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Who is Keyser Söze?

Keyser Söze is a fictional character in the 1995 film The Usual Suspects...Söze is an underworld kingpin whose ruthlessness and influence have acquired a legendary, and even mythical, status among law enforcement agents and criminals alike

For those who have watched The Usual Suspects, the impression of Söze is indelible.

Söze is the epitome of evil and deceit. He is heartless and calculating. There is an elaborate myth and mystery which surrounds Söze, and the viewer is never really certain that Söze actually exists until the film ends (in my opinion).

I thought of Söze today when I was going through a diary today here on the site.

In the diary and some of the comments, I seem to be presented as something like a Keyser Söze character, or the mythologized version of Söze one experiences when watching The Usual Suspects.

I know what you're thinking: Come on, RainbowGirl, you seem a bit over-dramatic here. And that would be an appropriate reaction, I think, unless you had actually seen the diary and the comments in question. Let me give you a sample of some of what was said to, and about, me in that diary:

McCarthy-like, she issues this charge

I know this isn't a term of art, but I'd describe (RainbowGirl's) diary as "creepy."

In RainbowGirl's nutty story

describing myself and my diary:

The craziness of this construction can't be over-emphasized.  It depends on so many racist myths that it's truly difficult to believe it could have been penned by a person of color who calls herself a lifelong progressive. Then again, I feel the same sense of irreality when I read the opinions that Clarence Thomas writes, and he's all too real.

in case you didn't get the first Clarence Thomas reference:

RainbowGirl can't be racist! She's has "ethnic minority status! To which I will say, "Clarence Thomas has 'ethnic minority status' too."  As do every single one of the black shills for white supremacy who churn out books for right wing propaganda mills like Regnery Press

why these people decide to promote their oppressor's interest over the interests of their own groups -- but we sure can call them on their behavior. So I am not afraid of saying that RainbowGirl's diary is racist

Finally, I'd like to address what I think we should do about the promoters of this absurd and damaging meme.  If DK were my site, I'd ban their butts

their Insane Troll Logic

[All of the above comments were made by the diarist herself]

Now, from reading the above comments, one might ascertain that I could be a Clarence Thomas, sell-out Insane racist Troll who ought to be banned. Even though I just joined and, many might say, do my best to not personally disparage President Obama or those who -- like the diarist -- seemingly seek to disparage me, my opinions and, apparently, my individuality (which, they might argue, promotes the narrative of The Oppressor over "my" group).

There is, I feel, a kind of systematic dehumanization of me that the diarist engages in whether intentionally or not. And it gets worse in the comments, as I will go over below. I am no longer a legitimate individual with possibly valid concerns. Instead, I become some kind of depersonalized caricature of potential evil and sell-outness who is so malicious that I ought be banned immediately. A kind of Keyser Söze-type figure who is so grand in my malevolence that I should be banished lest I infect any who come upon me.

Moreover, my original diary -- which served to induce the diarist's wrath -- was my own opinion. It was not stated as fact, but instead was written in a combination of questions and an assertion of my own opinion. I acknowledged that I might be very much wrong in that opinion both in the comments of my own diary and in the comments of the other Kossack's diary I am discussing here. Unfortunately, my efforts in that regard did not stop some users from falsely contorting what it was that I had expressed in my diary.

Now, it ought to be pointed out that although the diarist says that she engaged in serious (if undocumented) research as befits her (presumed) academician status, she managed to both link to a diary with a video which did not support one of her assertions (at least initially; I believe she later corrected that error) and then sought to blame the person(s) who pointed out this error.

Such a predicament, of course, would appear to call into question both the thoroughness and objectivity of her presumed research which she claimed to have done and the "analysis" of same which she conducted.

However, though I was personally attacked in the diary, I still tipped and rec'd it in the name of pursuing a more open and honest discussion of the topics both her and my diaries entailed.

Now I ask you, dear reader, if I were an Insane Racist Troll, would I be willing to recommend a diary which essentially infers that I might be a racist, Clarence Thomas-type sell-out? Or, on the other hand, would I probably be likely to hide rate such a diary?

But it gets worse. And more direct. Let us now examine some of the comments directed towards and about me in hepshiba's diary.

Back to the "ban RainbowGirl" meme:

rainbow's CT madness should be bannable

Discussing me as though I do not exist:

I find her appearance sort of eerily convenient, her diary uniquely coy, and the links on her blogroll to be sort of cliche.

Next time I come to the site I will bring my passport:

Claims to "authenticity" are of questionable value in arguments, when there is no other supporting documentation.

There are also at least two commenters in that diary who claim that I and/or my diary brought them out of lurk mode.

That Rainbow diary was just so Orwellian it gave me chills.

I cannot express how strongly I believe that RG is not who she says is and did not join just to 'speak up'.

I don't trust that diarist (me) at all. I will say it plainly and baldly.  that diary smelled Rovian to me, in the truest sense of that word.  not Orwellian.

I've got a few ideas on whose sockpuppet she may be

Now, to be fair, there were many commenters in the diary who -- even if they disagreed with me -- defended me against what seemed like an avalanche of personal attacks. I thank all of those people for keeping a level head and guarding against what felt, to me, like a torch-bearing mob descending upon myself as the Frankenstein monster.

However, things got worse and more odd in the comments. One commenter, apparently another academic, seemed determined to know exactly which minority group I was from:

You didn't answer my question.
Are you black/African-American/African ancestored?
A "minority" could be a person from Armenia.
Your language when you speak of "blacks" you have spoken to, others you.

I refused to answer her question, and defended my decision. I tried to keep a level head and not be defensive:

I will not answer it
You seem to think it is important for me to identify which community I am from. I don't agree with you, and reject your question. As is my right, and my prerogative.

Your take on what my diary was is fine. Your assessment is your own and in no way invalidates what I feel or wrote.

Again, you are free to make any fact-free conclusions you want to make from what I have and have not said. I can't stop you from doing so.

Have a great night.

Still, things further devolved:

If anyone here has ever studied the tactics of Karl Rove in depth. . .
her diary is Karl Rove 101 in substance, style, tenor, bland comments (so that people can make her what they need her to be). She is playing you, people, and you are falling for it, hook, line, and sinker.

The above is the comment that made me think of Keyser Söze. I, a poor person who has been on Daily Kos for all of like two weeks, is now some kind of Rovian Superman or thereabouts. Even though I have been here a relatively short time, it's as though I am some kind of mythical malevolent figure with nigh-supernatural powers and profile.

Here's the highlight of my day today: I got to walk 3 miles, each way, in 25 degree weather to go to a dentist appointment that I can't really pay for. That's the extent of my awesome "power" and "mystique."

Yet, when I mentioned to the above commenter my meager circumstances, this is the reply I received:

If you have bus money and money for food
from Wal-Mart you are in better shape than a lot of Americans

Are we still on a progressive site here? 'Cause that sounded a lot like "shut up, you ingrate!" to me.

The most demeaning comment about me in that diary was the following, though:

You are the most frightening of humans.

I appeal to the better nature of people here on the site: If you disagree with someone, try not to make it so personal.

Not only do you damage your argument and seem desperate, you are, in my opinion, allowing your rage or frustration to lead you to a disconcerting level of dehumanization of your "opponent."

I am a progressive. I bitterly oppose the Fat Cat Tax Compromise which President Obama passed. Because he signed that bill into law, I cannot support him in 2012.

Yet, I try not to demonize him. That is clear in my comment history. He is a human being. He is not The Epitome Of Evil. He is not Keyser Söze.

And neither am I.

Ghandi and Martin Luther King taught us to not respond in kind when we are assaulted, whether physically or verbally. We must resist the temptation to lash out, wantonly, in a manner which may speak more to our more primitive natures rather than our higher mental functions.

But that, to me, is why we are progressives. Or at least why I am a progressive. I believe in reason over ignorance; enlightenment over base prejudices and justice over inequality.

It took a lot -- more than I let on -- to restrain myself from responding in kind to the words spoken against me in hepshiba's diary. I felt them to be demeaning, personalized, insulting and unjust. Many of them, anyways.

Please, honor your fellow users' humanity here. We will not always agree, but we can talk and disagree in civil, dignified and respectful ways.

I will do my best to try to live up to that standard (although I'm sure I will fail at times), and I hope you will, too.

Thanks for listening.

Originally posted to RainbowGirl on Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 10:21 PM PST.


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