Cease Fire Between The Sit Down and WOZO

As of last night, the war between WOZO in Knoxville and The Sit Down with Chris Seaton is over. WOZO’s top brass indicated they support free speech and the open exchange of ideas. They are to be commended for their support.

The Sit Down’s genesis came from the “Headlines” segment I used to do for producer Aaron Campbell’s flagship show “That Midday Show” on WOZO. It was a four hour long live show dedicated to comedy, geek culture, and entertainment. They had an “open door” policy when the show began and were looking for new ideas.

I picked about four or five stories from the news I thought were interesting and we would riff off them for an hour or so making bad jokes. It was a fun endeavor, and the highlight of my time with the show was getting to do a live broadcast from Scruffy City Hall during the Scruffy City Comedy Festival.

The show was a drain on my business ventures, though, so eventually I had to scale back what I was doing and concentrate on other areas of my work. I would still pop in occasionally for the odd bit, plug a project like “Silenced,” and then pop out in a heartbeat. Still fun, but not as much of a time commitment.

Something happened to TMS at the end of 2016. A comedian on the show made a joke that was admittedly off color and might have run afoul of FCC standards. The funny thing is the quip was so quiet it can’t be heard on the recording of the days’s events. What can be heard is another station DJ calling in, objecting to the joke, and saying “What that guy said was offensive and inappropriate. I’m coming down to settle this.”

Any reasonable person would think “I’m coming down to settle this” meant “I’m coming down to talk over what was just said.” This “DJ’s” interpretation of “settling” a problem over some words involved an assault and potential multiple FCC violations with live mics.
When I learned of the incident, I encouraged my producer to file a police report and have the two individuals responsible arrested for assault. The vitality of his show depended on it. Certain individuals begged Aaron to not file a police report and instead handle the matter through the station’s “conflict response team” in a “mediation.”

During the “mediation” Aaron Campbell, my producer and friend, got an apology from the two jackasses who assaulted him in the studio. The “conflict response team” also penalized Aaron and That Show Productions by pulling them from the air for the rest of 2016.

To this day That Show Productions hasn’t done a live broadcast at WOZO Radio’s studios.

“The Sit Down” found a home at WOZO when Aaron Campbell agreed to give the fourth hour of That Midday Show to a project I’d been working on, a highly conservative talk show featuring news, entertainment, lifestyle subjects, and in a one hour format. The best part of getting to use Aaron’s home studio for the broadcasts is the beer in the fridge, and the setup is light years better than what WOZO had. In fact, That Show’s production facilities rival those of most major radio stations.

It didn’t take two episodes of an ultra-conservative talk show airing on an incredibly leftist leaning community access network until the station’s “DJs” started calling for the show to get axed. One person at the station said since I was a “host,” that automatically made me a DJ subject to the fees the station’s DJs paid each month. I argued I was talent, not the DJ, and the DJ granting me that slot had the right and privilege to axe the program as he saw fit.

Others objected to content they’d never listened to. At the beginning of each show and during the break a “disclaimer” runs to the effect of “Warning. The following program may contain language or subject matter the listener finds racist, sexist, transohomophobic, bigoted, ableist, or any other “ist” or “ism” you can find. If the listener finds the program offensive, the management would respectfully request you suck it up, snowflake, and find something else to listen to.” It was a poke at the notion words used to silence others in the past didn’t work anymore, and a light hearted reminder that no matter what we said someone was going to get outraged.

The outrage poured in as quickly as Episode 2. “Station DJs” were combing through both hours of the program trying to find something, anything they could label with an “ist” or an “ism.” so they could say the program was in violation of their “station rules.” The DJs were moving to have the program banned from WOZO, my producer banned from the station, and me from ever appearing on WOZO content again.

Outrage poured over to Twitter, where an egg I assume was a station DJ claimed I wanted special treatment and attempted to circumvent the rules. Another got upset that I “disrespected” the DJs calling for the stifling of conservative viewpoints on the station. Another egg started the discussion off the bat by calling me racist and sexist and demanding WOZO pull That Midday Show and The Sit Down immediately. From Canada, allegedly.

The tension came to a head last night when Aaron Campbell met with senior WOZO staff who acknowledged no one at That Show Productions violated any rules. I’m told Margo referred to me as an excellent “shock jock,” which baffles me as I don’t mean to “shock,” but I’ll take what I can get, especially if it’s a compliment from someone who has as much clout as Margo at WOZO.

The conflict brought eyes to the show, and for every new listener we greatly appreciate your support. To Margo and all the DJs at WOZO who supported “The Sit Down,” we appreciate your commitment to free speech, an open exchange in the marketplace of ideas, and tolerance of really bad jokes.

“The Sit Down with Chris Seaton” airs every Tuesday at 4 PM on 103.9 WOZO LPFM in Knoxville. I’m reliably informed that if you can use Winamp you can hear the station broadcast live. Replays go up on the podcast networks like iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and TuneIn on Wednesdays at 8 AM EST.

You can also go to the show website and listen.

If you like what you hear, consider becoming one of our Patreon sponsors.

Is there a War of Words in America?

Dave Rubin declared in a recent “Direct Message” segment of his hit YouTube show “The Rubin Report” the “War on Free Speech” has officially begun. I’m putting the video below so you can listen to Dave’s arguments for yourself.

Are we in a society where the War on Free Speech is underway? With riots like that at UC Berkeley over Milo Yiannopolous’s appearance are we truly in a “war” on free speech? I’m going to respectfully disagree with Dave and say there is no “free speech war” unless we choose to make it happen.

Because it’s important to define terms, and Dave knows words mean something, let’s go with the Merriam-Webster definition of “war.”

Definition of war

  1. 1(1):  a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2):  a period of such armed conflict (3)state of warb:  the art or science of warfare c(1)obsolete:  weapons and equipment for war (2) archaic:  soldiers armed and equipped for war

  2. 2a:  a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b:  a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end <a class war><a war against disease>

Well, crap. It would seem I’ve trapped myself with this definition,wouldn’t it? After all, isn’t what happened at UC Berkeley and UW Seattle “open and declared armed hostile conflict?” At worst, are we not in a “struggle or competition between opposing forces…for a particular end?”

I would submit that if we’re in a free speech “war” there’s no other nation or state that’s declared hostile conflict over things American citizens have said. That may change when our President twits something out that pisses off a particular nation-state, but right now those who would declare our current turmoil a “free speech war” are abusing the language in the same ways Fox News and other outlets declare a “war” on Christmas with Starbucks cups.

Now the second definition becomes a bit more problematic to refute. It seems there’s a “struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.” On one side, you have the “social justice warriors” demanding diversity and inclusion for all. The other side, well let’s call them the “anti-pc” crowd. Both have conflicting views on free speech and how it is best utilized. Does that make it a conflict worthy of the term “war?”

My response is “no.” It’s a conflict, but “war” is a strong word. It connotes open and hard conflict between opposing sides. While we’re seeing small skirmishes break out among opposing views, this really isn’t a “war” in the sense of the term. Until there’s an all out battle “declared” by one side or another it’s just a series of decisions whether we self-censor or we risk something by saying what we really mean.

Start with Justine Sacco and her horrendous joke about being safe from AIDS in South Africa because she was white. The Social Justice mobs landed on her in a frenzy. By the time she landed in South Africa she had no job, no hotel room, and no way of getting back absent her own resources.

That was a sort of cultural turning point, I think, for the alleged “war” on free speech. This was the time when an ill-conceived twit could cost you a job. Now people had to set their Facebook settings to “private” so prospective employers wouldn’t find a political opinion someone found offensive. Blog posts were carefully written so as to keep the Internet Hate Machine from coming down on a person.

If there was a war on free speech, it was a bloodless war, and it’s already been fought.

The violence we’re seeing right now is an extension of what happens when one side gets tired of losing battles and pushes back. Conservative and libertarian types are pushing back against the “progressive” groupthink and saying “what you do and say doesn’t matter anymore.” Worse still, they’re using progressive tactics against those who would silence them, and it’s causing the “progressive” movement to come unhinged.

One recent example is MILO’s demands people stop calling him a white nationalist and threatening lawsuits if publishers don’t print a retraction. This is a progressive play, taken straight from about a decade’s worth of their own tactics. Yet when a conservative speaker like MILO uses it, the progressives laugh and call him a “special snowflake” seeking a “safe space.”

None of them understand the plays being called, and they’ve used them for ages. The fact these plays are working on them now doesn’t make it any easier for then to recognize.

No outside force is causing a “war” on free speech. If anyone’s doing it, we’re doing it to ourselves out of fear for losing something important, like a job, income streams, or friends. Until we can reach a climate where everyone can listen again without needing to agree on everything we’re going to continue this silent conflict, potentially for the rest of our days.

That’s why the film is called “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech.”

 

“I’m all for free speech, but”

“I’m all for free speech, but”

No you’re not. You don’t believe in free speech. You have no love for honest conversations.

“But wait, you didn’t hear met out! All I wanted to say was”

See there’s that little word “but” in your statement. It immediately tells me you don’t believe in the concept you’re about to argue. What you’re more  concerned with is protecting the speech you like and suppressing the speech that makes you uncomfortable.

“It’s perfectly acceptable to suppress hate speech.”

Do you have a definition for hate speech? Words mean things, you know. Without a working definition for “hate speech” we can’t decide what needs suppression.

“Hate speech is…”

What? Milo Yiannopolous saying “birth control makes women unattractive and crazy?” Richard Spencer saying stupid white supremacy shit? Mike Cernovich saying the media is lying to you? Organizations like FIRE fighting the madness of campus kangaroo courts designed by fiat to handle sexual assault?

Here’s the problem with your argument. We don’t have a working legal definition of hate speech in America because courts haven’t taken up the issue. If and when they do, don’t expect your French Lit professor who doubles as an “unofficial rape counselor” to have a say in the opinion.

You see, America has a history of protecting all the speech you think is nasty, hurtful, or wrong. We do this because a bunch of those people you call white cis heteronormative shitlords a long time ago realized if you don’t allow some people to express their opinions then you’ll miss out on the best ideas society has to offer.

In order to get there, you have to let everyone speak. Even the people you mistakenly label “literally Hitler.”

“But allowing the speech of others silences or marginalizes the speech of women, specifically women of color and LGBTQIA women”

How? No one has yet to explain how allowing everyone to speak makes it harder for women you deem “silenced” or “marginalized” to express their viewpoints. And doesn’t your statement actually infantilize or demean strong people who by your own admission undergo adversity every single day?

“Maybe it’s time for us to adopt laws like Canada or the UK’s so we don’t have so many problems with harassment online.”

Okay. Now we’re getting somewhere. You want us to throw out existing law and precedent regarding free speech in the United States and replace it with something similar to another government’s. Changing laws isn’t an easy task, but it can be done.

There’s an issue with changing laws, especially laws that affect your rights. When you start getting rid of those laws and overturn precedent that protects one right, you’re putting up all the rest for consideration.

“Fuck you, you misogynistic bigot.”

Well. That means we’re out of ideas. The next time you want to have an honest conversation about free speech, I’ll be here. Have a nice day.

Banning Pax (Updated)

Pax Dickinson, one of many interviewed in “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” is the latest Twitter banhammer casualty. It’s not a surprise, given Pax embodies everything the “free speech wing of the free speech party” hates. This wasn’t about silencing conservative voices. Pax’s Twitter ban is the tone police telling the world what jokes are funny and which are unacceptable.

I doubt Pax will cry himself to sleep over a Twitter ban. When you make the cover of international newspapers a social media platform becomes a touch irrelevant. The only possible hit Pax takes from this is an inability to retweet material from his business venture with Got News’ Chuck Johnson, WeSearchr. He will still maintain a platform on other avenues, like Gab, and have the ability to broadcast his message through his own blog if he so chooses.

Twitter’s rationale for banning Pax is unknown at the time of this post. It could be any number of his bad jokes someone at the Trust and Safety Council found “offensive” or “hate speech.” Pax won’t apologize for any of it, most likely. From the day he lost his job as CTO of Business Insider due to his “mildly trolly” Twitter account, Pax has been unapologetic for anything he says in the real or digital worlds.

What troubles me most about the ban on Pax is that it’s not political. It’s not about “hate.” It’s about someone finding a few tasteless remarks offensive and using cyber shears to cut his speech from a digital platform. And before people start chiming in about “social consequences” and how Twitter is a private company, free to ban who they choose, I get all that. The squeaking sound you’re hearing is the dead horse you keep beating.

When social media begins censoring humor, it begins censoring that which keeps us sane in a very dark world. There’s enough political discussion floating around Twitter and Facebook right now and fears of “America’s First Dictator” that voices like Pax Dickinson who, to paraphrase Marshall Mathers “says shit just to be saying it,” are welcome changes of tone. I didn’t necessarily find all of Pax’s jokes funny, but humor is different for every person. What some find hilarious I don’t get. That’s the beauty of a world where Lena Dunham and Carlos Valencia are both considered funny.

Strangely, Twitter continues its clueless ban/suspension policy without realizing people like Pax don’t need Twitter. Rather, Twitter needs people like Pax Dickinson. When you take out a voice on a social media platform known for making a few rude remarks, you’ve made it clear to the rest of your user base the platform’s digital punishment isn’t about politics, harassment, or anything else others might claim it to be.

You’re making it clear you want to remove any semblance of thought you don’t like. You’re cutting off the crude joke or two. You’re putting the rest of your users on notice the moment the Trust and Safety Council takes offense with a statement, they’re gone from your platform.

Maybe this is why we’re seeing more ads for Twitter on television these days.

UPDATE: It appears the Twitter ban was part of the latest Twitter purge to eliminate “radical thought,” according to USA Today. This is disconcerting. While the “alt-right,” whatever this term may mean, does contain elements that are truly despicable, it is a political body the world must accept. Whether Dickinson is truly “alt-right” is anyone’s guess, but silencing voices on social media for political motives is disheartening.

Film Review: “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech”

Full disclosure: the author served as Head Researcher for this film. 

“Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” is a picture of free speech in America as we know it today. It is a reminder we live in a society where one tweet costs you a job, and a Facebook argument loses you friends in real life. The ninety minute documentary, directed by Loren Feldman and produced by Mike Cernovich, will grab you by the seat of your pants from the opening until the credits roll.

The movie shows you how America has created a culture of self-censorship in almost every aspect of life. Religion, the law, broadcasting, science, medicine, and even comedy all suffer from the cancerous culture of silencing voices with which we disagree. This uncomfortable truth is presented by the voices of many who have been silenced, including Chuck Johnson of Got News, Pax Dickinson, Scott Adams (yes, the Dilbert creator) and more.

“Silenced” attempts to nail down a definition of free speech in the film. It’s not an easy task, and the different views of that which we call “free speech” reflect this. I’m not sure it reaches a concrete definition by the film’s end, but the best definitions are provided by the featured lawyers. Maybe that’s because in the legal profession words actually mean things, and concepts have meaning beyond the feelings of the individual speaker.

Some of the most interesting viewpoints and outlooks come from those who aren’t American or who immigrated to America. Perhaps this is because each comes or came from a place where speech ostensibly has greater restrictions than America. While each subject’s viewpoint was incredibly insightful, these intrigued me most because I am an American who’s lived in America all his life and haven’t really encountered restrictions on speech as they have.

One of the most hard hitting segments was the one involving comedy. Paul Provenza and Dulce Sloan’s remarks hit hard in “Silenced.” Standup comedy is supposed to be the bastion of truth, and something that gives us laughter while making us think. Instead, it’s been muzzled to the point comedians can’t work college campuses unless they keep in their repertoire a “super clean” set in addition to their standard set.

“I’m offended every day…I just choose to not be a little bitch about it.”–Paul Provenza

At the film’s end, one final question is left on the table. Will America ever return to a land where people can say what’s on their minds without fear of societal repercussions, or will we continue down the dark path of self-censorship and refrain from having honest discussions on subjects vitally important to us? I don’t see that question resolved, but the final scene before the credits roll gives me great hope for the future.

I’m not one for documentaries, but I found “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” compelling enough that I’ve watched it three times since its release. It’s a nice length in a world where people are forced to sit through three hour films. And most importantly, it will get you talking with those around you about free speech in America.

If you are looking for light-hearted fare, “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” is not for you. If you want a film that will captivate you, keep your attention from start to finish, and have you talking with those around you more by the time you finish it, “Silenced” is your best bed. If you’re an American who’s ever had a moment where you deleted a tweet draft or a Facebook post because you were afraid of the potential repercussions, you owe it to yourself to see “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech.”

Currently, “Silenced” is available through Vimeo On Demand. You can rent it for $4.99 or purchase it for $9.99. It’s an important film, and one you won’t regret watching.

On “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech”

The next release of films I’ve worked on, set to release any day now, is “Silenced: Our War on Free Speech.” This was by far one of the best projects on which I’ve ever worked. When I first learned of the project via Kickstarter, I chipped in a little coin to make sure it met budget. Later, I learned Loren Feldman, the director of “Silenced” was looking for research assistants to help with the film. The initial phone call between Loren and myself solidified the two of us were on the same page when it came to our passion for this film.

“Why do you want to work on my picture?” he asked me.
“Because when I can’t watch the Dukes Of Hazzard because the General Lee has the Confederate Battle Flag on it, there’s something fucked up with America.”

That statement seemed to click with Loren, and we went to work. I would get assignments from time to time, draft up information for him to work with, and we would go from there. I don’t want to disclose any of the research I did, but I will say working on “Silenced” was one of the most fun, fulfilling projects of my life. I learned so much from working on this film about the way we view “free speech” in America right now that when this film finally hits the distribution outlet of your choice you’re going to have your mind blown.

“Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” is going to serve as the definitive snapshot of what “free speech” means like in America right now. According to Executive Producer Mike Cernovich, it’s going bigger and better than just the movie Loren Feldman created. There will be a YouTube channel devoted to all the interviews that didn’t make it into the film, called the “Silenced Project.” There’s talks of this even going into the Library of Congress.

The film is called “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech” because we are deliberately censoring and silencing ourselves. This isn’t an outside attack. We, the American people, chose to self-censor and silence ourselves and others for fear of any number of reasons. When the film finally reaches you, you’ll have a better understanding of why and how this happened, plus implications for the future if we continue this war in America.

“Silenced” is already drawing controversy and it’s yet to be released. Right now, it’s building enough steam to become the most important documentary you will watch all year, if not of all time. When the film finally releases, expect everyone to be talking about it. Don’t wait until you hear someone telling you about it after the fact. Get ready to see just how we’ve created a war on ourselves through the eyes of people who want to be able to say and do as they please, but can’t, because of the way America really views free speech.

You can check out the movie so far at this website. Below is my favorite of all the trailers.

Ellen Pao Can’t “Include” Peter Thiel’s Free Speech

The message sent by Silicon Valley, an area with a culture resembling something from George Orwell’s nightmares, is clearer than ever today. You are not allowed to have the “wrong” opinion in politics. You may not donate to the campaign of your choosing. If you step out of line, you will be punished. Just ask Ellen Pao, the head of Project Include, who announced yesterday her organization’s decision to cut ties with Y Combinator after Peter Thiel, a part time investor, donated $1.25 million to the Trump campaign.

Pao, a serial litigant in the court of feelings, starts off slow in announcing her tantrum over Thiel’s donation.

Diversity and inclusion are hard, especially in tech. Doing them right means agreeing on values, setting standards, calling out bad behavior, and sometimes firing people. (emphasis added)

That bolded statement refers to Y Combinator’s decision to not cut ties with Thiel after news broke of his donation to the Trump campaign. Sam Altman, the organization’s president, defended their decision to maintain relations with Thiel in a series of tweets Sunday night. Two notable ones are below.

5) Cutting off opposing viewpoints leads to extremism and will not get us the country we want.

6) Diversity of opinion is painful but critical to the health of a democratic society. We can’t start purging people for political support.

These are principled statements from someone in an industry where people lose jobs over a single offensive tweet. Altman is correct in his assertions that we must hear all sides, no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel. Furthermore, cutting ties with someone over political issues isn’t just asinine, it’s completely un-American. Despite this, Pao sees Peter Thiel’s continued presence at Y Combinator as outrageous.

 [We] are completely outraged to read about Thiel donating $1.25 million to Trump, “apparently unfazed by the storm around the candidate in the last week following the broadcasting of lewd conversations.”

Outrage is a strong motivator for irrational decisions. If not checked appropriately, it can cause people to commit stupid actions and justify them under preposterous grounds. Here, Pao sees Thiel’s campaign donation as one form of speech that is completely unacceptable from someone who holds a different political view. This is “hate speech,” and while United States courts have yet to define “hate speech,” Ellen Pao is like Justice Potter Stewart defining hard-core pornography. She “knows it when she sees it.”

While all of us believe in the ideas of free speech and open platforms, we draw a line here. We agree that people shouldn’t be fired for their political views, but

this isn’t a disagreement on tax policy, this is advocating hatred and violence. (emphasis added) 

Ellen Pao’s attempt at virtue signaling to those who believe in free speech and an open exchange of ideas ends at the bolded word in that quote. Usually, when you see someone say “I believe in free speech, but” it means they really don’t believe in free speech. They only believe in that speech with which they agree. And her assertion a campaign donation is “advocating hatred and violence” is completely void of logic or reason.

Thiel donated money to Donald Trump’s campaign. He spoke on behalf of Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention. It’s not as if he firebombed a campaign office and spray painted a message for Democrats to leave town on the side of the building. Yet this donation is enough to make Ellen Pao, self appointed spokesperson for marginalized and oppressed groups everywhere feel “unsafe.”

Giving more power to someone whose ascension and behavior strike fear into so many people is unacceptable. His attacks [on minorities] are more than just political speech; fueled by hate and encouraging violence, they make each of us feel unsafe…[Project Include’s] mission is to give everyone a fair chance to succeed in the workplace. “Everyone” means all groups to us, but we draw a line at individuals who fund violence and hate.

So an openly gay Republican who donates to the candidate of his choice is where Ellen draws the line. That’s cool; it’s not as if the guy who founded PayPal needs Project Include or Ellen Pao’s help in the workplace. Peter Thiel doesn’t need a “fair chance” to succeed. He’s already there. What Ellen Pao is saying without explicitly saying it is Project Include doesn’t want gay conservatives who back Donald Trump involved in their mission to promote “diversity and inclusion.” Thiel is just an easy target.

While she might consider herself “punching up” in her decision to pull Project Include’s support from Y Combinator, Ellen Pao is also sending a message to every member of the LGBTQ community who holds conservative views or supports Donald Trump. We don’t like you, we don’t want you, and if we find out you’re not saying and doing the right things to support our personal mission of “diversity and inclusion” we will withhold our support from your project.

We have hope for YC…We saw an opportunity to work with YC companies interested in building vibrant and diverse organizations, and we actively invited YC as a contributor to our VC Include program…But Thiel’s actions are in direct conflict with our values at Project Include. Because of his continued connection to YC, we are compelled to break off our relationship with YC. We hope this situation changes, and that we are both willing to move forward together in the future. Today it is clear to us that our values are not aligned.

Yes, Ellen, it’s clear your values aren’t aligned with the higher ups at Y Combinator. Project Include doesn’t support free speech, especially when it comes from a conservative speaker. Project Include only wants to hear from people who make them feel “safe.” And Project Include doesn’t give a damn about LGBTQ conservatives who back the Republican candidate, no matter how much they might say otherwise.

Maybe Project Include isn’t as committed to “diversity and inclusion” as they would like to think. Maybe it’s time for them to admit that. Then, and only then, will Ellen Pao and her organization exhibit any intellectual honesty after such a farcical move.

Banning Glenn: Silencing Law on Social Media (Update x2)

Glenn Reynolds wears many hats.  He’s a professor at the University of Tennessee School of Law.  He blogs at a site called “Instapundit.” He’s a columnist for USA Today.  As of this morning, it appears Glenn gets to add one more bullet point to his already impressive resume.  He’s banned from Twitter.

What justification does Twitter have for placing a law professor in the ranks of those once deemed internet trolls, “monsters,” and purveyors of “hate speech?”  Did he send his followers to harass a celebrity on the social media platform?  Did he make a direct threat to someone?  It was none of these, actually.  Glenn’s egregious sin was expressing an opinion on self-defense in regards to the violence occurring in Charlotte.

At 8:51 PM last night Glenn retweeted this tweet from WBTV News in Charlotte, North Carolina regarding the violent protests in the wake of another police shooting.  It encouraged those on Twitter to avoid I-277 as protesters were surrounding vehicles.  At least one news report from the news station’s website confirmed protesters were throwing rocks at vehicles on that section of the interstate.  Glenn’s response was simple.

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That tweet was enough for someone at Twitter, most likely a member of their Trust and Safety Council, to throw the “suspend” lever on Glenn’s account.  A glance at Twitter’s Rules could justify Glenn’s ban from the site on the basis of either “Violent Threats (direct or indirect)” or “Hateful Conduct.”  The former prevents you from making threats of violence or promoting violence, the latter adds in “directly [attacking]” people based on their race, sexual orientation, nationality, and a whole host of other factors by which most choose to express their current victimhood.

On face value, though, Glenn did none of these things.  It appears as if he expressed his opinion on what those caught in the mobs of protesters should do if they found their car surrounded.  It may not be the most palatable opinion for some, but it’s not threatening anyone specifically or directly attacking them.  Glenn’s three word tweet apparently summarized his views on self-defense if someone found themselves caught in a situation like that on I-277.  Those three words were enough, though.  No more justification needed.  Throw the switch and ban him.

The ban, in less than twelve hours, has strangely amplified Glenn’s voice more than before.  #RunThemDown and #FreeInstapundit are both now trending on Twitter.  More people are talking about the violence in Charlotte and what they would do if needed to defend themselves and loved ones.   It’s almost as if a certain “Dangerous Faggot’s” remarks on how attempts to silence someone just makes that voice louder universally applies.

The downside to all this is Twitter’s image continues to worsen at a time when they need some positive uptick for their social media platform.  Banning anti-feminist Robert Stacy McCain almost immediately after Jack founded his “Trust and Safety Council” started serious whispers about the “Free Speech Wing of the Free Speech Party” only caring for ideas with which they agreed.  The ban of Milo Yiannopolous led credence to claims Twitter didn’t care for conservative voices.  Now with the ban of Glenn Reynolds, Twitter’s new image is they can and will ban whoever they like, whenever they like, for whatever words hurt someone’s feelings at any given moment.

And yes, there will be people who reiterate the numerous tropes and fallacies surrounding free speech.  They will also point out Twitter is a private company, free to censor and ban those they wish with absolute impunity.  These are the people Twitter will come for next.  As soon as the latest wrongthink echoes from their account in 140 characters or less, that person will find themselves wondering how it all happened.  Here’s a hint: it happened because you did nothing, you refused to raise your voice when others were silenced, and you were complicit with every aspect of the censorship of those voices you didn’t like and deletion of the nasty bad words that hurt your feelings.

Another scary aspect of this is Glenn’s status as a law professor and USA Today columnist.  A Twitter ban for Glenn signals his views on the law as less important than someone like Mary Anne Franks or Danielle Citron.  It chills the concepts of teaching the law as it stands, in a fashion that some might find uncomfortable, “triggering,” or lacking safety.  It also actively encourages stupidity, and promoting the cardinal sin of making people dumber when they encounter a legal professional.

The gig is up for Twitter, and they know it.  Now that we’re past justifying suspensions and bans on the basis of “promoting hate speech,” and Twitter is perfectly ready to censor academics with truly intelligent voices in their field, this realm of the information superhighway where people interact more on a daily basis with each other loses a bit more credibility.  If Glenn’s ideas were horrid, let them be exposed and ridiculed as such.  They weren’t, though.  This ban wasn’t even close to justifiable.  It’s silencing a much needed voice.

If you’re interested in learning more about what “free speech” truly looks like in America today, check out “Silenced: Our War On Free Speech.

UPDATE: Glenn’s account was reinstated after he deleted the offensive tweet pictured above.  He’s also posted his view of the situation on the Instapundit blog, which deserves a full read.  I quote one portion of it here to show my initial analysis was a little more on point than I expected.

I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. I fully support people protesting police actions, and I’ve been writing in support of greater accountability for police for years.

But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.

UPDATE x2: Apparently even Glenn’s nuances aren’t enough for the University of Tennessee School of Law. Now, with the full support of Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, there’s an “investigation” into Glenn’s nasty, hurtful words.

“I am aware of the remarks made last night on Twitter by Professor Glenn Reynolds and of the serious and legitimate concerns expressed by members of the UT Law family and the University of Tennessee community, as well as concerned citizens across the country. Professor Reynolds’s comments do not reflect my views and opinions, nor do they reflect the values of the college and university.

University administrators, college faculty, and I are investigating this matter.

The university is committed to academic freedom, freedom of speech, and diverse viewpoints, all of which are important for an institution of higher education and the free exchange of ideas. My colleagues and I in the university’s leadership support peaceful civil disobedience and all forms of free speech, but we do not support violence or language that encourages violence.

Professor Reynolds has built a significant platform to discuss his viewpoints, but his remarks on Twitter are an irresponsible use of his platform. (emphasis added)

Banning Milo, Redux.

A quick follow-up to a post from last week regarding Twitter’s “permanent suspension” of Milo Yiannopolous follows.  If you’re so inclined, you can read my original thoughts before continuing.  It’s cool, I’ll wait.

I was surprised at the reactions Milo’s ban received.  Many people responded with “I’m glad he’s gone” and outlined the “horrible” ways this “monster” had treated people.  Funny enough, most people couldn’t identify a single way Milo treated them horribly.  It was all anecdotal stories they’d either read about or heard from other people.  More tellingly, no one could justify Yiannopolous’s Twitter ban beyond the standard tropes involving the First Amendment, free speech, how Twitter was a “private company,” and so on.  Evidence, or the lack of evidence, regarding the “Dangerous Faggot’s” alleged coordinated attack against Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, didn’t matter one bit.  It was all about the narrative.

That narrative ignored a basic understanding of what phrases like “targeted attack” means, as well as “hate speech (quick hint, there’s no legal definition of “hate speech” in America.).”  It also indicated a bizarre line of reasoning that retweeting “racist” comments on line and “exposing” said thoughts for the world wasn’t the same thing as directing a targeted attack against another user’s account.  Those who prattled such tripe in my direction seemed a touch blind to statements like “Get her” and “I’ll blow you up.  If you tweet hateful things at me I’ll retweet it so all of my followers see it and come after your punk…”  None of this surprises me, after the work I’ve done for a couple of months now.  What did surprise me were the people who came rushing to the defense of censorship.

Those who spoke in favor of silencing Yiannopolous were arguably people who depend on free speech the most.  There were performance artists, musicians, and stand up comedians all telling me “words can and do certainly hurt people” and that being pro free speech was only a good thing “during the days when you could beat a man within an inch of his life.”  People whose very livelihoods depend on pushing the boundaries of what you can and can’t say in public flocked to the side of silence.  The display absolutely confounded me, until I started to think about the deeper issues behind this pro-censor stance.

There’s an element of profit at stake, for starters.  The only way you’re really guaranteed a steady income in the entertainment industry is if you display to the public your commitment to the “correct” way of thinking. Any question of authority, any attempts at dissidence will only cost the artist money.  Even if the dissident position is one with which the artist actually agrees, they will deliberately silence themselves to make sure that extra paycheck is available while establishing a name and brand recognition for their work.

Worse still, there’s an implicit tone of rejection for those who dare express wrongthink as artists.  All it takes is one incorrect statement that doesn’t jibe with the current buzzphrases of “diversity” and “inclusion” and you’re squarely in the crosshairs of the Internet Outrage Machine.  Once you’re a target for the digital mobs ready to scream their offense, you’re done.  Your career is finished, or you’re going to at least lose out on the possibility of millions in the process.

In that sense, you might be able to forgive the artist for choosing a life of self-censorship.  The businesses that stand to benefit the most from an open, robust exchange of ideas are the ones that stand to lose out the most when the content creators actually express ideas outside the mainstream views of normalcy.  It’s only good capitalism at work, then.  Everyone likes to own nice things, and many artists have families to feed.  The biggest issue with the “anti-Milo” stance, especially when it comes to the arts, is by limiting the “free speech extremist” you’ve officially shifted the Overton Window on your own work to a position with which you might not be entirely comfortable.

Love him or hate him, the “Dangerous Faggot” always stood on the side of free speech and free expression.  His outlandish stunts on college campuses designed to poke fun of speech codes and grandstanding with people ranging from Christina Hoff Sommers to Dave Rubin all serve a point.  If his ideas and speech aren’t acceptable at the most outlandish of times, then there’s a good chance your “moderate” or “nuanced” view won’t stand the test of time as the politically correct “regressive left” comes to shout down any opposing voice.  Once the modern “Nero” is eliminated from the public’s discourse, then your more “principled” view might very well be next for elimination.

Worse still, eliminating Yiannopolous’s “hate speech” from the digital domain doesn’t make the web any “safer” than before.  It just allows newer forms of hate to fill in the cracks, ones the mobs of “social justice [insert Dungeons and Dragons class of your choosing]” deem appropriate.  Shortly after Twitter smacked Yiannopolous with the Banhammer, a post appeared on Medium, the Twitter owned “platisher’s” Daily Digest slamming Milo, calling him part of the “A-List con men” at the Republican National Convention.  It didn’t serve any purpose than acting as the new official stance on what form of hate was acceptable for modern society: a hatred of those who stood for free speech.

The dangerous line we tread when eliminating people like Milo Yiannopolous from the public eye is choosing a life of hedonistic, intellectual comfort over a forced examination of the ideas and people with which we disagree.  So many of us already engage in this practice daily with block buttons and lists.  The creation of those echo chambers leads to the treacherous line of reason where we automatically assume we’re right, and those who express a different view are guilty of the sin dubbed Wrong On The Internet.

When self-inflicted, it does little harm to the rest of society.  The public elimination of figures like Milo Yiannopolous through outside third parties with massive amounts of power, like Jack Dorsey and Twitter, is a more egregious sin as we’re told by those with the real technological power what to think, absent suffering penalties.

Banning Milo

It was nice while it lasted, but the ruse is over.  The “free speech wing of the free speech party” dropped their ruse of holding a platform for all voices when Twitter, late last night, permanently suspended “conservative provocateur” Milo Yiannopolous’s @Nero account.

It didn’t take Twitter long to let the world know following the formation of their Trust and Safety Council that Yiannopolous, an editor for Breitbart, was a marked man.  They took away Milo’s precious blue “verified” check mark, a sign letting the world know the account was his and not one of the numerous fake accounts bearing his name.  The last straw in Yiannopolous’s antics, apparently, was his bashing of “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones.  Some called Milo’s work an “organized campaign of online harassment” eventually leading to Jones quitting Twitter.

That didn’t last long.  Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, eventually reached out to Jones, and the two conversed via DM.  Then, last night, Yiannopolous joined the ranks of the Twitter Banned, standing beside people like Robert Stacy McCain and Got News’ Chuck Johnson.  This banning is different, though, and it’s one Twitter might regret in the days to come.

Within hours of Milo’s @Nero suspension, the hashtag #FreeMilo started trending on Twitter.  Right now it’s sitting as #1 on my “Tailored Trends” topics.  Adding the hashtag into Tweetdeck produces a torrent of tweets on the subject, ranging from people fully in support of Milo to those gleefully rejoicing in Milo’s ban, and suggesting those upset about the issue join him and delete their accounts.  In essence, by removing Milo from the social media platform, they managed to amplify the “Dangerous Faggot’s” presence more than ever before.  It’s also highlighted Twitter’s disingenuous stance on free speech.

Make no mistake, Twitter is a private company, free to select who uses its services and who doesn’t.  And they’re free to select what they term “harassment” or “hate speech” and silence those voices.  But in taking the anti-Milo side, Twitter stands on treacherous grounds of doing something no one in their camp wants to do: prove him right.

During Yiannopolous’s last appearance on Dave Rubin’s “Rubin Report” show, Yiannopolous predicted Twitter would eventually shed its chosen mantle as a bastion of free speech and stand as a platform only devoted to allowing those ideas it deemed “safe” or acceptable.  They’ve done just that with the banning of Yiannopolous, and even allowed others to posit wilder stances than his, such as the ban’s “targeted” nature as it came right before Yiannopolous attended a “Gays for Trump” party during the Republican National Convention.  The ruse is gone, and Jack can’t take it back.

Worse yet, Twitter managed to give credence to the throngs of “men’s rights activists,” or MRAs, who claim women can’t handle criticism on the platform.  It also places Leslie Jones in a negative light, as a female comedian, arguably someone who should be able to handle criticism from hecklers or otherwise with ample savvy, was outed as someone who needed a Twitter knight in shining armor to activate the Trust and Safety Council’s jackbooted digital thugs and suppress Milo’s voice.

It’s an odd stance for a social media platform to take, especially one so allegedly pro free speech, and ostensibly the bastion of the marketplace of ideas.  A gay man with a fetish for black dudes is silenced for criticizing a black comedian.  In the meantime, pro-ISIS accounts are allowed, and tweets advocating for the killing of cops are prolific.  Even Jones, originally clutching her pearls and whining about how something had to be done to stop all the hate, is back on Twitter denouncing “white people shit.”

Yiannopolous’s presence has yet to end on Facebook, which poses an interesting conundrum for Mark Zuckerberg and his team.  They’ve already been outed as anti-conservative through leaked information, when word circulated his team internally wanted to stop Donald Trump from becoming President.  Zuckerberg, firmly in the crosshairs of the free speech world, invited a number of prominent conservative talking heads to his offices in California and affirmed his commitment to promoting all values, no matter what.

The ball is then ostensibly in Facebook’s court, and can be used to breathe fresh life into a platform now largely seen as an echo chamber for those still using it.  If Mark Zuckerberg takes a strong stance and blows the doors open for any and all, firmly distinguishing Facebook from Twitter, it will send a powerful message and bring the disenchanted back to the land of “likes” and “pokes.” If Zuckerberg remains silent on the issue, or worse yet adds fuel to the fire by endorsing the ban of Milo Yiannopolous, then both social media platforms will suffer.

Only time will tell, as the story is less than a day old and yet gaining international attention.  One thing’s for sure, and that’s striking down Nero only makes him more powerful and amplifies his voice than one would possibly imagine.