Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jewish Spam

I know that I tend toward the paranoid when it comes to discrimination based on gender, race, sexual preference, and religion. Ask me some time why Al Gore lost the 2000 election. Go ahead, ask. Why, you ask? Well, I answer, can you say Joe Lieberman? Can you say lost Gore's home state of Tennessee? Can you say I don't care WHAT the electorate says in polls, but behind the curtain, I believe in all sincerity that there is still a significant proportion of this country that simply couldn't pull a lever for a Jew? Yeah, I thought you could.

I could also ramble on about the encounters I've had in my time that prove to me that religious intolerance isn't dead. I know these things in my heart and from my life. No need to try to convince me otherwise.

So when I started noticing a trend in my spam recently, I immediately jumped to conclusions. Previously, I'd been getting my spam from senders with names cobbled together from pure nonsense: Hatcheck Alligator; Significant Morose; Adamently Bovine. You got those too, right? But has anyone else found that the ubiquitous low-price-prescription-drug spam and the sex spam and even the cheap-software spam has started coming with single surnames attached--and have you noticed that those surnames are Jewish names? In my mailbox today, for instance, were spam mails from Gottlieb and Shapiro and Hirsch and Goldman and Goldberg. It's been going on for weeks, in fact.

What the fuck?

Is this supposed to make Jews like myself more likely to open the spam? Does it have some kind of meaning? Is it supposed to imply something that I can't quite figure out? That was my first instinct. Somehow, it felt threatening, negative. I was ready to use this trend as yet another bullet in my you-may-think-it's-not-so-but-anti-semitism-is-still-alive-and-kicking arsenal.

But then I started thinking: Just how would this be anti-semitic? Does it really mean something that spammers are coopting Jewish names for their emails? Or have they simply used up all the Christian-sounding names or can no longer get those names past the spam filters? When the same begins to happen to Levy and Gottesman, am I next going to start getting spam from Wong and Wu and Yu?

I can't figure it out. And I want to. For one thing, because I'm curious what this is all about. But for the most part, because I'd hate to pass up a good opportunity at righteous indignation if it's staring me in the face. Righteous indignation is a rare commodity these days; most of the time, it's actually somewhat-unfounded indignation that I find myself working with. And while I do what I can with it, it's just not nearly as much fun.

So, if you know whereof I speak, or have an explanation for it, lob it my way, would ya? My innate curiosity and prickliness thank you in advance.

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