Our Twitter ban: some background

Jack on the Joe Rogan podcast

Ah, Jack Dorsey. “Jack”! Everybody’s chum. A regular dude, who in a couple of recent appearances on the Joe Rogan podcast sported a scraggly beard, had lousy posture, and answered questions in a slow, rambling way that made him seem like someone who’d never been in front of a microphone before.

He’s striven, more than any of the other top-rank social-media billionaires, to make himself available for interviews and to come off as an ordinary guy whose heart is in the right place and who, faced with the daunting challenge of curating a social-media site, is sincerely struggling to get it right.

Banned: Anthony Cumia

Watch him here, for example, in the first of his two interviews with Rogan. Judging by the comments by YouTube viewers, we weren’t the only ones who were baffled by Rogan’s tame treatment of the Twitter king. Even though friends and acquaintances of Rogan’s had been banned from Twitter without anything remotely resembling a good explanation, Rogan tossed only softballs at Dorsey. The pushback from furious viewers was so overwhelming that both Rogan and Dorsey – apparently going into panic mode – promised to do a more revealing follow-up chat.

The reason for that pushback was that more than a few of those viewers had been kicked off of Twitter. Even more of them had seen people they admire kicked off the platform. And none of it for any reason, it seemed, other than sheer politics.

So we’re far from the first people to be unceremoniously removed from Twitter. Here are the names of a few of those who have preceded us in our instant infamy.

Banned: Milo

In 2016, the often irreverent libertarian commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter after tweeting some insults about the remake of Ghostbusters and about actress/comedienne Leslie Jones, who starred in that film.

Admittedly, Yiannopoulos made some edgy jokes, but nothing that remotely merited a ban. In fact, Twitter’s official position was that it had banned Yiannopoulos not for his own tweets but – get this – for “racist and sexist remarks” directed at Jones by hundreds of Yiannopoulos’s followers.

Banned: Carl Benjamin

In short, Twitter was holding Yiannopoulos responsible for the behavior of people who followed his account. The New York Times bought into this crazy logic, maintaining that Yiannopoulos had “rallied and directed” the abuse. Of course, if every popular Twitter user were responsible for all the tweets by his or her users, they’d all be deplatformed in a New York minute.

Yiannopoulos was just one of the first to go. In June 2017, one of America’s foremost humorists, politically incorrect radio and podcast personality Anthony Cumia, author of the recent (and appropriately named) memoir Permanently Suspended, was permanently banned from Twitter. He has since opened several new accounts in various names that have also eventually been closed. In each case, the reason was that Twitter decided that it disapproved of Cumia’s politically incorrect humor.

Banned: Roger Stone

In October 2017, political consultant Roger Stone, an intimate of President Trump and former advisor of both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, was permanently banned from Twitter after challenging the honesty and intelligence of CNN anchor Don Lemon.

Then, in March of last year, Islam critic Tommy Robinson, one of the most admired men in Britain, was permanently banned from Twitter for violating its “hateful conduct policy.” No specifics were adduced. And this year, in April, when Robinson and popular YouTuber Carl Benjamin were running for the European Parliament, the former as an independent and the latter as a member of UKIP, both their campaign’s Twitter accounts were taken down – an outrageous intrusion by a U.S. firm into a British election.

Indeed, none of the people we’ve mentioned here has engaged in “hateful conduct.” Yes, they’ve engaged in insult humor. They’re mocked their enemies. They’ve participated in what used to be known as vigorous exchanges. In many cases, their opponents on the left have been at least as rough as they’ve been. None of them is racist, antigay, or anything of the kind. In fact Yiannopoulos is gay and married to a black man. But simply by expressing their honestly held views in strong and often witty language, they’ve incurred the wrath of the Twitter gods.

The gatekeeper: Vijaya Gadde

Of course, that wasn’t the line that Jack took on March 5, when he turned up for a second time on Rogan’s podcast, this time bringing along a flunky, Vijaya Gadde, who ended up doing most of Twitter’s talking. Also on the show was independent journalist Tim Pool, who demanded explanations for the permanent bans of Yiannopoulos and others. Every single explanation was lame. Some were downright dishonest. Gadde’s mantra was that Twitter seeks to keep users from being “driven away” from it by “harassment.” But she seemed to think of harassment as something only the left experiences; she seemed oblivious to the left’s endless badgering of conservatives, libertarians, and centrists.

One banned user whose name came up was radical feminist Meghan Murphy, removed for telling an M-F transsexual, in the course of a vigorous discussion, that “men aren’t women.” At Twitter, this counts as “misgendering” and is considered “abuse and harassment.” Rogan’s observation that Murphy was just stating a biological fact didn’t faze Gadde, who came off as an unsettling combination of an oily corporate shill and an icy ideological robot – the kind of ideologue, moreover, who doesn’t even realize she’s an ideologue.

More next week.

Useful Stooges: Banned from Twitter!

What was it, Jack? Was it our criticism of Cuban Communism? Our piece about anti-Semitism in Britain? Our report on the imprisonment on corruption charges of a former Chief Justice of the South Korean Supreme Court?

Was it the fact that we called out would-be spiritual guru Reza Aslan for describing the face of that Covington High School kid, Nick Sandmann, as “punchable”?

Was it our uncomfortable reminder that legendary leftist heroine Angela Davis was, in fact, an accessory to murder and has been a lifelong supporter of totalitarian governments?

Has it been any of our several articles about the devastating impact of socialism on Venezuela?

What was it, Jack Dorsey, that led your company, Twitter, to remove this website’s Twitter feed?

Max Blumenthal

This site, Useful Stooges, has been online since April 2015. As you can read at our “About” page, our focus is largely on “heads of state, from Asia to Africa to Latin America, who practice corruption and oppression on a colossal scale” and on those “who serve them, praise them, and provide them with positive PR even though they know better, or should.”

During our more than four years in operation, we’ve published over 750 posts about such past and current leaders as Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe, Muammar Qaddafi, and Vladimir Putin and on a wide range of their bootlicking admirers, including Oliver Stone, Max Blumenthal, Stella McCartney, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, E.L. Doctorow, Gloria Steinem, Shirley MacLaine, Sean Penn, Eric Hobsbawm, and dozens of others.

Eric Hobsbawm

We owe no allegiance to any political party. Without fear or favor, we’ve criticized tyrants of both the left and right. We stand only for individual freedom and human rights, and we stand up against those who oppress, who seek to oppress, or who cheer for oppression. And we deal in facts, not rumors or spin or smears.

Oliver Stone

You wouldn’t think there’d be anything controversial about this. Not in the United States, in the second decade of the twenty-first century. But you’d be wrong. Jack Dorsey, like his counterparts at Facebook and YouTube, has taken on the role of censor. In doing so, he has taken the side of what some have called the “regressive left” and taken it upon himself to stifle its critics.

The alarming fact is that, for all too many Silicon Valley bigwigs, tyranny is an awful thing and those who assail it are doing good work – except, maybe, when it comes to tyranny in Cuba. Or China. Or in the Islamic world. Or in certain other countries and regions, perhaps, where those bigwigs may happen to have great business deals going on.

To be sure, Jack stands apart from the heads of some other social-media giants. When confronted with their hypocrisies, they prefer to retreat behind the walls of their mansions. Jack Dorsey, who encourages Twitter users to think of him just as “Jack” – a buddy, a pal – takes another approach. More on that next week.

Applauding Brunei

Sultan of Brunei

Now that the government of Brunei has fully implemented sharia law in regard to gays and adulterers – meaning that those found guilty of these violations of Islam will henceforth be stoned to death – politicians, celebrities, and commentators around the world have been unhesitant in their expressions of outrage. People like Ellen Degeneres, George Clooney, and Elton John have called for boycotts of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Dorchester in London, the Plaza Athenee in Paris, and other the posh hostelries that the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, owns in the U.S. and Europe; Deutsche Bank has banned its employees from staying at the hotels, and the Financial Times and other firms have cancelled events scheduled to take place in them. Ads for holidays in Brunei have been pulled from London buses; Virgin Australia terminated a deal with Royal Brunei Airlines, the state-owned carrier, as has at least one major travel agency; Western universities that have awarded honorary degrees to the Sultan (who also serves as his nation’s prime minister, defense minister, finance minister, and foreign minister) have said that they are reviewing those honors.

Interior, Dorchester Hotel

Yet this fury over the Sultan’s action is not universal. Residents of Brunei interviewed by the Agence France-Presse gave it a thumbs-up. “I’m proud, because implementing the law feels like it solidifies the Islamic identity of Brunei,” said Muhammad Antoni, a 27-year-old worker. Haziah Zainal, a 36-year-old civil servant, said that famous people calling for boycotts should mind their own business. “These actions seem ignorant,” said Zainal, “as they have not even been here to experience what it’s like.” While everyone is focusing on Brunei, homosexuality is a capital offense in at least ten other Muslim countries, although in Yemen the punishment is applicable only to married men and in Qatar only to married Muslims. One of the countries in question is Saudi Arabia, but this has not prevented companies like Uber, Lyft, Twitter, and Snapchat from accepting Saudi investment or universities like MIT, funded by Saudi money. Polls have shown that close to half of Muslims in Britain would like to see sharia law introduced in that country, but when UKIP head Gerard Batten said on LBC the other day that many British Muslims do indeed hold anti-democratic views, his interviewer called this a grotesque exaggeration and branded Batten a far-right bigot for even suggesting such a thing.

Daniel Haqiqatjou

Among those celebrating Brunei’s tough new laws was Daniel Haqiqatjou, a Harvard-educated American Muslim who, in a March 30 article, praised the Sultan for “implementing hudud [punishments dictated by sharia law] to crack down on sodomites and fornicators!” Haqiqatjou explained his enthusiasm as follows: “Allah created human beings in a certain way. Our bodies and minds are created in a certain way and only certain types of relationships allow human beings to flourish in this world and the next, while other types of behaviors lead to destruction and widespread suffering.” Taking note of the organized effort to persuade people not to stay at Brunei-owned hotels, Haqiqatjou wrote: “I think Muslims need to counteract any boycott by making Brunei their next vacation destination spot. Maybe some of these expensive spiritual tourism tours…can make Brunei the next go-to site, maybe attend a caning or two so Western Muslims can experience first hand what implementing hudud actually means.” If Haqiqatjou were some rara avis, of course, his views wouldn’t be worth heeding. The alarming fact, however, is that his number is legion.

Malcolm Harris loves the idea of assassinating Republicans

Malcolm Harris

In May of last year, we spent a couple of days on this site contemplating a young political writer named Malcolm Harris, who in a stupid article for the New Republic had actually tried to rehabilitate Communism. When we looked into Harris’s background, we discovered him to be a child of privilege (his father had been a “Silicon Valley corporate lawyer” and then a diplomat) who had thrown himself into what leftist journo Mark Ames called a “brand of marketing-concocted ‘anarchism,’” helped found Occupy Wall Street, and then, quite amusingly, rushed to cash in on his newly minted radical celebrity, signing up with a speakers’ bureau and charging $5000 fees to speak to his alleged fellow members of the fabled “one percent.” During one OWS demo in 2011 he led his flock onto Brooklyn Bridge and held up traffic. OWS soon died down, but Harris, alas, has kept going, churning out drearily predictable pieces (for Al Jazeera, no less) with titles like “Wealthy Cabals Run America” and “Hooray for Cultural Marxism.”

Rep. Steve Scalise

Harris had dropped off our radar for a bit when he became a part of the story of the attempted mass assassination, on June 14, of those baseball-playing Republican Congressmen by a Bernie Sanders fan from Ohio. Harris wrote a couple of tweets that, Betsy Rothstein of The Daily Caller suggested, “may be the most heinous reaction” to that horrible event. In one tweet, Harris noted that Congressman Steve Scalise was in stable condition, “but a lot of Americans die from hospital errors so keep crossing your fing[ers].” In another, he asked: “If the shooter has a serious health condition then is taking potshots at the GOP leadership considered self defense?” The point apparently being that the GOP’s replacement for Obamacare, whatever it turns out to be, will leave people in dire medical straits high and dry. In yet another tweet, Harris wrote: “Nope nope nope you can’t use ‘respect for human life’ to defend GOP house leadership. That’s just bad math.” Funny how far-left ideologues who claim be so fanatically concerned about the welfare of fellow human beings turn out, in fact, to care about people in the abstract but not necessarily about specific individuals.

Harris’s Twitter account identified him as a writer for Vox. Although he has written for that site, Vow was quick to disavow any formal relationship with him.

Tiana Lowe

Harris wasn’t alone in responding to the attack with coldblooded snark. Others, too, took to social media to suggest that the violence of the Ohio socialist constituted a legitimate reaction to GOP policy positions, because those policy positions are themselves, in essence, acts of violence. As Tiana Lowe noted in National Review, this is a particularly dangerous way of turning reality upside down: “the notion that passionate political discourse is violence while actual violence can be excused,” she write, “is beyond Orwellian; it’s barbaric.” Yep. Unfortunately, it’s also received opinion on today’s loony far left.  

After being widely criticized for his tweets, Harris refused to apologize. And why should he? Those nasty tweets put him back on the map. To be sure, he’s been doing other writing. Since OWS faded away, he’s supposedly rebranded himself as an expert on the younger generation. On June 9 the ever-declining Washington Post ran a silly think piece in which he contemplated the question “Why do millennials keep leaking government secrets?” He also supposedly has a book forthcoming in November from Little, Brown entitled Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials. We can’t wait.

Laurie Penny’s moral equivalence

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Laurie Penny

Today we’re continuing our study of 29-year-old British columnist Laurie Penny, who, in half a dozen books, innumerable articles for The New Statesman and The Independent, and countless lectures before rapt audiences around the world, has bravely raged against the evil Western capitalist patriarchy that has kept her enchained in oppression as a woman throughout her difficult life – from her upbringing as the daughter of two very affluent attorneys, through her years at a posh public school and at Cambridge, right up till now, when she’s experiencing professional mega-success but has had to endure the cruelty of online persecution and abuse (read: people disagreeing with her on Twitter and Facebook).

koln7
Cologne, New Year’s Eve

Yesterday we began looking at the column Penny wrote last January about the mass rapes in Cologne. Her basic point was this: when Western men or conservatives or whoever criticize mass rape by Muslims, they’re stealing “feminist rhetoric in the name of imperialism and racism.” Lots of men, she reports, have been calling on her to condemn Muslim violence against women. But this is the best she can do: when it comes to patriarchal brutality, “there’s not a country or culture on earth that won’t have to take a long, hard look at itself.” Hey, it’s our old friend again – moral equivalence. “I stand,” she adds, “with the many, many Muslim, Arab, Asian and immigrant feminists organising against sexism and misogyny within and beyond their own communities.” But, as she’s been taught by her far-left feminist mentors, it is not the white woman’s place to speak out against the brown man’s misogyny.

koln9She dismisses the idea that it would help to improve controls on immigration into Europe. “That fits in,” she writes, “with the shibboleth that only savage, foreign men and hardened criminals rape and abuse women.” But this is a straw-man argument (a species of rhetoric that is common in Penny’s work): nobody has ever said that “only” foreigners and criminals rape and abuse women. More: “As usual, white supremacist patriarchy only concerns itself with women’s safety and women’s dignity when rape and sexual assault can be pinned on cultural ‘outsiders.’” Again, there’s that ridiculous “only.” All this, of course, is a smokescreen thrown up by a pampered Western woman who’s comfortable bashing the “white supremacist patriarchy” – including the police and soldiers who guard her while she sleeps – but who’s too pusillanimous to face one stark, simple fact: namely, that rape is far, far more prevalent in the Islamic world than it is in the West, and that to import armies of Muslim men into Europe without careful vetting them is to invite a terrifying upsurge in European rape statistics.

penny10Penny goes even further – disgustingly so. She accuses the white men who express concern about Muslim rapists of doing so because they’re turned on sexually by the idea of it. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that these men may worry about the fate of their wives and daughters and granddaughters in an Islamized society where unveiled infidel females are considered legitimate targets of sexual assault. But to understand their worry would involve a sense of realism and responsibility that Penny utterly lacks.

“The point,” she says by way of summing up her rant on Cologne, “is that misogyny knows no colour or creed.” And stupidity, we might add, knows no gender.

More tomorrow.