Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Milo Yiannnopoulos Can Just Shut Up Now, Thank You

Tech guy, all around troll and jerk Milo Yiannopouos
is whining that Twitter finally kicked him out
because of his abusive Tweets and how he
encouraged others to attack people online.  
Poor Milo Yiannopoulos.

He's this weird guy, a former tech startup sort of guy who is gay and seems to hate gays, loves Donald Trump, and is more than a bit of an Internet troll who also has a somewhat shaky background in the tech industry.  

Last week, he launched a Twitter attack against Leslie Jones, the comedian and actor currently starring in the "Ghostbusters" reboot.

That part is unremarkable. People criticize and troll public figures such as actors and politicians on Twitter all the time.

What happened next turned into a big fight over free speech, and how awful you can get with your free speech before somebody tells you to shut up already. Twitter told Yiannopoulos to shut up already.

A lot of people cheered that move. Others didn't.

Yiannopoulos has got a great big posse of fans. A lot of them are trolls, and as Yiannopoulos egged them on, the trolls unleashed a huge and unrelenting racist and sexist attack on Jones, calling her a gorilla, saying she was the source of AIDS, you know, nice things like that.

The "problem" largely stems from Ghostbusters. The misgynistic trolls can't stand the fact the new movie has a female cast. And worse, Jones is African-American. Egads! On top of that, she's not a toothpick skinny supermodel with breast implants the size of watermelons. How dare she!

Also, female comedians are supposedly not funny, according to these idiots. (I'm sure my fellow fans of female comedians starting with Lucille Ball and Phyllis Diller going all the way up to today's Jones, Samantha Bee, Tina Fey and many others would beg to differ.).

In any event, Yiannopoulos and the followers he was encouraging  finally got so odious that Twitter permanently kicked him out, says BuzzFeed News.

"'People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,'  a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. 'But no on deserved to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rule prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others."

Yiannopoulos and his legions of follows  (almost 400,000 of them before Twitter suspended his account.) are crying foul, saying Twitter is suppressing free speech and squelching comments that don't adhere to a liberal, politically correct skew.

Yiannopoulous was quick to respond that it was just Twitter hating on conservatives. "With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space or Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter exremenists, but a no-go zone for conservatives."

Twitter does make its terms of service pretty clear. "You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others" You could get kicked off Twitter if you incite others to harass another account or if the primary purpose of an account is to send abusive messages to others.

Twitter's terms of service do not say conservative opinions can't be held. There's tons of conservatism on Twitter, actually. Take a look if you don't believe me.

Still, Yiannopoulos said of his banishment: "This is the end for Twitter. Anyone who cares about free speech has been sent a clear message You're not welcome on Twitter."

First off all, Yiannopoulos is confusing Twitter with the government. The First Amendment says that the government cannot squelch free speech. Like it or not, a private company can.

Still, the more free speech the better, and it's always a good thing for social media and media in general allow a full-throated airing of diverse opinions.

I generally don't like it when any business or institution, say, cancels a speech because activists don't like the speaker's opinion.  But it's a different thing entirely when the speech becomes harassment. Would you want somebody constantly yelling on your front lawn that they want to kill you? Well you shouldn't be doing that on Twitter either.

If you don't like somebody, you can say so on Twitter. Just don't turn the dislike into threats and harassment. Look, I'm saying here that I don't like Yiannopoulos, and I bet Twitter won't throw me off. Especially since I don't want to see him suffer any harm and I DON'T  want armies of trolls attacking him online.

However, Yiannopoulos forgets that free speech has consequences. Free speech is a right and a responsibility.

When you start massively harassing a person, and get your friends to pile on, there's going to be pushback, and a lot of us will tell you to shut up already, just like Twitter did.

So quicherbitchin' Milo, and remember that just because you're yacking up a storm doesn't mean we have to listen. You don't deserve a special platform any more than the next guy.

Yiannopoulos isn't the first person to whine about not being guaranteed a free public forum to spew garbage and he won't be the last.

According to Tech Dirt, the odious Pamela Geller, she of her virulent, wildly wrong All Muslims Are Murdering Assholes activism, is suing the federal government, and by extention Facebook, I guess.

Pamela Geller is also demanding a guaranteed
platform on social media, but fuhgetaboutit
Geller says that Facebook would take down her page somehow is wrong, and the federal Communications Decency Act violates the First Amendment because she says it enables censorship.

Says her lawsuit:  

"Denying a person or organization access to these important social media forums based on the content and viewpoint of the person's or organization's speech on matters of public concern is an effective way of silencing or censoring speech or depriving the person or organization of political influence and business opportunities."

But, again, the First Amendment bars the government from censoring people. All the Communications Decency Act does is allow private companies to take down content they deem "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable."

As noted, I do think major social media outfits like Facebook and Twitter have the responsibility to let people air controversial topics, and they do.  But legally, they can take stuff down. And if the content relentlessly harasses anybody, including Muslims and Jews like Geller, it should be taken down.

Still, we have First Amendment rights, but we don't have a right to use a private platform for whatever we want. Almost all businesses, including Twitter and Facebook, have their own ethics policy and are free to adhere to them, unless they discriminate against a whole class of people based on things like religious affiliation, gender and race.

As Tech Dirt states: "(Geller's) lawsuit is the legal equivalent of that idiot who claims that any company moderating content is violating the First Amendment."

But as we all know, there's a LOT of idiots on social media.

No comments:

Post a Comment