There’s a lot of tension and frustration in the San Francisco Bay Area this week as hundreds of thousands of commuters are finding their transportation disrupted by striking workers on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, known to locals as BART. That means that a lot of people are either telecommuting or commuting very, very slowly — sitting in a car or bus on a highway choked with traffic.
And while everyone in the Bay Area can identify with the frustrations caused by the strike, some people handle those frustrations with grace and patience, while some just allow it to show what jerks they are at heart. Twitter Head of Global Operations Ben Grossman (@grossman) flaunted his worse nature via his company’s own product on Friday when he tweeted:
“What’s brown and black and looks great on someone involved in causing the #bartstrike?
The tweet is long-since deleted, but it hasn’t stopped circulating: search his Twitter handle, and even now you find people passing the words back and forth. Grossman was careful to say “someone involved” in the BART strike, so he wasn’t aiming his words only at workers, but it didn’t matter. One of the chief sources of outrage is that the BART unions have many African-American members, and for many, Grossman’s suggestion evoked Bull Connor unleashing dogs on marchers during the 1960s civil rights movement. Here are some examples:
What’s white & rich & suggests setting dogs on workers? Twitter’s Head of Global Ops (@grossman) #racism #UniteBlue
— Theophilus Punoval (@Samosata) October 20, 2013
.@grossman is pretty gross, man. Setting Dobermans on strikers? What is this, 1886?
— Samuel Sukaton (@spsook) October 20, 2013
Also, @grossman, pls learn how attack dogs were used against ppl of color who were advocating for their rights. http://t.co/WY7mHrK60T #BART
— Melissa Green (@ProfCritic) October 20, 2013
For dog lovers, Grossman’s tweet managed to be doubly insulting: in Grossman’s eyes, Dobermans have about the same worth and purpose as a 9mm handgun. It’s a reputation that Dobermans have had to live down for years: The first time I ever heard of Dobermans as a kid, the breed was cast as bank robbers in a third-rate movie called The Doberman Gang that (along with its two sequels) seemed to be constantly running on our local cable channels. For years, they’ve been the breed of choice for film directors who want their Nazi mastermind, psychotic maniac, or other villain to have a pet. (The exception, as all Bond fans will know, is Ernst Stavros Blofeld, who keeps a stock of white cats nearby to stroke while springing his deathtraps.)
While it’s true that you can’t please everyone, it does seem that if you work at it, you can make everyone very angry, using only 140 characters or less.