The new year has brought about some new rules and regulations both online and off. Among them are new rules on Twitter governing abusive language. The terms of service now state that…
“Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice […] You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.”
These rules are intended to prevent abusive behaviors that constitute “threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism. So of course the hate mongers at Fox News are going to be upset. This severely suppresses their “freedom” to spew their rancid bigotry and castigate Muslims or gays or immigrants or liberals as sub-humans that true patriots should eradicate from the Earth. And without the ability to attack people based on the criteria above, how will they fill their airtime?
It says a lot about the Fox mindset that they would bother to lash out at these reasonable limits to online threats and abuse. They are inadvertently admitting that their rhetoric crosses the line from being merely ignorantly boorish to approaching terroristic bullying. You have to wonder why they would be so resistant to complying with rules that compel civility.
During the segment (video below), the hosts of the Saturday edition of Fox & Friends were in agreement these new rules were aimed at shutting down conservatives. And maybe they have a point because who else would be harmed by banning threats based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, etc.? Only conservatives engage in that sort of openly malevolent dialog that Twitter is seeking to abate. It’s the same sort of dialog that is expressed by world-class hate monger Donald Trump.
Introducing the segment, Tucker Carlson noted that the new policies say that “You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people.” To which his co-host, Clayton Morris said…
“Critics argue there is no mention of the terrorist organization and the wording is so vague that it could really be applied to anyone. So could the new rules be used to kick conservatives off that platform if they are reported by the left?”
That question was taken up by their guest, from the right-wing National Review, Katherine Timpf, who joined the chorus complaining that the language was too vague and saying that…
“Someone can say ‘Oh, this looks like intimidation’ and they can flag it and then it ends up getting taken down and in the meantime you don’t have an account. So, really, what could it be? They don’t mention ISIS at all.”
For some reason it seems important to these pundits that the rules explicitly mention ISIS. Were that the case, wouldn’t they have to also mention every other terrorist organization? And what about threats by radical Christianists against Planned Parenthood, or against an African-American church, or a gay establishment, or any other random threat, even if it were directed to only one person? It is patently absurd to craft a policy that is only valid if the perpetrator is identified by name.
At this point, co-host Tucker Carlson chimed in to say that “People have been silenced on Twitter, and it seems to me that a lot of them are conservatives.” Whereupon he displayed a graphic of four conservatives that he alleged were silenced by Twitter. Unfortunately, he never revealed what they said that might have resulted in their being temporarily suspended. He just implied that it was nefarious and represented a trend toward silencing conservatives. To this Timpf responded saying sarcastically that…
“We know the government would never target conservative groups. Like the I.R.S. would never do anything like that. But of course it can be used that way.”
This would be a good time to note that Twitter is a private company and can set their own criteria for civility. They are not the government and thus are not violating anyone’s constitutional rights if they suspend a user who violates their rules. But Timpf went on to say that she thinks Twitter executives are applying tougher standards to conservatives. And her proof of this is that…
“I don’t hear any liberals complain about getting banned on Twitter for something they’ve said and I hear every day about this happening to conservatives.”
Well, that settles it. This right-wing writer hasn’t heard any liberals complaining, but she hears it everyday from conservatives. What a coincidence. If this were happening every day, Carlson’s graphic might have had more than four names on it.
What is really being revealed here is that conservatives simply complain a lot more than liberals. They bitterly complained when they accused Twitter of permitting terrorists to have accounts where they could communicate with one another and recruit new members. Now they are complaining when Twitter takes steps to prevent that very thing. And they especially complain if their penchant for hate speech is impeded in any way.
The problem is that if Fox News wants to prohibit ISIS from tweeting their threats and attacks, they are gonna have to stop doing it themselves. And for some examples of the sort of violent rhetoric that is inspired by Fox News, see The Collected Hate Speech Of The Fox News Community – a collection of comments posted on Fox’s websites by their audience.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.