C.J.: 10 electoral votes, five racist tweets

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 12, 2012 - 9:18 PM

The re-election of President Obama prompted the usage of certain racist terms on Twitter, according to the research by the website FloatingSheep.org.

Five of those tweets came from right here in Minnesota, from five separate people.

On the day after the election, FloatingSheep.org searched for tweets containing the words "monkey" or the N-word and "Obama" or "reelected" or "won," wrote Barry Petchesky on Gawker.com. He was depressed by the result of the research.

"Some Americans are racist," wrote Petchesky in a post that can be read at startribune.com/a1882. "We know this, though there's nothing quite like a black guy winning a national election to bring them out of the woodwork. The sheer volume of racist Tweets is disheartening, but can we learn anything from them? Because this stuff is now nationally broadcast rather than confined to poorly Xeroxed newsletters, there's data waiting to be mined. Floating Sheep, a group of technologically minded geographers, has attempted to determine just where the racism is coming from.

"Sorry, Southern states. Once again, objective data throws shade your way," wrote Petchesky.

He also specifically chided two non-Southern states: "Seriously, Minnesota, Oregon, I'm very disappointed in you."

Reached Monday, Petchesky told me via e-mail: "The stereotype of MN and Oregon is that they are both quite liberal open-minded places."

Minnesota hasn't always been as liberal as its image. We were a hotbed of anti-Semitism, dating to the 1930s. Until the late 1970s Anoka County had a N-word Lake (spelled with all six letters) that finally underwent a name change, to Burns Lake, over the objections of some residents. While many Minnesotans remain fairly open-minded, from where I sit, there seems to have been an influx of intolerants who came to here to escape other states with larger, more colorful populations. As a result, it seems Minnesota is growing less liberal the more people of color move here.

But to our credit, on Election Day a majority of Minnesotans were not so revolted or threatened by the idea of an elegant, well-educated, cerebral black man being our leader as to vote against him for re-election to the presidency.

In other great news, FloatingSheep. org's Matt Zook, an associate professor of geography at the University of Kentucky, said the group's study confirmed only five racist tweets from Minnesota.

That's because the study only included "395 geo-coded tweets," said Zook. "Geo-coded tweets probably [are] between 1 and 5 percent of all tweets. So there were more tweets with those terms but we couldn't put them on a map."

Translation: There were probably more than five racist tweets from Minnesota. Zook just couldn't connect them to our state.

"The study was focused on the geographic distribution of the hate tweets rather than the overall size of the phenomenon," said Zook. "Obviously, one hate tweet is too large."

She'll be back

Maria Shriver looked "stunning" at the recent Best Buddies International event in Washington, D.C., I'm told by Melinda Jacobs, the entertainment, radio and TV personality at melindajacobs.com.

Jacobs took a team to the competition consisting of her daughter Maddy, Tony Sanneh, Edward Villaume and Christina Zepeda.

Did Jacobs ask Shriver if her estranged husband Arnold Schwarzenegger ever nibbled her ear?

"No, I did not ask her that!" said Jacobs. "Are you kidding?"

Kind of, although since shooting video of Schwarzenegger nibbling the ear of a woman when he was at Mall of America signing his latest book, I have wondered how much of an ear-nibbler Arnold is.

"I was too busy giving her a hard time about her brother, Anthony Shriver, almost getting us kicked out of the restaurant at the Fairmont."

Do tell. "Oh, nothing but they were giving me a hard time," Jacobs said.

About what were they giving her a hard time? "Let's just say they were giving me a hard time," she said. OK.

Anthony, I believe you've got my e-mail address. Maybe he'll fill in details if he comes to the metro to assess Jacob's organizational skills for hosting a Best Buddies talent show here -- her dream project for the charity.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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