Why Robert Stacy McCain?

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:

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.

29 thoughts on “Why Robert Stacy McCain?

  1. Matt

    I don’t want to defend Twitter. It seems like the biggest problem is that the process is opaque. McCain may have been suspended for “conservative speech.” Or he may have been suspended for provoking dogpiles and targeted abuse. I’d say the way he targeted Reina Gattuso (Who? Exactly!) falls into this latter category.

    But we don’t know why he was suspended. We do know that the Trust and Safety council are the cool kids of Twitter, and they don’t like conservatives. We do know they favor some accounts over others. We do know they can target hashtags via autocomplete, like they did with #freestacy.

    So based on this, we draw inferences. But we just don’t know why McCain was suspended. I’d be surprised if it had anything to do with conservative speech considering what I’ve seen from his account.

    Yet by failing to be clear about it, Twitter has made it possible for all sorts of narratives to gain traction. In turn, these narratives have a negative effect on the perception of the product among its users. Which hurts Twitter’s bottom line, in my opinion.

      1. Matt

        I’m having a hard time figuring what I offered which was baseless.

        I offered the name of Reina Gattuso, a sex writer at the Crimson that McCain attacked on both his blog and on Twitter. This included bringing his followers in and retweeting their attacks on her. His blog post on her is real classy.

        1. SHG Post author

          First, you have no basis to suggest that this was the cause of anything. Hence, baseless. Second, that he “attacked” someone with whom he disagreed is what we call speech. That others who agree with him acted as well by using speech is also speech. But you raised this to smear him. Aside from being hypocritical, it’s baseless and irrelevant.

          Yet, that didn’t stop you from using it. You’re that person on the team, just the other team from McCain. And you’ve not only failed to accomplish your goal, but disgraced yourself and your team. You’re every bit as bad as the other team. You’re what drives people away from your cause. You’ve proved the point.

          1. Paul

            I can’t be the only person who sees some very strange logic in this response. You’re arguing that Matt’s comments are “baseless” but have made it clear above you think McCain was blocked for his political views. In fact, your entire post is the assertion that Twitter has decided to pick a “team” and start banning people because they belong to an opposing team, purely on the basis that a random right winger has been banned.

            That, too, by any measure is baseless. It’s baseless not just because you have no justification for making the claim, but because the evidence shows the opposite: Twitter is completely full of right wingers. It was on Thursday. It was on Saturday. It is today. If Twitter is banning people for merely being members of the wrong team, it’s being spectactularly lazy about it.

            Secondly you claim that Matt is “smearing” McCain by pointing out that he attacked Reina Gattuso. I haven’t seen this myself, but given you appear to agree with the facts Matt has stated (and therefore we can assume they’re true), how is this a smear?

            Not everyone sees this as “Team A” vs “Team B”. You apparently do. That’s unfortunate. Perhaps Twitter does, perhaps it doesn’t. But increasingly I see the arguments expressed here that Twitter is somehow taking sides in some social justice chess less probable than people being very upset because they can see members of their own group being shown the door, but are unaware of why, and unaware of whether this is going on with others they despise too.

            Twitter has probably banned McCain for dogpiling, if the facts – that both you and Matt agree with – are accurate. That’s fine. That’s a far cry from banning someone because of their opinions.

            1. Patrick Maupin

              I suppose it takes that many words to try to defend the indefensible thesis that it’s OK to say things that some people will find mean in such a way that nobody thinks you’re a meanie.

            2. SHG Post author

              A lot of words indeed, but nothing either persuasive or in need of a response. So, your comment is posted for whatever good you think it will do you. Good try, though.

    1. VPJ

      With apologies to Ken White, can we say that vagueness in reasons for suspending a Twitter account is the hallmark of social media thuggery?

    2. mb

      As someone who is permanently banned from the entire internet except for Scott’s comment section, I’ve heard your idiotic appeal to the unknown many times. The sad fact of the matter is that we do know that however you choose to characterize the tweets of McCain, or of whoever else you don’t like, the same characterization would fit plenty of tweets that have been reported, reviewed, and allowed to stand without negative consequences for the author. The procedure is kept in the dark precisely because of this. If they could be forced to identify which tweet violated which provision of their terms of use, everyone would see that identical conduct from the other side goes unpunished. Stacey was suspended for disagreeing with feminists. If you can entertain any other possibility, even for a moment, then you’re stupid, and you should keep your opinions to yourself.

      1. Matt

        Disagreeing with feminists is different than attacking someone as “pump and dump feminist” without provocation other than writing an article he didn’t like. This is the sort of attack that undermines legit attacks on feminists.

        Absolutely his crusade against feminists was what got him suspended. Absolutely keeping the process in the dark is bad for Twitter, exactly because it invites this sort of speculation. And absolutely they let some absolutely atrocious stuff stand that is worse than what McCain tweets. Note that I did not speak to his views so much as his tactics.

        Until we see the tweet, we actually don’t know why he was suspended. An appeal to the unknown is not idiotic so much as it is a fact. For all I know, there was no violation. Wouldn’t be the first time Twitter suspended first, investigated later. Which is another reason transparency is the best policy.

        1. SHG Post author

          Absolutely his crusade against feminists was what got him suspended.

          Until we see the tweet, we actually don’t know why he was suspended.

          You can stop digging any time you want. Got bad news for you. Reasonable people can disagree with feminists. Sucks, but true.

        2. mb

          “Disagreeing with feminists is different than attacking someone as “pump and dump feminist” without provocation”

          No. The only difference is that when you like it, you characterize it as “disagreeing”, and when you don’t like it, you characterize it as “attacking”.

          “Absolutely keeping the process in the dark is bad for Twitter”

          There is no such thing as twitter continuing the arbitrary punishment of its users with whom it disagrees while making its process transparent. We will never see the tweet, because there is no “the tweet”. There are only opinions which twitter no longer permits on its platform.

          1. SHG Post author

            This is why I like you when everyone else thinks you’re mean.

            The only difference is that when you like it, you characterize it as “disagreeing”, and when you don’t like it, you characterize it as “attacking”.

            This is the rhetorical game played, that SJWs refuse to grasp. No matter how many times or ways it’s explained, they are steadfast in their belief that it’s somehow different when they do it because they’re on the side of truth and justice. And perpetually full of shit. You did good.

  2. Bruce Godfrey

    I am taking the middle road on Twitter, judging its ban on McCain to be neither fair nor necessarily fatal. They can reverse their decision in the manner of William Faulkner’s apologia against critiques of his own writing: “I was drunk when I wrote that.”

      1. the_blur

        How is that? Seems to me privately owned businesses & blogs can ban anyone for any reason at any time, no explanation needed.

        1. SHG Post author

          They can. And their users can question it nonetheless. And they can ignore their users. And their users can call out the business for doing so, for being hypocritical, for claiming to honor free speech while failing to do so, and decide whether they wish to continue to use a service that bans people who expressing politically incorrect opinions.

  3. Turk

    Not much of a story without knowing the reason. They probably suspend tens of thousands of accounts every year. Could you imagine if they spent time (money) giving reasons to everyone?

    1. SHG Post author

      I suspect you’re going to catch a boatload of shit for this comment, and deservedly so. There is a huge difference between accounts suspended for various banal reasons and an account of a very well known, well followed, person, who is a strident voice of conservatism and has not, to anyone’s knowledge, done anything to give rise to suspension beyond voicing opinions with which some disagree.

      No, it is definitely “much of a story,” particularly without knowing the reasons.

      1. Turk

        Underlying the complaints of many seems to be the assumption it was based on politics, as opposed to something unrelated that happened via private message (or something else entirely).

        Having not seen the “charges,” it makes support of either Twitter or Stacy seem more than a bit odd to me.

        Folks can complain to Twitter, of course, but like your complaint to YouTube when they pulled down the Dr. Katz video, I suspect it is unlikely to go anywhere:

        1. SHG Post author

          Of course that’s the assumption. When you hear hoof beats, do you assume it’s a zebra?

          Everyone suspects that the complaint to twitter won’t “go anywhere,” as far as there being some official response. That’s the point. There are a great many people who are hardly McCain supporters who are calling out Twitter for this suspension. Power to the people.

          1. Joseph Chu

            >When you hear hoof beats, do you assume it’s a zebra?

            No, but you can’t assume it’s a horse either. It may well have been a horse, but as long as Twitter maintains that they “only shoot zebras” and you didn’t actually see for yourself whether it was a horse or not the evidence is merely circumstantial.

            Depending on where you are in the world (and what you believe is the relative likelihood of finding a horse or zebra on the street), you may draw different conclusions about the relative probabilities of Stacey having done a legitimately Bad Thing versus Twitter being a pack of hypocritical liars out to suppress everybody with the wrong opinions.

            1. SHG Post author

              Depending on where you are in the world…

              Depending on what team you’re on. Fixed that for you. How sad that you will do anything possible to contort your argument to rationalize away any reason.

      2. Marc Whipple

        As someone who was an instrumental part of the decision making (and implementing) for banning users on a large network: Got it in one.

        If I ban somebody who just signed up because I suspect he’s a ‘bot, I don’t have to, nor will I, send him an email detailing why. I’ll just ban them. They can sign up again. When they learn to stop acting like ‘bots, they can even stay signed up. (No it is not my responsibility to teach them not to act like ‘bots, it’s 20-freaking-16.)

        If I ban someone who’s had an account for ten years and who many other members of the network consider a friend and an influencer, then while I still don’t necessarily have to tell him exactly why, I should at least have the political common sense to acknowledge that I did it and make clear that it was for violations of known policy. And I should not do it on a whim or because one of my interns thinks they’re a Bad Person. Nothing to do with justice – it’s just bad business.

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