On Sept. 16, Twitter suspended the most prominent social justice activist on its platform, Titania McGrath. The catch? Titania doesn’t exist.
Andrew Doyle, a satirist, comedian, and Shakespeare scholar, created the account to mock “woke” leftist culture and the social justice warriors who religiously follow this trendy ideology. In Doyle’s words, “She is a satirical representation of people who see themselves as left-wing and progressive but are neither.”
The tweet which led to “her” suspension involved Titania attacking Lisa Graves, the author behind another high-profile parody account, “Godfrey Elwick,” which was banned in June 2018. Lisa had riled Titania by tweeting at her, “They/them isn’t a gender.” Titania, in classic fashion, went on the offensive, tweeting, “Lisa deserves to be thrown into a gutter and spat on repeatedly until she learns the value of basic human compassion.”
Naturally, Lisa took no offense to the comment, later confirming she did not report Titania for her insult. Graves and Doyle are well acquainted with one another’s work. However, Titania still received a seven-day ban. When a Twitter user is suspended, his tweets can still be seen, but he cannot make new posts.
Given that the only people who disagree with me are fascists, the fact that Twitter suspended me for 7 days is deeply disturbing.
Censorship only works if the people with the correct opinions are in charge.
Twitter is now officially a branch of the Fourth Reich.
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) September 22, 2019
While Titania may be a fictitious person, plenty of real “woke” leftists have tweeted equally heinous, harmful, or abusive remarks without recourse or penalty. Last August, Reza Aslan called for Kellyanne Conway and “the depraved evil” she represents to be eradicated. In May 2019, during the Antifa rally in Portland that led to the assault on journalist Andy Ngo, Carlos Maza, a producer at Vox Media, told his followers to “Milkshake them all. Humiliate them at every turn. Make them dread public organizing,” while Twitter stood by and did nothing.
Then, of course, there was Kathy Griffin’s tweet in January 2019 calling for doxxing Covington Catholic High School students without any response from Twitter. Further examples include New York Times writer Sarah Jeong claiming “it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men,” and former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour tweeting, “Brigitte Gabriel” and “Ayaan Hirsi Ali” are “asking 4 an a$$ whippin’.”
As these prominent leftist figures used Twitter to promote violence, Twitter stood by and did nothing, while instead holding a harmless parody account by a known satirist to a different standard. None of these prominent figures from the left faced any scrutiny from Twitter for their unironic calls for harassment.
Twitter’s inaction in those cases suggests if you’re on the left, the rules of Twitter do not apply, and it appears Americans generally agree with this sentiment. In a recent Pew Research study, “72% of the public thinks it likely that social media platforms actively censor political views that those companies find objectionable.”
Unfortunately, “Titania McGrath” is not the only satirical account that social media behemoths have unduly censored. In 2018, The Babylon Bee, which brands itself as “your trusted source for Christian news satire,” faced censorship threats from Facebook after Snopes flagged the Bee’s satirical articles as “fake news.”
Nor is this is the first time Twitter has banned Titania. The account has been suspended four times before for “hate speech,” most notably on Dec. 9, 2018, when Titania gained 20,000 followers a day after the account was reinstated. As of Sept. 23, Titania is approaching 350,000 followers.
In response to the recent banning, Titania released a statement through fellow satirist Jarvis Dupont, saying, “I am dismantling the patriarchy one tweet at a time. I am obliterating Nazis with my devastating hashtags. I have always supported censorship of those who have the wrong opinion. But to censor my wisdom is an act that should be classified as a form of intellectual genocide. But I shall rise again.”
The statement has more than 25,000 likes and spurred a “#FreeTitania” campaign, which continues to support ridiculing the hypocrisy of the woke movement. If the woke movement isn’t allowed to be mocked, and its dissenters are silenced, then it is not a movement of tolerance and freedom, but one of authoritarianism.
Fake news and satire are certainly different. However, social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have complete control to decide this difference and impose their biases. Despite woke leftists preaching tolerance, they appear unwilling to tolerate ridicule of themselves. For a free discourse of ideas to take place, “wokeness” must be open to criticism by satirists on social platforms where many critical discussions take place, or we are no longer living in a free society but one controlled by biased technocrats.