I stayed up late the other night, following the café siege in Sydney on the Guardian website: 'What we know so far...' the live updates page said. Below that, like the punch line to no kind of joke, was a bullet point: 'Uber were criticised for charging minimum $100 for people trying to leave CBD during the siege. They have since offered free rides.'
It's already been a bad month for the app-based cab company. A bad month, too, for Bill Cosby, Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal, Mark Zuckerberg's college roommate, Rolling Stone, Amazon and Jeff Bezos, the National Book Awards, the CIA... In St Louis and Cleveland, police departments criticised mostly black football teams for criticising police shootings of unarmed black men. The complaints backfired. But, Lemony Snicket aside, the defending parties seemed to dig in or double down on the very things that cause scandals.
'We believe that there are no regulations that imagine the kind of service that is made available via this technology platform,' Uber's spokesperson says.
'I'm more concerned,' says Dick Cheney, 'with bad guys who got out and were released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.'
'Let's break shit,' the New Republic's new CEO said, in the run-up to the magazine's shitshow. 'We're a tech company now.'
There is a sense that, in the tech world, 'fuck it' and 'fuck you' mean the same thing. There is Google's corporate motto: 'Don't be evil' — like the joke about the man who walks into his therapist's office to say: 'Look, this isn't about my mother.' You feel the country moving, not beyond good and evil, where it always has been, but beyond the point of lip service. Google, at least, admits of the existence of evil.