In the ultimate display of irony-averse stupidity, Fraud News Network CNN threatened an American citizen on this fourth of July. The occasion was the now-infamous GIF tweeted out by President Trump, which shows Trump tackling and beating a wrestler on Wrestlemania. Except instead of showing the wrestler’s face, CNN’s corporate logo is substituted.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
As it happens, this GIF was not made by President Trump’s social media team. Instead, credit for it was first assigned to an anonymous (former) Reddit user who went by HanA**holeSolo, though since the CNN debacle, that credit has been called into question. Nevertheless, it’s the “former” in “former Reddit user” where CNN’s hideous fall begins.
Grasping that it had virtually no chance of shaming the wealthy and powerful man who’d tweeted the GIF, CNN instead decided that they would target HanA**holeSolo for personal destruction. The network went to the trouble of tracking down other, even less PC posts of his, and (this is the key part) then dug up his identity and threatened to release it if he didn’t shape up. And I’m not making that up. The CNN” journalist” responsible, former Buzzfeed bottom feeder Andrew Kaczynski, posted an article gloating about his investigative process, and stating that while he wouldn’t release HanA**holeSolo’s name due to the fact that he “is a private citizen who has issued an extensive apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again…CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”
In other words, nice life you’ve got there, would be a shame if something were to happen to it, now grovel and don’t cross us again, you little s—tposting freak.
To give credit where it’s due, the reaction to this utterly inexcusable behavior has been almost entirely negative from all sides of the aisle. On the Left, Vox’s German Lopez tweeted, “I can’t emphasize how bad this is on CNN’s part. This is basically ‘don’t post stuff we don’t like or we’ll dox you.’ Extremely unethical.”
From the Right, no less than two members of the United States Congress, and Senator Ted Cruz, have denounced CNN the at time of this writing, along with more journalists, commentators, bloggers, and anonymous Trump fans than this author can count. There has been speculation that legal action could be taken against CNN, and many of the denizens of 4chan or Reddit are already gearing up to target the network in a show of retaliation.
Good. It is all warranted.
But while we cheer the likely storm that CNN will reap for this flagrant abuse of its power, let us also not pretend that this is some isolated incident. It is revealing, for instance, that one of CNN’s (mercifully few) defenders was none other than New Republic editor Jeet Heer, who said it was “interesting conservatives see [HanA**holeSolo] as a victim” because he “wrote about wanting to stab Muslims [and] used the n-word about a black child.” When pressed on this obvious attempt to paint certain thought crimes as deserving of Maoist media repression, Heer incredulously asked, “Do you think publically referring to a black child as a ‘n*****’ is a thought crime?”
The answer to that latter question is so obvious it scarcely needs to be stated. Yes, using racial slurs is a thought crime. As the play Inherit the Wind teaches us (and you’d think a Leftist like Heer would’ve read or seen it), a person being persecuted for choosing to speak what he thinks is functionally identical to persecuting that person for thinking. No matter how distasteful those thoughts are, persecuting them in an actual court, or blackmailing and harassing them in the court of public opinion, is obviously trying to sneak ideas of thought crime in through the back door.
I say this only because Heer’s theory of who can and cannot speak has often gone suspiciously unchallenged, and now should finally be confronted after CNN’s abomination of a story. It shocked me, for instance, to see that even after the CNN story came out, multiple “conservatives” began to preen and virtue signal about how they had “no sympathy” for HanA**holeSolo because he was such a vulgar, meme-making punk.
Further, it was disgusting that there was no conservative outcry when multiple incoming Harvard students had their admissions offers rescinded earlier this year for posting what were undeniably distasteful, but nevertheless relatively tame memes relative to what you can find on the darker corners of the Internet. It seems that people who otherwise would see the blatant suppression of viewpoints inherent in this kind of thing lose their capacity for sophisticated political thinking when memes are involved, even if the targets of their public obloquy are anonymous teenagers at just the age when smart-but not-yet-wise people play with extreme ideas.
One conservative, who shall remain nameless, even argued to me that anyone who indulges in vulgarity is incapable of being excellent in the sense favored by a meritocracy. This argument can so easily be dismissed by reference to the massive number of vulgar comedians or tastemakers with Ivy League degrees that it scarcely bears mention. Further, anyone who can argue with a straight face that Harvard would have rescinded admission to students who posted equally vulgar memes attacking, say, President Trump, or white people, or cissh*ts, or whatever group is the target of the Left’s two minutes hate this week, is begging to have a bridge sold to them.
And this is why, for the dainty and easily offended souls who were willing to indulge Leftist repression so long as it was meted out against those damn, vulgar memers, CNN’s vicious behavior should be a wakeup call.
For along with everything else, we must admit that HanA**holeSolo was not targeted by CNN because he had posted racist or anti-Semitic things (though he may well have done). He was targeted because he had the gall to create a meme mocking CNN that was so funny that the president of the United States may have adopted it. For his trouble, he was blackmailed and continually trotted out as a captive to denounce trolls in the same way Otto Warmbier denounced the United States. Just like in North Korea, he and the 10 Harvard admittees were targeted because they had done something that embarrassed a Leftist institution, which then attempted to cloak its viewpoint suppression in the gauzy folds of virtue signaling.
Except this isn’t North Korea. This is America. And the one thing CNN got right before it lit its own credibility on fire was that in America, we do have free speech, and that is a precious heritage worth defending. No matter how vulgar, no matter how racially insensitive, no matter how offensive to whatever taste we happen to possess, free speech is free speech, and private citizens should not be subject to blackmail or censure by massive, life-threatening institutions simply because they choose to speak what they think.
In short, after the #CNNBlackmail incident, we are all HanA**holeSolo. I only pray that we will have no occasion to forget it.