What Kind of Culture Do We Want?

So Twitter banned conservative/libertarian writer and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos permanently yesterday. The allegation was that he violated the company’s terms of use.

You might not care for Milo. That’s fine.  In fact, you may be glad he’s gone. Great! But let me make my case before you celebrate a company priding itself on free speech banning somebody for what amounts to mean words.

I’m going to keep the government out of this discussion for two reasons: (1) I know what the First Amendmenr means and (2) Twitter is a private company. This whole kerfuffle is about the culture and how we want it to be.

So what did Milo do this time (yes, he’s been banned before)? His criticized of the new Ghostbusters movie and an altercation with one of the film’s stars Lesie Jones. Twitter alleges that Milo also incited his followers to harass Ms. Jones, and that he is responsible for their actions. (Read Twitter’s official statement here).

Fine.

Are you surprised I’m fine with this?

Don’t be. Private companies can do whatever they want. Twitter has a history of banning people for terms-of-service violation. But there’s something curious about this history.

It’s blatantly one-sided.

This is why I care.

Twitter bans or censors prominent people who criticize anyrhing those running the company hold sacred. These people are usually on the right. Other tech companies like Facebook to this too.

It’s a huge double standard that is harming the company.

My views on double standards are pretty strong. I think they are at the root of what’s rotting American society from the inside, and are the driving force behind the politically correct culture we find ourselves in:

In the United States, we have a massive trust deficit. Everybody thinks the other person is out to screw them, especially if that other is of a different class or race. We all know that different sets of rules applies to different sets of people, right?

To a degree. And it depends on who you ask. I think we get it mostly right in the U.S.–our system was founded in part on the basis of equality under the law–but there are lots of exceptions carved out. And even worse is the perception that things are unfair.
Perception is reality. If enough people feel wronged by double standards, resentment will grow, which can lead to all sorts of fun stuff like riots and murder. 

What bothers me about Twitter is this unequal application of its policies. Many users don’t trust them anymore. And as Twitter is a huge culture force, it’s actions send a huge cultural message.

This leads to something else I find more insidious: This is training.

We’re being conditioned to get used to the silencing of speech. 


We’re already thinking twice before saying what we want.

We’re already holding back and obscuring thoughts for fear of firings or lawsuits.

Comedians are already afraid of telling certain jokes to certain audiences.

Certain groups are off-limits from criticism or jokes, while it’s open-season on others.

Double standards. An erosion off trust.

I’m on the political right, but I don’t want anybody on the political left silenced. My beliefs don’t align with those of Bill Maher and Ricky Gervais, but I’m glad they’re around and can say what they want. Ditto other less-intelligent provocateurs like Sarah Silverman and Michael Moore. Let them speak!

And what about people like Deray McKesson (close friends with Twitter head Jack Dorsey) and members of the Black Lives Matter movement whose inflammatory rhetoric–much of it on platforms like Twitter-some say has lead to radicals killing cops?

They all have the right to speech.

Twitter is awesome. It has the potential to be even better. For everybody’s sake, I hope those running it recognize that what makes it so fun is the amount of intellectual diversity one finds on it.

Yes, Twitter is a private company. Yes, private companies can serve or not serve who ever they wish (unless you’re a Christian and you don’t want to bake a cake for or cater at a gay wedding). But I just wish rules, private and public, were applied equally.

The big guys are the canaries in the coal mine.
But we’re not listening because we’re all getting used to this.

So yes, I’m still on Twitter–Why run away? Why not engage? Plus, it’s a great platform. But if a viable alternative arises, I’m there.

Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade

And check out my Instagram here

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8 thoughts on “What Kind of Culture Do We Want?

  1. The Daytime Renegade says:

    Point taken, and thanks for the link. I didn’t want to get overly legalistic or drag the government into the discussion though, because that wasn’t the point I was trying to make.

    Regardless, thanks for the link and thanks for the comment.

    Like

  2. “And what about people like Deray McKesson (close friends with Twitter head Jack Dorsey) and members of the Black Lives Matter movement whose inflammatory rhetoric–much of it on platforms like Twitter-some say has lead to radicals killing cops?”

    That’s, uh, a bit different.

    I agree that double standards are awful, but I also cringe at the quickness to deride the BLM movement for perceived slights. There is a significant gulf (legally, conversationally, however you want to slice it) between generally expressing an attitude (“cops suck ugh”) that people who perpetrate crimes may also happen to share (people who shoot cops probably dislike cops also), and *specifically* telling people to target one person in a way that violates Twitter’s terms of use.

    It’s not a matter of political opinion — it’s a matter of, hey, you can hit that Report button to try and build a better community by removing toxic members of it. Usually this results in an egg being banned, and maybe popping up later… Milo just happened to have more of a following.

    To avoid perpetuating any double standards, though, maybe I should elect to pay Milo’s departure just as much attention as I would any other little egg account.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      Good points Eric. Thanks for being a comments section guy! I was trying to draw a contrast to describe what I see as an uneven application of the rules.

      Laying dead cops directly at Deray’s feet IS a stretch, in my opinion. But SUPPORTERS of the movement call for cop killing. Isn’t that similar on form, though not degree, to the accusations against Milo?

      But here’s the thing: Milo never told followers to Twitter-attack Leslie Jones, as has been claimed–he sent I think two tweets directly to her. Also, plenty of people–Ms. Jones included–have encouraged followers to Twitter-attack others (though she just wrote “get her,” which is up for interpretation).

      Anyway, my contention is I wish Twitter would be consistent. I like Milo, but your mileage may vary. The point isn’t necessarily Milo though. Unless you’re directly calling for real-world violence (like many unbanned people do on Twitter!) or peddling in kiddie porn, I don’t support being censored, nor do I like the “He/she’s mean! Ban them!” mentality in general.

      Twitter IS awesome. I think it’s best when it operates as a Wild West of expression, which I would say it 90% is. The one-sided banning is what irks me more than Milo per se (though I find his tweeting hilarious).

      Again, thanks for the comment Eric.

      Like

  3. “Isn’t that similar on form, though not degree, to the accusations against Milo?” — Yeah, kinda? I mean, yuck, I don’t want cop-killing sentiments on Twitter either. So I think me and you agree on the point that it’s sort of an all-or-nothing proposition: If your goal is to improve quality of exchanges, you have to remove some people. You just do, even if it’s just the blatant trolls. But where does one draw the line? I do not envy being in Twitter’s shoes on this one. If you asked me personally, should Milo be banned? Whew, I don’t even know, I am not sure what my own conduct policies and rules of blah blah blah would be. I mean, as it stands, in your hypothetical situation, I don’t mind seeing Milo *or* the “let’s kill the cops” (again, big yuck) person banned. So, sure, ban both if both meet the criteria, ban neither if neither actually do, just stick to something.

    The real loser here is anyone who thinks a broad let-any-person-in kind of platform can have 100% constructive discourse lol good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      “…ban both if both meet the criteria, ban neither if neither actually do, just stick to something.”

      Exactly!

      “The real loser here is anyone who thinks a broad let-any-person-in kind of platform can have 100% constructive discourse…”

      If you’re aiming for perfection with humanity, you’re bound to be disappointed. But to get to the good stuff, I argue you DO need to let-them-all-in. We can filter through it without an outside entity doing it for us. Or at least I hope we could!

      Like

  4. “Twitter is awesome. It has the potential to be even better. For everybody’s sake, I hope those running it recognize that what makes it so fun is the amount of intellectual diversity one finds on it.”

    The problem is that people like Milo have been actively working against intellectual diversity. Regardless of whether or not Milo personally instigated the rampant abuse on Leslie Jones in the most recent case, this is hardly the first time his followers have dogpiled on someone he’s named dropped, and he was well aware this was happening (he’s even egged it on in several instances).

    Such harassment generally continues until the person in question is completely run off the platform because they are too sick of wading through death threats and insults to find any reasonable conversation, effectively silencing them (but hey, it’d only really be censorship if they were banned I guess).

    If people like Milo really want to paint themselves as “the champions of free speech”, they can’t simultaneously ensure that the opinions of others are torn down through these means, otherwise the so-called “intellectual diversity” becomes a one-sided echo chamber.

    Also, in regards to the BLM comparison, at the very least Deray has come out and made a public statement that the violence against officers won’t solve anything, whereas Milo has (as far as I know) never done anything like that over the harassment. Honestly, if he had made a sincere statement against such actions on people he name dropped, he probably wouldn’t have been banned in the first place.

    That all said and done, though, I do completely agree that Twitter needs to be more thorough when it comes to banning people fairly. The toxic members of the community that use it as an instrument of hate against others are what hold it back from being a good medium for conversation; if Twitter would step in and act outside of the cases where a celebrity is involved or they are receiving enormous amounts of flak for it, it’d probably be a whole lot better for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Daytime Renegade says:

      First, thanks for the comment!

      As I had been following Milo on Twitter, I can say I have not seen him call for anyone to be silenced or banned. Quite the contrary. Whether that’s sincere, we can’t say, but I do think he meant it when he wanted intellectual diversity. His point wasn’t to shut the other guy up; it was that nobody should be shut up. I tend to agree with that sentiment.

      Twitter is great, but inconsistent. I have seen people–right, left, center, up, down, whatever–including Milo–get death threats via Tweets and DM–and the threatening individual not get banned.

      As far as abuse and silencing, have you seen, for example, what Talib Kweli and his followers have been tweeting at a black Breitbart reporter lately? Pretty bad stuff. No action from Twitter.

      Milo, as far as I know, hasn’t apologized for anything. But people purporting to follow him haven’t murdered any cops, or anyone else. Am I blaming Deray or saying his condemnation wasn’t sincere? No. Just that there are differing degrees of abuse that those claiming to follow someone can commit. And holding people responsible for the actions of their followers is a pretty slippery slope that’d be hard to draw a line around. Maybe it can be done; I don’t know.

      This behavior isn’t unique to one side. One side seems to get punished for it.

      You seem to agree with my point, though, that terms of service should be applied equally if anybody is to take them seriously.

      Anyway, thank you for commenting! I do appreciate it!

      Like

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