A Note On a Jackass Getting Booted From Twitter

Milo Yiannopoulos, aka Nero aka some real basic garbage in human form, got the boot from Twitter last night as a result of encouraging his racist and/or sexist and/or alt-right pals to go after actress Leslie Jones, who starred in the new Ghostbusters, aka the film sexist manboys wailed was ruining their childhood. Jones was subjected to more than a day of appalling abuse, Yannopoulos chortled about it like the troll he is and cheered his minions on, and Twitter finally decided he was a liability and permanently dumped his ass.

So, some thoughts on this:

1. Yiannopoulos and his party pals are now mewling about this being some horrible violation of free speech, so let’s recall that a) Twitter is not the US or any other government and b) is a private entity and c) essentially reserves the right to boot anyone from their service for whatever reason, so, really, waaaaaaaah, and also, no. Yiannopoulos still has a platform for his nonsense on Breitbart, aka where journalism goes to drill holes in its temple and then cover itself in its own poop, so anyone who wants him can go there (Please go there. Please stay there). He hasn’t been censored; he’s just been told to take a hike.

2. Yiannopoulos and his party pals will also want to claim this is about him being conservative, and again, no. There’s nothing inherent in holding to a conservative philosophy that requires one, in their interactions with others online, to be a raging shithole, or to encourage others to be the same. Millions of conservatives use Twitter every day without being raging shitholes. Conversely, there’s nothing about a liberal philosophy that means you can’t be a raging shithole; I just the other day muted a liberal turd over there because I didn’t want to be bothered with his smug dickery any further. Being an asshole is orthogonal to political philosophy. Yiannopoulos’ public persona is centered on being an asshole in order to serve a market of assholes. That’s pretty obvious.

3. When Yiannopoulos was booted off of Twitter, some folks wrenched their hands and said “But that’s what he wants! It’ll just serve his narrative of persecution!” Well, one, no, it’s not what he wanted. This is a fellow who, when given an opportunity to ask a question in the White House press room, querulously whined about losing his “verified” checkmark on Twitter. Being booted from the service is not an actual win for him. Two, of course he’ll spin it like a win anyway, because as with other dipshits of his sort, everything must always be spun as, not only a victory, but as a victory that is unfolding exactly to plan. Yiannopoulos could trip down a flight of stairs mouth first and he’d crawl himself up a wall at the landing, turn to you with a mouth full of broken teeth and try to convince you that he meant to do that. If you know that about him (and other dipshits like him), it becomes easy to ignore the “that’s what he wants” aspect and do what you need to do.

4. “But he’s gay!” Yes, Yiannopoulos is gay. He’s also an asshole who points other assholes at people to harass and terrorize them. He got booted off Twitter for the latter; the former doesn’t excuse it. Being an asshole is orthogonal to sexuality as well as political philosophy.

5. It’s good that Twitter punted Yiannopoulos, but let’s not pretend that it doesn’t look like Twitter did some celebrity calculus there. Yiannopoulos and pals had a nice long run pointing themselves at all other manner of people they didn’t like, for whatever reason, and essentially Twitter didn’t say “boo” about it. But then they harass a movie star with movie star friends, many of whom are Twitter users with large numbers of followers, and whose complaints about Twitter and the harassment of their friend get play in major news outlets, and Twitter finally boots the ringleader of that shitty little circus.

So the math there at least appears pretty obvious from the outside. You can punch down on Twitter and get away with it, but don’t punch up, and punch up enough to make Twitter look bad, or you’ll get in trouble (after more than a day). Is this actually the way it works? I’m not at Twitter so I can’t say. I can say I do know enough women of all sorts who have gotten all manner of shit by creeps on Twitter, but who weren’t in a movie and had movie star friends or got press play for their harassment. And they basically had to suck it up. So, yeah, from the outside it looks like Twitter made their decision on this based on optics rather than the general well-being of their users.

6. Which is a recurring theme with Twitter (and other social media services, but also, of Twitter): Not much gets done until the service looks bad, and then what gets done is cosmetic rather than useful. Don’t get me wrong, Twitter punting Yiannopoulos is a good thing; he deserved it and has done for a while. But Yiannopoulos didn’t get to the point where he needed the boot all by himself. He happily exploited the weaknesses of Twitter — weaknesses Twitter could have dealt with years ago — to become one of the service’s leading shitlords. And getting rid of the shitlord doesn’t mean the shitty little minions he gathered to himself still aren’t on the service and happy to continue their shitty ways. Which is fine if they keep to themselves; less so when they’re shitty to others, as they are likely to be.

Twitter can do more to make it easier for users to route around awful people and to get them off the service if they won’t let themselves be routed around. Twitter’s been promising for years that they’re going to make better strides in this department — and is promising more in the coming weeks — and yet here we are in 2016 and still it takes someone with a number two box office film to her name and all her famous friends to get the service to do something it should have done long ago. Yiannopoulos is giant turd of human, to be sure. But Twitter did its part in letting him get that way. Maybe they should do more to avoid let turd buildup happen from here on out.

They say they’re going to do it. Prove it, Twitter.

141 Comments on “A Note On a Jackass Getting Booted From Twitter”

  1. Rather obviously the Mallet will be out on this thread. Please behave, folks. And new folks should read the site comment rules.

    Also, for those of you wondering what I would like, in terms of making Twitter more tolerable and useful, I made a list a while back. I will note that not long ago Twitter did start centralizing its mute and block lists, so they work both on the Twitter main interface and also on Tweetdeck. So that’s a start!

  2. [Deleted because it doesn’t look like it has anything to do with the topic at hand. Madeleine, you’re not spamming my comment thread, are you? — JS]

  3. Re: point 1 – they can blather on about how their freedom of speech is being oppressed etc, but just because Twitter rarely enforces its terms and conditions that users sign up to, it doesn’t mean that those T&Cs don’t exist. Twitter was, for once, enforcing those T&Cs when it kicked him. It just needs to start doing it more often when needed.

  4. Wonderful read. I refuse to keep explaining freedom of speech to anyone. The whole thing was gross and disgusting and watching it in real time was horrific. And people telling Leslie Jones to get a thicker skin and ignore it were driving me batty as well.

  5. “Twitter can do more to make it easier for users to route around awful people and to get them off the service if they won’t let themselves be routed around.”

    I think that opening account verification to everyone is part of that. Most trolls on twitter are anonymous, so simply having a “block unverified accounts” will cut down on the trolling. Shared block lists (does twitter do that already?), sort of like AdBlock, would then be better able to cope with the trolls using verified accounts.

  6. Bravo, John Scalzi. A useful reality check: good on Twitter for making a start, but let’s see if we can keep it from getting to this point again, yes?

  7. The first thing I thought when reading about his “it is because I’m a conservative” bit was, why would anyone who is an actual conservative want this person on their side? I certainly would not want people thinking he was a shining example of conservative values.

    Then again, given what else is going on in politics, I guess I just don’t understand the process at all.

  8. I don’t think Twitter will ever get serious about fixing harassment problems on their service. They will do SOMETHING, for sure, but there is a point at which increasing privacy and security and policing starts reducing their profit margin, and the level they need to reach to truly put this kind of harassment in check is most likely past that point.

  9. Wiredog:

    “Most trolls on twitter are anonymous, so simply having a ‘block unverified accounts’ will cut down on the trolling.”

    Maybe? I mean, Yiannopolous wasn’t anonymous, and neither are some other prominent trolls on social media I can think of.

  10. “Yiannopolous wasn’t anonymous, and neither are some other prominent trolls on social media I can think of”

    This is true, but how many of the followers he was able to rally would want to be verified? Maybe it could at least cut down on the flood.

  11. Tanek:

    Well, that’s highly contingent on whether they don’t want to be associated with their various bigotries. I think rather a large number of them do, and don’t see anything wrong with either their opinions or their actions. Remember: “Free speech” in this case means the ability to harass people who don’t share your opinions. And (in their minds) can you not be for free speech?!?

  12. In re: Milo’s public persona, I can’t shake the impression that he’s Daffy Duck in “Rabbit Fire”. (“It’s rabbit season!” “Duck season!” “Rabbit season!”) Desperate to redirect fire at anyone else but him, works by trying to gaslight and sic minions on his targets, comically inept if it weren’t for the colateral damage… it also helps me retain the tiny slice of sanity left to me, which I find precious perhaps because of its scarcity.

    — Steve

  13. Someone suggested that Twitter add a feature permitting users to disable @-comments from users with fewer than X number of followers (a number set by the user), which would–while not completely curtailing harrassment–severely restrict it.

  14. (Pssst, not actually #1 movie. Per IMDb, it came in behind Secret Life of Pets. I have hope your statement will become true this coming weekend.)

    More to the topic:

    I wonder what the cost of policing trolls and other shits is? It can’t be automated–that experiment has been tried, and the shits gamed the system to target inoffensive people. The solution requires human judgment. More than that—multiple human judgment, so that a strongly biased individual employee can’t wreak havoc. This human judgment (or pool of humans working together) need to be consistent and fair.

    There are millions and millions of Twitter, FB, and other social media users. Millions and millions of abusive comments, and millions more comments that don’t rise to the level of abuse but which their thin-skinned targets claim is abuse and might report.

    That’s a lot of information to sift through, and a lot of people needed to sift it and make judgement calls.

    It is also a lot of people who have to be willing to spend time reading the foulest things humans can write, and viewing horrible images. I cannot imagine there are a lot of people who have the necessary intestinal fortitude to do this day in and day out over a long period of time without it fucking up their heads.

    Which doesn’t mean the effort isn’t worthwhile. It is not only worthwhile, it is necessary if the world is to have a useful social media space. But imagine the logistics that need to be developed for this scale. Someone should get a PhD out of that project.

    The obvious first step is to be aggressive with warnings for early offenses. If a user gets early notice that sending death threats is unacceptable and they will be banned if they do it again, that might cut down on the overall quantity of shit and make the logistics of review easier in the long term.

    Next they would need overflow review capacity, for the times when the shits decide to essentially DDoS the system, doing a concentrated pile-on of abuse to keep this theoretical review team swamped and ineffective.

    And third, these heroes of humanity on the review team would need to be rotated frequently. Perhaps a week on and three weeks off, paid stupidly well to entice them to come back for that week. Along with a lot of morale-building of the “you are the front line of human civilization” sort.

    Oi. A difficult problem that absolutely needs to be solved.

  15. I think this is going to end up causing more problems than it solves, but maybe i’m wrong. it certainly gives the conservative screaming heads a reason to feel persecuted, not that they need much fuel for that particular fire, since everything makes them feel persecuted. They are still whinging about the liberal media when explicitly partisan and conservative outlets control the majority of news being consumed. I think twitter needs to put the smack down on people using the app to harrass people, regardless of political beliefs. and the fact that racism and misogyny and homophobia and transphobia have become synonymous with conservatism is something the conservatives need to figure out.

    btw, have you ever visited breitbart? a)it’s terrible, and b) it is incredibly popular. There will be mroe comments on a breitbart piece than on an NPR article. crazytown.

  16. This is a good take on this action. And important, too. Twitter hasn’t vindicated itself with this one.

    Thanks for writing this piece.

  17. –E:

    DAMN IT and I knew that too. Fixed, thanks.


    I don’t doubt Breitbart is popular, although I would note number of comments is not necessarily a great indicator of overall popularity. It may just mean that what audience there is, is merely garrulous.

  18. PST said: “There will be mroe comments on a breitbart piece than on an NPR article. crazytown.”

    I wonder how much of that is because the sort of people who frequent breitbart have not a goddamn thing else to do.

    This is why people imagine these goons as being losers living in their parents’ basements. Anyone with a job (or trying their best to get a job) and some responsibilities in life simply doesn’t have time for this sort of stupidity.

  19. Among Milo and similar cretins, it’s a common focus of their derision that “SJWs” — you know, those people who think that being shitty to people just because is, you know, shitty — are just a bunch of moral cowards who need “safe spaces” because they’re unfit to handle the harsh real world.

    I submit that if you think “freedom of speech” means “I want to be the biggest racist, misogynist, homophobic, bigoted asshole I can possibly be and face no comebacks or consequences!” then you’re the coward begging for a “safe space.”

    *sips tea*

  20. The sad part is that I’m guessing he’ll be back on Twitter under a new name, linked to a new email address and set of verification credentials (unless Twitter banned the entire range of Breitbart IP addresses and email domain) before the end of the week.

    As for systemic tweaks Twitter could employ, I’m surprised there isn’t a native option to block someone and everyone that follows them.

  21. @–E
    That’s sort of the rule of the internet. Before social media, you only had to put up with your asshole cousin spewing his bullshit at your family gatherings and you could avoid him the rest of the time. Now everyone’s asshole cousin has a free platform for broadcasting their spew at the world’s biggest perpetual social gathering.

  22. Leslie Jones is a woman comic who has written and appeared on SNL for years, worked in Hollywood for longer, and is a tall, statuesque black woman with very dark skin. So she has a skin as thick as an elephant’s hide about racism and sexism because she’s been enduring loads of it since she was a little kid and turned herself into a superstar anyway. What she was doing is exposing the bigoted harassment for what it was, reminding people that it harms people and isn’t funny and pressuring Twitter to do a very public sitting on some of its hate mobs.

    Probably not a fun day, but yet another high profile example offered to the public of pervasive social racism and these attacks not being by provocateurs but bigots. Milo and his cronies didn’t just get disqualified from Twitter; they got disqualified from the discussion of racism. They can still go around claiming to be the bad boys of the Internet, but their claim that racism and sexism are over-sensitive farce drops flat. And Milo lost a major way he made money and got media coverage. Breibart.com was only still kicking around because Milo did college tours and Twitter proclamations. With it turning on its other media players and Milo losing his best strategy, I hope to hear less about them at all.

    Twitter isn’t going to make a lot of changes because like all the big global social media companies, they have no interest in spending the money on employees and software that will actually do anything. They hire thousands of folks in the Phillipines at less than a living wage to ineffectively try to hand takedown dirty pictures and that’s only to please advertisers and lawyers. They make their money on advertising and market research sold to advertising. As long as they have eyeballs and users, they aren’t going further.

    But if celebrities desert too much and too publicly and use other services, media and the public loses interest in Twitter, and then Twitter loses their advertisers and venture capital investments. Leslie Jones will always trump Milo. She could have just left Twitter. But first she took on the whole mob and marshaled an army of those Twitter needs most. And she held her attackers up to the squirmy light of public view in the middle of election season and gun shoot-outs. She is a very brave person.

    We saw Ghostbusters last night. It was enormous fun, both a homage to the past two Ghostbuster movies with lots of inside jokes and the old cast cameos, and a different take with different characters and dynamics. And Jones is sharp as a knife. Milo was way out of his league.

  23. bigcitylib:

    He had his verified check removed, at least.


    I suspect he’s too much an egotist to allow himself to remain unknown, even if he goes under a pseudonym.

  24. The analogy I always use is that someone who likes to start fights and insult others in their local pub has just been hauled out by the bouncer and told that they are barred. If you were a pub landlord you wouldn’t let a chronic fight starter keep starting fights that made everyone not go to your pub, and if you were a regular in the pub then you wouldn’t want the guy who keeps trying to start fights with in the pub while you were wanting a quiet pint and a discussion about the fate of the shove-ha’penny team; you’d want the bouncer to drag them out and the landlord to bar them. This is what just happened.

  25. I am generally very conservative/libertarian. Don’t think the government (at any level) should be exercising as much control/power as they do at any level, and can’t stand Milo/Breitbart

  26. Regarding Block Services:
    Wil Weaton pinned a post where he shares a link to a blocking app which allows the Twitter user to subscribe to Weaton’s block list. However, the app asks for permissions that confuse me:
    “This application will be able to:
    Read Tweets from your timeline.
    See who you follow, and follow new people.
    Update your profile.
    Post Tweets for you.”

  27. Interesting that when I read your headline, I had a list of Twitter jackass names run through my head. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how strongly I identify Twitter as a Jackass Palace.

  28. Perhaps your points 5 and 6 suggest a solution:

    Today there’s the blockbot (which I subscribe to), that blocks the abusers. Perhaps we need the opposite as well–a way to follow abuse victims. If enough of us do it, maybe we can give the victims enough reach to convince twitter to do something about their harassers.

    Yeah, I know. The blockbot has ~2K subscribers. That’s not enough. Prolly won’t work. Still, there’s something appealing about signal-boosting the victims.

  29. Straw Man:

    Third party solutions are fine and good if you know they exist and know how to use them (AND trust the providers of the service, which is important but often overlooked). I don’t suspect the large majority of Twitter users know of them or how to implement them. It should all be baked into the service and really easy to use.

  30. You nailed it right here: “You can punch down on Twitter and get away with it, but don’t punch up, and punch up enough to make Twitter look bad, or you’ll get in trouble (after more than a day). ”

    That’s what I’m observing. It’s about time, but it would be great if they could also start caring about those of us who are not celebrities as well.

  31. Actress gets lit up by multiple people on Twitter. Actress threatens to bolt Twitter. Twitter management panics and ejects Milo. Did Twitter eject anyone else as a direct result of this controversy? Not that I can tell.

    And that’s the kicker: Twitter can’t dump “offensive tweeters” wholesale because that would mean fewer eyeballs for the new livestreaming service that is supposed to pull Twitter stock out of the doldrums.

    By the same token, Twitter can’t afford to alienate “movie stars” either, because they have followers, lots of followers.

    So, Twitter management ejected Milo and crossed its collective fingers, hoping the controversy will fade faster than the heavily politicized remake of an overrated mid-1980s comedy flick about ghosts and stupid “cardboard cutout” authority figures.

    In the meantime, Twitter stock is up .40 cents. So there is that . . .

  32. Cogent and reasonable, at least from a user’s perspective. The problem arises when a company’s stated policy is at odds with it’s (supposed) best interest. Despite Twitter allowing these giant turds in it’s punch bowl I am thinking that the controversy that they generate may bring new twitter users in (guessing…) or at the very least increase traffic for a while. Similar to the phenomena of people slowing down to watch a horrible accident on the side of the road: It’s INTERESTING! Schadenfreude in action if you will.

    Its my belief that Twitter has a stated public policy to get rid of these kinds of users for the simple reason that it is good publicity to do so and any failure to follow through on that policy can be blamed on needles in haystacks. This might even support this instance where Yiannopoulos was only removed when enough high profile people complained making it bad PR to NOT remove him.

    Just a thought…

  33. Re: “verified only” – I know many people, myself included, who use a pseudonym for Twitter for very good reasons, including avoiding harassment and stalking. Many of them are also relatively big names in social justice circles. That makes measures like this kind of useless – not only do many harassers not care if their name is linked to their harassment, but the people who need protection most would likely not be able to use such a feature without cutting themselves off from their friends. (Or, alternately, put pressure on people to the expose their identity, possibly putting themselves in danger, in order to interact normally.)

  34. It would be lovely if twitter and similar sites actually did something material to prevent, or even significantly reduce, the harassment and vileness. Sadly, I don’t think that will happen unless those sites see a negative impact to their revenue resulting from their inaction, and I don’t envision that ever happening.

    It’s this kind of nonsense that still keeps me off any form of social media, notwithstanding the ongoing snarky commentary from family members who REALLY REALLY REALLY want me to do the whole twitting and face-booking thing. Life is too short already without wasting time and energy being enraged by assholes on the interwebs. There’s already more than enough of ’em in real life.

  35. “Not much gets done until the service looks bad.” Not at all surprising because why would they do anything about anything until it starts affecting the bottom line.

    I wonder though, can we really hold a private company to a moral standard? Do they have the obligation or even responsibility to be decent? As you pointed out, they’re not the government. They’re not beholden to any of us.

    And I know this an old debate, but the fact that social media businesses involve so many people their essentially free services, I think we need to get clear on this one way or another. I’m all for walking away from a company that refuses to act socially responsible.

    (Although I am typing this on a Mac and I know all about those factories so…maybe we shouldn’t listen to me.)

  36. There aren’t many intelligent people who are claiming this is a 1st amendment issue, but most are centering around it being a fairness issue. I.e. what you said about “punching down” versus “punching up”. Fundamentally it makes Twitter look much worse in the long-run to ban people for “punching up”.

    Twitter can run their platform however they like, but there does come a point where their platform is no longer totally private, and should be subject to regulation as a public utility. I doubt Twitter will ever get there, but the day is coming when a private entity on the internet must be regulated exactly like how the telephone monopolies were regulated. If you really are a “platform”, and if the posters of content actually do own their own tweets, then the platform has little stake in the content of the tweets.

    Hopefully Twitter will finally make tools that will allow people to effectively work around people being horrible.

  37. It’s hard for me to understand a gay man who: 1) is conservative (in the modern American political sense); and 2) encourages bigots. If he were a fictional character, I’d be curious about his backstory.

  38. @Kat Goodwin – I would just like to say that I think you are delusional if you think that being removed from Twitter has or will hurt Milo. Milo was created as an alt-right thing by Twitter. His entire existence as anything at all can be directly linked to Twitter, and this latest move will not reduce his profile at all. He just got covered all over the traditional media and online media, and whatever he does next will be news. Getting banned from Twitter just increased his profile. A lot.

  39. I don’t think I’ve tweeted you in months but I’ll go ahead and apologize for my smug dickery anyway.

  40. Seriously, Milo Ren has been the turd sauce on the entire shyte sandwich that is social media in recent years. I really don’t get these people who think there’s something good in being a total jackass and think harassment is a useful use of one’s time. But then I remember that some of these people are, essentially, professional douchebananas, so of course they’re horrible, awful human beings.

  41. From what I have seen, Milo Y. is an individual who would never make it in an actual, professional setting where it becomes necessary to behave like a grown human with a modicum of manners. Which is undoubtedly why he’s where he is.

  42. I am really confused about “removed the verified checkmark”. Did they think he was who he said he was, and then conclude that actually he was someone else? Because I had assumed that checkmark meant “identity has been established”, not “user is someone we think well of”.

  43. Seebs:

    People see the verified checkmark as proof one is important enough to warrant being verified as who you say you are, so the social construct ran ahead of the functional utility. Now it appears Twitter is going to open up verification to the masses and it may swimg back to just its utility again.

  44. Yeah, “Verified only” works out great for people of privilege, because mainly they have to really push the boat out in terms of deranged rants in order for it to be used against them. I don’t have a facebook because it wants my real identity and I can’t have some of my life publicly linked back to me in that way. Verified only would shrink my online presence further for fear of attacks.

  45. As a ludite who doesn’t have twitter, tempests in teapots like this reminded to never sign up. I read brietbart.com and the dailybeast.come, I like to attempt to see multiple sides of issues. I don’t understand the concept of conversation as a war. Maybe some can explain it to me

  46. @Jerome O’Neil: The trick in sharing xkcd images is whether and how to share the alt text as well. In this instance it’s well worthwhile:

    “I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.”

  47. One suggestion I saw on Polygon was auto blocking for all users under 30 days old. This would essentially create a waiting period and would cut down on people creating burner accounts just to harass people – or the recently banned coming back under a new account – if nothing else.

  48. On the point of only seeing verified users’ tweets, Yiannopoulos did have a verified account until Twitter stripped him of his blue tick a while back. The verification process has nothing to do with whether you’re an asshole or not.

  49. I’m relatively new to Twitter, but watching all that unfold in real time the last couple of days was surreal. It was like Armageddon was happening somewhere, but I couldn’t see any fire and brimstone outside my windows. It taught me valuable lessons:
    1: Be quicker about blocking someone. Don’t give them many chances, hoping it will improve.
    2: Don’t get caught up in the hysteria and general “running-amokness” of the social medium.
    3: Double check – exactly WHY am I following people? And, more importantly perhaps, WHY are people following me? I never have anything constructive or helpful to say; maybe THEY have an agenda. ‘Tis a mystery. But, purging may help my Inter-digestion-web.
    Anyway, great article as usual, Mr. Scalzi. Thanks!

  50. Kat Goodwin–I admire Leslie Jones too, but even if she does have a thick skin, let’s not lose sight of the fact that she’s still capable of being hurt. She was pleading for her followers and Twitter to help her and obviously found the whole experience painful.

  51. “I don’t understand the concept of conversation as a war.”

    -Leslie Jones was subjected to a sustained barrage of racist and sexist slurs, thousands of them, for over a day
    -users created fake images to make it look like she had said racist things about white people
    -blocking and reporting, at least in the clunky way Twitter does it, is nigh impossible given these volumes of tweets

    Okay, you don’t use Twitter, so let me paint a picture for you: Imagine yourself in her shoes, going about her day, opening her Twitter account to say hi to her followers, or read about what her friends are up to, send some replies and shout outs, and talk up her hit new movie, you know the usual stuff, and instead find thousands of messages calling her a cunt and a gorilla, telling her she’s too ugly to be a star, telling her to kill herself. With a new hate-filled message arriving every few seconds, fueled on by the images of fake tweets portraying her as anti-white. And then finding that the tools Twitter has to deal with this crap are wholly inadequate. It’s not conversation, but it is a war.

  52. @Greg: I picture America sitting in 12 Step support group about this and refuse to be honest with everyone. “America…admitting you have a problem is the first step.”

  53. dh:

    I would just like to say that I think you are delusional if you think that being removed from Twitter has or will hurt Milo. Milo was created as an alt-right thing by Twitter. His entire existence as anything at all can be directly linked to Twitter, and this latest move will not reduce his profile at all.

    I’m not interested in whether Milo is hurt or not. I’m interested in coverage and coverage on racism. There are thirty million far right zealots in the U.S. alone. Sites like Breibart can always make a lot of money from them and be popular with them, blowhards like Milo always do well. But so can a hot game like Pokemon Go. The important aspect is media and public coverage and how that affects cultural influence and perception which affects how much power and ground conservative bigotry can establish. Consider, Fox Cable News only has about 2 million largely old viewers. Yet how much media coverage does the entire channel and folks on Fox like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, etc. get, including internationally? Chances to be on shows and say that they are right and most agree with them, etc. How strongly has Murdoch been able to influence and work with the Repub party and actual legislature, through using Fox and other media properties as a megaphone tool that also gets the rest of the media paying attention to them and what they say?

    When Glen Beck was on Fox, I could not escape the man. Media covered him constantly, what he said, if he cried, where he appeared, people forced to speak against him, wondering if he and his followers were mammoth popular and indicated changing trends, etc. People quoted him, discussed whether conspiracy theories he presented were true or not, etc. Then he got too fringe even for Fox and they kicked him off. He still has a vastly profitable Internet empire with the zealots. But I only occasionally see covered anything he says for the last several years. His impact on public perception has faded, even if we’re currently dealing with the after effects.

    Breibart got disavowed on its conservative credentials with the grabbing incident at Trump’s party but it also got media coverage and a dubious nod as sort of journalists. It dumped two of its mouthpieces over that to get conservative cred back. And then they also had Milo — Milo would say stuff on Twitter and get hate mobs to follow him, and that “controversy” would trend on Twitter and the media would have to cover it — and Breibart once he worked for them, because Twitter trends are considered influential and significant indicators by the media now because that’s the public perception. While he kicked around British conservatism for a bit, no one had heard of him much until he was able to use Twitter. And now he gets brought in as the alternate view by media continually because of what he did on Twitter.

    So now he’s kicked off Twitter (and Twitter kicked a lot of others off too,) and this will give him a nice temporary bounce of coverage and further establishes Breibart’s conservative creds — but it’s not quite the direction he needs — being rejected not by Twitter but from his views being an influential trend instead of juvenile cruelty. He tried to say that Jones — successful and popular black comedienne — was not a cultural trend and she turned it right around back at him and proved she was a stronger trend. He tried to show he was powerful in the culture and she turned it back around and showed that he wasn’t much in the path of an angry black star. He may be able to keep building up his new bounce into media coverage elsewhere, etc. But the Twitter trending thing is a lot harder for him to do now, even if he gets his minions to talk about him and what he says on Twitter. The “alt right” has ticked upwards as a Tea Party spin-off the past couple of years that offers the old rhetoric from a different direction, so they got media coverage and Milo got elected chief. But they can only keep it up if the media thinks the wider public views them as a trend and wants to keep hearing about them. And only through that media coverage does Milo have cultural power, not just money making ability among the zealots.

    I assume he still has Facebook and other social media outlets. But the media loves covering Twitter. So it will be an interesting experiment. After the prez election is over, how much will you hear about Milo. We’ll see. But whether he continues to get coverage or not, Jones in cultural terms whomped his ass. Which helps Black Lives Matter, black and women actors in Hollywood trying to get change, etc. Milo might preen himself, but his cultural narrative took a hit, and that’s way more important than any individual spokesperson.

  54. America is too busy handing its next door neighbor a beer and yelling “HEY WATCH THIS” while it jumps a motorbike naked over a giant mound of broken glass in a pool of witch hazel to care.

  55. Hmpfffff.

    Hate to admit it, but all that’s true enough for the most part. I’m kinda alt-rightish and I saw some of that exchange and it was in real poor taste. I prolly would have punted them both. To be fair, the lady was giving what she got and it is intellectually dishonest to claim victimhood when you’re throwing cheap shots too. From my perspective I saw two stupid people fighting about something stupid and left it at that.

    But then again I’m an adult and don’t facebook or twitter or tweet. There IS a cultural fascism running through those mediums and I don’t have the time or patience for it. I would advise caution though – unless, of course you want your mediums to be echo chambers? I dunno about you but I find echo chambers boring – your mileage may vary.

  56. Catherine Reed (@Radiojane1)
    I realize people use conversation as war, I just don’t understand the motivation, other than being petty and jealous. Twitter seems designed for bullys to hide and snipe. If I can’t say it to your face it’s cowardly to hide on the net. If you can hide on the Web, you can say anything, but you shouldn’t. Twitter, blogs, news websites where you can say any horrible thing encourage people to just that.

    I have had plenty of arguments that got mean and nasty, but face to face and I always regretted it later. The social media seems, to me, to designed to shine light on those who yell the loudest and say the worst things.

  57. @Kat Goodwin: See the pattern? Not too long ago it was Beck. Then it was Roosh. Today it’s Milo. Tomorrow it will be somebody new. And the day after? Same thing.

    It’s all part of the great American Kulturkampf, the media-driven game of pin the tail on the reactionary. To quote Ozzy, “the media sells it and you live the role.” Well, maybe not you specifically, but there is no shortage of eager cast members in this never-ending drama.

  58. Someone should probably note that there is a vast difference between one person taking called so-called “cheap shots” and dozens of people attacking a black woman with virulently racist images and language for hours on end, especially when mentioned in all unassuming irony in the same breath as intellectual dishonesty.

    Oh wait. I think I just did.

  59. I don’t quite get why “freedom of speech” means “the right to be insufferably rude in public”. But I certainly understand why I never bothered to get involved in social media…

    (@Mysteron – that image really needs to be animated. Or, on second thought, maybe not.)

  60. @M.A.–I do believe it’s going on right now in Cleveland. But I digress.

    What I find troublesome about Twitter is not the anonymous racists and ruffians, but the open ones who feel emboldened by them, and by Twitter’s lack of alacrity in doing anything about them. It used to be that (and here I should perhaps affix an onion to my belt) antisocial behavior was met with shunning and denouncements. Now it seems to be met with accolades from other antisocial types, mild wagging of fingers from those who host the spaces in which they conduct (or misconduct) themselves, and justification via ethical relativism and/or popcorn consumption on the part of everyone else. I don’t know that there’s a solution to it any more, as we have pretty well ossified ourselves into this series of strata over the last few decades, and despite all best efforts it only appears to get worse.

  61. I think you’ve grasped the essence of this really well. It’s not a First Amendment issue, it’s about standards of conduct in a space where members agree to abide by the rules; whether Milo is a conservative or gay is orthogonal. His choice to be an asshole (or whatever metaphor suits you) is orthogonal and – you got this completely! – is a plea for Milo and his followers to be allowed a safe space where they can say thingsthat are repugnant to many (and they know they are repugnant.)

    What makes Milo’s conduct both equivalent to the SJWs he hates, and WORSE – is that he wants his clique to be the only people to have that safe space, and to have their safe space dump its shit on everyone else’s safety.

    I don’t know if it helps to view Milo’s career through the lens of masochistic homosexuality (I’m not a masochist, but Occam’s Razor is sharp) Does he perhaps dream of when it allf alls apart for him, and his tribe turn against him, and rip him to shreds, like the last page of Perfume? If so, Milo’s punishment won’t begin until he stops masturbating.

  62. As a gay man, what pisses me off are people smugly trying to use Milo Ren’s homosexuality as a defense, as if ‘the Left’ are hypocrites for calling him out for anything.

    Its a cargo cult argument, a projection of what they think ‘the Left’ does to them over a myriad of other issues. Or even worse, knowing its a red herring and trying to deflect/distract.

    Meanwhile Im still trying to think how O can help. Ive no resources, very little time, and my own life… hell, im the one that needs help quite often.

    But then I remember a story I saw online, a park guide showing some Midwest kids a river. One, wideeyed, turned to him and asked if that was the ocean, because he’d never seen so much water before. And I cry.

  63. MY made the mistake of assuming that because he was notorious he was important and then he ran up against what was really important in the business world: money. MY can’t deliver anything in market terms and he’s pissing off important demographic segments. He’s toast.

    Some of his supporters are trying to organize an effort to go after Twitter advertisers in a boycott unless the advertisers pressure Twitter into letting MY return. Since they can’t organize getting dressed in the morning, I suspect it won’t go anywhere.

  64. Reading this makes me wonder about social media. My wife seems addicted to facebook; I dip in one place than another, but then do other things. “Whatever” seems a main outlet for me. My social geographic area – West Texas – can be brutal and red-necked, I’ll readily agree; but I’m thinking things we say here are hardly inflammatory compared to Twitter.

    We sometimes respond to wickedness with, “It jest ain’t right,” which while hardly being intellectual fodder does at least put an end to warring of words … though the phrase has encouraged physical reactions too. Perhaps out here we are like horses biting each other, sometimes purely out of spite; but our spite doesn’t seem to get so rabid.

    As to one part of this thread. Not representing oneself (validating oneself?) in communications can be cowardly but also illuminating – seeming to me like a master who beats “lessers” in private but might not do so in public. What I mean is, the more someone of an UNKNOWN identity does a certain wickedness, the more I can believe the evil to be just that. Now, with real evil there’s no use for arguing; here at least we say, “It just ain’t right” and bite back. Anyway, it’s interesting that much of this has to do with people being behind masks.

    I don’t really want people to know my name, but you see it here; I guess I’ve been in West Texas too long.

  65. Billy Quiets:

    Yiannopoulos didn’t get the boot for what he said. He got the boot for (in Twitter’s judgment) inciting harassment. That said, you can certainly report that Tweet, if you like.

  66. @–E: Some time ago, I came across an absolutely fascinating article about the challenges involved in large-scale content moderation: http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/13/11387934/internet-moderator-history-youtube-facebook-reddit-censorship-free-speech

    It’s long, but it’s well worth the read, and I can confirm from my own experience that it’s accurate.

    For that matter, look at how much moderation Mr. Scalzi has to apply to various of the comment sections here, and then multiply that by a hundred million, and then realize that this is a relatively well behaved corner of the internet because nobody’s going to be posting graphic pictures of child abuse here.

  67. Billy… what Maher said was funny. It was a joke.

    It was not harassment, nor directed at the subjects, nor calling for others to harass.

  68. Targeting Jones was clearly a tactical mistake on Milo’s part, though I will say that I think even he was surprised at the level of vitriol spewed by (some of) his followers. I don’t really think he should have been banned, but I agree that this is obviously a calculated PR move on Twitter’s part. Yiannopoulos is, basically, a sacrificial lamb, whose banning Jack hopes will adequately demonstrate that he’s “serious” about harassment or whatever. (Cue the dozen-odd useless liberal thinkpieces “thoughtfully” musing that Milo’s banning doesn’t solve the underlying problem. No shit. Twitter is fully aware of this. They just don’t care, because stopping abuse is not their goal, or at least it’s secondary to looking like they care about stopping abuse.)

    I don’t think this is a good thing. I think it’s a shitty thing. It’s not a triumph over abuse, it’s just another manifestation of a mentality that actively helps to foster abuse. Milo’s banning was only tangentially related to what he actually said, in the sense that he could have said it to virtually anyone else – and instigated this mob against almost anyone else – without Twitter batting an eye. And this is the case not because he is a “white man,” but because he himself is a minor celebrity and therefore takes precedence over people with less notoriety. It’s about celebrity worship and Twitter’s heuristic for determining who matters and who doesn’t. And to his consternation, Milo found that Leslie Jones matters more than he does.

    Again, in a just world, I don’t think Milo would be banned. He’s not actually responsible for the words of others, and his own tweets at Jones – while dickish – don’t rise to the level of harassment by any reasonable standard. Even incitement seems like a real stretch. I suppose you could argue he’s guilty of something like callous disregard, but I’m not sure I’d agree with you, and anyway I think that’s a bit of a slippery slope. Ultimately, the mob that descended on Jones isn’t really Milo’s fault – it’s Jack’s. If Twitter had its shit together, Yiannopoulos would be able to criticize – and even mock – the cast of Ghostbusters without a horde of neo-Nazis dumping horrendous abuse on the targets of his criticism. It’s a toxic dynamic that Twitter has allowed to flourish because they have no real incentive to try and put a stop to it. And pretending that banning one individual represents a “step forward” or a “commitment” only underlines the fact that they don’t give a shit.

  69. The other day I was obliged to comment “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re not stupid.”

    You don’t get a pass on jackassery just because of where you like to put your naughty bits.

  70. I’m active on Twitter and I’m a big believer in block and move on when abusers user me as a target. I frankly don’t give a damn what babbling boys think. But I’m not a celebrity, so I only have to block a couple of abusers a week.

  71. Ok, Milo needed to go. He’s an inflammatory hatemonger and that’s not OK. But why does Jones get a free pass? Her Twitter stream is littered with all kinds of racist bombs. I’m not a fan of the double standard here.
    Twitter is full of hate and is a pretty ugly place. I still won’t let my children on there because of it. This didn’t do a damn thing. It was a self serving PR stunt.

  72. Mysteron:

    America is too busy handing its next door neighbor a beer and yelling “HEY WATCH THIS” while it jumps a motorbike naked over a giant mound of broken glass in a pool of witch hazel to care.

    Not if their next door neighbor is a black person, they’re not. Which is the point of Milo’s gambit. He’s giving them spectacle too.


    To be fair, the lady was giving what she got and it is intellectually dishonest to claim victimhood when you’re throwing cheap shots too. From my perspective I saw two stupid people fighting about something stupid and left it at that.

    The lady was defending herself against a racial attack that threatened her with violence and tried to paint her as less than a human being by calling her the traditional racial slur for black women of ugly ape, and the traditional sexist attack of trying to humiliate and scare her to show her that women are inferior and powerless if men want to attack them. They did the equivalent of the Klan burning a cross on her lawn.

    And why did Milo direct such an attack? Because she’s a black woman celebrity being successful and currently in the spotlight for being in a reboot that made its main characters all women. Which makes her useful to attack since such a person disproves the cultural narrative of the alt right that women, black people and particularly black women are mostly inferior, secondary human beings whose complaints about systemic racism are false and exaggerated and who can never be as competent at anything as white guys.

    So they go after her. It doesn’t matter to them (at least initially,) who looks better in the argument, as they get credit for making the attack against the uppity black woman and Milo gets money either way. The important thing is being able to do it, having it covered in the media, having their position be seen as a popular trend of viewing black people as uppity whiners. And then far right politicians can use that argument, like you just did, that those liberal SJW black people are playing at victimhood (there’s no discrimination happening in society, no sir,) that black people are stupid (see Rep. King,) that black people take cheap shots and are dishonest, etc., to try and get political office, money, labor squashing laws that are bigoted, etc. It’s not Jones they’re after. It’s how society (and the law and the workplace,) treats and sees the cultural groups we’ve made up. And in the society that the alt rights want, Leslie Jones’ existence and success is a bad thing because it refutes and changes that society. As do Beyonce’s, Serena Williams, etc.


    See the pattern? Not too long ago it was Beck. Then it was Roosh. Today it’s Milo. Tomorrow it will be somebody new. And the day after? Same thing. It’s all part of the great American Kulturkampf, the media-driven game of pin the tail on the reactionary. To quote Ozzy, “the media sells it and you live the role.” Well, maybe not you specifically, but there is no shortage of eager cast members in this never-ending drama.

    First off, Roosh doesn’t really qualify, since legislatively he’s nil and culturally/media-wise he was slim to nearly nothing. Pick Ann Coulter instead — she’s the game that Milo has to play now. But yes, it is a never-ending drama till systemic discrimination and repression stop being used as tools of an unequal society, in the U.S. and elsewhere. The players are a succession of grifters and power-mongers and matter individually only when they are handed real power (which many of them are.) The narrative — the wider social views that then go into laws and workplaces and how people can live — is the actual struggle. The argument is the same — they all use rhetoric that’s hundreds, sometimes thousands of years old for each civil rights issue. (See Republican convention going on now.)

    It’s what the rest of the populace will put up with and accept as normal — how much cultural systemic bigotry they’ll simply adapt their lives to while whining about how they are nice people who shouldn’t be criticized or forced to see what they don’t want to look at, how it makes perfect sense that seventy percent of main characters in films are white men, and how reforming the cops and justice system to save the lives of targeted black and brown children is way too unacceptable. Change it in the society and how kids grow up in it, and you get women voting, black people serving as Congresspeople and President, and gay people getting married. Which eventually becomes normal or closer to normal.

    Milo himself is a product of that change. The alt right wouldn’t tolerate him and find him useful without those changes. He could not be an openly gay man without those changes from social justice warriors. But he’s built a career fighting those social changes that would help others. The Ghostbusters movie is evidence of change. Leslie Jones on SNL and in the movie is evidence of change. So they were just making her an example of their bravery to stand up to change and their superiority to what they feel she represents.

    It didn’t matter that it was Milo leading the charge. What matters is that Jones shoved the bigoted attack in people’s faces through the media and Twitter was forced to actually do something about bigotry rather than just lip service, even if they don’t care yet. That’s a crack in the gloss, a chip in the wall. Get enough cracks, the needle moves on public views. Keep moving the needle enough, you get change towards equality.

  73. >> They say they’re going to do it. Prove it, Twitter.

    Amen, John.

    I love Twitter and it is a constant frustration that the service lends itself to abusers as it does.

  74. As a gay man, I’d just like to let anyone who’s unsure know: gay men can be assholes. Gay men can be horrible racists. Gay men can be horrible sexists (and sometimes set up other gay men as pseudo-women for them to be sexist toward).

    In short, there is no awfulness of humanity from which being a gay man exempts one, including murderous homophobia.

    This post is useful and insightful. I’ll be referring people to it.

    The resemblance to the behavior of the RSHD is striking. Also, someone pointed out elseweb that it’s amazing how closely the present coprocephalic followed Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s description of the reaction of a troll to being moderated; almost as if he took it as a script.

    I joined in on #NeroBannedParty for a while. It was fun. Posted video of “Everybody Rejoice” from The Wiz to it. If it weren’t so hot I’d bake a Schadenfreude Pie.

  75. Over on the CBC, which I won’t link to here, the guy is calling what he does “mischief”. I can’t believe the CBC gave him a forum to air that kind of spin. I’m rather ashamed of our national broadcaster right now.

  76. MRAL is correct that Twitter does not giving a flying fuck about harassment on its service unless its bottom line is impacted. It is not a “difficult propblem to solve”. It is a problem that Silicon Valley white dudebros simply refuse to recognize as such, because acknowledging conflict openly is un-geekly and free speech and stuff. And Twitter is white and bro-y even by SV metrics.

  77. @Kat Goodwin, point well made. Milo’s career is very much about pouring gasoline on every tire fire he can find.

  78. Meh…sometimes, John, you post about things of no interest to those of us without any social media accounts including Twitter. Never heard of the guy…

  79. Pedro wrote: “@Kat Goodwin: See the pattern? Not too long ago it was Beck. Then it was Roosh.”

    Roosh is an admitted rapist who lives in his mom’s basement.

  80. I’m in software. It’s not an easy problem to solve, and it’s a problem that is constantly showing up in everything from WordPress to old school BBS systems to Video games. But Twitter should have been working on it for years and they seem to have been sitting on their hands. Mainly because the company itself is too busy trying to figure out how to get its profits inline with shareholder expectations.
    The guy should have been permabanned years ago because his goal isn’t communication, it’s harassment and drama in the pursuit of boosting his online media profits. And those arguing that Leslie Jone got a “free pass” are just kidding themselves. When you look at his behavior over years and compare it to this single incident, the ratio is like 100-1 in favor of banning Milo. It’s not even marginal.
    IMO, Twitter needs a “new sherriff in town” and to start enforcing it’s own TOS, but they don’t seem to care and no one else is really able to do something that works.

  81. I still enjoy it quite a bit, but then I rarely get any nonsense directed my way and the worst problem is getting spammers and other bogus followers pestering me. Even that has clamped down recently.

  82. Jeez, John, don’t be afraid to say exactly what’s on your mind. Oh, and um, well said.

  83. @mythagos:

    ” It is not a “difficult propblem to solve””

    It’s a massively difficult one to solve on the scales Twitter is dealing with. There’s a half-billion tweets a day; simply reading a tithe of them, say one in fifty, at five seconds per, would require close to six hundred man-days. You see the issue?

  84. Dear Billy Q,

    Harassment depends on both quality and quantity. It’s the context or the pattern actions occur in that makes them harassment. I think I can make this really simple for you with an analogy:

    A far-fetched example: I can phone up anyone in this thread who has a listed phone number that I can find. Even if they aren’t interested in talking to me, I’m allowed to do that. If start calling them every five minutes, that’s a whole different thing. If I keep it up day after day, ad infinitum I’m entirely into harassment-land. Each individual call is unimportant, but the pattern isn’t.

    If they make it clear upon the first call that they have no desire to talk to me, the bar gets set a lot lower.

    If the nature of my first call is a clear and palpable threat, then one call is enough to constitute harassment.

    Which is why Bill Maher’s single, insulting-but-non-threatening, not-calling-for-a-dogpile post is not harassment, and what Milo did is.


    Dear GlenF,

    What a whole mob is trying to dogpile on one person, you can’t claim they’re on an equivalent level and that the person being piled upon is obligated to play nicer.

    When there is a lynch mob after someone, you don’t fault them for failing to fight back by Marquis of Queensberry rules. Really, you don’t. Unless you’re on the side of the mob.

    There is no “claiming victimhood” going on here, but there is definitely “blaming the victim.”


    Dear Pedro,

    You might want to rethink your use of the word “reactionary,” because the way you are using it, you are equating it with bigots. Not all reactionaries are bigots (and, has been noted by many folk, not all progressives are not bigots). People are not being excluded for being conservative, they are being excluded for being hate-mongers. And, yes, that is an entirely appropriate thing to do in civilized society.

    Once upon a time, we called out bigoted hatemongers for what they were and there was no spin game. Nowadays, they’ll wrap themselves in the flag of conservative politics and try to make believe it’s all about democracy and that they’re like civilized folks. They are not. They do deserve to be driven out of the discussion. They are co-opting your wing of the society and using it for their own malevolent ends. The “free marketplace” of ideas does not require you put up with someone hawking fresh feces next to your stall.


    Dear –E,

    The hard part is breaking an established culture, but once you do so the job becomes considerably easier. Sites, even hugely popular sites, which manage to purge themselves of the trolls have much less problem with trolls thereafter.

    There are, I am sure, many reasons why. Two I know of:

    1) Most trollish sorts want their results to linger. Even if they’re the minority who are of the hit-and-run sort, if their hits rapidly evaporate they aren’t getting the payoff they’re looking for. Most trolls, in fact, are looking for a longer-term soapbox than that.

    It’s analogous to the way neighborhoods that really get on top of the graffiti problem not only obliterate the existing graffiti but make sure that each morning any new graffiti is obliterated. The amount of tagging goes way, way down, because it’s not a hospitable venue. In the same vein, trolls figure out which locations are good soil for them to plant their seeds and which aren’t.

    2) Humans are pack animals. What they see a whole bunch of other people doing is what they consider acceptable. If there is a park sign that says “do not walk on the grass,” and you look around and nobody is walking on the grass, you are inhibited from doing so. If you see the sign but also see that there are lots of people walking all over the grass as if the sign didn’t exist, you are likely to do the same (if you are so inclined).

    Sites that don’t aggressively clean up trolling or unacceptable conversation show the effect very strongly. If you can stomach it, just look at the comments following any online newspaper article. It can be about the most innocuous subject, and it won’t take more than 20 comments before it starts to degenerate into “libtard” and “Repugnican” crap.

    In contrast, the three or four sites that I visit that have strong moderation policies and enforce them actually have extremely little moderating to do. Very, very few garbage-mongers even try to post because there is nothing to encourage them to do so.

    The problem for twitter is cleaning it up in the first place. That’s really hard, and would require substantial policy and a large group to enforce it. Once they clean it up, the job of keeping it clean drops off with time and eventually requires vastly less in the way of resources.

    The “biased individual” business is a red herring. I guarantee you that with any moderation policy, there will always be folks (who’ve been booted) screaming of unfair bias. You just accept that that comes with the territory and by and large ignore them. Because the vast majority of users, who really do want a crap-free site, will do the same. Sure, if you have a bad actor behind the scenes, you have to deal with it. But, no, there is no point in trying to make sure that your moderators are all Caesar’s Wives, because no one will believe that of them even if they were.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

  85. I’m gonna go against the grain here. Milo Y. indeed plays a horrible human being on Twitter, and anyone complaining about censorship needs to read Popehat:


    However, the reason Twitter acted was because it was indeed egregious in a way that most of the abuse and bullshit on Twitter isn’t – in a nutshell, punching UP is signal, punching DOWN is noise. I dont want a Twitter where they do try to make it impossible to punch down, because thats a level of moderation that would be insanely Orwellian and the sheer suckiness woudl bleed laterally. Punching up is the way that Twitter can be responsive to true assholes – because all of them have enough ego to eventually make the mistake of punching up. But theres a balance. There needs to be moderation in moderation.

    Twitter is not anyone’s safe space. If you play there – expect to be shat on sometimes. Good on Twitter for taking out Milo – we don’t need to tolerate Nazis in Elgin there.

  86. Mysteron:

    “It used to be that (and here I should perhaps affix an onion to my belt) antisocial behavior was met with shunning and denouncements. Now it seems to be met with accolades from other antisocial types, mild wagging of fingers from those who host the spaces in which they conduct (or misconduct) themselves, and justification via ethical relativism and/or popcorn consumption on the part of everyone else.”

    This is an example of what I call “the myth of toxic individualism”. Toxic individualism is largely the myth that individual “rights” (most particularly the right to be outright, aggressively vicious toward others in public while suffering neither consequence nor censure – cloaked as “freedom of speech”) SHOULD and MUST outweigh everything else – including community standards, social taboos, and even legal restrictions. It largely asserts the right of those with social power and privilege in a society to wield that power with impunity (and without consequence or censure) because their actions are treated as “individual choices” rather than being part of a wider, more institutionalised system of privilege and disprivilege. It tells people in disprivileged groups that their sense of hurt, their sense of oppression, their sense of offence, is also an “individual choice” rather than being a reasonable and justifiable reaction to a world wherein their choices are systematically devalued and restricted.

  87. @Ctein: Coopting my wing of society? I’m pretty close to center. But you know what they say about moderates. We are the ultimate political opportunists. We wait till the hard fighting is done, and then shoot the wounded. (BTW, my compliments on Saturn Run. Enjoyed it.)

  88. Gary R. Willis: “Meh…sometimes, John, you post about things of no interest to those of us without any social media accounts including Twitter. Never heard of the guy…”

    I don’t have any social media accounts, but these things are of interest to me. Social media are part of the big wide world–an increasingly important part–and what happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter. For instance, here’s an article that describes the complicated ways in which social media did and did not come into play in the so-called Arab Spring:


    In the situation under discussion in this thread, Milo Y., like the Gamergaters, and his/their behavior on social media also affects people who don’t have social media accounts as that level of “discourse” becomes normalized. Good manners used to be normalized by being socially enforced rather than legally enforced. What is being socially enforced by Twitter, Facebook, etc. are norms of behavior that make it okay to pile on and harass, and I think this also spills over into spaces outside social media. I’m glad Scalzi writes about these things and offers a space for discussing them so that I don’t have to go on social media to do so.

    But if none of this interests you, why even bother to comment on it, I wonder?

  89. I just can’t believe some here equate Leslie responding to their comments, or even what some consider “racist” jokes in her past as any justification. It was NEVER about political correctness, it was about using Twitter to ATTACK SOMEONE, to HARASS SOMEONE.

    If I say twit right now “white people have small dicks”, I am not attacking anyone specifically, I am making a comment. If I say on the tweets “Donald Trump has a tiny dick” I am again, not attacking Trump. He’s not following me.

    Now if I directed hate SPECIFICALLY at Trump that could be construed as an attack. If I inspired thousands to directly attack him, then it could be seen as a direct breech of contract.

    That’s the difference.

    I think those who would give Jones shit for jokes they want to consider racist should realize that Twitter doesn’t broadcast to the whole f-ing world. Just to the people who take interest in that person.

  90. As for freedom of speech…
    I just realized that twitter is probably communication without community.

    I say “probably” because I don’t tweet myself. (Does reading tweets on blogs count?)

    In contrast, before the term “social media,” back when the web first came out, there was much excitement about the community of forums and bulletin boards and chat rooms, and making links between journals and blogs.

    Then came trolls and, like in economics, bad money (trolls) drives away good money. And the lovers of freedom, with their Athenian forums, would rather disband the forum than take away the freedom of trolls, or the freedom of kids who wanted to spout obscenities.

    For me it was Clay Shirky who cut the Gordian knot of freedom by saying that a group had the right to exist, even if this meant stifling the rights of kids.

    Maybe at one time the wired world was flat, but now the advertisements I see on my computer are suspiciously local—and why are there so many get-rich-quick millionaires in my home town?

    I have made a separate peace: For me tweet space would probably be too big to feel communal, so I will socialize in media that is less social.

  91. @Megpie, “toxic individualism” is as good a name for it as any. I’ve always thought of it as “unenlightened self-interest,” but I think i like your term better.

  92. Well, good. It’s about time this toxic asshole got booted. I know that he’s going to try to spin this into some sort of victory, but honestly, he’s gonna have a reduced online presence because of this and that’s a GOOD thing.

    Twitter should be a LOT more proactive about bigoted assholes, though. Especially given the history of Daesh supporters, bigoted nutcases, and Donald Trump on their site.

    As for Ghostbusters–plot was tired, characters much better. I loved the crazy science lady, she kicks ASS!

  93. @ctein: “The “free marketplace” of ideas does not require you put up with someone hawking fresh feces next to your stall.”

    If it’s okay with you, I’d like to use this quote in the class I’m teaching about markets in the fall.

  94. @SB Cabal Issue: no, because Twitter does not have to read each and every tweet to determine what’s OK. Actually responding meaningfully to complaints and enabling better blocking and reporting tools is really the minimum, and it does that barely at all.

    And, as has been noted repeatedly by others, as a company, Twitter does a shit job as a company of paying attention to its own entrenched lack of diversity.

  95. i have no problem with twitter’s actions. No more than when a CEO expresses their opinions that some people disagree with.

  96. ctein: “Once upon a time, we called out bigoted hatemongers for what they were and there was no spin game.”

    Unfortunately, that only happened in the “good ol days” that never were.

    Slave owners were doing gods work. Segregationists were fighting for state rights. Bigots always spin their bigotry as justice.

    Anyone fighting bigotry has always and will always have to deal with spin.

  97. @SB Cabal member, et al….

    Manually moderating tweets isn;’t the point. There are other ways to give people being targeted control and various technical fixes that will greatly help. See this essay by Randi Harper – https://medium.com/art-marketing/putting-out-the-twitter-trashfire-3ac6cb1af3e#.3ruczlk7e – for thoughts on how twitter can address this. To forestall the inevitable complaint… no, those measures will not be perfect. But they will help – a lot – and there’s very little reason for Twitter to stall on this.

  98. Dear Pedro,

    My apologies, sincerely. I did the ass-u-me saying and inferred (entirely incorrectly) that you were complaining about your ox being gored.

    I think the point is still good in general–– I think the conservative, even reactionary, communities are doing themselves a serious disservice by equating bigotry with legitimate politics.

    As many other folks have pointed out, while a few major names have gotten themselves booted off of their soapboxes, there are so many extremist asshole pundits (in all camps) that suggesting there is some kind of purge going on has about as much factual basis as the “war on Christmas.” If there is a purge (or a war) it is an extraordinarily ineffectual one.

    Thank you for the book compliment! I never mind hearing those (for some strange reason). Totally off topic, But for your giggles: my favorite one star review on Amazon: “The future is some type of leftist utopia.” Some folks really DO live in an alternate reality… Or at least don’t know what the word utopia means.


    Dear CEC,

    Thank you! Oh, by all means— take it, file the numbers off, repaint it as you like.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

  99. 1) Milo was not singled out. Jones reported and Twitter banned a whole bunch of accounts from Twitter because of the attack on Leslie Jones, not just his. So that dog won’t hunt.

    2) Milo was not an innocent bystander just making a critical movie review. He told others to send pictures of apes to Leslie Jones’ account. He was the active organizer of a racist hate mob. So that dog won’t hunt either.

    3) Milo had a very different view of the Internet and social media sites way back in 2012: https://mic.com/articles/149338/milo-yiannopoulos-nero-2012-kernel-essay-mass-censorship-trolling-leslie-jones#.jDuz3kJHB Then I guess he discovered that what he was protesting would be actually useful to him, so he released a bunch of journalists’ private messages trying to prove a made up fraud in Gamergate, and became a white nationalist.

    4) Twitter, the World Wide Web and the Internet are three different things. Twitter is private property to which they give you access, just like your phone company. Which they can take away any time they want for no reason whatsoever, especially as you don’t pay anything for the service. If you want to say that makes Twitter evil, then so is Breibart.com which does the exact same thing. Twitter isn’t a community, though communities may use it. It’s a form of telephone network.

    5) Milo was not in fact punching up in leading his Twitter attack force. Yes, Leslie is more famous than him and slightly more important to Twitter as a user, and by that she was able to turn the tables on him in the general public. But Leslie Jones is a black woman and Milo is a white man leading a racial verbal attack (with physical overtones.) According to society and law and the cops, in the U.S. where both currently reside and the world in general, she’s lesser than he is and what he did was perfectly okay (but would not be okay if he tried it with Matt Damon.) Which is why she made such a lovely target because Milo can expound on look at how black women are irrational and unreasonable facists. So Milo did punch down and somewhat effectively. What Leslie Jones experienced was an intense form of what she’s experienced her whole life from most white people. And Twitter twiddling its thumbs till it got enough bad press from media was also how companies treat even famous black women because they are black women.

    Things Milo could do and say as a white person that would put Leslie at even greater risk because coming from a black woman, they scare white people, gave him the advantage, and he’s still doing it now. Leslie was the target because she is a successful black woman currently in the news. That’s not supposed to happen in our white supremacist society, as it makes white people nervous. Or at least if it does, she must behave submissively as a near mute and neutral entertainer, according to whatever behavior white people feel she should exhibit. So Milo and his hate mob were correcting the situation by punching Leslie back down to where she was supposed to be — scared of white people, forced to listen to white people speak, shouldn’t speak back and complain about white people, be grateful and not make white people uncomfortable, etc. And when she didn’t do that, white nationalists use it to show how black people threaten white people’s status, and thus white people.

    The telling line from all this is when one account did a tweet telling Jones’ co-star Melissa McCarthy — a white woman — to come get her ape — the black woman — under control. It’s a reminder that black women’s status is seen as slaves, pets, subservient to white people. And yes, we’re all horrified at that tweet, most of us. And refuse to see that when white people whine that black people should speak more nicely and kindly to white people about cops targeting their kids that we’re saying the exact same thing as that tweet. It’s the same power dynamic — punching down to the people we’ve rigged into second place and tying their hands and their voices when they try to get change. Milo didn’t attack Leslie because Twitter let him. He attacked her because our white run society supports what he said and other white people do it all the time too. And the black people are expected to be nice to the white people back, to show their place — down below.

    So as nice as it is to say that Milo is a facist Brit and a hate troll asshole and all that sort of stuff, as if it had nothing to do with us, the reality is that Milo is us. As much fun as it is to blame a lax Twitter and Internet behavior, the reality is that all that Twitter hate is also us. We created the society and we continue to support it and lord around in it. We don’t have to have an autocratic censorship dictatorship to change it either. We just have to stop supporting Milo’s pronouncements, and more importantly, having the law support them. Which it currently does.

    They claim free speech suppression not because it’s relevant but because they want to present people like Leslie Jones as a threat to society. And if you’ve ever used the phrase political correctness or tone policed someone talking about discrimination, you’re doing the exact same thing, only more cutely and obliviously. You’re punching down that the marginalized person is a threat to you (and your status,) and you won’t listen to them until they bow down and reassure you that they aren’t and then maybe you will deign to not see them as a threat. Leslie Jones ain’t running the world. But legislators in the U.S. and Britain who are pals with Milo are. And we all either voted for them or didn’t do much to have them lose elections and stop making hate laws.

    So Milo sucks, yes, but so does the society that made Leslie Jones an automatic target for abuse. The disease is much broader than Milo and his fake facists. Jones held up that disease in an attack form to the light, but she still has to live in the society as a black woman. And that society thinks that she should have a thicker skin about our bigotry. Or we’ll hurt her.

  100. A whole lot about this situation makes me sad (like how it apparently takes a celebrity getting attacked for Twitter to actually take action on abuse), but I think the saddest thing for me is just how some people have chosen to react to a Ghostbusters with all-female leads. The people who dislike this (hopefully) aren’t stupid enough to think that females aren’t scientists in the real world; they’re just fighting a losing battle against women having their own agency. There are real issues going on in the world; how fragile must yours be if a movie reboot with female leads shatters it? And why is this something that you put so much energy towards?
    I saw an ad for an article on the internet about “all-male reboots we’d like to see”. Just thought I’d mention that here.

  101. There is no race except the human race. On the other, you can have a gay, cracker, shithead, reactionary, John Birch Society loving , self absorbed, hate mongering, conservative and they come in all shapes and sizes.

  102. @Ctein: It’s all good. On the Political Compass Matrix, I landed in the Libertarian Right quadrant (x+2, y-2), which is well within striking distance of the center.

    I don’t see any purge either, unless we are talking about Turkey. But I do see an escalating contest over the definition political “safe space” – basically a competition over who gets to say what, when, and how (apologies to Harold Lasswell.)

    As for that one-star review, doncha just love it? I mean, isn’t customary to first read the book BEFORE writing the review? I’m off to Erehwon . . .

  103. Kat: “Milo was not in fact punching up in leading his Twitter attack force. Yes, Leslie is more famous than him and slightly more important to Twitter as a user, and by that she was able to turn the tables on him”

    And therefore, he was punching up.

    At some point, we have to be able to look at interactions on an individual level to fully understand whats going on, not just systemic.

    At a systemic level, blacks have less power in america than whites, and that very handily explains why a bunch of racists attacked a black woman. But the fact that this particular, individual, black woman was a movie star, and had more clout than average, and could possibly make twitter look really, really bad, is exactly and the ONLY reason, why Twitter actually did anything.

    Insisting everything be viewed only through the lens of systemic interactions is like walking around blindfolded, relying on nothing but sonar. Sure, it was enough to let Daredevel fight bad guys, but you’re not going to be able to watch TV or “see” a computer screen.

    Twisting yourself in a logical knot just so that a particular black woman is weaker than a particular white man, because systemically they are, even though individually they are not, is just myopic.

  104. Twitter booting Milo Yiannamotopoloupolus
    There’s so many brats on Twitter, we could use a few less
    People who cry censorship just out themselves as clueless–
    Twitter booting Milo Yiannamotopoloupolus

    (He does little and he does lie)
    (He does little and he does lie)

  105. As Kat Goodwin wrote above, “Twitter trends are considered influential and significant indicators by the media now” – and (speaking as someone who has never used Twitter and never will, although I don’t consider myself a Luddite) I think this is a major part of the problem.

    The remnant of “legacy” journalism – such as a newspaper that has to turn out material 24 hours a day, with half the staff of 5 years ago – is going to produce a story about something trending on Twitter because it’s easier (and a lot less expensive) than actually going out there and reporting. This is equally true for sites that never had a hard-copy presence.

  106. Greg,

    Vis you last paragraph:

    Once again you’re doing that thing, where you drift into insulting and belittling anyone who has the temerity to disagree with your worldview.

    Which is why a bunch of us won’t talk to you or engage you in any serious way.

    Think about doing it differently.(like hint: MAYBE without the belittle part).

    [[note to John: don’t worry– this isn’t going to turn into a food fight. Whatever Greg responds with, I’m not going to reply to. My part stops here.]]

    pax / Ctein

  107. @ctein: That’s a wonderfully insightful post you made upthread. Wish this place had a like system. Particularly, I’d like to comment on the piece about humans-as-herd-animals; window for Twitter to’ve set its culture, and then have that culture organically surpress this kind of behaviour, was years ago. Back then, it would’ve been like trying to stop a campfire from spreading; now the forest fire has torched ten thousand square kilometers and there’s no rain in sight, and so the equipment you need to devote to it is enormously larger.

    @various people saying Twitter doesn’t need to read every tweet and should just investigate complaints properly/have better blocking tools:

    Better blocking tools, as a technical fix, and done by the people being harassed, still leaves the blocked people on the service and able to harass others. It’s useful, and it scales somewhat, but it’s a bandaid.

    Following up on reported users runs square into exactly the same issue of scale that trying to read any useful percentage of tweets does. Twitter has, at the time of writing, somewhere around 310million active users. The law of large numbers will bite and bite hard. I have no idea how many reports Twitter has to deal with, but with three hundred thirty million people in the U.S., 9-1-1 has to deal with something on the order of two-hundred-fifty million calls per year. If Twitter is even remotely in the same ballpark, and each user review is completed in a minute, that’s 475 man-years. Figure eight hour workdays for shift coverage, then weekends and two weeks vacation, that’s a workforce of around 2,100 people devoted full-time to doing nothing but slapdash report investigations– which’d get used themselves as harassment tools.

    Twitter — and Facebook, and YouTube — all have a similar pattern, which is that they all heavily focused on the hardware scaling and support issues, a consequence of those being amenable to technical, engineering solutions and of those kind of solutions being the ones that the people who started them are best at, and then only later coming to realize what kind of monster they’d unleashed and trying to bring it back under control. It isn’t — as noted here and elsewhere — helped by the general libertarian ethos that is shot through software fields, which tended to regard this as not as much of a problem as it actually is. That is, indeed, one reason these companies have generally been reluctant to move on this issue.

    But the manpower required to police these services until actual technical automatic content moderation comes along is >hugedoreally< strongly urge people to read that Verge article I linked earlier.

  108. Argh, I have got to remember not to use angle braces as emphasis, half the sites out there think I’m trying to write HTML. :(

    Missing bit: “… is huge — think about how many police are needed in meatspace — and the people who do end up doing it get broken by it. Because as bad as the YT comments or harassing tweets you see are, they’re not the worst. You don’t see the worst, and you should thank your lucky stars because of it.

    I really do strongly urge…”

  109. Ctein, “myopic” isnt insulting or belittling, unless you are of the mind that any disagreement whatsoever is insulting and belittling.

    Milo attacked Leslie because he was relying on systemic racism to support him. It backfired because he targeted a black woman who had some clout, so Twitter did something about Milo.

    To argue anything else is to pretend that twitter would have done the same thing if Milo had attacked some complete unknown black person. Ideally, they would have. But in the real world, they would not have.

    Another example where forcing everything into the mold of “systemic” and completely ignoring individual behavior and responsibility:

    Kat: “all that Twitter hate is also us. We created the society and we continue to support it and lord around in it.”

    This is a total abuse of the “royal we”. If you want to take responsibility for things you didnt do, go for it. But stop trying to slather guilt and blame on everyone for everything.

    Milo instigated attacks on Leslie. He gets most of the blame for that. The bigots who helped get the next chunk of blame. A guy who never heard of milo, doesnt have a twitter account, and never attacked someone out of bigotry is a bit further down the ladder of responsibility.

  110. It should be noted that Milo is a Cultural Marxist – he wants the government to intervene in a place of business on his behalf because he feels that his “right” to do what he wants anywhere at any time is infringed on by private enterprise.

  111. It’s funny how quickly right wingers will adopt a left wing position about entitlement to a medium for their free speech. Okay, it’s a “laugh so I don’t cry” kind of funny.

  112. Twitter is dead, and its Trolls are blue!
    The busters are ready, to Ghostbust this crew!

  113. The whining from that dweeb reminds me of the whining last week of an artist who had his blogs permanently pulled from Blogger after 14 years…until a story came out that he was posting nudes for a majority of those years, which is a violation of their T.o.S, He thought just because he had it behind a “warning” page he felt it was alright.

    Sorry, but if you continually dogpile on something, eventually it will come back to bite you in both ass-cheeks.

  114. Wikileaks has spent the day talking up the idea that Leslie Jones has the unilateral power to have anyone silenced that she want, glossing over the question of why if she had this power she would have put up with this crap in the first place.

    Regarding the claim that Milo is not responsible for other people actions, a point that has been missed is that he participated in identify fraud by distributing the faked screenshots attributing statements to Leslie Jones that she did not make. By knowingly misinforming his so-called “readership” he does in fact bear responsibly for the conclusions people drawn. That is *why* willing misinformation is done.

  115. A white man attacking a black woman *for being a black woman* is absolutely punching down. Jones’s fame simply gave her a slightly firmer foundation for punching back up.

  116. AutistOfSpot, thank you for that succinct explanation. I was having trouble putting it into words, but you nailed it.

  117. This is a total abuse of the “royal we”. If you want to take responsibility for things you didnt do, go for it. But stop trying to slather guilt and blame on everyone for everything.

    This seems to be the heart of Greg’s issues with Kat, or perhaps issues in general. Certainly it’s a common thread. He absolutely rejects anything suggesting he might be included in the group of society that’s at fault for perpetuating harmful -isms. He argued endlessly about the term “rape culture” and cited his implicit bias test results multiple times during RaceFail, IIRC. Also the term “privilege.” Makes an interesting contrast with his willingness to generalize groups with opinions with which he disagrees, as demonstrated in the Hillary/Bernie threads a bit ago.

    Just pointing this out for anyone who wants to cut to the chase regarding his remarks to Kat and the ignoring thereof. Not interested in engaging him either myself.

  118. Robin : “He absolutely rejects anything suggesting he might be included in the group of society that’s at fault for perpetuating harmful -isms.”

    Fault/responsibility is a function of power. The entire argument for privilege is to look at power only from a systemic level. And the strongest vocal advocates for privilege, such as Kat, refuse to allow for an evaluation of any situation from an individual level of power. Leslie had more power than Milo, and its plainly obvious because Milo got blocked, not Leslie. Milo’s mistake was picking on someone bigger than him, because he assumed the systemic power of racism outweighed whatever influence Leslie had. And he lost.

    The refusal to aconowledge different individual levels of power is naive. It asserts that not only are all men created equal in principle before the law, but that all men are equal in any choice of measure. Its as naive as a laissez faire knucklehead saying individuals choosing to boycott a billion dollar company will have equal power, equal footing. Systemically, sure, government can regulate corporations, but on an individual level, differences in power show up in differences in money, connections, even in physical power such as a particular man being twice the size of a particular woman.

    Am I responsible for bigotry in america? Sure, to some extent. But we are not all equally responsible. And thats obviously and blatantly missing from the “all are to blame” attitudes that only recognizes power at thr systemic level.

    I get 1/100,000,000 of a voice in elections, the Kochs get a lot more. Ignoring that difference in power is folly.

  119. Vgj:

    The people who dislike this (hopefully) aren’t stupid enough to think that females aren’t scientists in the real world; they’re just fighting a losing battle against women having their own agency. There are real issues going on in the world; how fragile must yours be if a movie reboot with female leads shatters it? And why is this something that you put so much energy towards?

    It’s not the women, again, it’s what they represent by being in the movie — women being equal instead of lower down, and the society supporting it. So they denounce it as a threat — women are trying to ruin movies by starring in them, so don’t let them get past discrimination. Denounce them one way or another as threat and not worthy of consideration — that society’s institutionalized view of women as inferior remain.


    The remnant of “legacy” journalism – such as a newspaper that has to turn out material 24 hours a day, with half the staff of 5 years ago – is going to produce a story about something trending on Twitter because it’s easier (and a lot less expensive) than actually going out there and reporting.

    Oh they go out there and report. They have to investigate whether the Twitter trend means something, so they have to go interview folk. Like Milo. Which gives Milo air time. Which lets Milo talk about it being normal, how liberal views of equality are a threat, how people in marginalized groups speaking up are a powerful threat, etc. Which gives his legislator pals ammunition to go after those groups as a political legal strategy. And they did the same thing before the Internet, even if they do ride the tiger a bit more now.

    Matthew Ernest:

    Wikileaks has spent the day talking up the idea that Leslie Jones has the unilateral power to have anyone silenced that she want, glossing over the question of why if she had this power she would have put up with this crap in the first place.

    Right, she’s a famous black lady who stood up to white people. Therefore she is a powerful threat, yada yada. Famous black people are not safe in our society just because they’re famous. Their kids aren’t safe. They are targeted and stopped by the police all the time, no matter how famous they are. They can’t get cabs or get kicked out of them, etc. They get to hear casual racist crap all the time. They face discrimination in their careers. They get told that they should quit complaining because they are famous so clearly they are powerful. They are held to different standards than famous white people, and are, like other black people, continually under the threat of violence if white people feel they have stepped out of their place. And any time their fame and resources do help them or support them, that is held up, not only by the Milos of the world, but by the rest of the media, by large swathes of population of all political ideologies, by most of the entertainment industry, as evidence that these black people are clearly getting out of control and throwing their weight around too much (equality schmality.) Too much “political correctness” giving Leslie Jones dictatorial power and shouldn’t she have handled it better, etc. — i.e. she should have lain down and kept quiet. If she doesn’t, she’s a threat and an example why black people are a threat.

    It’s a mind-set we were all raised in. We like to pretend that we weren’t, that it doesn’t involve us. And that’s in part because of the brave actions of those evil social justice warriors in the past, who changed the circumstances we were raised in to be slightly better than our parents, giving Leslie Jones a better shot at a career. But Milo didn’t make Leslie Jones a target. The bigoted society we accept makes her a target. Makes her a black person who is therefore a target to be kept in line. It’s easy to focus on Milo. But Milo is only as important as his ability to influence media and other white people in power. To help those white people and the media feel that calling Leslie unreasonable, over-reacting, too punishing of Milo, etc. — a black woman who stepped out of her place — is perfectly reasonable as a mainstream view. Milo can punch down because he has the full weight of white-run society behind him about how black people are supposed to behave and be perceived, no matter how famous Leslie Jones is. She still can’t get out of being a black woman and what those white people in power make that label mean.

    But the needle is being moved collectively by lots of black people not shutting up and more people moving to support their claims on various unequal civil rights issues because they’re forced to recognize what’s going on. This means black people are even more in danger, but it also means that famous black people like Jones, while even more targeted now, can also use it to show that she and other black women are targeted in a way that fewer white people find easy to refute or to place her in the threat over-reactor role. She can show that she’s being marginalized and repressed, even though she’s famous.

    It’s not simply about who is and isn’t an asshole. It’s about how human beings get to live in the society. Milo’s view is the status quo and he has media access a good bit beyond right-wing fringe media to keep reminding people of that. Milo isn’t important but that his views are the status quo and he has that media access welcoming him with open arms is. So after he does his media and Republican victory lap about Twitter kicking him off because of the mean black lady he attacked and threatened, we’ll have to see what changes, if anything. And we can also support famous black people towards getting more equality in the society, entertainment industry and the WWW by not pretending they have it now just because they are famous.

  120. I am in the weird position of agreeing with Greg – at least the comment at the start of this part of the discussion before he started getting dickish again – and disagreeing with Kat. Kat is making a talented woman with many accomplishments nothing but a passive victim and making MY into some kind of agent of power. She’s giving MY far too much credit. MY is what the Leslie’s of the world scrape off their shoe when they inadvertently step in it. And Twitter agreed.

    He has no power over her or any one else, he’s a jerk who would be unheard and invisible without social media, while her achievements stand on their own. She is (increasingly) famous; he’s nothing but notorious. There is a huge difference.

    The age of women being deferential and explaining why we want something is passing. We’re into the stage of “Knock that shit off now or there will be consequences”. And that is a good thing for everyone. I think Kat should re-consider the whole patriarchy angle – it increasingly is out of date.

  121. Magda: “he started getting dickish again – and disagreeing with Kat.”

    It wasnt my intent to be dickish, and rereading my posts I dont see it. Im not saying it isnt there. But I dont see it.

    Kat made the most extreme case for viewing the Milo/Leslie/Twitter thing only through the systemic lens and I think thats wrong because in no way does that explain the outcome of Milo getting banned. I dont know how to say that “systemic only” is a shortsighted view without using a term like myopic.

    All that Twitter hate is NOT also us. We DID NOT create the society and we ALL DO NOT continue to support it. and we all most certainly do NOT lord around in it.

    The only way those statements are true is if the systemic viewpoint is the ONLY viewpoint allowed. But the existence of a problem doesnt mean everyone supports that problem, or that everyone “lords” the problem over everyone. Thats what one sees when they only look at something through a systemic lens and refuse to look at differences in individual power.

    We are not omniscient, all powerful butterflies who but refuse to flap our wings and create a huricane of justice.

    But thats the worldview that a “systemic only, no individual differences allowed” creates. Its factually wrong. And when applied to individuals who dont fit the systemic median/averages, it misses important distictions, makes inaccurate predictions, and comes to incorrect conclusions.

  122. Magda: I actually agree with you. IMO, at least, acting like this Milo Yannowhatsit shitheel is anything more than an overgrown baby whining that his hilariously bigoted views are no longer socially acceptable, actually gives him power. He’s not powerful. He’s not scary. He’s not some big bogeyman of evil. He can’t actually do anything, can’t actually get any of his stupid ideas implemented. He’s a pathetic little man who thinks that he must be a gigantic asshole to compensate for his tiny penis. Literally everything he has is what other people give to him and allow him.

    Honestly, we shouldn’t give an inch to assholes like that. Call him an asshole, ignore him if he’s using a public forum and get him kicked off of private forums. Do it enough times and he should go away like the toenail fungus he is. But acting like he’s an actual threat? The only people he can punch down towards are ordinary people like you and me. And even then it’s kind of punching up because this little asshole is a jobless, lazy asscrack who spends his days in his mom’s basement writing about how much he hates women. There is literally nothing that represents a pathetic failure better than Milo Asscrack, and I feel that it is a mistake to give him credit for being anything other than the pathetic little failure of a person that he is.

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