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Dear Twitter: Thanks for restoring Lindsay Shepherd—now give us Meghan Murphy
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Dear Twitter: Thanks for restoring Lindsay Shepherd—now give us Meghan Murphy 

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Jessica Yaniv, trans advocate, alleged predator, and human rights tribunal litigant, successfully petitioned Twitter to ban outspoken feminist activists Meghan Murphy and Lindsay Shepherd over misgendering and insults. Shepherd has been reinstated, but Murphy is still off the platform. Twitter, @Jack, it’s time to bring Meghan Murphy back.

Lindsay Shepherd’s saga was the most recent, and the tweets that transpired between Yaniv and Shepherd were insulting on both sides, yet Shepard was the only one of the two who caught the Twitter ban. Meghan Murphy had about 25,000 followers when she was blocked in November 2018, and she’s been off the platform ever since.

The process for reporting harassment on Twitter is pretty clean-cut, but what is done with that reported info, and the means by which users are then sanctioned or banned, is pretty opaque. This has been a complaint against Twitter for some time. Why is it that some users who report intimidation are listened to while others are not? Why is Twitter so obsessed with banning speech that does not uphold trans ideology?

And frankly, what are the rules? Twitter’s rules about harassment and speech codes are so blurry as to be illegible. The standards to which users who push the envelope are held are not elucidated. Twitter is a public space, and in public spaces, rules of decorum are clear, often written down on a big sign. At public pools, there are not rules for some kids and different rules for others, and that should also be the case on Twitter. Free speech should be upheld, and rules of transgression should be apparent. Who gets banned on Twitter should not be a judgment call based on shifting standards that depend entirely on what ideology has the most likes at any given time.

Twitter is completely off the rails for letting Murphy, an outspoken woman who doesn’t follow the woke rules of anti-female contemporary feminism, languish off the platform. For better of worse, Twitter is the town square where these conversations take place, and it has a responsibility to let all voices be heard.

Jessica Yaniv’s case and name were under a publication ban of her own wish, but it was recently lifted and media attention has zoomed in on the case of this trans woman who is suing women for not waxing her male genitals. It has been widely and well-reported on. There’s nowhere left to hide for Yaniv. 

Anyone who hears this story knows how absurd it is. Jessica Yaniv can and should live however she chooses, but so too should anyone who doesn’t wish to wax her testicles. Meghan Murphy barely even said anything about Yaniv, who has now put herself out there for the world to discuss, yet Yaniv has the platform and Murphy is still banned. Why?

People say horrible things on Twitter all the time. Death threats, mean-spirited comments, nasty language abound, but Murphy was banned for misgendering. The tweet at issue was three words: “yeah that’s him.” At the time, Yaniv’s whole pronoun thing was confusing, because Yaniv had been using different pronouns depending on her preference. Murphy pointed this out to no avail.

There are petitions to reinstate Murphy’s account, and evidence to show that Yaniv targeted Murphy, yet she’s still locked out. Writing about her ban in Quillette, Murphy said: “The social media behemoth has been suspending accounts, not because users break Twitter rules, but because they break rank. Despite repeated claims that the platform exists as a space for free speech, and the company’s professed public commitment to refrain from banning users for ideological reasons, Twitter is now doing just that. Those who fail to adhere to the company’s preferred politics are picked off, with no accountability to speak of.”

Murphy sued Twitter, and though her case did not move forward, it’s laudable that she wouldn’t just let herself be silenced without a fight. Fans and supporters of Murphy’s have been advocating for her return for months, sharing her work on Feminist Current and in other outlets. She is a strong and diligent voice from a feminist community that refuses to see itself trounced and belittled by women’s rights groups that have been overtaken by male centric concepts of womanhood.

Is Twitter afraid of Murphy’s voice? Wary of her followers? Concerned that what she has to say will get more likes and retweets than their preferred woke talking points? Or at this point is it some kind of chastisement specifically targeting Murphy, who in her outsider status has become something of a Twitter nemesis?

The logic behind lifting Shepherd’s ban in sound. If Twitter doesn’t let Meghan Murphy back, complete with full account access, it must be because of a personal vendetta against the woman who demanded to be allowed to speak. Listen up Jack Dorsey, it’s time for Twitter to step up and return access to the platform to Meghan Murphy.

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