplorable, and the internet hive often becomes a bullying group, however it's a weird example that you decided to set your stake into.

What "critical thinking" was missing? Successful actor claims he was attacked by people wearing MAGA hats. It is unlikely (but not impossible, as shown), that someone with so much to lose would contrive such a scenario, and it's entirely likely that racists/assholes would be wearing MAGA hats (there have been many MAGA hat incidents). There is nothing that triggers any critical fault.

Let's be real -- whether deserved or not, for someone to unironically wear a MAGA hat today is a pretty unique niche.

The other person is being pushed to transparent for pointing out how unfortunate the term "SJW" is, especially on a reasonably enlightened forum like this. I support their statement. That's a statement that people use when speaking to partisans/the converted. It has no place in normal conversation.

It is the weekend though, when the “SIJs” are out in force on HN. My error in not sticking to weekdays.

A critical thinker would wait until all context was clear, rather than join the mob and rapid-fire smash the retweet link. I would expect them to be more enlightened than the mob.

I assume in their job when they encounter bad code, they don’t git blame and run to that coworker’s cubicle and start hurling insults at them. They likely calmly identify the context before taking action.

What context? That he was lying about the whole thing?

It is interesting how frequently the Smollett case comes up, and coincidentally Trump just tweeted about it, from Japan, yet again (claiming that it's a "hate crime" against MAGA wearers, which is uproariously stupid and offensive). All of those mass killer MAGA citers, and countless and growing numbers of hate crimes against minorities, tossed aside because look, this somehow proves all of that untrue. You see the same thing by the incel crowd when a false rape account is found, then it's heralded from the mountaintops as if it invalidates the reality of rapes.

You're missing my point (and maybe Smollett's a bad example as we didn't learn the truth for a few weeks; I see the same mob mentality in similar stories). I'm saying they shouldn't jump on the mob mentality without identifying the context of the situation (for example, the case in the article, where we learn the patrons had a history of stealing meals). When someone is joining the mob without stopping to investigate, and it's someone I know to brilliant otherwise, it's very disheartening. Moreover, the emotional knee-jerking that happens has very real consequences, and when it turns out the indignation was misplaced, I see too much dismissing of the harm done as merely unfortunate collateral damage.

In other words, learn to think for yourself, and chill out on Twitter, at least until you have more information than a 30-seconds news bite. The initial response is usually not much different than what I saw in the Smollett case, so that should be an example that causes everyone to wait before grabbing the pitchforks in the future.

Don't forget about the boy and his clock down here in Texas a few years ago.

No one ever? Hmm.

It’s obvious from the context that GP means as far as they have seen among the people they follow on Twitter.

Among those I follow, no.

Please don't normalise the use of the term "SJW". It's use as a pejorative has far-right origins that attempts to shame social progressivism. Those accused of being one should be proud of promoting feminism, civil rights, and multiculturalism. It is not a bad thing.

I disagree. It's important that we have different terms for Social Justice Warriors and Social Justice Activists.

The first is one who takes social justice to a ludicrous extreme and protests out of convenience (e.g. micro-aggressions on Twitter). The latter is one who is leading an actual fight for social justice (e.g. a lawyer in the UN fighting for women's rights in the Muslim world).

It would be an insult to describe both of these people with the same term, regardless of your political opinions on the term "SJW". In fact, I find that SJWs are usually quite opposed to social justice activists.

Is everyone who doesn’t agree with “social progressivism” considered far right now? What you’re doing is language policing, which is one of the reasons many find SJWs offensive.

Note the difference between what the first poster said and how the second has taken it.

The first poster talked about the origin of the word on the far right. The reply then exaggerated that claim into the strawman that everyone who disagrees is far right.

Independent of your political views, you should find this kind of hyperbolic and fallacious argument distasteful in public discourse.

Also note that “guilt by association” is a common and distasteful rhetorical tactic, often taking the form of an implication that unwanted speech is tainted because of a spurious association with the far right or far left.

Further note that whether the term “SJW” originated with the far right — it didn’t — is irrelevant to its usefulness or accuracy (genetic fallacy).

The hyperbolic and fallacious arguments are to be found in the first poster’s comments.

I can't speak to the origin of the word, because I simply don't know. If you're right about that and the parent was wrong, why not put the facts out there?

To put it another way, regardless of whether you agree with their logic, they've provided you with it: 'SJW' came from the right wing and describes progressives, therefore it is derogatory. If they have the facts wrong, demonstrate that and perhaps they will change their point of view.

I’m not sure whether you consider this evidence, but here’s the second paragraph from the Wikipedia article on “SJW”. You can follow the reference links from there.

The phrase originated in the late 20th century as a neutral or positive term for people engaged in social justice activism.[1] In 2011, when the term first appeared on Twitter, it changed from a primarily positive term to an overwhelmingly negative one

As for your overall point, for an argument to be sound, its propositions have to be true and the logic has to valid. Even if the poster was right about the origin of the term, they failed to support their conclusion; namely that we should stop using the term SJW. Their conclusion wouldn’t follow from their premises even if they were true because the argument is fallacious (genetic fallacy, as I said).

As it happens, they were both factually and logically incorrect, and they papered over the flaws in their reasoning with manipulative rhetoric. To my mind, that’s exactly the sort of discourse that should be called out as harmful to reasonable conversation.

It is generally adversarial to call people labels they wouldn't use themselves. Sometimes that adversarial tone is warranted. On Hacker News, in a top level comment that's starting off the conversation is probably not one of those places.

Adversarial in the same way as referring to anyone who isn’t a progressive as far right?

Yes. Exactly like that.

> It is generally adversarial to call people labels they wouldn't use themselves.

SJW originated as a self-appellation.

most far righters consider themselves just right wing or centric or 'common sense' as I recently heard. everbody uses labels that others don't like.

SJW is a well recognised term for a political movement and their principally unsound methods.

In this case, the actual story is about SJWs and their actions, and how their unsoundness has caused injustice.

YMMV, but personally I couldn’t imagine a better term to use in the top level comment.

But actually those that use "SJW" in this way are not in the main stream - so yes they are considered far right.

I’ve met plenty of traditional leftists who don’t buy into identity politics and consider SJW an apt description.

And I've encountered some leftists who, while they don't use the term "SJW" amongst themselves, are comfortable describing themselves that way to others since (as far as I could make out) everyone has a pretty good idea what it refers to and they consider that stereotype accurate enough to be useful.

Obviously none of that will apply to everyone, but hey. Some people juggle geese.

Ah you mean "hobbyists"

I used to think so too, and at one point I think it was used too broadly to describe anyone with any left-of-center progressive ideas. But, more and more people are describing themselves with this term, with a tendency toward being those who the OP describes. Far-left, otherwise potentially intelligent people, who think they fight for a virtuous ideology by publicly shaming people on the internet and really not doing anything positive for anyone. I'd hope for more from these people, but if all else fails, they should be ridiculed like the racists they are and the racists they claim to fight against.

There clearly seems to be a mob of people on Twitter that exhibit the behaviour explained by the GP. In doing so, they are not promoting feminism, multiculturalism and least of all human rights.

I thought the accepted name for this group of people was SJW. Is this not the case? What do you call this?

There's nothing wrong with promoting feminism, civil rights, and multiculturalism.

On the contrary, there's something very unethical about dealing actual damage to other people's lives based on unverified facts acting purely out of emotion. I believe this is something our society has to outgrow unless we all want the social tensions and aggression to keep on increasing.

>It is not a bad thing.

Under your point of view. Not everybody must share your views on politics.

If you don't think the "SJW"s have their dark side you have a rose tinted view of them. The socially progressive crowd you're talking about can veer into bigotry thats "woke" because it's directed against the correct groups, and can be deeply patronizing towards the groups they're nominally trying to protect. Being an SJW is a combination of having socially progressive views, being bigoted yet in denial of this, and being intensely judgemental.

I've been nominally protected by these social progressives all my life... yet honestly the most brutal and abusive things ever said to me escaped the lips of a certain subset of woke progressives who are so convinced of peoples vulnerability they can't help but see them as weak. Theres people who develop self-serving savior complexes that spout out progressive buzzwords while not helping anybody but theirselves.

In my personal experience I've had alt-right people who browse /pol/ offer me a drink and apolgize for saying bigoted shit. Have yet to experience an SJW do the same for patronizing me. Can't normalize criticism of progressives though because as the above poster explains, I'm only slowing down social progress that benefits me.

On the topic of internet mobs, the term "lapidation" was recently suggested as a word to describe "what happens when a group of people, outraged by some real or imagined transgression, responds in a way that is disproportionate to the occasion, thus ruining the transgressor’s day, month, year or life."


Which is the normal word for stoning in French and I assume other Latin-based languages. Repurposing it for something else in English could get confusing.

The suggested additional definition makes sense; it would be hard to imagine a situation where someone would get confused and imagine a Chipotle employee was _literally_ stoned to death.

Journos did the same to Nick Sandmann and IIRC CNN's people were in on it. It's not just random tweeters, the priests of facts and truth are no better.

Journalists helped do the same to her too, apparently. It gets one sentence's mention in the article: "The incident was covered by media organizations such as ABC News and Fox News."

Here's the ABC News coverage [1]. Here's the Fox News coverage [2]. Both seem reasonable. They report the accusation against her, that it went viral, that she was fired, and that after that Tweets were found from showing that one of the people who was refused service did apparently have a history of stealing from restaurants.

[1] https://abc7.com/society/chipotle-manager-fired-after-refusi...

[2] https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/chipotle-fires-manager-wh...

Seems like Chipotle should have to pony up for wrongful termination.

I'm impressed she didn't take their offer. She's right: they seemed to have completely discounted her story and the story of her co-workers. That's not a company I'd be loyal to either.

Caving in to Twitter crusaders increases shareholder value, but due process and methodic investigation costs money and public goodwill. Deus vult! Mammon demands his pound of flesh, and we oblige because Mammon is God.

With at-will employment, Chipotle can fire her for no reason at all.

> This means that employers may terminate employees for any reason or for no reason at all, as long as it is not illegal. [1]

Wrongful termination would only apply if Chipotle fired her for being a member of a protected class, or as retaliation for asserted their legal rights.

Neither of which applies here.

[1] https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/wrongful-term...

It was Minnesota, not Maryland. Employers in Minnesota do have to give a truthful reason for termination, if requested in writing [1]. I don't know if she requested that, but I would be interested how that would play out if the reason given is fundamentally wrong. In other words, was she fired "for being racist"? Or was she fired because "people on the Internet were mad at her"?

[1] https://www.dli.mn.gov/business/employment-practices/employm...

What protected class did they fire her for being in?

Seems like a pretty easy settlement. Hope she gets a lot for this.

My entire working life (>20 years) I've always been forced to sign an agreement that I was an employee "at will" and either myself or the company could terminate employment at any time for any reason or no reason at all.

Absent membership in a union, I assume she signed a similar agreement, because it's totally standard in the US.

Why would it be an easy settlement? What law did they break?

There is no law protecting her.

Another "feels" article about a problem that can only improve with more rationality. Now for the other direction. It's good to get the word out there, but if discussion culture stays like this it's just a question of time before the same happens to the next victim

Most videos like this one are obviously attempts at demonizing innocent people and most people who see these can easily spot such a video. It all really depends on what the viewer chooses to believe. Sadly, there are millions of people who will either accept the bogus claim of racism without thinking or even watching the video or they'll simply pretend that it's the real deal and slam the accused just to be mean.

> Most videos like this one are obviously attempts at demonizing innocent people

"Most"? Be honest.

What do you think of the other incidents mentioned in this very article, all of which were real? Not to mention the countless other times this has happened.

This situation is pretty clearly an anomaly - it's easy to see.

Love the stock photo, a punk photoshop of a classic TiBook keyboard.

Sorry for the detour (wow, hold off the downvotes for a second and appreciate this design, it’s such a pinnacle of the ‘90s and the photo edit captures it so well. Odd that it ended up on this article... a random picture of birds ruffling feathers would have been more apt.)

Anyway, article is an unreadable breakbeat... could be a twitter thread


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