In the course of a typical day, I’ll be informed of how I’m sexist, racist, fascist, and a cuck, a libtard, a criminal lover and a rape apologist. People, right or left, seem to feel compelled to let me know how horrible I am, particularly bold and passionate law students who demand I explain my awfulness so they can tell me why I’m wrong. Fun times.
But every once in a while, someone gets so incensed by my awfulness that they vet my every expression, my posts here, my twits, in search of some way in which they can shut me up and close me down. On the one hand, it’s rather endearing that anyone would go through that much effort to silence me, to “win” by canceling me. On the other, it’s a sad reflection of the state of affairs.
To my surprise, an email arrived to inform me that someone who hated me enough to search back to 2015 came up with something of sufficient awfulness to get the Twitters to act.
Before anybody wastes their time parsing the nuts and bolts of my wayward twit, know that this surely wasn’t a complaint by my old pal, @bmaz, and was a joke between friends rather than anything remotely reflecting “hateful conduct,” even if the word “whore” doesn’t invoke any of the putative criteria listed by the twitter gods.
That’s not the point. The rules are characterized by inanity, as in there are rules that have nothing to do with the rules. But hey, grieve to twitter about someone who you want to damage and maybe the algorithm will give you a win?
Before anyone wonders, I deleted the twit and my account was immediately unlocked. No doubt @bmaz will stop crying (Sorry, Bill, I know it had nothing to do with you), but those tears you hear are coming from the poor soul who spent all that time going twit by twit through my history, complaining to twitter about my hatefulness.
Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened more often and with greater severity. It became clear to me long ago that there was no way to simultaneously negotiate the minefield of political correctness, or incorrectness, to court the adoration of the either the alt-right or control-left, and so I made the active decision not to try.
Since I’m a criminal defense lawyer, and as the baby lawyers tell me, I’m supposed to be on their team and love/hate whom I’m told, that makes me the worst thing possible to the unduly passionate: a traitor to the cause. The only thing a progressive hates worse than a fascist is a principled liberal.
But it’s just twitter, and who cares about such trivialities, right? But we’re mere baby steps away from wiping SJ off the map as well. Whether it’s the Americans with Disabilities Act attacks against websites that fail to accommodate the needs of blind, deaf, stupid, lame or emotionally challenged readers, or the “right to be forgotten” advocates who have achieved surprisingly dangerous success in Europe, and are embraced by both right and left in the United States so each can exercise hegemony over things they don’t want known, who knows?
Today, the twitters. Tomorrow, the Googles. By the end of the week, SJ.
Eugene Volokh testified before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, one of the more powerful committees in the Investigative Branch, and his opening expressed something that strikes fear in the hearts of every authoritarian bent on saving the universe for their personal flavor of goodness.
Many thanks for inviting me to testify about “How the Tax Code Subsidizes Hate.” The Tax Code indeed subsidizes hate, just as it subsidizes Socialism, Satanism, and a wide variety of dangerous and offensive ideas.
It does so because of speech, because the law cannot discriminate based on viewpoint, whether for good or evil. Of course, such a view makes one a slave to the Constitution, a “cultist” as Mary Anne Franks calls it, when everyone knows or should know that freedom of speech and expression isn’t absolute, so it should be limited by Franks’ feelz of propriety.
But while the concept of free speech may be transcendent, the constitutional protection doesn’t apply to private parties. That means I can say whatever I please, subject to the prohibitions established by the Supreme Court, because that’s how our system works even if it’s hard to explain. The twitters, however, can do as they please. So too the Googles, and all the kind people who operate the tubes by which SJ finds its way to your screen.
Today, somebody threw a pebble at me, and it glanced off without a scratch. People have tried to come after me in the past, usually with hilarious results. But as the goal posts keep spreading wider and wider, somebody may well hit the mark and, in the name of their truth, their justice and their woke American way, SJ will be gone.
Today, I was momentarily locked out of Twitter. Someday, something I write will cross a line from which there will be no return.