This weekend, conservative pundit/performance artist Jesse Kelly was banned from Twitter. He has no idea why.
A few weeks ago, a Muslim conservative named @Kebejay was banned for reasons that are also unknown. (I’m assuming it’s Twitter’s Islamophobia, because this is 2018 and identity politics is always the explanation.) Conservative Bruce Carroll, aka @GayPatriot, was also banned but was then reinstated.
An aspiring right-wing* pundit named Laura Loomer was just banned for criticizing Ilhan Omar.
A feminist named Meghan Murphy was banned for her heretical belief that men and women are biologically different, and that no amount of wishing and snipping will turn a man into a woman or vice versa. This concession to biological reality is now verboten on Twitter.
(The first time I was suspended from Twitter was for mocking convicted traitor Bradley Manning, who is now operating under the delusion that he is a woman. I was suspended for using a string of emojis that apparently offended someone, somewhere.)
In response to all this, Glenn Reynolds (AKA Instapundit) just quit the platform. He reasons: “Why should I provide free content to people I don’t like, who hate me?”
I’m bummed about Jesse Kelly getting banned, because I find him entertaining. Not everybody is a fan of his act, but I kinda like it. On Thanksgiving, he posted a thread with pictures of people he was thankful for. In each and every photo, Kelly was smiling at the camera and the other person’s head was mostly cropped out. It was a joke. That’s his character, an arrogant egomaniac who thinks the world revolves around him and everybody should be grateful for it. (He’ll deny it’s a character, of course, because that’s part of the character.) I think he’s funny. If you don’t think he’s funny, that’s fine. I really see no reason to ban him for it.
I tend to err on the side of free speech. I’m offended by other people every single day, but I let it slide because I’m not a totalitarian fascist. I give people the benefit of the doubt, and if they disappoint me, I just ignore them. I don’t know why it needs to be more difficult than that.
Here’s some anti-Semitic garbage that offends me, but that Twitter seems to think is just fine:
I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite. pic.twitter.com/L5dPQcnVg4
— MINISTER FARRAKHAN (@LouisFarrakhan) October 16, 2018
Twitter hasn’t banned Farrakhan, for this or any of the other bigoted swill he slings around, so the only rational conclusion is that Twitter agrees with him. After all, they ban people who are far less famous than Farrakhan for saying things that are far less bigoted and inflammatory. So, clearly they think he’s right.
Twitter offers a multitude of tools to keep you from seeing things you don’t want to see. You can block an account, or merely mute it if you want to keep ’em guessing. You can even mute specific words and phrases you don’t want to see, which really comes in handy whenever Lena Dunham is trending.
But that’s not enough. If you don’t like it, nobody is allowed to see it. As Jon Gabriel points out, “Today, Twitter is mostly dumb people yelling at each other and self-appointed hall monitors trying to shut down accounts they don’t follow.”
A few years ago, South Park did a funny episode about people quitting Twitter and being treated like they’d just died. Once they were no longer on social media, they were as good as dead. It was silly, and it was true.
As I’ve said every time I comment on this, Twitter is a private entity and can set its own rules. It can enforce those rules as tightly or as sloppily as it sees fit. It can impose one standard on liberals and another standard on conservatives.
And we can point that out.
*I’ve seen Loomer described as “conservative,” but nobody is able to explain why.