Monday, November 26, 2018

Sudden ban by Twitter of Jesse Kelly without due process raises questions about real political intent of social media companies? (Is the Civil War suddenly unmentionable?)



The Internet world is perplexed by the sudden banning from Twitter of conservative pundit (Marine Veteran and former GOP senatorial candidate from Arizona, and Federalist contributor) Jesse Kelly Sunday night, Nov. 25.  “Heavy” gives a factual account and shows the sudden final notice he got from Twitter.  This all happened shortly after Twitter had banned another high-profile user (Meghan Murphy) over violating some rules intended to protect transgender people.


Although Twitter rules say it normally explains violations that result in suspensions (temporary and permanent) so far it has not explained this one.  When I checked further, it seemed as though the Facebook page did not work either. And a “vote for Kelly” website had been hacked and overlaid with a page from a Japanese home builder.

There has been some speculation that some of Kelly’s tweets or other writings were viewed as urging for a second Civil War, but from what I see or can find out that sounds like a real stretch.  (This reported tweet is literally true and does not imply in any way that the slavery in the South had been morally justifiable -- just read Margaret Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind".) Very recently, Mediate pointed to a hard-hitting Federalist piece from last June where Kelly wrote that “America is going down”.  Maybe this piece could be viewed as hostile to native Americans, but I think the post is just interpreting history with some relatively normal hyperbole.

The Washington Examiner argues that Twitter is behaving like a publisher and risks its Section 230 protection as it seems to cross the line into banning some political ideas it doesn’t like.  But remember that Washington Post columnist David Ignatius already has proposed abolishing Section 230, at least for large social networks ("My four-word wish for Thanksgiving"). 
  
If monopolistic platforms like Facebook and Twitter could de-platform controversial political candidates, these platforms could possibly heavily influence the results of national elections to an unprecedented extent.  This would seem to bring back the campaign finance reforms I’ve discussed here before (like July 27, 2007, an incident that happened when I worked as a substitute teacher).
  
The political Left wants to ban neo-Nazism and white supremacy as legitimate “political subject matter” because accepting that idea would theoretically mean that the return of segregation or possibly even slavery must always be guarded against (politically) – even though there are constitutional amendments to the contrary (especially 13 and 14). On the other hand, since blacks were always a minority, BLM and even Antifa cannot constitute a comparable equivalent political threat. But imagine is such an idea were extended, say, to defend gender fluidity.
  
However the ContraPoints video that I embedded Nov. 24 also may shed some light – the “alt-right” can “masquerade” as making legitimate arguments, when a group like Antifa could not.  All of this also comports with a particularly combative tribal-centered political strategy that has evolved quickly (with both the far Left and alt-right) since 2016, where the group matters much more than the individual (as was the thinking toward the end of the Vietnam war). 
  
That sort of thinking is one reason for the demands to take down Confederate statues.  If a blogger makes pictures of the statues on Monument Ave in Richmond, is he/she guilty of indirect hate speech?  This is getting ridiculous. (What about Lee’s mansion above Arlington Cemetery?)
  
By the way, a substantial number of residents in Richmond want the statues removed (story). Why not, instead, erect some more statues of prominent African Americans today and from the past and add them to the avenue?
  
There is always difficulty in predicting what sorts of situations or images some will consider threatening.  Why a lot of the symbolic  battles (as over monuments, or over pronouns) sound ridiculous to me, I have sometimes pulled the plug on some situations that I considered particularly threatening. (For example, in 2003 I quit a telemarketing job after someone I called threatened to have callers arrested.)  The bar of what some people view as a threat or harassment can be quite variable indeed.




Update: Nov. 27

Ed Morrissey discusses the banning of Kelly on Hot Air, and suggests people go back to using their own websites -- but hosting companies have deplatformed extremists already, and there is some reason to think domain ownership should require more accounting transparency in the future than it ever has so far. 

TheWrap has a story about the banning of Laura Loomer after she criticized a Muslim elected to the House from Minnesota, somewhat tasteslessly.


 Update: Nov 28
  
 Jesse Kelly has been reinstated -- a story in National Review by Mairead McCardle here

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