Tag Archives: politics

I Told You So: Twitter’s Crackdown on Free Speech

Twitter is cracking down on the dissident right. They banned-for-life my co-founder Charles Johnson in May 2015, and in the latter part of the year were caught preventing anti-feminist as well as pro-Trump hashtags from autocompleting.

Now  Twitter has formed the “Trust And Safety Council”, a name which is so feminist Orwellian they might as well have just named it Big Sister. It’s a who’s who of leftist, feminist anti-speech organizations, with nary even a pro-speech libertarian group among them, much less anything actually resembling a conservative right winger..

1984

It’s not a how-to manual, @Jack

The new Council quickly jumped into action. They removed the verified check mark of Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos, to great uproar, but Twitter refused to back down. Later the verified mark was also briefly removed from Jonah Goldberg and other prominent GOP hacks, but was reinstated mysteriously.

They suspended popular conservative and anti-feminist blogger R.S. McCain last week, and doubled down this week by suspending his promotional book account as well.

Twitter has never actually declared WHY they suspended any of these people, despite repeated rhetoric about Twitter’s dedication to free expression and unfettered speech.

I hate to say I told you so, but I fuckin told you so. I knew this was going to happen and I tried to draw attention to it weeks ago.

I was The Duck. I was @Jokeocracy.

I saw this crackdown was coming, and I didn’t want to be disappeared in the night like some common communist. I wanted to go out in style. So I tweeted at dozens of journalists and left wing activists telling them how President Trump would have them executed during a French-Revolution-style Reign of Terror.

I rode to Valhalla, shiny and chrome, on the Fury Road. I lived, I died, and now I live again.

che jokeocracy

RIP In Memoriam

Please don’t ever ask me to apologize for The Duck.

It was performance art, and if you find it offensive, that’s often the point of performance art. Ask any Trump-supporting flyover country real American how they feel when they hear about some fat tattooed queer on stage in the East Village taking a messy dump on the American flag before a rapt audience. Uh oh, a glimmer of enlightenment, best stamp it out quickly.

I gave an interview to Radix Journal after The Duck’s epic self-immolation, go read it if you’re interested in what I have to say about Twitter and the future of free speech.

Piss_Christ_by_Serrano_Andres_(1987)

Performance art

Follow me on Twitter and maybe I can equal The Duck’s over 9000 followers before they suspend me after a brief no-show no-trial.

Most importantly, Charles Johnson and I are soon going to be launching an information marketplace called Wesearchr.  I’m really excited about this company, it is absolutely unlike any other existing media business and it’s been great fun to develop something truly unique.

We plan to release more information about Wesearchr and how it actually works next week, so sign up to our email list to find out more about what we’re building and why we think it’s going to change the journalism industry forever.

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Introducing Wesearchr, An Information Marketplace

Today on Twitter I announced that my new project is a company called Wesearchr. Wesearchr is an information marketplace that will launch this spring, and my partner and CEO is the infamous Charles C. Johnson of GotNews, the once-and-future holder of the title “Most Hated Man on The Internet.” logo

Please follow @wesearchr on Twitter, like our Facebook page, and join our mailing list for updates. In a few weeks we’ll announce more details about what we’re building, and once we do I know it’s going to have people talking.

2016 is going to be an interesting year. If you have a seat belt, you might want to fasten it for this ride.

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Short Book Review: SJWs Always Lie

Vox Day’s short new book “SJWs Always Lie” is essential reading for anyone interested in modern online moral panics triggered by Social Justice Warriors. Vox explains what these people are, how they function, and what to do if you’re attacked. As someone who has personally lived through his own political correctness lynching I agree wholeheartedly with his recommendations.

The book includes chapters that comprise the best short summaries I’ve read of Gamergate and the Sad Puppies movements to date, and having just been released it includes even the most recent developments. These chapters are nothing new for those who have followed the movements from the beginning but they can serve as great introductions to people otherwise unacquainted.

The book also describes some excellent strategies for combatting the SJW moral police, derived from Sun Tzu.  I found Vox’s recommendations on rules for organizations that wish to resist infiltration from SJW entryists particularly valuable and enlightening.

At 200 pages the book is quickly digestible. The stories it tells are clear and the style is very readable. One closing chapter on the proper use of rhetoric is more challenging but has content well worth making the effort to understand.

Recommended. Get it at Amazon.

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The Social Media Shaming of Pax Dickinson

The wonderful Cathy Young, who wrote the terrific article telling Paul Nungesser’s story about his Columbia University witch hunt, has written a Reason article about yours truly:

But before Hunt, before Sacco, before the ouster of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over his opposition to same-sex marriage, there was another drama of career-killing Internet outrage: the undoing of Business Insider Chief Technology Officer Pax Dickinson. It is a story that raises troubling questions about speech and consequences.

Go there and read the whole thing. I consider this the current definitive retelling of my experience.

Cathy interviewed me way back in January, so a few minor unimportant details are out of date. The blacklisting prevented me from getting any work outside of odd gigs for friends here and there, but I’m working on an exciting secret project right now that I hope to be able to discuss publicly soon. Stay tuned, this isn’t the end of the story.

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Announcing ExposeCorruption.Org

I’ve launched a crowd funding effort on IndieGogo to raise money towards founding a non-profit dedicated to doing adversarial investigative journalism against the media industry as a whole.

What if an organization existed, funded by regular concerned Americans, that turned a cynical questioning eye at those corrupt journalists? What if we held them to account for their hypocrisies? What if the tables were turned and the New Clerisy faced an inquisition from us aimed at them?

Towards that goal, we are starting a new non-profit organization called ExposeCorruption.Org which will fund investigative research into prominent agenda-driven media figures and publish a hyperlinked database of their ideological biases and secret skeletons.

One thing that all three of the grassroots rebellions of the Internet era share is a feeling that the media misrepresented them and set a narrative that opposed their goals. An apolitical Grey Tribe anti-journalist organization is one way for our media marginalized voices to start holding someone accountable.

It’s time we started watching the watchers. Contribute today to start fighting back.

Please visit the IndieGogo campaign to read the entire pitch, and please consider contributing if you share my goals of holding media more accountable.

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Three Modern Grassroots Rebellions

In my last post, I proposed that the Grey Tribe is an American culture distinct from the Red and Blue tribes most commonly discussed.

Greys are a libertarian-minded tribe of live-and-let-livers. They tend to dwell online, often adopting shifting pseudonyms and communicating with each other on forums and anonymous imageboards. Amongst the Grey Tribe one would expect to see higher levels of internet savvy, fondness for tech gadgetry, and disillusionment with traditional politics. They support privacy and anonymity, and oppose the NSA surveillance regime. Edward Snowden is a Grey Tribe hero. They revere open source, strongly support an open internet, and it is by no means exaggeration to describe them as free speech fundamentalists.

Greys tend to have nomadic tech industry jobs. Many are freelancers or entrepreneurs. They engage online and don’t congregate geographically as thickly as the other tribes do, except for their noticeable clusters in San Francisco and other technology hubs. They speak in nerd/geek/gamer lingo and signal membership to each other with Internet cultural tropes and catchphrases. All three of the tribes have found a home on the internet but the Grey Tribe is born of the net and has never existed outside of it.

The Grey Tribe is beginning to find its voice and assert its identity as something separate from the Blue Tribe most of its members still probably consider themselves part of. We’re witnessing its birth pangs in the recent Internet cultural strife, and I expect this is only the beginning.

The Internet Mobilizes Tribal Voices

Angry Mob

The Internet has made possible a kind of activism that doesn’t rely on community organizers or shady bankrolling billionaires. It’s a truly grassroots form of activism where leaders are emergent and wield authority only so long as the participants agree to obey. Technology both enables and molds these movements. These organizations are completely uncoordinated and genuinely independent of top level guidance. They begin as expressions of anger but once formed can turn in unpredictable directions due to their disorganized emergent nature.

Nothing like these movements could ever develop before the age of social media, which enables the way they develop virally and function without infrastructure or direction. Social media and it’s peer-to-peer nature break the traditional monopolies and enable connections between those with strong shared interests. Diffuse minorities can congregate online and magnify their voice in ways that weren’t even dreamed of prior to the birth of the net. These kinds of movements are a brand new social technology and they are rapidly evolving.

The Red, Blue, and Grey tribes have now each launched a grassroots Internet-enabled rebellion in the direction of a Schelling point that drew their rage, but their targets varied greatly as did the outcomes. The three movements were similar bottom-up expressions of inchoate rage, but they targeted different parts of  the establishment and used very different tactics.

Three Internet Insurgencies

The Red Tribe revolt took place first. In 2009 the Tea Party movement emerged onto the national scene as a grassroots expression of dissatisfaction with high taxes and big government. It acted via politics, supporting and running anti-establishment candidates for office in mostly Republican primaries. While it has made not inconsequential gains and has successfully pulled the Republican party in a more libertarian direction, its focus has mostly petered out and been co-opted by Republican establishment figures. As a movement the Tea Party is a shell of itself. It used the Internet to mobilize but fought its foe on the hostile ground of politics, which is sort of like launching a land war in Asia.

In 2011 a Blue Tribe revolt took place. Occupy Wall Street was a left-driven movement against social and economic inequality. It focused its rage mostly against the Wall Street banks that had benefited from the 2008 financial crash. It lasted only a few months and its hazily communicated goals were unrealized. The physical occupations were disbanded by police and the movement mostly dissipated. Today it exists mostly overseas, notably represented by the current Hong Kong protests that have been dubbed ‘Occupy Admiralty’ by some. Occupy failed because it could not coalesce behind goals that were accomplishable via means that it possessed. The voices were too diffuse, and its focus on physical gatherings was outlast-able.

In 2014 it became the Grey Tribe’s turn to launch a rebellion. GamerGate is an expression of rage by Grey Tribe libertarians, nerds, misfits, and techies against Blue Tribe encroachment onto their gaming hobby and against their expression. This is no overnight phenomenon, gamer rage against so-called “social justice warriors” has been simmering for years.

Anti-Sarkeesian gamer produced video from 2013

Ten years ago the gaming community faced Red Tribe censorship threats from Jack Thompson‘s group aimed at violence in games, and faced them down. Now the threats of censorship are similar but come from the Blue Tribe concerns about sexism rather than Red Tribe pleading against violence. What complicates matters is that this time the gaming journalists are on the side of the forces of censorship rather than on the side of gamers.

The dispute might have just continued simmering, but the gaming media outlets absolutely refused to discuss legitimate questions of their ethics, engaged in an active effort to quash the issue by naked force, then colluded en masse to declare gamers “dead”. Even 4chan itself banned discussion of the issue in an unprecedented turn of events. It’s a misconception that GamerGate is about the Zoe Quinn story, while it certainly began with that story is was not until the enforced censorship, mass declaration that “Gamers Are Dead” and the exposure of the GameJournoPros mailing list that GamerGate truly launched its rebellion in earnest and it became a full fledged tribal rebellion.

The Grey Rebellion

The Grey Tribe rebellion continues apace. History seems to be against them, given the outcome of the Blue and Red rebellions, but I believe there are significant differences in the Grey rebellion that may yet see it achieve some of the change it seeks.

Right now the GamerGate rebellion has brought its focus onto one of the companies it sees attacking it, and is using the weapon of consumer boycott to deal significant damage. Max Read of Gawker whined that GamerGate has cost Gawker thousands in revenue already and could potentially cost millions.

The Red rebellion focused its ire on government, and the Blue rebellion went after the banking establishment. Those foes were more than capable to withstand, absorb, and eventually co-opt the movements against them. The Grey rebellion however, is aimed at Blue Tribe journalism enterprises that support themselves via advertisers who seek Grey dollars. These enterprises are absolutely vulnerable to a Grey attack on their sources of funding, as the wounded yelps from Gawker’s direction may indicate.

I expect the Blue journalists to fight back via Blue media opprobrium, they have been fighting that way and it’s not working but I would expect them to double down on that tactic because they misjudge their opponents.

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 12.30.45 AM

Their projection convinces them that their opponents fear social ostracization, as any Blue Tribe member would. They fail to understand that most members of the Grey Tribe have long become used to social ostracization, they seek approval only from their friends in the Grey Tribe and the wider society’s opinion is immaterial to them. Gamers specifically have long been targets for mainstream bullies and are pre-inoculated against this tactic.

Will the Grey Tribe succeed at doing significant damage to their Blue journalistic enemies? It certainly seems possible. I expect an outpouring of vitriol from the mainstream media will only embolden them. Gamer are used to facing greater challenges as they progress in a game, so to expect them to discourage easily is a significant underestimation. The GamerGate tactic of applying economic pressure to its targets via advertisers can succeed if it continues, and it will as long as the media keeps foolishly adding fuel to the GamerGate fire with threats of censorship.

UPDATE: Now go read this related and highly relevant post “Moving Beyond Hit-And-Run Warfare: How #GamerGate Can Actually Win”

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The Rise Of The Grey Tribe

Everyone knows America has two cultures. Ever since the bitterly contested 2000 Bush v. Gore election we’ve referred to “Red States” and “Blue States”. The states in question of course aren’t monolithically “Red” or “Blue” but the color describes the dominant culture of the population of those states. Red and Blue are more clearly thought of as tribes. Scott Alexander describes the American Red & Blue tribes in one tiny bit of his terrific #longread about outgroups:

The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

The Red Tribe and the Blue Tribe existed long before the 2000 election, of course. In fact these two American tribes pre-date their own nation. They have both existed and been at each other’s throats for a thousand years. Their bitter fight has erupted into open mass warfare three (count em, 1 2 3) times, and their cultural struggle has never ended.

Scott goes on from describing the Red and Blue tribes to briefly and parenthetically mention a third tribe, the Grey Tribe:

(There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football “sportsball”, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time)

Partly formed? Someone should do something about that.

The Grey Tribe Is Born

via flickr user LaCrossian

RonPaulf the Grey (via flickr user LaCrossian)

Greys are a libertarian-minded tribe of live-and-let-livers. They tend to dwell online, often adopting shifting pseudonyms and communicating with each other on forums and anonymous imageboards. Amongst the Grey Tribe one would expect to see higher levels of internet savvy, fondness for tech gadgetry, and disillusionment with traditional politics. They support privacy and anonymity, and oppose the NSA surveillance regime. Edward Snowden is a Grey Tribe hero. They revere open source, strongly support an open internet, and it is by no means exaggeration to describe them as free speech fundamentalists.

Greys tend to have nomadic tech industry jobs. Many are freelancers or entrepreneurs. They engage online and don’t congregate geographically as thickly as the other tribes do, except for their noticeable clusters in San Francisco and other technology hubs. They speak in nerd/geek/gamer lingo and signal membership to each other with Internet cultural tropes and catchphrases. All three of the tribes have found a home on the internet but the Grey Tribe is born of the net and has never existed outside of it.

Many of the Grey Tribe self-identify as Blue, agreeing with Blues on many social issues while feeling disagreement with the Blues in areas economic and opposing Blue efforts to enforce political correctness. A few self-identify as Red, strongly agreeing with small government and 2nd amendment rights, but usually feeling strong antipathy or at best ambivalence toward Red social issues like opposition to gay marriage and abortion. Other Greys adopt the libertarian mantle, and many Greys disavow politics entirely. Despite their own failure so far to self label as such, the Grey Tribe does exists as its own independent culture, overlapping in areas but remaining distinct from the Red and Blue cultures.

The Grey Tribe has existed as long as the Internet but in the last few decades a generation has grown up on the internet and on its Grey Tribe culture. The numbers of the Grey Tribe have swelled while the cultural and economic power of the Grey Tribe has also risen along with the power and prestige of the tech industry. Grey industries and cultural products have now entered the mainstream and with entry to the mainstream comes conflict with existing power centers.

The Grey/Blue Conflict

The emerging Grey Tribe is the result of a schism within the Blue Tribe, who have all but won their long war against the tired & woeful Red Tribe. Greys in many ways are moderate Blues, in that they agree with the general Blue cultural positions on gay marriage and abortion but reject Blue economic and cultural extremism. Many of the technology stories of the recent past are best interpreted as part of a Blue/Grey conflict between Grey freedom of expression and moral values.

Classical Grey libertarianism is assailed as “brutalist” by Blue left-libertarianism. The Grey technology industry is mostly fallen to a Blue insurgency war under the cry of “More women in the industry!”. Grey science fiction fandom has been wracked by Blue-instigated civil war. Grey organized Internet atheism has witnessed a breakaway of schismatics in deep Blue Atheism+. And even the apolitical Grey gamers are now under Blue assault.

These varied fights are not separate, they’re the multiple fronts of a single large scale tribal culture war that the Blues are currently waging against the Greys for not being Blue enough. Each of these fronts has simmered independently but of late, especially with regard to GamerGate, the conflict has become so hot that the fronts are bleeding into each other. This war shouldn’t be confused with the mainstream Blue vs. Red culture war, which is all but over, this is a brand new culture war by the Blues against a different opponent and it takes place almost entirely on the Internet.

As they become more aware of the larger picture and notice the other fronts, the Greys will begin to see that each of their fights has deeper stakes and is part of the larger important struggle to maintain their Grey culture. The Blues may have overstepped and awakened a sleeping giant. This war may be what results in the Greys flexing their might and explicitly asserting their independence from the Blues.

Could the rise of the Greys be the rise of a new participant in the thousand year war? Will the Reds survive as more than a southern regional culture if that happens? Will the Blues instead succeed at snuffing the Greys out in their crib?

Stay tuned. It’s an interesting time to be a witness to history.

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