He’s an unabashed arch-conservative, whose twits tended to reflect his beliefs. They are, by no one’s definition, weak sauce. I’ve seen his twits occasionally, and found them too extreme for my taste. Apparently, I’m not alone in that regard.
At the same time, they have never suggested any harm be done to anyone, as far as I’ve ever heard. Not physical, not sexual. Not even intellectual, provided one doesn’t subscribe to the belief that views with which one does not agree are “mind rape,” or whatever new phrase the kids are using these days.
So why did Twitter suspend @rsmccain?
The question is not whether Twitter had the power to do so. It did. It’s a private enterprise, fully allowed to remove anyone it decides to remove. This is America, and every business is entitled to conduct itself as it wishes.
And that’s the question. Is this what Twitter, what Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, wishes? Apparently so.
Unexpectedly, and without explanation, my @rsmccain Twitter accountwas suspended Friday evening. Based on past experiences, my guess would be that this resulted from a complaint by one of the leading “social justice warriors” (SJWs) who have been at war with #GamerGate since August 2014. However, there was no reason stated for the suspension, and who knows?
As this paragraph suggests, McCain is not liked by SJWs. And now that Twitter has established its Trust and Security Council, replete with the most deeply passionate SJWs it could find, it’s not a surprise that McCain would find no one to champion his cause against a complaint. To SJWs, he is a thorn in their side. To Twitter, he is a turd in their pool of social justice.
Politics is like football. It’s a team sport. Until I was in my mid-30s, I was a very partisan Democrat. Bill Clinton (who I voted for in 1992) cured me of my Democrat loyalty. During the 1990s, I began a rather deep autodidactic study of politics, history, economics, philosophy, etc. My politics are conservative, my economics are Austrian, my faith is Christian. It’s that simple — and certain people HATE me for it. But those people hate everybody who is not a Democrat. Fine. I understand that kind of hate, having once been a Democrat myself, but Democrats think of their personal hatred as “social justice.” And so I understand them better than they understand me.
However, it’s not about me. . . .
McCain is wrong. Politics isn’t a team sport for those who aren’t on a team. And that’s most of us. There is a vast middle ground, what some might call moderate, and others might call “open-minded.” But if you are on a team, then you see all people as being on a team as well. And if they aren’t on your team, they’re on the other team. The bad team.
There is no middle ground to team players, and McCain was a team player. So too are the SJWs who hate him. Twitter, apparently, has chosen to become a member of the SJW team, and they just scored with the suspension of McCain.
The hard part for many is to disconnect what you think of McCain, his politics, his forcefulness, and look instead at the fact that we are better off hearing all voices, including those with which we disagree, or at least don’t sufficiently agree to join the team. Contrary to the cries of the exhausted and fragile, hearing views with which you do not agree will not cause you to suffer sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hair loss, sudden bouts of depression, crying episodes and PTSD. If you do, it is because you are terminally fragile. The only cure is to grow up, which is too bitter a pill.
But when Twitter does something like this, it sends a message: our dedication to, reliance upon, social media as the forum of the future for free expression is misplaced.
Companies like Twitter do not owe us anything. They are not under our control. Today, the Twitters may pander to the SJWs, but should its CEO wake up tomorrow and decide they’re a bunch of batshit crazy whiners, they may find themselves in the same boat as McCain does today.
Will Twitter matter if it becomes an SJW echo chamber? If that’s what you want most dearly to hear, then you will be all for it. The middle ground people, the ones who are not on a team, however, don’t want to hear the choir preach to itself. Should the SJWs get what they believe will make them happy, they will drive moderates away. Not just away, but they will push them toward the other team.
One day, they will wonder how it’s possible the other team stole the hearts and minds of the middle ground. The answer is that the other team didn’t do anything. You did, SJWs. You won’t believe it, of course, because no well-intended, right-thinking person could possibly want to be on any team but yours. Your team is the good team. The other team is the evil team.
And if Twitter allowed people from the other team to pollute the minds of its users with heresy, it would destroy that safe space for your team to pretend that there is no other point of view, no other set of priorities, no other belief system, but yours.
My old pal, Gideon, responded to me when I twitted about this purge:
.@ScottGreenfield don’t you always say speech has consequences?
— gideonstrumpet (@gideonstrumpet) February 20, 2016
What I “always” say is that free speech does not mean speech is free from consequences. And Robert Stacy McCain is suffering the consequences of his conservative speech at the hands of Twitter. What it tells us is that Twitter, in particular, and social media, in general, is that there is a choice to make as to whether it wants to be on a team or allow all teams on the field.
There are consequences to everything, though I doubt that’s what Gideon had in mind. One consequence is to be purged from Twitter. Another consequence is to drive those in the vast middle farther and farther away from your team because of the purging. It’s not that anyone finds Robert Stacy McCain so agreeable, but that we find the purging of opposing views so disagreeable that we cannot support any team that’s for it.