Freedom of Speech Warriors Sure Hate Freedom of Speech
Domestic terrorism because there's a story hour in drag is domestic terrorism
Thanks for all your support, especially to our friends at Armory Square Ventures! Sree’s newsletter is produced with Zach Peterson (@zachprague), with a tech tip from Robert S. Anthony (@newyorkbob). Cartoon by Pat Bagley.
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A DRAG QUEEN READING DR. SEUSS TO A BUNCH OF KIDS IS THE GREATEST THREAT America has ever faced — just ask any of America’s premier right-wing militia groups.
A group made up of two separate militias got together in Ohio on December 4th to ensure that the Holi-Drag Christmas show would not happen. They outfitted themselves in tactical gear, AR-15s, and masks (the only time they’ll wear masks, ironically).
The show was cancelled. This was a show that raised $5,000 for local LGBTQ+ charities. The money was raised via people who freely donated to a cause they believed in, and then wanted to freely attend a show. It’s entertainment, and it’s no one’s business what show you or anyone else goes to. Ever.
It certainly isn’t the business of a bunch of wannabes who are so deathly afraid of something so silly. They know so little about the thing that they are protesting that they are dancing to YMCA on a street corner while intimidating performers and fans of a drag show.
The last month has certainly been an escalation of a hate epidemic that is only spreading. It took just a few dozen white supremacists to force drag show cancellations in Ohio, Florida and Texas last week. Two weeks ago, a gay club in Colorado became the scene of a massacre at the hands of a right-wing terrorist.
Intimidation works at the end of a gun, and it’s history’s greatest guano pile that all of the self-avowed Free Speech Warriors of America NEVER actually speak in the name of free speech. People free organizing, funding, attending, and/or performing in a drag show for kids are certainly exercising their free speech rights — or they would if there weren’t a cadre of armed-to-the-hilt sad men across the street proclaiming that the world will end if a drag queen named Babylonia reads The Lorax to a bunch of 7 year-olds.
There’s a tendency to dream-wish these fringe people away as just that, fringe. But, there are reasons that we’re seeing more overt threats of violence from right-wing militia groups; and there are reasons that they feel emboldened enough to cast their shadow over events in broad daylight. Sure, maybe it’s a bunch of brain-washed crazies out there causing a scene, but the numbers don’t matter — especially in open-carry states.
A dozen men with weapons of war, strutting around a sidewalk as underwhelming police officers muck it up with them and ask them ever-so-politely to be good boys today, doesn’t inspire confidence — and it certainly has a far more corrosive effect on the actual exercising of free speech in America than anything I can think of.
What’s worse — just how many members of law enforcement and the national security apparatus are members of right-wing militias. If there are this many people on the rolls, imagine how many sympathizers the groups have throughout officialdom.
In North Carolina, a county-wide power outage that left at least 40,000 households without power, was likely caused by deliberate sabotage that is also being tied to right-wing militias.
This is, again, an act of domestic terrorism. There’s no both-sides-ing this stuff — it’s real, it’s dangerous, and it’s happening. Acts like this are bound to lead to heavier police presences, more intrusive police practices, and can only result in less free speech for everyone.
A word from Armory Square Ventures
Armory Square Ventures is growing. See our holiday newsletter for developments. https://bit.ly/3H5gNhj
1. In the next few weeks we formally announce the closing of our third fund.
2. As part of our search for new companies, we will continue reporting on secondary cities. To read the story journalist Elizabeth MacBride completed in Pittsburgh, follow us on Twitter at @armorysv or follow Times of Entrepreneurship at @TimesOfE.
3. Also, submissions close soon for the Armory Square Prize for South Asian Literature in Translation. If you or someone you know is a literary translator and would like to apply, visit our website. For questions about the prize, email Jury Chair Jason Grunebaum at email@example.com.
4. See important portfolio company updates.
Until next time, Happy Holidays
— Team ASV
Digimentors Tech Tip
Need 5G Smartphone Speed? No Need to Empty the Wallet
By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Bob Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.
In a holiday shopping season full of slow traffic, long checkout lines and short tempers, it’s good to know that the cost of upgrading to a 5G smartphone doesn’t have to stagger your bank account.
In addition to supporting much higher data speeds, a boon to video streamers and game players, 5G networks can handle high-density demand—like at a packed sports stadium—much better than 4G technology.
The $270 TCL 30 5G Android smartphone doesn’t pretend to compete with expensive flagship Android units, but provides enough features for most users. The 6.7-inch, 1,080-by-2,400-pixel AMOLED screen is bright, but at 395 pixels per inch (ppi) it doesn’t match the 500ppi-resolution screens on expensive Android units like the $1,200 6.9-inch Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
TCL keeps the price down partly by using a MediaTek Dimensity 700 5G eight-core main processor, a less-expensive alternative to the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon chips used in many top-level Android smartphones. The slim, 6.5-ounce TCL 30 5G offers a 50-megapixel (MP) rear main camera, 2MP depth and macro cameras, a 13MP wide-angle front camera and supports video resolutions up to 1,080p.
It also has an edge-mounted fingerprint reader, a 5,000 mAh battery which supports 18-watt fast charging and two features left out of some expensive Android smartphones: an audio jack and a microSD card slot for expanding its 109GB of user storage by up to a terabyte.
It may come as a surprise to some that Samsung also offers affordable 5G phones with reasonable features but without all the bells and whistles of its Galaxy S series. The $450 Samsung Galaxy A53 5G has a 6.5-inch display, 128GB of storage, a microSD card slot and a fast-charging 5,000mAh battery.
Here again the unit’s price reflects a less-expensive processor, in this case a Samsung Exynos 1280. While the screen has the same pixel count as the TCL 30 5G, the Samsung Galaxy A53 5G’s slightly smaller screen results in a slightly sharper 405ppi resolution.
The unit comes with a rear camera array with a 64MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera and 5MP depth and macro cameras and a 32MP front camera. The unit supports video resolutions up to 4K.
While it’s much easier to find budget 5G smartphones than in 2019 when the first 5G phones debuted, don’t expect them to have the same dragon-slaying and movie-streaming muscle as their more expensive flagship 5G competition. They should, however, provide a nice bump up in speed from your old 4G and 3G smartphones.
If you’ve seen a spy movie over the last six decades, you’ve seen a beautiful woman acting as a fleeting love interest for a male super-spy-type, or maybe as a honey pot to lure in a male super-spy-type, or…well, that’s probably what you’ve seen. I always take any public-facing thing from an intelligence agency with a huge grain of salt, but this is an interesting piece about the gender breakdowns in UK intelligence and its clear desire to change its male-dominated culture.