Being Libertarian Perspectives will serve as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis piece by members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, will answer a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen will moderate and facilitate the discussion.
Breitbart tech editor, Trump supporter and alt-right darling Milo Yiannopoulos got ban-hammered out of the Twittersphere. Milo was banned “following accusations that he directed his followers to send abusive comments toward actress Leslie Jones.” The hashtag #FreeMilo is being employed by his fans to appeal to Twitter to reinstate his account.
Bric Butler: I’m writing an article for Being Libertarian about this. This has backfired on Twitter. #FreeMilo was the number trending topic on Twitter for a large chunk of last night and what seems like 50,000 fake Milo accounts are now pumping out more provocative stuff than he ever did.
Dillon Eliassen: Milo being banned from Twitter is ironic since he has advocated for the regulation of speech on the Internet, which he’s argued is a “public utility,” that he finds offensive, particularly speech by social justice warriors. His advocacy backfired on him, so good. When you play with fire, you might get burned.
Martin van Staden: The reason he is attacking her will determine whether Twitter is right or wrong here. If she was, you know, just being an actress, then I’m glad he’s banned. Openly calling on people to bully someone online doesn’t have to be tolerated by social media companies. But if she was out and about making political statements like actors often do, he may have been justified in his campaign against her. But he clearly denies it. Regardless, he may have served as a passive enticer.
Bric: What he said wasn’t all that bad. It’s more what his followers said once he directed their attention towards her.
Dillon: Right, this episode highlights what a lot of us know and have been saying for a while now: there are many people of the alt-right that are just pricks. How do they gain by attacking Leslie Jones, the female Ernie Hudson? Having an all-female cast for a Ghostbusters remake is silly, but does it really represent an actual threat to white men?
Martin: I might add as an aside that the opposition to political correctness has produced some very unfortunate behavior. Bearing in mind I still lack some context, I think it’s pretty awful for people to crucify the actresses in the Ghostbusters movie rather than the producers. They read from a script, mostly.
Nathaniel Owen: I have very mixed feelings. On one hand I’m glad that Twitter got what they wanted. They’re just raising the demand for a Twitter alternative. On the other, I’m very entertained by his keyboard-warrior supporters jumping rabidly to his defense, and I want to see what comes of it.
Bric: I think there is a difference between what Twitter can legally do (after all he did break their rules albeit they are very vague) and what they should do philosophically, especially as a platform that prides itself on “free speech.”
Nathaniel: All kinds of people pride themselves on free speech with insincerity and dishonesty.
Bric: The only time speech should be banned is if it directly incites violence and can be proven to do so. Other than that, leave it be. Sending pictures of gorillas to a black women is racist and horrible but I can’t justify taking it down. I know Twitter can, so good for them, but I just can’t agree with their decision.
Dillon: It’s stupid. Those Tweeters harassing Jones aren’t striking a blow for free speech or resisting political correctness; they’re just children. It isn’t even humorous irreverence, or satire, just mindless shitposting. Do they think they’ve “won” anything?
Bric: I’m not defending what they said I’m just defending their right to say, even if it is asinine.
Dillon: Bric, of course.
Martin: I can understand Twitter’s position, to an extent. Bullying is certainly within the delimitations of free speech, but I think it’s retarded for them to commit themselves to ‘absolute’ free speech in the first place. They just need to be more transparent about what exactly they don’t allow.
Bric: Well, that’s the problem: the rules for Twitter are so vague that they can be used to justify anything being banned.
Arthur Cleroux: The line for where free speech should be stopped isn’t an easy one to draw. But when people send truly racist tweets and then cry free speech, it takes away from the legitimacy of those who are fighting for free speech. The same way that people who are quick to call anything they disagree with racist delegitimize those who really struggle against racism.
Nathaniel: If we’re banning free speech because it incites violence, we’d have to have banned the Providence Gazette during the American Revolution because it indeed incited violence.
So, now we’re left to draw a line as to what kind of violence should be allowed to be incited, and that requires someone with the authority to make that decision and powerful enough to enforce it. Most people who try to incite violence with words fail miserably. There is really no cause for concern on that field.
Bric: Yes, and it should be those inspired by the words that decided to take the violent action that get punished.
Nathaniel: EXACTLY! Twitter is going to suffer for this decision, primarily because Milo is a rather powerful figure on their platform and many of the people who used Twitter did so exclusively to read Milo. That was not a small number of users.
Dillon: Twitter has just decreased its own market. Not a smart business move.