In recent years, especially since Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Internet giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have started policing things they find offensive or deem “fake news.” However, they often reprimand individuals whose politics lean one way and leave unscathed others whose politics lean another way.
While this is common knowledge among conservatives, the most recent examples of such a double standard are truly glaring. Conservative commentator and comedian Steven Crowder uploaded a video onto his YouTube channel that showed his intern crashing an LGBT panel on gender fluidity at SXSW, where he went undercover as a man who identified as a computer. YouTube removed the video. And Twitter suspended Crowder’s account.
According to screenshots, this was Twitter’s reasoning behind what was initially a 12-hour suspension: “Violating our rules against hateful conduct. You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”
The suspension essentially allowed Crowder to view public tweets and send direct messages to his followers, but took away posting privileges. Crowder’s team suspected the reason their video was taken down from YouTube and they were suspended on Twitter was because they failed to bleep out the word “f-ggot.”
So they bleeped it and re-uploaded the censored video on YouTube and scheduled promotional tweets on Twitter that would share the video after their 12-hour suspension was up. But not only did YouTube remove the video again, Twitter suspended Crowder for seven days after scheduled tweets he paid for were sent.
If you aren’t familiar with Crowder, he is a humorous, politically incorrect provocateur, and his commentary is only offensive to those who find opposing views offensive. So because many conservatives on Twitter found this punishment as an act of injustice, #FreeCrowder became a top trend on Wednesday.
What’s so egregious about Twitter’s policing isn’t so much that it shut down Crowder (although that in itself is still egregious) but what Twitter allows on its site instead. For example, comedian Chelsea Handler tweeted the following two months ago attacking Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (vulgar language dashed out here): “Holy, f-ck f-ck. I just the video of trumps bipartisan ‘meeting’ yesterday. Hey, @LindseyGrahamSC what kind of d-ck s-cking video do they have on you for you 2 be acting like this? Wouldn’t coming out be more honorable?”
This clearly homophobic tweet accused a sitting senator of being gay and being blackmailed because he acted favorably towards President Trump during a meeting on immigration. Yet Handler didn’t face any punishment from Twitter. She was never suspended. And that tweet remains on the site.
While Handler has mostly become yesterday’s news, someone who has been in today’s news has been Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan is a life-long anti-Semite but has become a topic of conversation because of his ties to several Democratic lawmakers including the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), as well as leaders of the Women’s March.
However, not only can you find Farrakhan’s account currently active, it is also verified with the coveted blue checkmark that many interpret as validity in the world of social media. This is the same man who uploads clips of his sermons that constantly express hatred towards Jews, women, and gays. But Crowder is far more offensive, right?
The double standards have always been nauseating, but they’ve hit a level of absurdity. A conservative is silenced over some stupid prank and one of the country’s most prominent bigots gets to continue to spout actual hatred. This type of conversation has happened before, and it will happen over and over again. The problem for conservatives is that they only have two options: quit Twitter or put up with its bias.
Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey and his underlings don’t exactly care about their site’s discrimination against conservatives who supposedly “violate” their rules. However, the idea of boycotting Twitter is impractical, especially since it has become such so engrained into social interaction. It would sort of be like if you were to boycott the printing press back in the day. Unless you can create your own form of communication that can catch on, like other social media sites, this is just something that conservatives will have to get used to.
That being said, those who still have a voice, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or elsewhere, are responsible for giving a voice to the voiceless. If you find yourself silenced one day, hopefully someone else will return the favor.