Princeton University teaming up with the ADL to create database tracking non-criminal criticism of politicians

 The Anti-Defamation League has partnered with researchers from Princeton University on a new subjective "data collection initiative" to track so-called threats and criticism of elected officials. Although presently aimed at tracking "incidents" involving local politicians, the Bridging Divides Initiative is intended to "expand beyond local officials to state and federal."

There are already indicators that the BDI may inherit the ADL's partisan bias, as criticisms of politicians who promote critical race theory, draconian health measures, and "LGBTQ+" propaganda have already been tracked and recorded as threats and harassment. Threats made by pro-abortion activists didn't even register.

What is the BDI?

Princeton University announced that the BDI had been launched to "systematically evaluate threats and harassment of local officials across the United States using public event-based data."

"Data-driven analysis is critical in helping communities respond to emerging challenges," said Shannon Hiller, the executive director of the BDI. "By observing incidents and events data over time, researchers and policy makers can take action to protect civic space." 

The ADL Center on Extremism, which touts itself as the "foremost authority on extremism, terrorism and hate," partnered with with Princeton researchers on the BDI to do what they perceived law enforcement to be incapable of doing or unwilling to do. 

Oren Segal, the vice president of the ADL Center on Extremism, stated, "Threats and harassment against local officials present a significant challenge to American democracy."

"We urge policymakers and communities to use these data to better understand this dangerous phenomenon and create better policy to more effectively count and counter future incidents," added Segal.

Segal did not elaborate on what countering future incidents might look like; whether that would involve censorship, preemptive arrests, surveillance, or other preventive measures.

Not crimes per se

According to the BDI's premier report released on Oct. 20, the "threats and harassment" are not in and of themselves crimes, but "incidents beyond legal definitions of criminal conduct."

"While incidents of attacks, arsons, and the like are critical in understanding elements of political violence, they are outside of the scope of consideration here since they are already captured in criminal data," said the report.

The threats the BDI is interested in are defined as "instances in which one person communicates to another their intention to inflict pain, injury, damage or other hostile action at least in part due to that person's role as a public official."

Intent is not important in qualifying a so-called threat, but rather perception — what "a common person would find threatening or harassing." The BDI explicitly notes that a "threat can be present even if there is no intent on the part of the perpetrator to carry out the threat."

The BDI defined harassment as "instances of knowing and willful conduct directed at a specific person ... that a reasonable person would consider aggressively pressuring, intimidating, alarming, tormenting, or terrorizing ... without serving a legitimate purpose."

The BDI did not expand on what would constitute a "legitimate purpose."

According to the ACLU, referring to a transsexual by the individual's real gender is traumatizing. Does this understanding represent the common consensus that the BDI would rely upon in its data collection? In which a biological male politician who claims to be otherwise, when called a man by a detractor, can claim to have been threatened or harassed?

The BDI's definitions may also have implications for media stunts and so-called art in which politicians, local or federal, are ostensibly threatened. It is not clear, for instance, whether Kathy Griffin's showcase of a fake severed head intended to represent former President Donald Trump would qualify as harassment.

The methods by which the so-called threats and harassment were communicated, according to the BDI report, were electronic, demonstration, verbal, multiple, unknown, written, display of symbols, defacing, and other.

Non-criminal memes, protest signs, and social media posts can be added to the initiative's tally of incidents that are "undermining the work of public servants, and creating unprecedented stress on the cornerstones of democratic society."

Just as the ADL lists Libs of TikTok, the Twitter account that has exposed liberals who sexualized children, in its "Glossary of Extremism" and registers Christian organizations such as the Family Research Council as hate groups, this initiative would log information on so-called "perpetrators."

According to its report, the BDI will address "information on both perpetrators and targets of threats and harassment" by collecting data from "journalists, social media, crowd-sourcing, and other sources," and to collaborate with "civil society monitors, government, and civil society organizations" on its surveillance and logging of undesirable speech.

What has the BDI reported so far?

The BDI's preliminary findings detailed the types of threats and harassment encountered over the past two years; the geographies in which the incidents took place; and the kinds of persons targeted by such alleged abuse.

Thirty-five percent of threat targets were reportedly election officials or poll workers.

The incidents are reportedly driven in part by the fallout of political decisions such as homelessness and the cost of living.

Thirty-one percent of targets were school officials, and 12% were health officials.

The report indicated that "education-related incidents revolved heavily around COVID-19" (61%), followed by so-called "critical race theory" (7%) and LGBTQ+ related issues (7%).

Last year, parents who had spoken up about their kids' education were branded as "domestic terrorists" by the National School Boards Association.

The BDI might be duplicating some of the FBI's efforts by catalog such "terrorist[ic]" incidents as parents condemning school board officials for allegedly covering up rapes or for writing letters criticizing critical race theory.

Possible political blind spots

A great deal of attention has recently been given to the alleged attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, raising concerns about violent rhetoric and politically motivated threats. However, in past months and years, threats and violence against Republican politicians have been greatly downplayed.

The BDI, when expanded to document state and federal incidents, would not record the incident in May where a man was indicted for having gone to Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home with the intention to kill him, as it was a criminal incident.

Despite its research director's pro-abortion stance, it would, however, on the basis of its own definitions, have to document how a pro-abortion activist group published the home addresses of the six Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices that month.

It would also have to document Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters' brand of "dangerous rhetoric" that some believe set the stage for the failed assassination of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise (La.) in 2017.

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was swatted on numerous occasions this year, any one of which could have proved fatal. Bannon suggested that President Joe Biden's inflammatory speech had been partly responsible. It is unclear whether Biden's noncriminal categorization of mass swathes of the electorate as "extremists" may have piqued the attention of the BDI or whether similar high-level "harassment" might qualify for BDI reporting.

Earlier this year, Jimmy Kimmel intimated on his television show that Will Smith should slap Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.). By the BDI's definitions and indication that perception of harassment, not intention, matter, the joke would have landed the sometime comedian on the initiative's naughty list.

A more detailed breakdown of the 400 incidents involving local politicians documented by the BDI between January 1, 2020, and September 23, 2022, along with the sources relied upon may shed light on whether the initiative's database is as politically skewed as the ADL's own.

Princeton University teaming up with the ADL to create database tracking non-criminal criticism of politicians Princeton University teaming up with the ADL to create database tracking non-criminal criticism of politicians Reviewed by Your Destination on November 02, 2022 Rating: 5

No comments