No. Scrub that. The question should actually be addressed to Twitter’s chief morality policeman Jack Dorsey.
Dorsey, as we know, claims to take a very dim view of ugly, bullying, malign trolling behaviour on Twitter.
So how come this person @mittendamour has suffered no consequences for her thoroughly nasty tweet – still up at the time of writing? How does wishing more cancer on a cancer victim not count as “hateful conduct”?
The thing that puts me off libertarianism is the “more libertarian than thou” game so many libertarians like to play.
“What? You mean you don’t believe that enterprising heroin dealers should be free to ply their wares in kindergartens so as to catch ’em while they’re young? You’re not a real libertarian. You’re a fascist control freak…”
All right, I exaggerate. But the latest libertarian test is very real – and is the subject of a big falling out between two National Review writers Victor Davis Hanson and Kevin Williamson.
See where you stand.
a) Facebook, Google, Twitter etc are the equivalent of 19th Century robber baron monopolies ripe for breaking up under Anti-Trust regulation because of their overmighty power and their iniquitous war on free speech and their outrageous bias against conservatives.
b) What are you saying, man? Don’t you see, this is, like, a violation of everything we libertarians believe in? You can’t – Pass me that joint, will you? You’re bogarting it. Yes you are – where was I? Oh yeah, look, it’s like this: if you’re gonna complain about Christian bakeries being prosecuted for refusing to bake gay cakes because of they violate their religious principles, you’re just being hypocritical complaining when YouTube puts restrictions on PragerU videos because they violate their liberal principles. Either you believe in free markets or you don’t.
If you’re a) you’re with Victor Davis Hanson who outlines his case here.
If you’re b) you’re with Kevin Williamson, who has now unfathomably accepted the King’s Shilling to take on the job of house libertarian at that famous bastion of free speech, liberty and alternative viewpoints The Atlantic.
The nastiest person on Twitter has quit Twitter. Because I’m so generous I shan’t mention his name. All I’ll say is he that he co-wrote one of the 1990s’ warmest, funniest, daffiest sitcoms — which is possibly what made his attack-dog vitriol so especially hurtful. It was like being stabbed with a fork by Gyles Brandreth, kneed in the groin by your vicar, given the middle finger by the Queen. What, you kept wondering, could possess someone you were predisposed to admire to make them behave like such a dreadful heel?
Because social media makes monsters of us, unfortunately. Some people, at any rate. We discussed this at the weekend at the Battle of Ideas festival in London at an event called: ‘We need to talk. The vices and virtues of social media.’ One of my fellow panellists, Alex Benson, a club promoter, described the terrifying sensation of having once been caught in a Twitter storm and feeling so universally hated that he scarcely dared venture outdoors. But when he did so he discovered something odd: in real life (IRL) everyone was as perfectly affable as ever they had been. All that rage had been confined to the social media bubble.
As Benson noted, people say things on Twitter that if voiced in a pub would get you a punch in the face. This is partly because the 140-character medium encourages you to be pithy, provocative and nuance-free in order to grab other users’ attention. And partly because taking out someone when you can’t hear them squeal is much easier than killing them with your bare hands.