For those of us who feel disdain for both the insensitive right and the hypersensitive left, Milo is just as ridiculous as the forms of politically correct culture he seeks to expose.
Last night, Twitter set an interesting precedent when the social network issued a permanent ban on Breitbart Tech Editor and controversial conservative internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos. This came after Milo’s army of bigots mercilessly attacked comedian Leslie Jones over her role in the movie Ghostbusters. Milo recently had his Twitter verification revoked and this latest move is widely seen as another step in Twitter’s attitude shift against hate-speech on its platform.
The alt-right has been very vocal about reinstating Milo’s account, and the reaction to this ban has been widely publicized. But before we get to that, let’s talk about how we got here.
Milo Yiannopoulos is one of my favorite trolls. He’s a Greek, British, gay conservative Christian with bleach-white hair and a pretty good sense of style who frequently mentions that he exclusively sleeps with black men. He calls himself a “Trump-sexual,” and often alludes to his attraction to Trump by referring to him as “daddy.” He calls being transgender a mental disorder and argues that gender reconfiguration surgeries should be banned ― although he’s perfectly cool with breast implants. His campus tour is called “Dangerous Faggot,” and has been met with substantial backlash at a number of campuses.
As you can tell, he’s definitely an opportunist, carving a name for himself as an “alt-right” Republican by channeling the worst, most prejudiced, hate-filled sentiments popular among some conservatives, which he then justifies under the mantle of “freedom of speech.” He’s a self-proclaimed “cultural libertarian” who feels that societal efforts to censor hate speech and root out sexism and racism are more like witch-hunts that represent a form of left wing oppression.
His ideas are all over the place, but the one unifying factor is that they’re controversial and they upset a lot of people. Milo is the ultimate embodiment of an internet troll ― or, as he calls himself, a provocateur. He uses hate speech as a tool. His statements and actions are meant to be confrontational. For those of us who feel disdain for both the insensitive right and the hypersensitive left, Milo is just as ridiculous as the forms of politically correct culture he seeks to expose.
The attack on Leslie Jones was public and horrible. Tweets depicted her as Harambe the gorilla, photos were sent around showing semen on her face and a fake account was created to make it appear that Leslie Jones was herself posting homophobic statements that were then widely shared. It’s not difficult to see that this is harassment, abuse, and bullying, something, coincidentally, that Milo originally set out to fight against.
But according to Breitbart’s writers who leaped to Milo’s defense, there is little to no proof that Milo was DIRECTLY racist or abusive. But Milo’s tweets that are no longer available DID attack and insult Jones calling her illiterate, fat and likening her to a man among more. It well may depend on who you ask whether Milo was racist, abusive, insulting or a combination.
But it’s indisputable that his interactions with Leslie would attract the wrath of his uncensored (read: blatantly racist and sexist) followers as they’re known to do.
And Jones herself, who has undeniably been the target of thousands of these tweets, has engaged in what some may deem harassment or hateful conduct of her own, albeit in response to the horrific abuse she received. To some users, this looks like a blatant double standard that Twitter is engaging in, by policing some users over others. It’s Terms of Service clearly points to a zero tolerance policy against abuse and harassment.
And Twitter has been criticized in the past for its poor handling of abuse compared to Facebook, which has a comparatively better track record in this area. And it also worries me that this ban gives Milo an even larger platform through media coverage, and will allow people to perceive him as a freedom of speech martyr. He is not. Also, for those of you who still think Twitter is anti-conservative prejudice, do you really want to associate racism and hate-speech with the rest of your values?
The precedent set by Twitter’s decision could drive away a substantial number of users who object to what they view as a subjective and prejudicially applied standard. Such is the nature of the free market, no?
However, it is beyond dispute that Milo’s followers are guilty of sickeningly racist and abusive tweets. Twitter, as a profit-driven company, absolutely has the right to ban such transparent hate speech. And while Milo has a clear Constitutional right to spew all the racist and abusive shit he wants, he doesn’t have the right to demand that a social network like Twitter continue to provide him with a platform to do so. Especially when they’ve warned him many times in the past, and decided to make an example of him in this very public instance.
So if they want to, Twitter can go ahead and tell Milo to, in his own words, “suck my fat D***, you arrogant, self-hating, opportunistic POS.” But they wouldn’t.. Since you know… They have a “no abusive speech” policy.