In September of 2018, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, faced the United States Congress and told them that there was no intentional bias on his platform.
Yet, two recent high profile suspensions seem to suggest that there is indeed a bias against heterodox thought and freedom of expression.
Wow. Just found out from Meghan Murphy that the reason she was banned from Twitter was that she misgendered JONATHAN YANIV, who sues women for not waxing his balls and asks for advice on approaching young girls to talk about tampons. This was the tweet that got her banned. pic.twitter.com/b0sXMUEDtY
— Graham Linehan (@Glinner) November 25, 2018
Last week, Canadian feminist activist Meghan Murphy was suspended for the high crimes of “misgendering” and “deadnaming” some trans people. Twitter’s new policy forbids both deadnaming—the act of using a trans person’s old name, and misgendering—the act of referring to someone by their previous gender.
It is true that Murphy did misgender and deadname people. But they were hardly acts of violence or harassment. At worst, Murphy wasn’t very kind to her opponents. It is also true that the activists Murphy had been sparring with on Twitter did not always treat her with the utmost respect either.
It may seem on the surface that a radical feminist from Canada is exactly the kind of user that Twitter caters to, but the opinion she expressed was sacrilege in the church of identity politics. Murphy’s position on trans ideology is simple, and shared by many thinkers. She believes that biological sex is different from gender. She was also flagged and forced to remove her tweet that said “men aren’t women.”
This week, Jesse Kelly, an American journalist, radio host, and Iraq War veteran, was banned from Twitter. The reason? That’s the scary thing. As of today, nobody seems to know. Twitter has simply stated that he violated its policies and the ban is permanent.
Jesse Kelly just showed me the final verdict:
twitter has permanently banned him.
His account is gone and will not be restored, according to Twitter support.
No warnings, no appeals
They’ve ghosted him.
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) November 26, 2018
Kelly seemed to predict his own Twitter demise in an August article. Responding to the permanent ban of conspiracy peddler Alex Jones, Kelly writes: “They just knew Jones was the weak member of the herd. They could pick him off as a test run. Next they’re coming for you.” And indeed, this week they came for him.
This latest round of unpersoning has led to a strengthening of some unlikely alliances. Jon Kay, Canadian editor of Quillette explains:
“Conservatives have lost the culture war—that much is obvious. But many feminists also feel like they have lost the culture war, because some of the core goals they have fought for—including protection from men, the right to define their cause, and the right to create zones where women can freely meet, collaborate and express themselves—are now under threat from a highly militant and unrepresentative faction of the trans activist movement.”
So here we are in 2018, and radical feminists and conservative thinkers now have a shared enemy. This enemy isn’t some malicious corporation or evil totalitarian government. It’s a pseudo-religious cult called progressivism that is holding reasonable people hostage by forcing them to hold their tongues. Most people are scared to share their thoughts on social media, even if those ideas were recently uncontroversial. Now, the few, brave ones who speak out against the ordained groupthink disappear from the social media world overnight.
Many are preparing for life after Twitter. Kay expects to be banned by Twitter at some point soon. Troublemaker and satirist Bridget Phetasy has already made alternate arrangements in case she gets booted off of Twitter for saying something controversial by setting up a mailing list:
Hey y’all! I decided to start a newsletter in case I get banned. Please sign up so I don’t lose touch with all of you beautiful people.https://t.co/A4l6aJnSQl
— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) November 26, 2018
It’s frightening how pervasive and intrusive this wave of identity politics has become. It’s also very recent. Public intellectual Eric Weinstein revealed just how new all of this is in this perfect tweet:
It’s time to level with Millenials. You know all that “woke stuff” you guys talk about? The stuff you’re using to tear apart millennia of oppression and/or civilization? It was all made up about 20 minutes ago. pic.twitter.com/CtA4Z9WhvU
— Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) November 26, 2018
All of this new language has been designed to limit or compel the way we use language. And it’s so important to fight back. In this cultural moment, when voices of dissent are being purged and heterodox thinkers are being erased, we would be wise to heed the words of Jesse Kelly, who warned us in August: “Their goal is to silence dissenting voices. Look down at where you’re standing at this very moment. That is where you draw your line in the sand. Do not give them another inch.”
The thing is Jesse Kelly and Meghan Murphy, as combative and brash as they may be, are not anywhere close to Milo Yiannopoulos or Alex Jones. They are just passionate people on the unpopular side of hot-button issues.
Twitter, for all of its many flaws, is the town square where journalists, pundits, and politicians choose to congregate. But with these latest developments, Twitter is quickly becoming the town square where heretics get burned at the stake.
As Kay puts it, “If this does continue, people will find a way to migrate to other social media networks—in large part because so many of these people will have been banned from Twitter, and will have nowhere else to go.”
Perhaps, moving forward, this is the best way to fight. If Twitter does not reverse these decisions, and instead make a concerted commitment to freedom of speech, maybe it’s time to walk away and build something better.
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