Friday, July 22, 2016

The Dickish Milo Yiannopoulos Finally Gets Kicked Off Twitter

So, Internet exploder extraordinaire Milo Yiannopoulos finally got kicked off Twitter permanently as a result of a squabble with Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones. Despite the New York Times' claim that Yiannopoulos was "one of the most egregious and consistent offenders of its terms of service", the truth is that Twitter has yet to point to specific violations of those terms by the man known as @Nero. Unfortunately, the case against him is much more tangled than the Times story lets on, something Cathy Young details in a long Allthink piece.
There are two different questions here. One, does Milo deserve sympathy and support? And two, is Twitter's enforcement of anti-harassment rules politically biased, rife with favoritism, and generally inconsistent?
(The TL;DR answers are: not so much in this case, and yes.) Young observes that "his online conflicts tended to escalate into nasty personal attacks", viz. this one about former Breitbart colleague Ben Shapiro on the occasion of his son's birth:

Young continues:
 Milo is a very smart, talented, charismatic man. I still believe he was on the right side when he joined the fight against the crypto-totalitarian "social justice" cult. But I've always thought that, unfortunately, any backlash against "progressive" cultural politics was likely to be a magnet for actual racism, misogyny, and other bigotries. Today, Milo is actively boosting these malignant forces. As his "Daddy" Donald Trump would say: Sad!
Even though Twitter hasn't commented on the matter more extensively, it seems almost certain that the problem stemmed, in part, from faked tweets he posted, purported to be from Jones, which in turn "was both impersonation, a severe violation of Twitter rules, and a pretty clear move to pour more fuel on the fire."

If Yiannopoulos took up arms against political correctness, he didn't much care about the identity and behavior of his allies, something Brendan O'Neill recently wrote about (via Reason's Robby Soave):
These attacks on Ms Jones speak to something more than the raucousness of Twitter, which can often be a good thing, certainly to the extent that it allows unheard, eccentric and potty voices to be heard. It speaks, more importantly, to the derailment of the important task of challenging PC. Tragically, for those of us who want to prick PC from a genuinely liberal and pro-autonomy perspective, the anti-PC mantle has in recent months been co-opted by the new right, or the alt-right, as some call them. These lovers of Trump (they call him ‘daddy’) and conspiracy theorists about feminism (whose wicked influence they spy everywhere) have turned being anti-PC from a decent, progressive position into an infantile, pathological, Tourette’s-style desire to scream offensive words out loud, like the seven-year-old who’s just discovered the thrill that comes with saying ‘f**k’.
Yet simultaneously, as Freddy DeBoer points out, it's pretty obvious that Yiannopoulos got the boot at least in part because he's not in the club (emboldening mine):
When Emmet Rensin was suspended from Vox for following liberal logic on Trump to its obvious conclusions, it was trivially easy to find Vox employees who had said far worse things on Twitter, while Vox employees, with absolutely no consequences. The #WeAreTheLeft debacle was made extra funny/sad by the fact that so many of the signatories of that letter were objectively guilty of the kinds of behaviors the letter indicted. People who gleefully trashed Justine Sacco complain about pile-ons; people who say doxing is wrong get others fired from their real-life jobs. There are no principles; there’s only who you’re cool with and who you aren’t. I’ve been for saying this for years, 8 in fact, and the response has always been a kind of muttered shiftiness, a desire to change the subject. Because most people know I’m right. They always have. But for some reason, there’s this dedication to maintaining the pretense, this addiction to plausible deniability. Nobody really thinks this stuff is about principle, but to be a member in good standing, you have to go through the motions. That hasn’t changed.
Which is what makes this so frustrating, and why all defenses of free speech ultimately grow tiresome, because they tend to involve the defense of sometimes terrible behavior. As Ken White recently wrote at Popehat, "nobody needs free speech rights to protect admirable speech by people we like." Anita Sarkeesian, Yiannopoulos' longtime #Gamergate foe, appears to have finally won the game started when she landed on Twitter's "Trust & Safety" board. But let us assume that she and her like-minded cohorts indeed turn Twitter into a mammoth echo chamber, a place where orthodoxy and adorable cat pictures are the only permissible tweets. Where will she go to gin up the death threats so central to her shtick?

No comments:

Post a Comment