Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The strangest reaction yet to Twitter's revised hateful conduct policy

Ben Domenech
Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist
and Meghan McCain's husband

Image via The Federalist
On Monday Ben Domenech went after Twitter and its CEO Jack Dorsey for revising its Hateful Conduct policy:
This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.
Domenech is publisher of The Federalist and he is Meghan McCain's husband. I will get back to his post shortly.

Addressing transgender people correctly is a simple courtesy. In polite society, we address people as they choose to be addressed. Deadnaming, by the way, is referring to or addressing a transgender person by their birth name.

Conservative Christians, for example, routinely refer to Caitlyn Jenner as “Bruce.” It is a result of their obsession with demonstrating their disapproval at every opportunity. They insist that they have the right to be impolite. I actually agree with them. They have every “right” to be boors. And Twitter has every right to discourage discourtesy on their platform.

Getting back to Mr. Domenech it is necessary to call attention to the fact that The Federalist is the outlet of choice for the lunatic fringe including (but not limited to) anti-LGBT zealots, unhinged conspiracy theorists and a strange assortment of nuts and bolts who will go to their graves believing that Donald Trump is a paradigm for virtue, honesty and integrity.

Zack Ford once tweeted that nothing is too awful for The Federalist to publish. Zack was correct.

I used to think that Domenech was just a cynic. Someone who knows better but who also knows that their is a wide audience for the psychopathy expressed by Federalist contributors but all that just changed. Dorsey has much in common with this crazy contributors.

Monday's piece is titled: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Lied Under Oath To Congress. Shouldn’t That Matter? The subtitle reads (highlighting added):
Jack Dorsey is allowed to lie, and those who push the Trans agenda are allowed to lie, and if you push back with the truth, you eventually find you have no place on Twitter.
I will speculate that Domenech's notion of truth with respect to human sexuality does not conform to evidence-based medical science. Truth to Domenech complies with faith-based religious dogma, possibly the catechism of the Catholic Church.

Furthermore, even if Dorsey did lie to Congress (he did not), that has no relationship whatsoever to Twitter's policy. Indeed, Domenech has just provided evidence that he is personally obliged to be uncivil to transgender people. Twitter's policy makes perfect sense. Domenech's reaction makes no sense at all.
Domenech proves to be a hypocrite:
On Wednesday September 5th, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey swore that he would tell the truth to Congress. He didn’t. He lied. I have the old fashioned opinion that such a lie should matter. It remains to be seen whether Congress agrees.
[…]
…two Representatives raised the issue of a specific violent posting regarding my wife, which had already attracted national attention.
[…]
Dorsey’s answers equivocated on each point. He lied, blatantly, about the details of the matter – particularly how long the image was up (I have the screencaps to prove that). But there was one particular exchange – published in USA Today and elsewhere – which still sticks in my mind today.

“That was unacceptable,” Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “We did take way too many hours to act.”

“Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, asked Dorsey if he’s apologized to the McCain family.

“I haven’t personally, but I will,” he said. He said that under oath.
According to Domenech, Dorsey has not contacted either his wife or him and that is what constitutes the big lie. The length of time that the post was up is not material given Dorsey's admission and Domenech did not provide the evidence that he claims to have to support his accusation that Dorsey lied about it.

It seems to be Mr. Domenech who is the liar.

Domenech is claiming, in no uncertain terms, that Dorsey alleged failure to contact his wife was a lie. At worst, it was a broken promise. There is an enormous difference between a lie and a broken promise. Moreover, we do not know whether or not Dorsey made a good faith effort to contact Domenech's wife and simply failed.
A helping of intellectual dishonesty:
Why is this an issue today? Because so much of our relationship with the wild west of Silicon Valley’s social media enterprises is based on clarity and confidence – a clarity about the rules, and a confidence in the belief that disputed cases are decided with equanimity, blind to the politics of those involved.
What was necessary is an explanation of what Dorsey's possibly broken promise has to do with a Twitter policy that Domenech doesn't like. The rhetorical question is followed by an answer that does not relate to the question but the intended inference is that Domenech has provided a coherent explanation of how the promise and Twitter policy are related.

In other words: Black is green because [gibberish]. So you see, black is really green.

Domenech is claiming that Dorsey did not fulfill a promise. Therefore, Dorsey is a liar; and biased. Therefore, we cannot trust that Twitter will equitably resolve policy disputes. None of that makes any sense. When Twitter fails to neutrally resolve an issue with Domenech, do let me know. Meanwhile all this is just cover for transphobia.
Yesterday Twitter announced they were permanently banning the account of Jesse Kelly, a U.S. Marine, frequent cable news guest, and Houston radio host who also happens to be a contributor to The Federalist. In response, we promoted him to Senior Contributor. You can read his article about being banned here.
“Here” is where Kelly moaned about censorship while waving the American flag. The fact that Kelly is a former Marine is irrelevant. Kelly and Domenech claim that Kelly received neither a warning nor an explanation. If Kelly was not afforded due process then Twitter was unfair and the company should reverse its decision. Domenech has no first-hand knowledge of the issue.

Domenech's post — if we are to believe the subtitle — is not about Mr. Kelly. It is about the “Trans agenda.” After complaining about the Twitter ban of Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy, Domenech writes:
The basis is a new Twitter policy announced this week – one must keep up on Big Brother’s latest pronouncements – that “misgendering” and “deadnaming” are bannable offenses. This policy is going to be a beast to enforce given that the offenses are easy to slip into – even today there will be people who refer to Bruce Jenner, and Caitlyn Jenner has said that isn’t offensive. Twitter has now decided it’s a bannable offense.
Oh come on. Twitter has a progressive enforcement policy. Moreover, if Caitlyn Jenner finds it acceptable to call her Bruce then she will not complain to Twitter. I am unaware of how or when Jenner said that deadnaming her is not offensive. While I am cisgender I find misgendering and deadnaming transgender people to be highly offensive. We do violence to transgender people — who are some of the most vulnerable people in our society — when we treat them in that manner.
Before Kelly’s ban, I knew Jack Dorsey lied to Congress about how Twitter reacts to threats against conservatives – and anyone willing to lie to Congress, especially about something so easy to not lie about, had real problems. What I did not realize until recently is that Jack Dorsey was also lying to his users.
Except that Dorsey did not lie to Congress and Domenech has provided no evidence to support that claim.
Eventually concluding by returning to the transphobia:
Jack Dorsey is allowed to lie, and those who push the Trans agenda are allowed to lie, and if you push back against them with the truth, you eventually find you have no place on Twitter. That’s a line of delineation that in the past put you in the same category as people who were truly abusive rabble rousers.
If Dorsey promised to apologize to Domenech's wife on behalf of Twitter and failed to do so then Domenech has a legitimate gripe. My guess is that there is more to this. Perhaps someone else from Twitter contacted Domenech and that did not satisfy him. I honestly do not know. I could write an entire blog relating to all of the lies that Federalist writers proffer on a daily basis.

What seems to have happened here (and I want to emphasize that I am speculating) are two disparate events:
One:
Someone tweeted something offensive about Domenech's wife in August and Twitter staff were too slow to remove the image of a gun pointed at Meghan. According to CNET:
McCain's husband, Ben Domenech, tweeted that the post had been up for hours and was reported more than 100 times before being deleted. Twitter has had trouble curbing abuse on its platform and often relies on reports and human reviews before taking down troubling posts.
Two:
Twitter revised its policy to call misgendering or deadnaming transgender people hateful conduct.

Domenech has had three months to stew over the offensive tweet aimed at his wife and the possible failure of Twitter to adequately apologize.

Nope. I'm not buying any of this. What really has Domenech upset is issue two which, based on what Domenech has written in the same post, has him in a religious quandary. He is determined to have the “right” to demonstrate his disapproval of transgender people on Twitter.

This is quite petty. If banned users were denied the benefit of due process then they have a legitimate complaint. However that has no relevance to event one or event two. What Domenech seems to be complaining about is not only the revised Twitter policy but his intention to defy the policy and then his expectation that Twitter will be unfair to him.

It seems relevant that I have sent two emails to Domenech. The first was in February, 2017 titled: Factual Error:
In his post re: National Geographic, according to Walt Heyer:
Dr. Richard B. Corradi, a professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, calls transgenderism a “Contagion of Mass Delusion” similar to the hysterias of the 1980s and ‘90s, “junk science” that reinforced hysterical, false stories of satanic ritual abuse and recovered memories.
That is misleading. Corradi hasn't been a faculty member for over ten years. 
I could have worded that better but the point is that Corradi is not a “professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University.” I exchanged email with the department head.

My second email to Domenech was about a month later. It was titled: Profoundly Offensive
Daniel Payne's latest anti-gay piece is intended to portray gay men as menacing child molesters. Then he has the temerity to ask "Are we okay with that?" Seriously? Is that the kind of rhetorical question that you would encourage?

To support his theory, Payne cites three studies which supposedly demonstrate that gay men were molested at a higher rate as children. That may be true but it is irrelevant to the question of whether or not gay men are predisposed to be pederasts. It is a sloppy polemic.

Ample research and information from the FBI have established that most men who molest boys have no interest in relationships with other men. Think Jerry Sandusky. Indeed, the Jenny study demonstrated that gay men are less likely to be child predators than straight men.

This is an intellectually dishonest appeal to stereotype comparable to the notion that black men are determined to rape white women. It should have no place at a serious outlet. One day you might even be embarrassed by its presence at your site.
I did not enjoy the courtesy of a reply. The factual error was not corrected and the piece claiming that gay men are predisposed to be child molesters remains on the site.

Perhaps Mr. Domenech is projecting Twitter's potential enforcement of a policy that Domenech is opposed to. Is the ability to tweet offensive references really that important?

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