In an age of lies, the truth is dangerous. When Twitter announced the creation of a “Trust and Safety Council” last month, every intelligent observer understood that censorship would be the result.
The purpose was obvious in Twitter’s choice for members of this Orwellian-named “council,” which includes many left-wing activist organizations, but not a single conservative or libertarian group. Most ominous was Twitter’s decision to ally itself with radical feminism by making Anita Sarkeesian a member of this advisory group. Sarkeesian’s non-profit group Feminist Frequency, formed in 2014, is a tax-exempt vehicle to promote the 32-year-old’s “gender theory” attacks on the videogame industry.
Longtime aficionados of videogames have taken umbrage at what they see as attempts by Sarkeesian and other so-called “social justice warriors” to impose political correctness on the content of games. This conflict erupted into public controversy in August 2014 when accusations of unethical favoritism by certain journalists covering the industry leaped into public consciousness as #GamerGate. The actor Adam Baldwin, who has more than 250,000 followers on Twitter, helped popularize the #GamerGate hashtag. A longtime friend of the late media maverick Andrew Breitbart, Baldwin saw the attempt by Sarkeesian and other progressives to influence the multi-billion-dollar videogame industry as the latest assault in the Left’s campaign to expand its cultural hegemony.
As Breitbart often said, “Politics is downstream from culture.” By controlling institutions of culture — Hollywood, academia, the news media, public schools, etc. — the Left seeks to eradicate every possible source of opposition to their own political power. Silencing criticism and prohibiting opposition has been quite a successful feminist strategy in academia. Campuses now erupt in riotous protests when critics like the American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers and Breitbart.com’s Milo Yiannopoulos speak at universities. The brownshirt tactics by which feminists disrupt such events, and similar attacks against any student who dissents from the ideology and rhetoric of contemporary Third Wave feminism, have oozed out of the collegiate context and into public discourse. Totalitarians are never satisfied with partial control, and so the online world of social media like Twitter and Facebook has steadily come under attack by feminists and other “social justice” enthusiasts who strive to abolish opposition. If critics of feminism can’t speak on campus without being shouted down — with students claiming to be emotionally “traumatized” by the mere presence of skeptical voices at their universities — then obviously anyone who contradicts the feminist narrative on the Internet must be regarded as a menace.
All of that is preamble to explaining why my Twitter account @rsmccain was shut down Feb. 19, and how this resulted in a protest against Twitter’s policies, using the #FreeStacy hashtag. Adam Baldwin is among several conservatives who have actually quit using Twitter in protest; others have begun systematically blocking the accounts of advertisers who pay for “promoted” Tweets on the popular social-media platform. When I attempted to get my Twitter account reinstated, I received a cryptic message that I had been “participating in targeted abuse,” although no evidence was offered to support this accusation. Who was targeted? What was the abuse? How did I participate? No one will say. In a statement to Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle, Twitter officials cited “privacy” to justify this silence as to the nature of my alleged offense against Trust and Safety.
The concept of “targeted abuse” is a recent invention with a vague definition. Feminists have apparently convinced Twitter executives that directly expressing disagreement with a feminist is a synonym for “harassment.” Feminists are free to insult men quite generally, calling them “misogynists” and accusing them of complicity in “rape culture,” yet if any man objects to these gross categorical libels against males and masculinity, he is denounced as a villain.
Feminism is power, and no one can be permitted to speak truth to that power.
It is not enough for feminists to use Twitter’s “block” function to avoid online interaction with people who disagree with their ideology. No, feminists insist, their critics must be purged from Twitter and, in the process, opponents are branded with the accusation of Thought Crime. Whereas I have been a professional journalist for 30 years, and was winning awards for my work when Anita Sarkeesian was still in grade school, my ban from Twitter permits her allies to brand me with epithets and slurs (e.g., “troll”) and to defame me as a perpetrator of “harassment,” while I am denied access to Twitter to defend myself against their politically motivated slanders.
Liars prosper on Twitter, and truth-tellers are not welcome there. I know what real harassment is, because I have been the target of harassment by such people as Barrett Brown, the erstwhile spokesman for the “Anonymous” criminal hacker conspiracy. Barrett Brown is now in federal prison — among other crimes, he threatened to “destroy” an FBI agent — and yet, I am sure, he believes that he is the victim of wrongdoing rather than the perpetrator.
This narcissistic obsession with victimhood is an increasingly common mental disorder among young progressives, including feminists like Anita Sarkeesian. In May 2015, she gave a melodramatic speech in which she described herself as being “harassed and threatened for going on three years.” Sarkeesian accused men of having “turned their misogyny into a game … in which gendered slurs and death and rape threats are weapons used to try and take down the big, bad villain, which in this case is me.… And all because I dared to question the self-evident, obvious sexism running rampant in the games industry.” Her blanket accusation that men who play videogames are hateful sexists is one that Sarkeesian refuses to defend in open discussion with her numerous critics.
Feminism is always a lecture, never a debate. Any criticism of feminist discourse is cited as proof that the critic is a vile misogynist. Objections to the anti-male rhetoric of feminist ideologues like Anita Sarkeesian are construed by her as threats to her safety.
“Every day I see my words scrutinized, twisted and distorted by thousands of men hell-bent on destroying and silencing me,” Sarkeesian told her sympathetic listeners at a feminist conference in Sydney, Australia. No doubt her audience believed Ms. Sarkeesian’s assertion that she had been the victim of serious crimes, and that she had reported the offenders to the FBI. However, so far as I can determine, there has not been a single arrest of a videogame player for committing any crime against Sarkeesian. This may be because the Internet makes it difficult to connect online accounts to actual human beings, a factor that Barrett Brown’s “Anonymous” comrades have exploited. (Some of those activists are now supporting the #FreeStacy campaign, evidently realizing that if my Twitter account can be shut down, their own use of the social media platform could be in jeopardy.) However, if Sarkeesian has actually been the victim of any crime — as opposed to people merely writing rude things about her on the Internet — doesn’t it seem likely at least one of these sexist criminals would have been jailed by now?
Some of Barrett Brown’s defenders would argue that even his very specific threats against an FBI agent, made during a manic YouTube video rant, were free speech protected by the First Amendment. If Barrett Brown is a heroic martyr, as his liberal admirers have claimed, then how can Anita Sarkeesian also be a heroic martyr? If a left-wing radical who threatens an FBI agent can be a hero to liberals, how is it that Sarkeesian can also be celebrated by liberals for demanding the FBI prosecute men for saying mean things to her on the Internet?
The worldview of the Left is logically incoherent and self-contradictory because progressives have no real principles or standards. The Left mocks anyone who speaks of morality. Much like the “famewhore” Barrett Brown, Sarkeesian craves the benefits of Internet notoriety but dislikes the negative consequences. She exploited her status as a victim of “harassment” to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for her tax-exempt 501(c)3 “charity,” and none of her feminist admirers doubt that Sarkeesian has endured a traumatic emotional ordeal. As I explained on my blog, Sarkeesian “strikes an absurd pose: The Heroic Fighting Victim-Martyr, whose endless tales of suffering function as proof of pervasive male evil.” She engages in this grandiose posturing to glorify herself in the eyes of her feminist admirers, who share her paranoid belief that the world is organized as a patriarchal conspiracy to oppress women. This delusional worldview has defined feminism ever since the eruption of the radical Women’s Liberation Movement in the late 1960s.
“Women are an oppressed class,” Shulamith Firestone and her comrades in the Redstockings collective declared in their famous 1969 manifesto. “We identify the agents of our oppression as men.… All men have oppressed women.”
Feminism’s categorical condemnation of all males as perpetrators of an “oppression” from which all women suffer is a cunning rhetorical tactic that enables even the most privileged women to claim they are groaning under the tyrannical yoke of male supremacy. “Feminist consciousness is consciousness of victimization … to come to see oneself as a victim,” as Professor Sandra Lee Bartky declared in her 1990 book, Femininity and Domination: Studies in the Phenomenology of Oppression. This bizarre belief system is now promoted on the campuses of hundreds of American colleges and universities, where some 90,000 students annually enroll in Women’s Studies classes that teach them to view all women as helpless victims and to fear all men as despicable oppressors. Only ignorant fools could believe this, of course, but the liberals who control our nation’s public education system are experts at helping young people become ignorant fools. It is therefore easy for feminists to believe Anita Sarkeesian’s claim that she is a victim of sexists “hell-bent on destroying and silencing” her.
Who is being destroyed, and who is being silenced? I’d like to explain this to the tens of thousands of people who followed my Twitter account, but unfortunately my account has been destroyed and silenced. My friends (and even some of my enemies) who have supported the #FreeStacy campaign are not afraid of Anita Sarkeesian. They have launched a petition called Public Status to encourage Twitter executives to reconsider their allegiance with Sarkeesian and other left-wing totalitarians who seek to eradicate free speech online. “Truth is great and will prevail,” as Thomas Jefferson once said, and an honest citizen should never fear the truth. But we live in an age of lies, and truth is a dangerous thing.