Journalist Andy Ngo has been temporarily suspended from Twitter, as reported by The Post Millennial, for violating its rules on “hateful conduct.” The lockout resulted from his Nov. 20 reply to Chelsea Clinton’s tweet on the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
She shared LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign’s message, stating, “Since 2013, more than 150 trans people have been murdered in the U.S., the majority Black transgender women. On #TDoR2019, we remember and honor the lives lost, hold their loved ones in our hearts and must commit to doing all we can to end this epidemic of violence and hate.”
Ngo replied, “The US is one of the safest countries for trans people. The murder rate for trans victims is actually lower than that for cis population. Also, who is behind the murders? Mostly black men.”
While Twitter did not specify which part of Ngo’s tweet constituted “hateful conduct,” a review of what he said demonstrates his statement was entirely factual. Forbes reported that in 2019 (data from Oct. 1, 2018, to present), 331 transgender people were killed worldwide. Of these murders, 130 occurred in Brazil and 63 in Mexico. The United States had 30 reported murders.
Of the murders occurring in the United States, only one, the murder of Paris Cameron, fits the description of a bias-motivated killing. Cameron was one of five victims in a Memorial Day mass shooting at a house party in Detroit. Devon Robinson committed the crime, also murdering two gay men and two other victims in an attempt to target LGBT people.
Andy Ngo Merely Tweeted the Facts
The United States is, in fact, one of the safest countries in the world for transgender people. From 2015 to 2019, the “Human Rights Campaign reported 118 transgender murders and after careful review, four cases fit a bias-motivation.” In 2018, the murder rate was 5.0 per 100,000, or 15,498 murders nationwide.
Clinton specifically mentioned the majority of U.S. trans murder victims are black transgender males, and this is true. Of the known murders between 2015 and 2019, 67 percent were black. But the point Ngo makes is also factually true: 92 percent of the known killers of these victims were also black.
Ngo mentioned this fact, pushing back on the continued narrative that transgender victims’ race must be a factor in motivating violence against them. But observing the race of both the victims and the killers, and considering the vast majority of victims knew their killers as sex partners, race itself becomes entirely irrelevant — which matters in this discussion.
Essentially, no part of Ngo’s tweet was factually incorrect or offensive. So why did Twitter consider it to violate its policy? A journalist stating verifiable facts on a public platform should not be at risk for removal from that platform due simply to a minority of people who take arbitrary offense.
Twitter Thinks of Itself as Journalist-Friendly
Twitter boasts that its platform is unique for journalists, saying, “Twitter is a window into what’s happening in the world, which is why some of the most active Twitter accounts belong to journalists. News often breaks first on Twitter, and everyone from national media outlets to reporters on the ground often use Twitter to update the public on developing stories.”
Twitter claims to encourage active participation as well, arguing, “People are more likely to reply to journalists who are willing to engage with them by replying, Retweeting, answering questions, or soliciting news tips. That, in turn, increases a reporter’s followers and drives more interest and trust in the journalist’s work.” What is more powerful than a journalist speaking directly to the daughter of a former president and challenging her statements?
In 2018, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “One of the most important constituencies we serve is our journalist population. Has been since day 1. We don’t mean to shift the work here. We must build tools to help (and need to work together to do that). We can’t be a useful service without the integrity journalists bring.”
Just last week, ahead of a massive media merger, Paul Bascobert, CEO of Gannett Media Corp., one of the largest media organizations, told CNN business, “This idea of protecting journalism is the right thing to do; it’s also good business, because the digital businesses we want to build in the future are built on the trust and the engagement from the consumer side, from the readers, the subscribers.”
It is universally agreed upon that journalism is the foundation of our media. But how can it survive if media tolerates only one selected view?
Twitter Must Stop Arbitrary Censorship
Conservatives have long sounded the alarm on Twitter’s selective enforcement of its rules and its targeting of right-leaning voices, and this most recent censorship illustrates why. Ngo is a respected and prominent journalist and the editor-at-large of The Post Millennial. He risked his safety to report on the violence of Antifa, who brutally attacked him while he was performing this vital function just last summer.
He is not a conspiracy theorist or a hate group leader or any number of other more obvious targets of Twitter-implemented “safety” initiatives. He is a journalist who challenged a public figure on facts, and Twitter shut down his voice for doing so. This should alarm everyone in the industry, not just those on the right.
Sadly, LGBT media and advocacy organizations have long refused to answer challenges from journalists such as Ngo. On June 29, shortly after Antifa brutally assaulted Ngo, Charlotte Clymer, a communications staffer for the Human Rights Campaign who has blocked several right-leaning journalists on the platform, myself included, tweeted, “Andy Ngo intentionally provokes people on the left to drive his content. Being attacked today on video taken by an actual journalist (because Ngo is definitely not) is the greatest thing that could have happened to his career. You know it. I know it. He knows it. We all know it.” Clymer later apologized for the comment.
Every journalist, newspaper, news website, and journalism school and association should be outraged by this and capable of putting politics aside to object to it. Twitter silencing any journalist for merely performing his job is a threat to all journalism, and Twitter must recognize it cannot play favorites with who it allows and does not allow to report on its website.
More importantly, media figures such as Chelsea Clinton should be championing journalists brave enough to stand up and speak truth to power, even on issues with which they may not agree. The unique quality of Twitter is the ability to do just that. If voices as prominent as Ngo’s can be so easily shut down, what purpose does the platform serve at all?