Bill Cosby’s ashiest defenders have always stood by their hero with the worst, most ridiculous defense, that Cosby was targeted with dozens of accusations of sexual assault to stop him from buying NBC. Never mind that his net worth was nowhere near what was needed to pull off a deal on his own, or that the original allegations against Cosby predated news that he was interested in NBC by decades, or that by the time Cosby was actually tried in Pennsylvania, NBC had long since been sold to Comcast. To his supporters, it all fit.
So Kanye West is handing his supporters a gift: he’s about to buy Parler. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is, that’s because you don’t scrolling platforms that traffic in hate speech ain’t your preferred method of time-wasting. The social media platform was founded in 2018 by George Farmer, a British entrepreneur otherwise best known for being Candace Owens’ husband and bills itself as a venue for free speech of the sort that platforms like Twitter won’t allow. Translation: you can spew all the violent, misogynistic, racist and homophobic nonsense you want on Parler without violating its rules and having your account suspended or terminated.
That makes it easy to understand why West wants to buy it: after spending the past few years in an open relationship with anti-Blackness and tormenting his ex-wife on Twitter, ‘Ye went too far last week with a round of anti-semitic and other hateful comments that got him temporarily banned from Twitter and Instagram (not to mention potentially getting him sued for defamation by the family of George Floyd and having N.O.R.E., of Drink Champs fame, out here apologizing for giving dude a platform).
Finally facing the prospect of accountability for what comes out of his mouth, ‘Ye is doing the only thing that makes sense to someone used to having no guardrails (like his friends Donald Trump, who owns the bigly failing social platform Truth Social, and Elon Musk, who’s been in a legal fight over buying Twitter itself). He wants to buy a platform he can control with little to no possibility of repercussion, no matter who he offends or repulses.
Ye is following what, at this point, is a well-rehearsed script, and some of his supporters are bound to applaud. The thing is, they don’t all have the same motivations. At worst, West is a bad actor, a troll playing on the worst instincts of folks so obsessed with celebrity and clout that even tearing down the culture that built him can be forgiven over empty superlatives (He’s a genius! He’s a billionaire!) At best, he’s the next in line among a lineage of deeply disturbed Black men (see: Walker, Herschel), who, in lieu of accountability for destructive behavior and treatment for their mental health issues are instead surrounded by enablers and being co-opted for their fame.
‘Ye’s purchase of Parler, if it happens, is another chapter in that sad book.