Prominent Canadian conservative still banned from Twitter
A prominent conservative political commentator has been locked out of his Twitter account since Saturday, December 7th, 2019. Manny Montenegrino, known online as @manny_ottawa, is a beloved and wildly popular tweeter who has been sharing his takes on the Canadian political scene for more than 10 years. His Twitter bio stated, “Truth sounds like hate to those who hate truth.”
The reason for his ban according to Montengrino is probably “hurt feelings.” The Post Millennial reached out to Manny who told us that he “felt compelled to correct the record and entered into a Twitter debate after a mischaracterization of him appeared in his feed. “In the Twitter debate I was civil and factual”, Manny said, “I looked up the Twitter policy and I didn’t violate any of their policies. I don’t post anything offensive, use foul language and I don’t post anything violating terms of Twitter.”
The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has bestowed its blessing on cancel culture–the twisted phenomenon whereby universities and public libraries cancel scheduled events just because someone claims to be offended. In Nova Scotia, cancel culture has spread to personalized license plates. Justice Darlene Jamieson ruled on January 31, 2020, that one anonymous complaint about Lorne Grabher’s personalized “GRABHER” license plate was enough to warrant its permanent cancellation. The Court affirmed the January 2017 decision to cancel the plate which the Grabher family had used for over 25 years, because Mr. Grabher’s surname could be “misinterpreted” as a “socially unacceptable slogan.”
Lorne Grabher is of Austrian-German heritage. His family immigrated to Canada from Europe in 1906. His father served in the Canadian Armed Forces, and was stationed in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The family’s history, including their name and the heritage it signifies, is important to the Grabher family. In or around 1990 the Grabher family applied for the “GRABHER” plate, originally a gift to Lorne’s father and later used by Lorne’s son. For 27 consecutive years, through three generations of Grabhers, the Registrar authorized the plate for use on the family’s motor vehicles in Nova Scotia. Each year the Registrar of Motor Vehicles renewed the plate without issue.
All it took to wreck this noble family tradition was one anonymous complaint to the Registrar, in October of 2016. Without taking into account the Grabher family’s pride in its Austrian-German heritage, and ignoring all prior decisions to renew the plate year after year after year, Janice Harland of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles told Lorne Grabher: “While I recognize this plate was issued as your last name, the public cannot be expected to know this and can misinterpret it as a socially unacceptable slogan.”
For Lorne Grabher, this case is about more than a personalized plate. It’s about his family’s name, personal dignity, and the ongoing insult by the Nova Scotia government in its censorship of the plate.
Justice Darlene Jamieson has effectively equated Lorne Grabher’s surname with EATASS, FOQME, HOTCOK, BLOWJB, BRDSHT, FSTFK, FCKPIG, 8CUNT, DCHBAG, GNGBNG, FQUALL and other objectionable terms on the Banned List of words that are prohibited by the Nova Scotia Registrar of Motor Vehicles. The court was not moved by the double standard of foul language used by another government entity, the Halifax Water Board, whose bus ads included the phrases “Powerful Sh*t” and “Be proud of your Dingle.” The court also deemed irrelevant the existence of Canadian place names like “Dildo, Newfoundland,” “Swastika, Ontario,” “Red Indian Lake, Newfoundland,” “Crotch Lake, Ontario,” “Old Squaw Islands, Nunavut,” and “Cape Negro” in Nova Scotia.
Justice Jamieson relied heavily on a report by Carrie Rentschler (https://www.mcgill.ca/ahcs/people-contacts/faculty/rentschler) a McGill University professor of “feminist media studies” who specializes in things like “the construction of new political subjectivities,” “emergent forms of social collectivity,” and “the shape and practice of contemporary feminisms in social media networks and hashtag publics.”
Professor Rentschler argued that the “GRABHER” license plate supports or increases violence against women; that exposure to cultural slogans normalizes sexual violence against women; that Mr. Grabher’s plate creates an elevated risk of rape; and that Mr. Grabher’s surname is a statement in support of physical violence against women. As the Professor explains in her revised report:
“As an expression, the meaning of ‘Grabher’ could be understood to signify the support, condoning and encouragement of gendered physical violence against girls and women. ‘Grabher’ – read as ‘Grab her’- is a speech act that can potentially contribute to the harms of gendered violence against girls and women, ‘crossing over from expressive activity to threat’… As an injunction, recipients of the phrase may interpret it as encouragement to grab or grope female individuals without their consent.”
There was no evidence before the court that there is less crime in Nova Scotia, or in Mr. Grabher’s neighborhood, since the plate was revoked. There was no evidence that anyone, including the anonymous complainant, had suffered any harm as a result of the plate.
Professor Rentschler claimed that Mr. Grabher’s plate is broadly “offensive” to the public, but provided no examples of any specific people or studies who find it so. Professor Rentschler is not from Nova Scotia, admitting on cross-examination that she did not know the name of the big blue ship in the background on all Nova Scotia licence plates. She provided no evidence to support her claim that the plate endangers the general public. Nor did the Nova Scotia government present any evidence to support any of Professor Renstchler’s assertions. There was no evidence that any roadway or motorist or citizen, female or male, was ever once endangered by the plate. There was therefore no evidence that the plate represents “language that supports gendered violence” or that the “plate promotes violence against women.”
Despite the absence of evidence to support Professor Rentschler’s wild claims, Justice Jamieson actually agreed with her, ruling that “the seven letters ‘GRABHER,’ without added context to indicate this is a surname, could be interpreted as promoting sexualized violence against women and girls.”
Justice Jamieson decreed that banning Mr. Grabher’s plate is justified to prevent harm, to ensure a “safe and welcoming” environment on Nova Scotia roads, and to protect individuals in society from the effects of offensive expression. She stated: “Clearly the provincial government cannot sanction having vehicles with government-owned plates travelling the highways of this province and country bearing messages that could be considered ‘offensive or not in good taste’.”
Where would we be without the government to keep us safe from the scourge of peoples’ offensive surnames?
What actual harm Mr. Grabher’s personalized plate had caused from 1990 to 2017 was not explained by the Court, nor could the Registrar of Motor Vehicles point to any harm. The Nova Scotia government suggested the GRABHER plate hurt tourism, but the government’s witness, Peter Hackett, later admitted that there was no such evidence.
The Registrar provided no evidence on behalf of the person who complained, why that person complained, or even whether she or he resided in Nova Scotia. The Registrar treated an ethnically German name as an English phrase, and then attached an idiosyncratic and demeaning reading to it. Mr. Grabher’s claim of discrimination against Canadians of Austrian-German heritage was dismissed because, according to Justice Jamieson, persons of Austrian-German heritage do not suffer from any “pre-existing disadvantage or stereotyping in Canadian society.” Essentially: discrimination is only wrong if you belong to the right group.
The court minimized the hurt and humiliation experienced by Mr. Grabher in the past three years, claiming that he is “free” to “choose another personalized plate consisting of up to seven letters or numbers. As Justice Jamieson explained it: “He is not denied access to personalized plates, but solely access to the seven-letter, personalized “GRABHER” plate.” This “freedom” is rather worthless because no other expression on the plate would communicate the same idea as the family surname. If you cannot say what you want, there is no free expression. For a court to say “no worries, you are allowed to say other things” misses the whole point of free expression.
Cancel culture panders to the fragile snowflakes who file anonymous complaints. Their desire, to avoid feeling offended by their own imagination about what someone else’s last name could mean if translated into a different language and then distorted into something it is not, must take precedence over someone else’s right to display his own last name with pride.
When courts promote cancel culture, they harm the free society.
American actor and conservative commentator James Woods has returned to Twitter, the censorious social media platform that suspended him last year.
The occasion for his return? Woods claims that he was inspired by a recent soundbite by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Woods tweeted: “I’ve tried so hard this past year to live without the wealth of knowledge available on Twitter, but this kind of blazing insight can be found nowhere else, so… I’m back!”
Woods shared a clip of AOC ruminating on the metaphor of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” that went viral earlier today.
AOC said, “This idea of a bootstrap—you know this idea, this metaphor of a bootstrap started off as a joke because it’s a physical impossibility to lift yourself up by a bootstrap, by your shoelaces. It’s physically impossible!”
Many prominent conservative Twitter voices rejoiced at the news that Woods was back.
At the time of his suspension last year, Woods said, “Until free speech is allowed on Twitter, I will not be permitted to participate in our democracy with my voice. As long as Jack Dorsey remains the coward he seems to be, my Twitter days are in the past.”
it’s clear from the instant reaction on Twitter that many are glad that Woods changed his mind and came back to speak his mind.
On Tuesday evening, journalist and Project Veritas firebrand James O’Keefe was temporarily suspended by Twitter for reporting on the radical activities of Bernie Sanders campaign staff.
The tweet that garnered the suspension was a retraction request directed at Dave Weigel of Washington Post, asking him to retract factually inaccurate information about disgraced Sanders staffers Kyle Jurek and Martin Weissberger.
“To prove the inaccuracy our tweet linked to a page found on the Federal Election Commission website showing the ‘volunteer’ was, in fact, a paid staffer of the Sanders campaign. The Post reporter retracted his story. The information we reported is in the public domain, there is nothing ‘private’ about it,” O’Keefe told The Daily Wire.
O’Keefe’s Project Veritas’ #Expose2020 project has been highlighting the radical activities of various Democratic candidates’ staffers throughout America.
Many of these staffers have links to the violent far-left group antifa.
The Post Millennial has reached out to Twitter for comment but has not heard back by the time of publication.
As images and videos depicting President Trump and his political rivals in Congress come under increasing scrutiny by the likes of BuzzFeed and CNN, Twitter has announced its latest effort: cracking down on “manipulated photos or videos that can cause people harm.” In other words, the platform will be tackling political memes it determines to be harmful.
Do memes poking fun at Joe Biden’s bleeding eyes, his confused demeanour, and concerning predilection towards non-consensual touching constitute as harm—particularly if they only affect his reputation as a serious Democratic candidate for President? Perhaps so. To limit this so-called “harm,” Twitter revealed today that it is introducing a new rule and a label to address and “give people more context” around tweets the platform determines requires a closer look.
According to Twitter, which released a video on the matter, altered videos will be labelled as “manipulated media.” Users are encouraged to tap the label, which will be present beneath an edited video or image, “to view info from reputable sources.” One can assume that Fox News, the Daily Caller and other conservative and independent outlets will not be given the privilege of being “reputable,” which is code for the progressive media. As an example, the platform shows how users will be given an “inside look” at how the video has been altered with details on the nature of the edits.
It brings to mind CNN’s investigation into a meme produced by a Reddit user that depicted CNN as Vince McMahon being beaten down by President Trump in a wrestling match. The video, which was shared by the President himself, prompted the cable news organization to dig into the user’s private identity—and even threatened to expose him unless he apologized for producing the meme. As the New York Times reported, “CNN declined to name the user, but said, somewhat mysteriously, that it ‘reserves the right’ to publish his identity in the future if he continued to create offensive content.”
The video was very much in line with the content regularly produced by pro-Trump Twitter users like Carpe Donktum, who BuzzFeed News referred to as “Trump’s favourite meme maker.” For no other discernible reason than to silence him, the news organization doxed the meme maker for his efforts—to no avail. He continues to produce viral videos and has since launched Meme World, a conglomerate of political meme producers.
On a less meme-related note, a video uploaded by Paul Joseph Watson that depicted CNN’s Jim Acosta during his sensationalized physical altercation (if you want to call it that) with a White House staffer became the subject of national conversation after it was shared by the White House’s Sarah Sanders. Members of the press accused Watson of altering the video, speeding it up and adding several frames, per the Wall Street Journal. Given that the video itself was ripped from a livestream and re-encoded for Twitter, it remains to be determined if any of the supposed alterations were deliberate. Whatever the case, it was blown out of proportion.
Twitter claims that this new feature is part of an effort to make the platform “a safer place for conversations.” Well, given their Pravda-like approach to the issue, Twitter will most certainly be less safe for memes and those who make them.