Facebook falsely accuses The Post Millennial of ‘hate speech’
Update: On Thursday, Facebook accepted our appeal and reversed its decision. Our article and post were restored and it was determined that The Post Millennial and our author, Libby Emmons, were not in violation of Facebook policy.
Facebook has flagged The Post Millennial for hate speech … against “white women.” In an article entitled “Why are white women signing up for workshops that tell them they suck?” Our senior contributor Libby Emmons explored the phenomenon of white women self-flagellating over issues of race. The story was widely shared and written about workshops that affluent white women partake in to better learn about their own unconscious bias.
Emmons is a white woman, and by the rules of identity politics, a person of a given group is allowed to tell hard truths about that group, even if they’re not always easy to digest. Unless the rules of identity politics don’t apply to white women. Which was, in part, the point of the article.
Hate speech is a serious charge, one that we don’t take lightly. Bashing a group based on their race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity is not an acceptable means of discourse. But that’s not what this article does. Instead, the article points out that a person’s race does not determine their perspective or their worth. The article advocates against racial stereotypes and assumptions based on background.
Additionally, the article lists several articles that call out white people for being racist, based entirely on the colour of their skin. None of these articles were flagged for removal by Facebook. These pieces that specifically target white women for their complicity in racism were featured in The Washington Post, Salon, Jezebel, The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, AlterNet, and other sites, and some of them were written by writers of colour. Why were these articles acceptable but Emmons’ wasn’t?
This is what identity politics does to people. Some algorithm or some staffer at Facebook saw “white women” and “suck” and came to the wrong conclusion about our content. It was a provocative headline, but the meaning of the piece is that no one should be made to believe that they are lesser because of the colour of their skin.
This is our first “strike” and of course we are appealing. These allegations are simply unfounded. Social media platforms are an essential part of information dissemination, and those who patrol the feeds know this. When they flag items for content violation, much of what they are doing is interpreting user complaints. But social media users who complain about content are not neutral, objective observers. In fact, most of them have larger axes to grind that we do, and they take the job of deplatforming as a means to remove views that they disagree with very seriously.
Facebook should reverse their ridiculous decision. Our post and our article were not in any way hateful and did not violate any community standards. Exploring cultural phenomena is not “hate speech.” If Facebook doesn’t come to its senses, then it’s just a propaganda machine for identity politics apologists. It’s pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg is actively trying to avoid this by hearing views from across the political spectrum, and refusing to police free speech. Perhaps his staff should try to limit their own bias by being more tolerant of a wide range of perspectives.
When Bill C16 passed in 2017, many women rang the alarm against legislation that would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include protection against hate speech with regard to gender identity or expression. Concerns about the Bill were that gender identity protections would supercede protections for women. While there was a promise that a gender-based analysis (GBA) report would be forthcoming, it has not been released. That’s not good enough for Jennifer Joseph, who has launched a petition for the release of this information.
“We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada,” resolves the petition, “call upon Candice Bergen to ask for the Gender-Based Analysis report be made public, and for Statistics Canada to explain their analysis or publish the results.”
Women who voiced concerns back in 2017 were not listened to and were accused of transphobic hate speech for broaching concerns about Bill C16. Yet much of what they predicted has come to pass. Women who speak out against having male-bodied persons in women’s spaces are called names, ostracized, and shut out of those places themselves.
In 2018, Kristi Hanna left a Toronto shelter for abused women rather than share a room with a male-bodied trans person. Her complaints were unheeded by staff. Vancouver Rape Relief, Canada’s oldest rape crisis centre, was denied funding by the City for not being inclusive enough to male-bodied trans persons. A human rights complaint was filed by Kimberly Nixon in 2019 against the center for the refusal to train Nixon, born male, to become a peer counsellor. Vancouver Rape Relief did not believe that Nixon could be a peer counsellor to other women, because Nixon was not born female. A rape relief center did not want women who had been raped to have to be counselled by a male person, so they lost their funding entirely.
The case of Jessica Yaniv, who has brought multiple complaints before the Human Rights Tribunal, accusing women of being hateful for not wanting to wax her male genitalia, shows how absurd this entire thing has become. Women’s rights to determine the work they would do in their private homes were questioned under Bill C16.
The petition states that police departments across Canada are no longer recording the sex of alleged offenders, “but instead the gender by which they identify.” The reasoning is that a person’s sex is too personal, and irrelevant to the charge of a crime committed. It is reasonable to consider that this change is to avoid running afoul of Human Rights legislation. Problems with this new practice include the confusion of crime stats, which then record crimes committed by male-bodied female-identifying persons as women’s crimes.
The Bill also interferes with parental rights, forcing parents to go along with their minor children’s ideas about medical alterations to their healthy bodies.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Bill C16 is the one that is most readily dismissed by trans activists. Bill C16 seeks to rewrite protections for women by removing the definition of the word. This denial of a biological definition of the word woman is what has allowed women to be brought up on charges of human rights abuses when they define the word to exclude persons who are born male.
Bill C16 offers protected classes for “gender identity” and “gender expression,” which terms are not legally defined. This defacto changes the meaning of the word woman to “whatever if feels like” to any given individual. In essence, this has meant that a person who dresses up as stereotypically feminine can say they are a woman, and gain access to those protections, such as abused women’s refuges, rape crisis centres, women’s prisons, and women’s hospital wards, that have previously been designated for the care of women.
This is done out of compassion for the individual who identifies more with those stereotypes that are associated with the opposite sex than with their own, but in doing so, it offers no consideration for women who need spaces and protections that male-bodied persons, no matter their fashion choices, do not. This petition seeks redress of these grievances by obtaining information on the effects of the law and is open for signatures until April.
In Canada, as in many other western countries, a guarantee against being “twice put in jeopardy” is a constitutional right. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, and you have paid your debt to society, you cannot be reconvicted of the exact same crime.
Of course, this guaranteed right only applies to such crimes in the Criminal Code as murder, rape or kidnapping. For thought crimes, there are no such guarantees. When it comes to thought crimes, we have yet to discover the upward limit for the jeopardies that may be imposed.
A double-jeopardy fix seems to be in for Lynn Beyek, appointed to the Senate by Stephen Harper in 2013. From the heavily mixed Indigenous/non-Indigenous northern area of Dryden, Ontario, Sen Beyek is presently a non-affiliated senator. A Senate committee is poised to decree next week that even though Sen Beyek fulfilled the requirements of her penalty for an initial thought crime, she is deemed insufficiently … re-educated, let us say, and must, therefore, suffer further, much more punitive retribution.
It is quite possible, even probable, that Sen Beyak, removed from the Conservative caucus in early 2018, and suspended without pay from Senate duties for several months in 2019, will now be suspended again without pay for the duration of this parliament, and forced to undergo further re-education concerning her problematic beliefs.
If that happens, many of her colleagues will be glad to have this thorn in their side out of sight and out of mind for several years (barring a successful no-confidence vote in this minority government). But others—the supporters who share her convictions (and she has a few senate colleagues who do; whether they will say so publicly we’ll know in due course), as well as those who do not share her views, but do support her right to hold them —will believe a great injustice has been done.
What are Sen Beyak’s thought crimes, which used to be posted on her website, but are no longer there? Well, for one thing, she believes status Indigenous peoples should integrate fully into Canadian society. As she wrote in an open letter on Sept 1, 2017, quoted in a CBC report, “None of us are leaving, so let’s stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share. All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”
Sen Beyak expressed approval of Pierre Trudeau’s 1969 White Paper on Indigenous issues, produced in collaboration with Jean Chrétien as Indian Affairs Minister, which proposed doing away with the Indian Act and treaties and eliminating a distinct legal Indian status. Sen Beyak said she felt they “got it right.” Trudeau had proposed an end to the Indian Act, with a fair, one-time settlement for individual natives, in exchange for the financial (not historical) portion of the treaties and land claims. Sen Beyak is in agreement with Pierre Trudeau’s statement, “We could mount pressure groups across this country on many areas where there have been historic wrongs. I do not think it is the purpose of a government to right the past. It cannot re-write history. It is our purpose to be just in our time.”
Sen Beyak at this point was already in trouble for remarks in the Red Chamber considered even more heretical back in March 2017, when she criticized the Truth and Reconciliation Report for its failure of balance in its indictment of the residential school system (while conceding that there was some representation at the TRC by former residential-school students who recounted positive experiences). “I speak partly for the record, but mostly in memory of the kindly and well-intentioned men and women and their descendants—perhaps some of us here in this chamber—whose remarkable works, good deeds and historical tales in the residential schools go unacknowledged for the most part,” she said.
Sen Beyek was mocked by politicians from all parties as “ignorant” and her “hate speech” was denounced by all the liberal media. She was removed from the Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee by interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, after four years of uncontroversial service on it, and calls for her resignation filled the air.
In Sept, 2017, Sen Beyak questioned the wisdom of the government’s decision to create a second costly Indigenous ministry. The media trashed her for it, erroneously implying in one case that Sen Beyek was not aware that Indigenous peoples were citizens of Canada.
Compounding her alleged wickedness were controversial letters sent from supporters of Sen Beyek’s heterodox views, which she posted on her website, and refused to take down when ordered to be by Senate Ethics Officer (SEO) Pierre Legault. Some of the comments in them were indeed offensive – Sen Beyek called them “edgy and opinionated” – and even Sen Beyak’s defenders would say she showed poor judgment in choosing such a small hill to die on, so to speak.
One letter, for example, suggested that if only people on reserves had the work ethic of the Amish, their homes would be well-constructed and safe, their resources up to standard and their communities economically self-sustaining. The latter was considered an example of “overt racism” by a Walrus writer, who accused some of Sen Beyak’s supporters of expressing “white-supremacist sentiments.”
I find such language misleading, erroneous and quite over the top. The letter is pointing to the tragic consequences of the “learned helplessness” that is a feature of many reserves. It has been referenced time and time again by credible, sympathetic mainstream writers. The writer’s impatience with the ongoing dysfunction on these reserves may present itself in an uncomfortably blunt manner, but it most certainly does not rise to the level of hate speech. (Which doesn’t mean some of the “edgy and opinionated” letters are a good look on a senator’s tax-funded website.)
Sen Beyak is likely more naïve than a willful provocateur, but in pushing back against what she considers the sanctification of native suffering, she often shoots herself in the foot. In resisting the tendency of progressives to label everything they don’t like “racist,” she said in an interview with Legault, “In my view, there is no racism in Canada. Right now there are groups putting people into silos, trying to divide us, by saying that we have racism against violence, we have racism against Indigenous people, Ukrainian, white privilege—I find those people racist. Those who seek to divide us are the racists. The rest of us are Canadians. We all bleed the same colour, we all live together in peace and harmony. That’s the way Canada is supposed to be.”
(Most of what Sen Beyak says here is fair comment. Unfortunately, how many Canadians will get past the words “there is no racism in Canada” without a sharp intake of breath—even those who believe the most fervently in freedom of speech? It certainly doesn’t help Sen Beyak’s case that she is a born-again Christian with all the politically incorrect views that implies.)
In January 2018, Sen Beyak learned from a press release that she had been removed from the Conservative caucus. The press release states that “Senator Beyek admitted to posting racist letters on her website and refused to take them down when I asked her to.” Sen Beyak denied that any formal request had been made to remove the letters, and categorically denied that she was a racist or would ever “admit” that she was racist. Her website was frozen.
By alluding to Sen Beyak as a racist, Scheer opened the door for a senate inquiry request, which emerged four days after his press release. The Ethics Office report gathered snippets from the letters, some out of context and painted them in toto as referring to Indigenous people as “opportunistic, pampered whiners who are milking the government and exploiting the taxpayer.” None of the letters actually say that, but that is the impression given by the report.
On Feb 27, 2019 Sen Beyak was presented with the SEO’s preliminary report. Not included: letters from Indigenous women – one a chief – supporting Sen Beyak’s position, or any other of the hundreds of non-racist letters vigorously supportive of Sen Beyak’s views. Also omitted were declarations from journalists and academics who had read all the letters, and who found nothing racist in them, lauding Sen Beyak as well informed and objective on Indigenous issues.
Former Manitoba provincial court judge and journalist Brian Giesbrecht for example, wrote in an April 2019 Frontier Centre for Public Policy blog post: “As far as the posted letters, the great majority provide thoughtful comments from people who have thought long and hard about the highly complex and vexing Indigenous situation. While a few of the more awkwardly worded letters could best have been omitted, the notion that the senator’s website is teeming with hatred and racism is preposterous.” He asks and answers: “So, what is the senator’s real crime – a crime deemed so egregious that she must be humiliated, shunned, and even financially damaged and hounded out of public office? Her ‘crime’ is refusing to go along with the politically correct version of the prevailing orthodoxy pertaining to Indigenous issues.”
On April 30th the Ethics Committee presented their harshly critical report on Sen Beyek to the Senate. It concluded that by “refusing to recognize the cultural oppression imposed by the residential School System, and the discriminatory objectives of the Indian Act, Senator Beyak appears to deny a historical truth and displays conduct that ignores its racist underpinnings.”
Sen Beyak was directed to take an online course given by Indigenous Awareness Canada, entitled “201 Indigenous Certification.” The goal of the course was “to build effective and positive relationships with Indigenous people,” focusing on “racism towards Indigenous Peoples, Residential Schools, Chronology and Current realities.” Ms Beyak completed the course and received a suitable-for-framing “Indigenous Awareness” Certificate.
Next, the Senate retained the federally funded ($6,888,000 in 2019) Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) in Toronto to provide Sen Beyak with “cultural competency Training.” Interestingly their website describes their mission as one of service to Indigenous people in urban communities. It makes no mention of cultural competency training for non-Indigenous. Anyway, there were to be three “training cycles,” undertaken at Sen Beyak’s own expense, at OFIFC’s Toronto office, a four-hour drive from her home, on separate occasions in June and August.
Sen Beyak took the first of them last June 6th as planned, in a group setting. Cycles two and three were mutually arranged for Aug 26 and 27. When Sen Beyak arrived on Aug 26, she was taken to the training director’s office and told that training was no longer available to her. Sen Beyak reported their refusal to the SEO, who replied that he had no communication to that effect from the OFIFC. Repeated requests from Sen Beyek to the OFIFC for an explanation went unanswered.
Nevertheless, in Sept, 2019, Liberal Senator Peter Harder, a senior bureaucrat in previous Liberal governments, sent an email to Canadian Press columnist Joan Bryden, falsely stating that “Senator Beyek has so far refused to follow through on the Senate’s recommendations for remedial measures.” On Sept 24, Bryden perpetuated the falsehood in The Toronto Star that “Senator Beyek refused to take sensitivity training.”
On parting from the OFIFC after the first session, Sen Beyek told her sensitivity trainer, “We would have to agree to disagree.” Disagree with the only “correct” understanding of “reconciliation”? How puzzling and disconcerting this statement must have seemed to the trainer. That was probably the first and only time anyone sent in for sensitivity training had dared to state that in spite of paying respectful attention to the course material, she had not changed her mind.
It seems clear that the OFIFC felt Sen Beyek was a lost cause, and simply abandoned her as they felt she could not be re-educated. One staffer claimed Sen Beyek had made the environment “unsafe” by claiming to identify as Métis on the grounds that she has an adopted sister of Métis provenance. Sen Beyek vigorously denies she made any such claim. Under normal circumstances it would be her word against the word of the staffer. But the SEO and the media seemed to feel such a gaffe was par for the course, and bought it without interrogation. A CBC reporter wrote: “she told her instructors she was Métis because her parents had adopted an Indigenous child.” That should have been “she allegedly told her instructors…”
The knives are out for Sen Beyek—too many, I fear, for her to avoid more drawn blood.
Sen Beyek has never had a fair trial. Racism, the word at the centre of the storm, has never been formally defined or debated throughout this process. The word “reconciliation” has become a cudgel to force everyone in public life to toe the line on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to say regarding Indigenous policy. Sen Beyek may speak her mind in a more unfiltered way than we are used to these days, but is that the fault of her words, or the fact that the rest of our politicians have learned the art of self-censorship so well that it is her candour alone, rather than the content of her discourse, that startles and offends?
I couldn’t help but think of Sen Beyek’s case as a macro example of what happened to Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer in a micro way when he recently spoke out in favour of law enforcement to deal with illegal Indigenous and environment activist blockaders. He was “de-platformed” from an all-leaders’ meeting with the PM. Why? Because, Trudeau said, Scheer had “disqualified” himself in having shown a “deliberate misunderstanding of reconciliation.”
If Andrew Scheer is disqualified from attending a party leaders’ meeting with the PM because he failed to understand the meaning of reconciliation, then I guess I don’t understand the meaning of reconciliation either. And I guess millions of others don’t understand it as well, because that’s how many of us are in Andrew Scheer’s lane on the blockades.
And it may likewise be that millions of Canadians agree with Sen Beyek’s perspective on Indigenous relations with their fellow Canadians, including some Indigenous people. If the Senate is bent on humiliating Sen Beyek for her alleged failure to understand reconciliation, then what does the word really mean? Reconciliation is supposed to bring people together. Instead, every time someone who embraces a heterodox view of the word is punished for speaking his or her mind, it drives us apart.
Furthermore, it is not up to the Senate to declare that Sen Beyek does not understand “historic truths.” Nobody knows what historic truths are while they are living through them. In a hundred years, if the reserves are exactly as they are today, our grandchildren may well say that Sen Beyek had a more coherent vision of historic truth than Justin Trudeau and his white-privilege-intersectionality minions.
Meanwhile, let us stop calling the sessions Sen Beyek attended “sensitivity training” or “reconciliation” sessions. If someone directed to take them cannot attend and listen in good faith and still disagree with what he or she has heard without undergoing double jeopardy and a “disappearance” from public life, then let us call them what they are: maoist re-education sessions.
Sen Beyek is no racist, any more than Jean Chrétien and Pierre Elliott Trudeau were. She has a right to hold opinions that beat against the current of conventional assumptions. Let her colleagues debate her if they don’t like her ideas. Instead, they have invited “cancel culture” into the Senate of Canada. What a dismal piece of political theatre we are witnessing, and one more giant nail in the coffin of freedom of speech.
Twitter has censored an official video released by RNC Research, which is managed by the Republican Party in the United States. In the video, manufacturing workers in the “blue collar room” praise President Donald Trump for his work on strengthening the US economy.
Subtitled “I’ve seen it getting better and better,” the RNC Research video was flagged by Twitter as a piece of media containing “potentially sensitive content.” Precisely what is “sensitive” about the President’s accomplishments is something only Twitter’s moderation team—and no one else—knows.
The censorship was quickly pointed out by Steve Guest, the GOP’s Rapid Response Director, who was signal boosted by the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., who wrote: “This is a disgrace. Something we should be celebrating the social media masters are censoring such bullsh*t!”
In recent days, the social media platform has come under fire for its move to crack down on “doctored” videos and other forms of deceptive media, including memes. Journalists in the mainstream media cried foul earlier today over a “deceptively edited” video published by the Mike Bloomberg campaign account that showed him mocking his opponents with the sound of crickets playing in the background.
Following the outcry, a company spokesperson for Twitter told Huffington Post that the Bloomberg video would “likely” be labelled as manipulated media under its new rules, which take effect next month.
The rules may be forthcoming, but Twitter—it seems—is already hard at work to prevent any of Trump’s accomplishments from gaining any traction.
Twitter is working out ways to combat misinformation on the platform, and one of the ideas, per a leaked draft to NBC, is to add warning labels beneath perceived lies and misinformation.
Posts by politicians or their campaigns would be vetted by verified fact-checkers and journalists. Presumably, these people would be entirely objective and able to parse information evenly, cleanly, and without any personal bias whatsoever.
This effort comes in the wake of a rollout of a new policy from Twitter to detect and delete deep fakes and manipulated videos. The new system would also enable something of a social credit component, where “users could earn ‘points’ and a ‘community badge’ if they ‘contribute in good faith and act like a good neighbour’ and ‘provide critical context to help people understand information they see.”
Per NBC, “The points system could prevent trolls or political ideologues from becoming moderators if they differ too often from the broader community in what they mark as false or misleading.” What that means is that one, lone, dissenting voice, that does not go along with the opinion of everyone else, could lose their status as a moderator simply because they are willing to diverge from the group opinion. Having an opinion that differs too often will be reason for invalidation.
That an entire group thinks one thing does not make it true. Truth is not discerned by the number of people who believe it. In fact, the mere fact of total consensus is reason enough to investigate.
Warning labels are present in many aspects of life. They are on both prescription and over the counter drugs, on car seats, side view mirrors, and at the edge of cliffs suggesting we not get too close. Health Canada and the US FDA require ingredients labelling on foods. Tobacco products are covered with images of diseased lungs per government regulation. Information is not something that should come with a warning label.
This is not new, but it is more insidious, given just how much information the public currently consumes. In the 1990s, Tipper Gore advocated for warnings labels to come on albums, and she succeeded. Perhaps nothing was more enticing to a kid than an album with the black and white label reading: Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Books by renowned authors like James Joyce were banned for their sexual content.
Tech giants are concerned over their complicity in making misleading or downright incorrect information available for public consumption. They are worried that, as a result of their proprietary algorithms, stories and posts that contain inaccuracies will appear on users’ feeds. What the tech companies want is a corrective. They want to fix it. They want to be able to slap a warning label on there, give it a splashy Pantone shade, and let the issue drop, solved.
If the standard for misinformation were to be applied equally across ideologies, the BuzzFeed’s and Vox’s Twitter feeds would be very colourful indeed. But there’s no reason to believe that will be the case, given past examples. From the dirty Trump dossier to the Covington kids hoax to Jussie Smollett, misinformation flows freely from the woke outlets. And they are always given a pass by big tech.
Andy Ngo had to delete his tweet stating facts from the Human Rights Campaign because they were inconvenient to the progressive narrative. Meghan Murphy is still banned from Twitter for speaking a simple biological truth.
Here’s a thought experiment: How would Twitter categorize this tweet from Hillary Clinton? Is there enough evidence of collusion to warrant her calling Trump Putin’s Puppet?
Twitter’s plan to know what is true based on what the largest quantity of verified moderators believe is true is thoroughly flawed. The plight of heterodox thinkers on Twitter has been well documented, with those who diverge from the common narrative banned or threatened with deletion. Twitter does not know how to discern fact from fiction, and their plan of labelling information with warning labels will stifle truth and discourse, not advance it. The truth is that Twitter is the last place to trust when it comes to the truth.