Twitter be on that bullshit.
This was the first thought that crossed my mind when I received a notice that Twitter had suspended my account for a tweet about your traitor-in-chief, Donald Trump.
Now, did I really think that Twitter, a social media organization consisting of thousands of employees, was actually high after smoking bullshit?
Of course not!
It’s what people with brains know as a metaphor. And I think I know what a metaphor is, not just because I’m a writer, but because I own a fucking creative space in Los Angeles named—wait for it—the Metaphor Club.
So yeah, this shit all began when I responded to a post by political commentator Ezra Klein, who was tweeting about the GOP support of the soon-to-be impeached Orange Creamsicle. I wrote this simple tweet…
“The Democrats need to hang Trump around the necks of every GOP politician. And I mean hard.”
That’s it. A simple political metaphor. And yet, Twitter was like, “Nah, that shit is violating our rules against abuse and harassment.”
OK, bet. Maybe this was a mistake, and I was caught in some artificial intelligence algorithm that somehow equated my use of “hang” with the literal usage, in the same way that Marmalade Mussolini earlier in the week called for Congressman Adam Schiff to be convicted of “treason” in a tweet, where we all know what he meant.
Maybe once I appealed it, I thought, then Twitter would recognize that one was a figure of speech, while the other was a threat backed by the power of the most powerful idiot on the planet. A Twitter where California senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris urged Jack Dorsey in a tweet to suspend the Russian asset’s Twitter account over intimidating tweets directed at the Ukraine whistleblower.
Alas, but no. My appeal was denied in less than 30 minutes and I was told that in order to get my account back in good standing, I’d have to remove it. As though I’d done something wrong.
But here’s the issue: The small man in the big office has used Twitter as a weapon against his political enemies since its inception. And to say that he hasn’t violated the Twitter terms and conditions around abuse and harassment enough to justify that his account suspended is laughable. The vitriol spewed is designed to harness his power and Twitter is a willing co-conspirator in this.
Now all of this would be a minor annoyance if it didn’t center around my own speech. I write books and lecture on college campuses about white supremacy and systemic racism. If Twitter hasn’t hired enough humanities majors to inform its artificial intelligence algorithms to recognize the difference between a metaphor and the literal, how in the hell is it going to understand the difference between a tweet talking about deconstructing and dismantling white supremacy and a white supremacist?
The answer? It can’t.
It can’t guarantee that Cheeto Jesus unblocks me, insuring my free speech to call this dude a Tiny Handed Baby, even after United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled unanimously that he do so.
But it can give me a warning once my account was reinstated, saying that if I do something they don’t like in the future—maybe using similes in my tweet might be the justification—then they’ll permanently suspend my account.
All of this speaks to a world where the confluence of free speech and technology ain’t free enough for those of us who understand nuance. Especially on a platform built on the hypocrisy of allowing a man with a third-grade vocabulary to break its rules on an hourly basis.
And when the history of the Screaming Carrot Demon’s presidency is chronicled, we’ll be less interested in the vomited utterings of the Tangerine Tornado than what Twitter did to stifle the legitimate speech of regular users protesting his inane policies.
And we’ll all think they were on some bullshit.
By the way, where’s my blue check?