On September 19th, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted this image…
The text of the meme reads, “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful? Trump Jr’s comment is, “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first. #trump2016
“If I gave you a bowl of skittles and three of them were poison would you still eat them?”
“Are the other skittles human lives?”
“Like. Is there a good chance. A really good chance. I would be saving someone from a war zone and probably their life if I ate a skittle?”
“Well sure. But the point-”
“I would eat the skittles.”
“Ok-well the point is-”
“I would GORGE myself on skittles. I would eat every single fucking skittle I could find. I would STUFF myself with skittles. And when I found the poison skittle and died I would make sure to leave behind a legacy of children and of friends who also ate skittle after skittle until there were no skittles to be eaten. And each person who found the poison skittle we would weep for. We would weep for their loss, for their sacrifice, and for the fact that they did not let themselves succumb to fear but made the world a better place by eating skittles.
Because your REAL question…the one you hid behind a shitty little inaccurate, insensitive, dehumanizing racist little candy metaphor is, IS MY LIFE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS OF MEN, WOMEN, AND TERRIFIED CHILDREN…
… and what kind of monster would think the answer to that question… is yes?”
The post has since been shared well over 40,000 times and has nearly 2,600 comments. I reached out to Eli to get his thoughts…
Callie: So, tell me how it feels to know that Wil Wheaton shared your post!
Eli: Exciting. I’m glad that it resonated with people. I’m glad that it was a message he and anybody else who read it felt was worth sharing. Oddly, and I’ll it admit this is probably because of the size of my show, there was a part of it that felt somewhat similar to my day to day life, just slightly magnified. 100 friend requests instead of 10 and a slightly larger but much more humorous heaping of trolls.
Callie: So tell me about the trolls. I shudder to ask, but how bad have they gotten?
Eli: Actually with this particular post they weren’t as bad as they usually are when I talk about social justice. I mean a glance at the comments shows some truly monstrous stuff, but to me it’s just funny. I’ve gotten private messages calling me a retard, and there’s about a thousand comments about how Islam is coming for us, but again it’s not nearly as bad as what I’ve gotten in the past. The two bits of trolling I find the funniest are the folks who ask me “WHAT HAVE YOU EVER DONE FOR OTHERS??” when I’m RIGHT in the middle of a charity drive. And the second is people who just assume I’m an apologist and go off on a huge crazy rant about the Quran. It’s like, dude, I do a tri-weekly breakdown of that crazy. Don’t tell me I don’t understand how wacky Islam is because I don’t happen to hate it for racist reasons like you do.
Callie: I think it’s a pretty good example of how satire can be just as effective at starting a conversation as a thorough and rational analysis. Maybe this isn’t even satire so much. But I guess it’s more the idea of putting something on display as just plain ridiculous instead of just accepting the argument at face value and engaging with it as if it was a valid point of view in the first place. Any thoughts on that?
Eli: Yeah. I mean obviously it’s a form of communication I’m a fan of. I think there’s an impulse (and it’s a good one) to make one’s Facebook, especially if it’s a personal one, a middle of the road place where people can meet hard ideas head on. And I think there are people in our community who do that really well. Hemant, Seth Andrews, The Atheist Experience, and of course your shows are hands across the aisle, but I think equally with our shows we try to show what the peanut gallery is thinking, you know? We’re here on the other side. We’ve been through the fire, or as Noah says, made it over the maze and here’s what we say about you, here’s what we think about you when we think you aren’t listening. And I think that while reaching across the aisle is important, looking in the mirror of satire can be useful for change as well. Plus its for the people who are already there. One of the biggest pieces of feedback I got was “you say what I’m thinking” or something along those lines. And knowing that I’ve put something out there that connects with people is a wonderful feeling.
Callie: It seems like sometimes the phenomenon of something going viral is totally random, but I have a hard time believing that. Do you have any thoughts on why this post in particular has gotten such a reaction?
Eli: I mean I already have some listeners who share the things I post that are meaningful to them. I’ve seen things get a thousand shares before. I think this particular post just caught on, not only with the folks who regularly care about what I have to say, but their friends and family as well.
Callie: Awesome, thanks so much for talking with me Eli.