Finally, after some email tag and general game playing by Twitter support, the reason for my now nearly three-week long suspension from Twitter has finally been revealed:
Now, your guess is as good as mine as to what “targeted abuse” actually means. The term carries more than a whiff of euphemistic moral panic bullshit about it, right up there with “micro-aggression”, used to describe a lack of total obsequious agreement so minute in parts per billion, that it can only be detected by upturned social justice noses and “intersectionality”, which describes attaching tantrum theology brain slugs to the skulls of unsuspecting communities, such as Social Justice with Atheism or lazy Pop Culture Feminist theory with gaming, or fat acceptance with the ballet.
Admittedly the last one is kind of fun to watch because it reminds me of the hippos in Fantasia. Of course, I can’t make that joke. On the off chance it would be considered “Targeted Abuse”.
According to the Twitter rules, “Targeted Abuse” is explained as follows.
Targeted Abuse: You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment.
-if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts;
-if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others;
-if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats
Users may not make direct, specific threats of violence against others, including threats against a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability.
Although making a fat joke doesn’t actually violate the rules as we will see, “the rules”, what they are don’t matter all that much.
Clearly, Twitter is making a claim — or at least acting on one — that I threatened someone, implying that the threat was made on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or some other criteria.
Really, I would like to see these tweets. Which seems to be too much to ask for.
If the claim is total horseshit, and it is, there’s precedent for this. I managed to get to Level One of the Atheism Plus Block Bot by noting that the usual gang of Social Justice clowns honking their way through the Atheist and Skeptical community were spending a lot of their time making sexual accusations against people like Lawrence Krauss and Michael Shermer and so, playing the social justice “calling out” game on Twitter, I wondered if some stealth Antisemitism was behind it. And so, for accusing others of Antisemitism, I got listed on the Block Bot.
As an anti-Semite.
They’re just that petty and stupid.
Or maybe it was this Tweet, where in reference to pornography, as I remember, I used the term “chicks with dicks” which got noted by the Block Botters as “transphobic”. Apparently the unsuspecting transsexuals making this sort of adult entertainment have no idea how it’s being marketed. Besides, what good is Twitter if you can’t talk smut with @snakepliskinist?
As we know from Thunderfoot’s experience, these self-appointed censors are running a vast incestuous circle-jerk, with back channel discussions of who to target and how, which aspires to be as sophisticated as the collusion practiced by gaming journalists.
So from there I made an appearance in Surly Amy Roth’s “A Woman’s Room on Line” installation.
Referring to someone as an “attention whore”.
Like Rebecca Watson’s “Page of Hate” and the Terror Tweets directed at Anita Sarkeesian, the bulk of the comments aren’t actually harassing or threatening, and represent the give and take one would expect in a free-flowing discussion filled with people of various opinions and levels of social grace. The people who claim they are receiving harassing communications aren’t getting anything much worse than what they’re giving, but tend to excuse their own abusive, belittling crap as being ennobled “punching up”.
More evidence that what is said is not nearly as important as who is saying it.
I also expect that “Targeted Abuse” is like a “contempt-of-cop” charge such as “disturbing the peace” or “interfering with an investigation” , an all-purpose rationalization that is deployed when they can’t get you on anything else and don’t like you attitude.
Admittedly my attitude, honed as it is by sifting through one form of bullshit or another most of my adult life, absolutely sucks.
Also, just to be completely pedantic about the whole thing, I assume that all abuse has a target, unless you believe there are random, drive-by abusings. Then again, that wouldn’t be much of a stretch for those who promote the existence of Twitter-induced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and practice both the doctrine of Uncharitable Interpretations and the Higher Truth of just making shit up.
Although Twitter was able to rouse themselves from the sleep of the truly self-righteous to tell me the label they slapped onto my Twitter suspension, they rolled over and went back to sleep before they could give me an example of my “targeted abuse” much less who it was targeted at.
The way I figure things are, it might be that Twitter doesn’t even know.
Bad enough that Twitter might have been fed a line of bullshit that I was an anti-Semite from the deluded unreliable narrators and pathological liars operating the Block Bot, or bought into the “disagreement is harassment and mockery is abuse” mantra coming from Roth, Watson, Sarkeesian and others. Worse is that they seem to have put in place a system where organized mendacity can be fast-tracked without much oversight or accountability.
Although I was aware of the lesser mass flagging campaigns carried out by the semi-competents affiliated with Atheism Plus, Freethought Blogs, Skepchick and the Center for Inquiry I was not aware — and you can take this as evidence of utter cluelessness — that Women Action and the Media was a thing.
Going by the Adam West Batman-sounding acroynm “WAM” complete with a childish cartoon super-hero theme that lacks the gravitas of, say, some lemur-eyed cow-skulled guy, this organization seems to have taken every bad tendency of Fashion Victim Feminism and turned it into a mission statement.
Someone pointed me to a two part piece by Andrew Sullivan at The Dish that makes what WAM is, and their relationship to Twitter all to clear. Linked in the description bar is his article “The SJWs Now Get To Police Speech On Twitter” and the follow up.
Of interest to me is the second part where I am mentioned by name as one of a group of people, along with Breibart’s Milo Yiannopoulos and A Voice for Men’s Janet Bloomfield, who had their accounts suspended shortly after WAM took power by partnering with Twitter to fast-track the same old dishonest harassment claims.
Sullivan is quoting here,
Gone are the accounts of Mykeru, a critic of feminism within the Atheist-Skeptic movement, as well as Janet Bloomfield, Social Media Director of A Voice for Men. Their accounts also disappeared in the past three days. Thunderf00t, another prominent critic of feminism within the Skeptic movement, had his account suspended for close to a month. None of these accounts were abusive or harassing. The only thing they had in common was that they were all critical of feminism.
Sullivan gets right what outfits like The Atlantic, blinded by the Threat Narrative being promoted, gets wrong. I’ve said this before in regards to Yiannopoulous’ factual reporting for Breibart, but when the right-wingers are the voice of reason on an issue, then we are all well and truly fucked.
I mean, I still consider myself to be left wing and progressive, but dammit, it gets harder every day. Then again, I realize what really irks me is the authoritarian mindset, not someone’s position on the ideological spectrum. That is to say, I would support a racist, sexist, right wing pseudo patriot obsessed with Benghazi and birth certificates provided they defend my right to criticize them at every turn. A left winger, even one I agree with down to the punctuation I would not support if they had the authoritarian mindset and believed their cloak of righteousness means they get to duck tape everyone else’s mouth shut.
Like fundamentalist Christianity or Fundamentalist Islam, the problem isn’t just the incoherence of the doctrines, it’s the fundamentalism. These days — and based on the cheap, heavy handed tactics of Teabaggers and Social Justice Warriors — we should be less concerned where people are on the right and left axis and more worried about how authoritarian they are.
The description of me as a “critic of feminism in the atheist and skeptical community” is more or less accurate.
As always, the usual caveats apply: I’m not against women. I’m not a misogynist, except in the stupid Fashion Victim Feminist expansive definition to mean “Someone who disagrees with a them”. Although that’s not even strictly true. As some people’s gender isn’t readily apparent from their pseudonyms on the internet, unless they telescope it by declaring themselves to be a hyphenated “goddess” or “chick”, I’ve found that it’s even possible to be labeled a misogynist for disagreeing with someone when I had no idea that they happened to be arguing while packing a vagina.
Fashion Victim Feminist. Do I need to explain that? They all went to the same classes and read the same books, have suspiciously similar lived experience and sexual obsessions and have adopted the same woman-child uniform of hipster glasses, bad tats, fluorescent dye jobs, trendy consignment shop wardrobes and completely unjustified air of superiority and the believe that their being offended by something should actually mean something to me.
When someone tells me they are offended, especially if they seem to be the sort of person who likes that sort of thing, I’m happy for them and they should go right on being offended as much as their little hearts desire. The problem with coddling the offended is that they are all to easily offended the next time, especially if looking for offense is their thing, and so it all leads to a downward spire of over-sensitivity and recrimination. Far better, to my way of thinking, for people to just toughen the fuck up.
Generally, it would be a stretch to call me “anti-Feminist”. Back in the day — the day being the mid 80s — I even took women’s studies classes as part of my Liberal Studies program and didn’t have a huge problem with what was studied. One difference there was that the classes were taught within the Philosophy department by a woman who was a philosopher and advocate of critical reasoning first and her agenda — if she had one at all –was an also ran. When that professor said she was having a discussion, she actually meant it.
Hers wasn’t the dogmatic shaming and silencing form of Feminism that seems to be the norm today. The kind that tolerates no disagreement, no inconvenient facts and is pathologically dishonest when it comes to silencing all criticism.
I don’t like terms like “Feminism” and I kind of shy aware from adopting “Men’s Rights”, when what both profess to believe in is already subsumed by the term “Egalitarian”. Although I have been know to adopt the term “Equity Feminist” just to piss the inequitable Fashion Victim Feminists
I think foundational documents of historical feminism should be required reading. Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” is an eminently sensible document and it’s a shame that she has has been relegated to a caped crusader by pop Feminists who seem have rejected the obligations of a rational education for the cheap and easy feel-badism of picking through reruns of Dharma and Greg for evidence of patriarchy.
By most measures my positions could be considered well within the scope of Second Wave Feminism that sought to redress social and legal inequality faced by women. I believe in the social and moral equality of men and women. Although the “equality” I believe in is the equality of opportunity, not what carpetbaggers in online communities are selling, which is forced equality in outcome for them whenever they want it and despite what little effort they may have made in achieving that outcome.
What critics, like me, are responding to isn’t the body of historical Feminism, but the fringe end product that came out of academia and went mainstream with lies, bogus statistics, men-are-the-problem propaganda that doesn’t even pretend, for the most part, to be having a discussion and, as we have seen on Twitter and universities, has engaged in a wide-spread, coordinated effort to silence any and all criticism through shaming tactics and vilification.
The truth is, for all the times the word “misogynist” has been thrown around, for less and less justification, almost no one opposing this dishonest, cliquish form of online feminism of convenience can be said to said to have a pathological hatred of women. Distrust, maybe, and only of the sort of women who fly this banner, but that’s just what happens when people learn from experience.
In the same way, most of the people, like me, described as “anti-feminist” are only “anti-feminist” in the same way that someone would claim that any one who opposes a single dot and tiddle of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam is against Civil Rights for black people. No one, absolutely no one, is against the gains of historical feminism up to an including much of what was achieved under Second Wave feminism. No one, least of all me, wants to disenfranchise women, treat women as property, or deny women the right to property, keep women barefoot and pregnant, or any of the myriad bullshit that is implied.
What most people like me object to isn’t equality for women, but the cynical bait-and-switch practiced by Fashion Victim Feminists and the perverse sexual obsessions of confused 20-something hipster chicks and the fat old broads who lead them and, God dammit, the lying. It’s the demented Third Wave victim Feminism that treats rights and responsibilities as a Chinese takeout where women, or whatever self-identified aggrieved group, gets to pick everything from column A rights and continue to pawn off that column B responsibilities on men.
Hell, I’m all for shaking up gender norms, but only where it’s fair an equitable. Men should not be expected to fulfill a cherry-picked laundry list of traditional male obligations while, at the same time, having new and mostly vague and harmful demands placed on them while gaining absolutely nothing in the process.
Most men, and non-fashion feminist women, for that matter, don’t want to go back to traditional gender norms. They’re pissed off by them. And they are pissed off that this sort of facile, pop culture Feminism, in a completely underhanded way, actually enforces them. Although these sort of Fashion Victim Feminist love to portray those who support Men’s Rights as some sort of back-sliding trogs who are against equity. Rather, the underlying complaint of Men’s Rights isn’t against fairness or equality, they’re just wondering when men benefit from it too. Men’s Rights is the radical notion that Men are human beings and a “real man” isn’t defined by what he can do for women, and especially not what he can do for hateful and ungrateful mercenary online Fashion Victim Feminists.
What’s more, I’m particularly class conscious, something white, middle-class educated, white collar fashionable feminists don’t want to talk about. I’m the son of an electrician from Brooklyn and a secretary from Inverness, Scotland. The men in my family worked as street vendors, florists, and broom pushers. Most men are just scraping by, so they can’t just hand over the awesome power of the Male Hegemony because they don’t have it. And that poor and working class men, to these privileged, entitled Feminists are seen as rapists and catcallers or just plain invisible, pisses me off no end.
Really, pay attention to the way these political gold-diggers treat poor and working class men, and men of color, as either something to be scrapped off their expensive shoes, or pawns to be used to convince the men with perceived power, the only men they actually see, to give them what they want.
This isn’t about women. It’s not even, for the most part, about supporting or reversing the historical gains of Women’s Rights It’s about a particular, narrowly focused ideology seeking a free pass for it’s membership, enforces rigid group think and severely punishes anything but reflexive appeasement to its ever shifting and often incoherent and contradictory demands.
And it’s from these folks that we get, in response to any and all criticism, that the critic is “anti-women” or a “misogynist” or some variation of the threat narrative whereby they win arguments by default because they felt personally threatened by being exposed to facts and common sense and unapproved lived experience. Not only is it a stupid, obvious manipulative game, but it basically proves every sexist stereotype about women being irrational and emotional. But again, fortunately, it’s not all women, but some women, and the conceit that they adopt that they are spokespersons for a gender doesn’t change that. All political ideologies pull that stupid move. Which is why the most narrowly focused, grievance politics driven single issue Tea Party douchebag thinks he’s the only “Real American”.
Why in fuck’s name do I have to explain this?
I’m a critic of and in the atheist and skeptical community, and so I’m a critic of feminism as it exists in the atheist and skeptical community. That is, I’m less a critic of feminism in theory and in larger spheres. Mostly what interests me is how it cashes in in the online world when a group of people identifying themselves as feminists enter communities, begin insulting the membership, issuing demands and letting loose draconian measures to enforce compliance and being positively ruthless, even psychopathic when it comes to silencing any and all criticism.
It’s stupid. It’s obvious. People react badly to Fashion Victim Academic feminism not because it’s shaken up anyone’s world, or challenged any assumption, it’s because those sort of feminists have betrayed everyone’s best intentions.
Pointing out these distinction is almost entirely pointless though. It’s irrelevant to the game these people are playing, where rather than respond to actual criticism, rather than have a discussion these Fashion Victim Feminists pretend they are harassed and under attack and use underhanded, manipulative tactics to misrepresent and silence other opinions.
And WAM shows exactly how this works in regards to Twitter.
Apparently WAM has instituted a “fast track” harassment reporting system. You go in their site, fill out the standard ButtHurt Report Form and funneled through WAM, the claim of harassment skips right to the head of the line. This is apparently what happened with the mass suspension immediately following WAM partnering with Twitter.
After reading Sullivan’s two-part peice I came across an article in The Atlantic. The article itself is nothing special, or even very good journalism, in that it starts by summarizing the established threat narrative.
Here I quote..
Is the Internet a safe space for women?
It’s a huge question—yet, more and more, the answer seems to be a clear no. Last month, online abusers drove female video game critics and developers out of their homes with violent threats. One critic’s public event had to be canceled because of a promise of mass shootings. And a new Pew study put the harassment in statistically sharper terms: 25 percent of young women have been sexually harassed online, and 26 percent have been stalked.
That threat narrative is something the casual reader would skim through and accept without question and without knowing who they are referring to are arch unreliable narrators Brianna Wu and Anita Sarkeesian. They also don’t report that the threat against Sarkeesian was found to be not credible and, having done this myself, if you run the text of the threat through linguistic forensic text analyzers, it’s more than likely it was written by a woman. It contains humble-bragging language such as “Anita Sarkeesian is everything wrong with the feminist woman” and mentions Marc Lepine, a spree shooter from the late 1980s who has dropped off everyone’s radar except for Canadian-based Social Justice Warriors like Sarkeesian,
None of that sort of analysis, done with online analyzers and lay person opinions should be considered a conclusion, but what it suggests is more than a little interesting and should be a starting point for investigation. That text should give one a bit of pause over exactly who wrote it.
Of course, that sort of action isn’t something WAM would undertake, considering how closely tied they are with Anita Sarkeesian.
For all I know, my tweeting the results of that admittedly half-assed text analysis may be the reason I got on WAM’s radar in the first place.
That wouldn’t be hard what with WAM’s report form where people can take their long-standing Twitter arguments and interactions and get a little fast-tracked payback.
The Atlantic quotes the current “Executive Director” Jaclyn Friedman who lays to rest any nagging doubt that any of this will be handled in a fair and equitable manner.
“We’ll be escalating [harassment reports] even if they don’t fit Twitter’s exact abuse guidelines,” Friedman said. WAM intends to “cast a wider net” and see what Twitter’s moderators address.
That’s truly appalling.
So, guess what kids, WAM is “casting a wide net” and escalating things that may not be considered harassment. Because, in the interests of supporting the narrative, it’s better that ten innocent people have their accounts suspended than let one overly sensitive or vindictive person be unsatisfied. And maybe, like college men falsely accused of rape under a weak “preponderance of the evidence” standard in which they aren’t allowed access to representation or even hear the evidence against them, all can benefit from the experience.
What this means in practice A chilling effect. That is, if WAM is working from this vague and overboard standard by which harassment is considered things that aren’t actually, well, harassment, then we Twiiter users can all benefit from the experience: By not engaging with protected groups of feminists and social justice warriors, regardless of what stupid, slanderous and mean-spirited “punching up” things they Tweet. Better just to give them a free pass. And since we can’t know what sort of comment can be short listed into the fast track harassment accusation, better to say nothing at all. To anyone.
You know, we should all “shut up and listen”.
The WAM reporting form also has a section to list other possible Twitter handles a suspended or banned user may resort to, ensuring that once someone gets on WAMs radar, they are devoiced for good.
This is the authoritarian mindset in all it’s petty, intolerant glory.
And what Twitter has done is the same old shark-jumping that every user-driven community eventually falls victim to.
Take online forums.
What tends to happen in online forums is that the forum forgets that users are doing the forum a favor by participating, and instead of simply existing as a means for people to offer their opinion, what creeps in is that the idea forum has a purpose, and that means a message. After a while the forum users merely exist — in the minds of those running it — as warm bodies for propagating the forums “message” whatever that may be. Users who don’t accept this subserviant position where they are essentially now working for the forum, instead of the forum being grateful for their participation, are ruthlessly pruned. What is left, eventually, is a hard core hive mind until the next series of shit tests and purges. Eventually the very sameness of “on message” posting results in a sort of entropic heat death of the forum and, as it approaches absolute zero, you eventually have nothing left but moderators moderating moderators and then the forum owners and administrators ending up like Adolph and Eva, sitting on a couch in the bunker, silently fuming before they pop cyanide and shoot themselves.
That’s exactly what happened to the Atheism Plus forumand it seems that Twitter may be experimenting with this concept on a previously unheard of scale.
My prediction about my Twitter account and that of others silenced in this purge? I predict there will be no justice. Organizations such as WAM aren’t about justice. They are about power. Who has it, who gets it, who uses it and how the raw, naked expression of power makes them feel all tingly inside.
It’s just a shame that, at this high-tech lynching, Twitter decided to play the good citizen and hand out rope.
Women, Action and Media claims to be “building a robust, effective, inclusive movement”, but how inclusive is it? If it’s model is based on sweeping up and silencing voices that aren’t actually engaging in harassment, then it is simply silencing voices that WAM, and potentially dishonest internet tattle-tales don’t like. And if that’s the case, where there strength comes through silencing dissenting voice, just how robust does it think it is?
To get some answers to this question I called WAM a couple times, leaving voice messages for Jaclyn Friedman.
At this moment working on this video, Jaclyn Friedman has not returned my voice messages.
And why should she? In casting the wide net for things that don’t fit Twitters abuse guidelines, I’ve already been identified as a “Targeted Abuser” and WAM gains nothing, even if they know, from revealing what this “targeted abuse” consists of. Like all show trials, best to leave the “evidence” to one’s imagination. Revealing the evidence would start a chain reaction ending in transparency and accountability, whereby WAM would have to explain their reasoning, if indeed there is any reasoning at all. Wam is in the business of capitalizing on the treat narrative, not engaging in a discussion, especially on a case-by-case basis, whether the threat actually exists.
What is happening is something we in the Atheist and Skeptical community have become all too familiar with since being infested by con artists and Social Justice Warriors: Thin skinned ideologues using tools ostensibly created to fight online harassment as their tool to carry out online harassment.
What’s more, I suspect they aren’t even checking these things.
Maybe I’m being unfair here. Maybe WAM takes their new policing function seriously, despite the wide net “harassment is harassment even if it isn’t harassment” standard and will perform due diligence to make sure the net, though wide, is a fine mesh.
So then, another quote:
WAM is a small nonprofit outside of Boston with a staff of two. Those two employees will be doing all the work: Friedman and WAM’s community manager, Mina Farzad, will personally read and vet every harassment report that WAM receives.
Two people. That’s it. Two people who are both running the WAM website, doing interviews, ignoring voice messages and all other administrative and outreach function, and vetting all the accusations of harassment coming through WAM’s wide net fast track reporting system.
Two people. The same completely subjective two people who promote the threat narrative and do not benefit one little bit from denying a tweet is, in fact harassment. If it’s a tough job, it’s only due to the repetitive stress injury of using a rubber stamp.
Now it makes sense. People will be reported for abuse, even if the content of their Tweets or other online presence wasn’t actually abusive. Just part of “casting a wider net”. A small price to pay in silencing the wrong sort of people — like me– provided the right sort of people have the illusion of security and, more importantly, a tool to do an end run around all that messy discussion and arguing and actually backing things up with facts and common sense.
Before anyone in the lazy media who have bought into the threat narrative lauds WAM and supports these silly moral panics they should not ask how these measures will be used. Rather, one should think, right off the bat, how they will be predictably abused.
There’s another term for what Women, Action and Media is doing: