Twitter Backs the Black Bloc: Why That May Be Bad News for Free Speech

A black bloc rioter smashes a window at a protest in the United Kingdom last year.

A legal confrontation has been a long time coming. WeSearchr, a crowd-funded journalism company founded by Chuck Johnson, was suspended from Twitter this week after posting a bounty for information on the masked assailant who sucker punched Alt-Right activist Richard Spencer in the face on camera, and then ran off. The other bounty they posted around the same time was for the identity of another member of the black bloc who lit a female Trump supporter’s hair on fire.

For posting these bounties, WeSearchr’s Twitter account was suspended. Seeking the identity of criminals was a bridge too far. Now the company is suing Twitter.

As Johnson told The Daily Caller:

It’s interesting that we’ve had a bounty up to identify the killer of DNC staffer Seth Rich for months and months and no one seemed to think that was at all beyond the pale, we didn’t hear a single complaint about trying to solve that crime

The Spencer bounty is very similar, we’re just trying to identify the perpetrator of a violent crime. Could it be that putting a bounty up on the killer of a Democrat is OK, but putting up a bounty on the puncher of a Trump supporter isn’t?

One of the ironies of the modern Left is the alliance between corporate America and violent black bloc anarchist groups like the antifa crowds rioting this weekend in the District of Columbia. For those who don’t know, “antifa” is a term for so-called “anti-fascist” street thugs who have always been more active and violent in Europe (where they even enjoy the funding of the state), but whose presence in the United States has increased dramatically over the past few years.

WeSearcher was banned from Twitter for posting a “bounty” on the man who allegedly punched alt-right personality Richard Spencer in the face.

Far-Left college professors inspire their insipid students to join the ranks of these antifa groups with tales of the evils of corporatism and capitalism, but ultimately antifa groups simply provide cover for the corporate Left to push the Overton Window in the direction they desire. Increasingly in the Trump era, antifa are also enjoying the moral support of the media.

This is why one of the more amusing moments of Friday’s riots came when antifa rioters smashed the storefronts of Bank of America and Starbucks—both of which were major donors to the Hillary Clinton campaign. When corporate America’s pet antifa groups attack a Bank of America, they are committing violence against their patrons, but also giving those patrons some plausible deniability.

But companies like Twitter and Facebook don’t seem interested in plausible deniability anymore.

Beyond the “Fake News” Narrative

In the weeks immediately following Donald Trump’s victory in November, two key developments ensued on social media. One was the mass banning and suspension of many of the influential twitter accounts that undeniably helped propel Trump to victory. The other was the narrative, pushed by the establishment media, that “fake news” spread on social media had stolen the election, and that in order to prevent this scourge upon our nation, social media companies needed to crack down on whatever they defined as “fake news.” (You can listen to a longer discussion of this growing problem with yours truly on the Seth and Chris Show here.)

The fake news narrative never really took hold in the mind of the public, and the usual suspects abandoned it, instead turning to the new Red Scare as a way of explaining away their own failure. But Twitter continued to ban users who had effectively used their social media brands to help counter the liberal media narratives about Trump throughout the campaign. Some had their accounts reinstated, and some did not. But it’s undeniable that a purge mentality exists at Twitter, and it exists because they know that their platform was used to help elect a man they hate, on a platform of issues that they despise. This was the social media election, and Donald Trump couldn’t have won without Twitter—a fact that must drive Jack Dorsey mad.

But “stand athwart!” say the old-fashioned conservatives. Twitter is a private company. Don’t they have the right to ban anyone they want from using their services?

This is an extremely short-sighted view, given the digital world in which we now live.

Google is also a private company. Let’s say that you used Google to search for “American Greatness,” but Google had decided not to give a platform to sites they considered to be trafficking in hate speech and counted American Greatness among those guilty of this “crime.” If you Google something and it doesn’t appear in the search results, does it even exist?

Similarly, Twitter has come to function as a kind of public square for political discourse. If you’re denied a platform by Twitter, do you even exist? Or, just as Stalin would “unperson” and disappear his political opponents, haven’t you been unpersoned and disappeared by the corporate apparatus of Cult-Marx America? It’s clear to me that in order for free speech to remain free in the digital age, Twitter must be treated as a public utility. At the very least, this is a serious discussion that thinkers on the Right should be having.

This particular instance of the suspension of a right-wing Twitter account is instructive because it indicates where Twitter’s corporate SJW allegiance truly lies: in this instance, they took action to protect violent, criminal members of the black bloc, the militant wing of the corporate Left, the pet attack dogs of the system. And the Left looks after its own.

Those of us on the Right should never forget this—and while we may not be able to bring ourselves to imitate their classless tactics (for good reason), we should never forget what it is that we’re fighting, or the lengths to which they’re willing to go.

As for whether it’s morally justifiable to punch a “Nazi,” Alex Griswold had a pretty good take on it over at Mediaite from a classical liberal perspective. My position on this is pretty self-serving: to the black bloc, as well as to Twitter, I’m probably just as much of a Nazi as Richard Spencer. So is Donald Trump, so is Steve Bannon, so is Chuck Johnson, so is anyone to the right of Hillary Clinton. I don’t want to live in a country where it is considered legally and morally permissible for me or my friends to be punched in the face.

So as long as the establishment media promotes moral equivalence between the president and actual white nationalists, why pile on? Conservatives who punch to the right on this issue are just giving the Left permission to commit political violence against them. Similarly with Twitter: when you say that it’s okay to ban political speech you disagree with, you’re giving the people in charge permission to do the same to you.

This is what we should have finally learned in the past few weeks, if we hadn’t learned it in the past few years: the corporate Left will try to silence you, the militant Left will try to harm you physically, and the establishment media Left will tell your fellow Americans that it is all justified.

Even though our man is in the White House, the system is still rigged. Don’t get too comfortable: we’ve got a long way to go.

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About Marjorie Jeffrey

Marjorie Jeffrey is a PhD Candidate in Political Theory and International Relations and a veteran of Conservative, Inc. You can connect with her on Twitter @MarjJeffrey.