Twitter Executives Ponder Controls on “Dehumanizing” Tweets, Ignore Most Newsworthy Offender

Twitter Executives Ponder Controls on “Dehumanizing” Tweets, Ignore Most Newsworthy Offender

—August 12, 2018
Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey held a high-level policy meeting Aug. 10, to debate ways to make the social media site “safer for its users.” At least, that’s how two New York Times reporters characterized the meeting. Dorsey reportedly invited the Times reporters to the meeting in an effort to “provide more transparency about Twitter’s decision making.” However, had Dorsey truly wanted to be transparent perhaps he should have also invited a member of the conservative press.

If you happen to be a conservative Twitter user then you can’t be blamed if you might be a bit skeptical about New York Times reporting on the meeting, or, more importantly, on Twitter’s ultimate intentions. If you are a conservative Twitter user, then you are well aware that the social media site, like Facebook, Google, Instagram and others, has been actively trying to stifle conservative voices. In fact, these first days of August have been marked by a significant ramp-up by these Left-leaning sites to purge Right-leaning content from their sites.

At this juncture I could easily go off on multiple tangents to explore this enhanced attack on freedom of speech—the social media ban on Infowars and the Proud Boys, and Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) demand that social media “take down” more conservative sites, for example—but want to remain focused on the Twitter meeting, as it is so rich with irony, hypocrisy and double standards.

According to the New York Times article, the hour-long meeting primarily focused on “how to rid the site of ‘dehumanizing speech,’ even if it [does] not violate Twitter’s rules, which forbid direct threats of violence and some forms of hate speech.”

Ah yes, those strongly enforced (hah!) Twitter rules forbidding direct threats of violence…. Threaten a liberal, or any of the Left’s sacred cows (illegal immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ et al., Black Lives Matter, feminists, any minority group, etc.), even if in satire, and the Tweet is quickly removed and the author usually penalized with a suspension or other sanction.

However, if you post a Tweet threatening violence against a conservative, it will likely not be removed or sanctioned at all. Just ask President Donald Trump, the recipient of tens of thousands of Tweets threatening his life or otherwise inciting violence against him and/or his supporters. While Twitter administrators occasionally remove such threatening posts, they rarely impose any penalties on the tweets’ authors.

For another great example, “Kill white people” and other tweet themes against white folks tends to be just fine with Twitter. However, Twitter initially made a concerted effort to keep “It’s OK to be White” from trending back in November 2017 after savvy social media pranksters initiated the campaign to show how the otherwise innocuous phrase would be deemed “racist” by the Left. Apparently, it’s not OK to be white, because Twitter suspended some users who used the phrase, deleted some tweets with the phrase, and restricted Twitter users from seeing it in other instances by marking it as “sensitive content.”

And this leads us to Twitter’s Friday discussion about “dehumanizing speech.” The 19 Twitter executives at the meeting, and the two invited New York Times reporters, could easily have found samples of such speech on Twitter by perusing the Twitter history of the New York Times’ own newly named member of its prestigious editorial board—Sarah Jeong, who posted hundreds of tweets disparaging white folks over the past decade.

How about: “Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins” and “Dumbshit Fucking white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants” for just two examples?

What do you think, “dehumanizing?” While the Twitter executives apparently did not discuss Ms. Jeong’s tweets during the meeting, such tweets were recently deemed offensive by the company. Offensive, that is, when astute double-standard exposer Candace Owens reposted some of Ms. Jeong’s more egregious Tweets (including the two above) as her own by substituting “black” and/or “Jewish” for “white.” Those tweets were promptly deleted and Ms. Owens sanctioned with a 12-hour suspension from the site. While Twitter rescinded the suspension when called out for the double-standard, the point had been made.

Made, but perhaps not taken, as evidenced by the apparent lack of the Twitter executives’ discussion of Ms. Yeong’s “dehumanizing” tweets. Either the New York Times reporters chose to not report on any mention that may have been made about Ms. Yeong’s tweet history, or the Twitter executives accept the New York Times’ patently false Aug. 2, assertion that Ms. Yeong’s anti-white tweets were primarily written in reaction to racist comments tweeted at her and made in satire.

Freelance journalist Nick Monroe examined all of Ms. Yeong’s 100s of allegedly racist tweets and determined that only a dozen or so were made in response to any racist or anti-feminist tweets initially made to her. Satire, of course, is highly subjective, but Ms. Yeong’s former nonstop excoriating tweetfest against white folks seems much more of a noxious brew than a mildly intoxicating elixir.

Bottom line is that given the recent newsworthiness surrounding Ms. Yeong’s anti-white tweets (and the controversy over the New York Times hiring of her) how could they not have been part of the Twitter executive discussion about “dehumanizing” speech on their site? The answer seems to be that either the New York Times buried any such details, or Twitter has no intention of making its platform safer for conservative white folks.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth

Birthplace of Campus Free Speech Now a Hotbed of Free Speech Suprression

Birthplace of Campus Free Speech Now a Hotbed of Free Speech Suprression

—February 15, 2018

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has undergone constant legal challenges since it was enacted back in 1791, though U.S. courts have tended to consistently uphold its underlying principles. Among other things, the courts always seem to recognize that allowing people or entities to take control of the narrative provides them with too much power, and that such power can quickly be abused. As repugnant as it may seem to many Conservatives, even desecration of the flag was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. From my understanding of the high court’s rulings on the issue, flag burning and other desecration was considered a form of protest against the government, and its ban by the government represented a slippery slope from which it could then ban other forms of protest. As a long-time free speech/First Amendment absolutist, I personally support the Supreme Court’s decision-making in this regard.

The campus Free Speech Movement which arose at UC Berkeley in 1964 emerged because students realized that university administrators controlled the narrative by prohibiting political activity on campus and by impinging upon other First Amendment principles, such as freedom of association. Had the students taken the school to federal court, they undoubtedly would have won their case. As it was, they won anyway through school administration acquiescence, and their victory seeped onto university and college campuses across the country, giving American youth newfound freedoms that they used to help end the war in Viet Nam and give voice to other important causes.

Not that college administrators totally caved to the students, as free speech on American campuses has been a somewhat constant source of conflict between students and administrators ever since. In the 1980s and first half of the 1990s the establishment of free speech zones and other measures became especially popular as a means of cutting back on student free speech rights. These zones and other measures are adopted under U.S. court decisions that stipulate that the government can regulate the time, place and manner of expression, but not the actual content of forms of speech. Of course, administrators often overreach, and numerous court challenges have forced many to abandon or significantly expand the “zones” and related measures.

Cut to today, though, and the biggest threat to student free speech is not so much administrators but, instead, other students. And ironically, the birthplace of campus free speech—Berkeley—has proven to be one of the most student-driven opponents of campus free speech in the nation.

Of course, we’re not talking about any campus free speech, we’re talking about Conservative campus free speech, which has been under accelerating attack for at least the past eight years, that reached a crescendo with the election of Donald Trump for President. Liberal student activists across the country, and often with support from faculty and administrators, have become aggressive campus censors devoted to shutting down any “speech” supporting Conservative values, and any that is the least bit critical of Liberal progressive sacred cows, such as illegal immigration, Islam, LGBTQ (and whatever other letters they’ve added of late), feminism, climate change, Black Lives Matter, and any and all marginalized minorities who are under alleged oppression by the white male patriarchy.

I’ve probably missed a couple here, but you get my drift.

When I say “speech,” I mean any form thereof, and campus activists want all such tinged with anything Conservative to be obliterated from their campuses. Posters, flyers and other conservative outreach materials generally disappear quickly. Conservative speakers are usually confronted by enraged mobs. Woe be unto college newspaper editors who promote something Conservative or question one of the sacred cows. Well-reasoned scholars with conservative views—forget it! Even the name “Trump” chalked onto campus sidewalks has elicited fits of spontaneous protest from these paradigms of social justice virtue.

Anyhow, the irony of the UC Berkeley protests which shut down the free speech of Milo Yiannapoulas in the very  birthplace of campus free speech probably escapes the more than 1,500 protestors who showed up to shut down that speech “by any means necessary.” In fact, it appears that the ideals of free speech are meaningless to a rather large group of college-age students across America. These students feel that the importance of their causes trumps the free speech rights of anyone else, with some willing to spill blood for their believed right to shut down speech that they do not agree with.

Scary….           

How many? Well, hard to know, but a 2016 survey of American college students found that 24 percent of white students and 41 percent of black students supported campus policies that restricted expressions of political views that might be upsetting or offensive to certain groups.

I would guess that these students haven’t bothered to consider that this could shut down their own expression depending upon who arbitrates what constitutes “upsetting” or “offensive.” Nevertheless, the fact that some of these students may eventually be running things doesn’t bode well for free speech. And while they may not represent a majority of students, such a “vocal minority can have a chilling effect on what everyone else thinks and says.”

Though perhaps not at the University of Chicago and 30 or so other schools which have recently adopted policies in support of free speech. These policies make it clear that students will not be shielded from “ideas and opinions that they may find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”

Some students at the University of Chicago and like minded schools may end up getting offended, but they will undoubtedly graduate with keen critical thinking skills borne in part by the university’s support of rigorous debate through free speech. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that critical thinking skills of UC Berkeley grads will be in short supply.

—Originally published in Discernible Truth on Feb. 12.