There Is a Mall

There is a Mall. It is owned by a company, but its doors are open to the public. It calls itself a town square. But it is a mall. It is owned by a company.

There are stores in this mall, where people can shop. There are chairs and benches in this mall, where people can talk.

There are nice people in this mall. There are mean people in this mall. There are Nazis in this mall, and racists, and sexists, and homophobes, too. There are more nice people than mean people, but the mean people are much, much louder in this mall. The nice people feel threatened in this mall.

From time to time an announcement comes over the PA system in the mall. It’s the mall owners. They say, “How can we make this mall better?” to which all the nice people cry out, “Kick out the mean people! the Nazis, the racists, the sexists, the homophobes too! They make us feel scared.”

Undeterred, the mall owners will reply over the PA system “We want to make the conversations in this mall healthier. We think the problem is the chairs and the benches are just not comfortable enough. We will be installing new chairs and new benches so you can have better conversations. Perhaps we’ll also fix the lights and the front door. Thank you for your input, we value your opinions.”

Hundreds of news articles are written about the coming improvements to the mall, breathlessly reporting about the upholstery of the new chairs, of the seating capacity of the new benches.

The man who owns the mall puts down the newspaper, proudly reflecting on a good day’s work. He sleeps eight hours that night, same as he does every night.

Speed of Light