Before yesterday, I'd never heard of Leslie Jones, or Milo.
I'd heard a new Ghostbusters movie was out, but that's about it.
Well, Leslie Jones is an actress who stars in the new Ghostbusters. And Milo is a right-wing, flaming gay writer for the ultra-conservative Breitbart website. And for the record, since this will become pertinent shortly, Jones is black, and Milo is white.
And yes, you read that right about Milo's sexuality and politics: His name is Milo Yiannopoulos, and he's a Roman Catholic, pearls-and-rhinestones-wearing, loud-and-proud homosexual activist who hates Islam, advocates against ultra-feminism, and embraces the Republican party. And he's not just a Log Cabin Republican, with a button-down Oxford dress shirt over a rainbow tank top. Milo flaunts his sexuality in virtually everything he does, and writes.
And yes, he writes passionately about his distinctly unique worldview. It's a worldview not unlike Donald Trump's, to whom Milo refers saucily as "Daddy." Blatantly narcissistic, entirely unconcerned with how he might offend others, and convinced (or trying to sound convinced) of his own innate legitimacy.
Consider just a brief portion of his now-infamous Ghostbusters review, which he brazenly entitled "Teenage Boys With T---."
"I went into Ghostbusters with a clear and impartial mindset, like some tall, slim, and devastatingly handsome statue of justice. (But no blindfold. It would be a crime to cover up these eyes.) Ugh, I don’t know what to tell you. Ghostbusters is terrible. It’s more obvious than the reading on an EKG-meter in Zuul’s bedroom... The beloved franchise from our childhood with a stake driven through its heart, head chopped off, body burned and buried at a crossroads... Ghostbusters, the film acting as standard bearer for the social justice left, is full of female characters that are simply stand-ins for men plus a black character worthy of a minstrel show..."
It gets raunchier, but you get the point. Indeed, this is not your father's GOP fanboy. Conventional liberals consider Milo a conundrum at best, and a turncoat at worst. How could a guy who stereotypes say should be left-wing actually be so right-wing? Talk about radical.
For her part, Jones is a comedienne who plays on NBC's Saturday Night Live, and has worked her way up through the entertainment industry moonlighting in occupations as various as a UPS driver, justice of the peace, and an interpreter, even though she only speaks one language.
And as a black woman earning a living as a comedienne, Jones has adopted a particularly stilted persona on the social media website Twitter, posting such bombastic tweets as the following:
Ok…black republicans? (blank stare), isn't that an oxymoron emphasis on "moron" #needemojitoexpressblankstare #thoughtitwasamyth #unicorn— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) August 27, 2014
Lord have mercy…white people s--- [my editorializing on the S-word]— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) February 9, 2015
She's posted more stuff like that, but you get the idea.
So anyway, you put two people like Milo and Jones on the same website, and let them duke it out with tweets, and you can imagine the stuff that gets posted online for all the world to see.
But then, a few days ago, Jones cried foul, and Milo's Twitter account got deactivated. And many pundits within the liberal media industry are elated. One more conservative voice silenced, and on the politically-correct Twitter to boot.
After all, Twitter is a for-profit company, not a public utility or a branch of the government. It can set its own policies for how its customers use its product, and it can do what it wants with its customer's accounts. Violate the user agreements on any social media platform, and the company owning that platform can revoke your privileges.
As popular and ubiquitous as many social media platforms have become, a lot of us forget virtually all of them are privately-owned and controlled. And apparently, in this case, Twitter's user agreement states that it will not tolerate the "targeted abuse of individuals" on its platform.
For its part, as a proud provocateur even before Milo came along, Breitbart has wasted no time plastering its website with articles seething with rage at Twitter's treatment of its rising star, Milo, and complaints of censorship. It's almost beside the point that Milo's tweets (which we can't see anymore, since his account has been deactivated) were directed at one person, Jones, whereas in many of the racist-sounding tweets chronicled by Breitbart, Jones rarely calls out any one individual for her brand of excoriating humor.
Shades of difference, perhaps, but it looks like there's enough of a difference for Twitter to feel justified in its banning of Milo, without a similar action against Jones. And if that's how they want to parse their user agreement, I guess that's Twitter's call. At least, unless Breitbart wants to sue.
Yet, doesn't the duplicity already seem obvious here? Sure, there are laws against defamation of character, which include libel and slander. But is what a movie reviewer considers a good review of a bad movie defamation? And can what a professional comedienne considers humor be defamation?
That would be for a court to decide. Meanwhile, it sure appears as though for all of its sanctimonious lip service to free speech, plurality, and progressivism, the arch defenders of political correctness are whittling away the First Amendment whenever what's said under the First Amendment doesn't suit their ideology.
Remember when so many Americans burned flags during raucous protests around the country? Many conservatives wanted to ban flag-burning, considering the act a despicable lack of patriotism. Yet isn't flag-burning actually a robust (albeit misguided) demonstration of the vitality of the First Amendment, upon which our patriotism is based?
Sure, a person who burns the flag is saying more about their personal lack of appreciation for the entirety of what our flag represents. And it also underscores how little the demonstrator knows about how good they have it in this country... such as having the very right to desecrate one of America's basic symbols.
At this point, you may be wondering: What does flag-burning have to do with Twitter's deactivation of Milo's account, which is reported to be permanent? His account has been temporarily deactivated twice before, a history which is fueling the debate over Twitter's actions, which look like an egregious violation of free speech. Legally, since it remains unclear if Milo's tweets are legally defamation of character, don't we have to give him the benefit of the doubt?
And if we don't, and we say that private enterprise can self-police the activities they deem appropriate with their product, do you see what that means?
If Twitter can censor Milo, why can't cake bakers respectfully decline business that doesn't honor their religion? (Even if progressivism and its intolerant tolerance is becoming its own religion these days.) What about photographers who say their faith prevents them from photographing a gay wedding?
I'm not sure what Milo believes about gay marriage, except some of the things he's written seem to indicate that he's not entirely convinced gay marriage is essential for homosexuals to feel like a legitimate part of American society.
Ironically for Milo, this third - and apparently final - account deactivation is the latest in a string of Twitter-involved conflict in his life. Last year, at an event he was headlining in Washington DC, a bomb threat was tweeted in and the FBI evacuated the venue, only to find no bombs.
It doesn't appear as though Twitter deactivated the account of the bomb threat tweeter. Instead, the account was deleted by its user hours after they'd tweeted their threat.