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The Martyrdom of Jesse Kelly

The Martyrdom of Jesse Kelly

Jesse Kelly has been banned from Twitter.

If you are not on Twitter, none of this will be of any importance to you. You may not even know who Jesse Kelly is, unless maybe you recall my piece about him a few months back. To get you up to speed: Jesse is a Marine combat vet, former Congressional candidate, and bombastic right-wing commentator. He has appeared on Fox News and has his own radio show. I wrote about him when he and I had a short debate on Twitter and one of his followers infested my inbox with vile insults and bad grammar.

Kelly is his own brand. He is known for his suggestion that the United States should amicably break up, with a new civil war the only other option. He has a penchant for violence-as-metaphor, once imagining himself on a battlefield taking the scalps of his liberal enemies.

With opinions like these (and him being like 7 feet tall), he is a lightning rod. His Twitter account, chock full of decidedly hawkish, Alpha He-Man takes, amassed something like 80,000 followers. Women want him and men want to be him, as they say. You can imagine both the weeping and the gnashing of teeth when his fans heard that Twitter had banned his account.

It is not clear what exactly caused Twitter to ban Kelly. I don’t follow him, but enough people do that his tweets make their way into my timeline every day. I’ve never seen a directed threat or anything ban-worthy. Offensive and controversial comments, most definitely, but nothing that I would call worthy of capitol Twitter punishment. In handing down the death sentence for @JesseKellyDC, Twitter simultaneously created a martyr and shot themselves in the foot. The move only amplified Kelly’s presence, as his followers began hash-tagging “free Jesse Kelly” and changing their avatars in support. His name was trending within hours of his removal. Some deactivated their own accounts in solidarity. Thus, the platform managed to confirm a conspiracy theory among the right: Twitter is out to get conservatives.

This idea that Twitter is an anti-conservative bastion of liberalism was bolstered by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s admission of the platform’s “left wing bias”. Kelly’s ban followed the ouster from Twitter of far-right luminaries such as Laura Loomer and Alex Jones. Few were sad to see Loomer and the odious Jones go; nevertheless, many people expressed worry that Twitter’s unfair silencing of extreme right view points was a step in the direction of muzzling even more moderate conservatives. Kelly himself had warned of the slippery slope.

Luckily for him, it came true. Lest I seem callous, rest assured Kelly also knows that he will come out on top of this, as he writes in his new piece for The Federalist following his Twitter ban. Just as his larger-than-life Twitter persona earned him his own radio show, his martyrdom for the cause of conservative commentary will earn him a wider audience. Indeed, this is just one of probably at least a half-dozen pieces that has or will come out to opine on this situation. And, I would note, Twitter almost always eventually reinstates  “permanently banned” accounts. In the end, it will be a net win for Jesse Kelly.

As I said in my previous piece, I believe that Kelly is, at base, a good person. In fact, I have seen him do good on Twitter. I have seen him spearhead fundraising events and assistance for flood victims. I’ve seen him offer himself as support for struggling veterans. I just happen to disagree vehemently with his politics and find much of his rhetoric over the top and distasteful. But when I ran that essay about my interaction with him, it caught his eye (because, I like to think, he probably does a search of his own name every day). He good-naturedly retweeted the link, highlighting his favorite part of my piece: the part where I said he was good-looking. He even called me an excellent writer- which I chose to take as sincerity rather than further praise for my choice of subject matter.

I do not believe that social media should ban anyone, short of those threatening the physical safety of others.  There are “mute” and “block” features on Twitter that one can utilize, should one find it necessary to live in an echo chamber. But whether a simple byproduct or by design, this ban is nothing more than free advertising for the Jesse Kelly brand.


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Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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110 thoughts on “The Martyrdom of Jesse Kelly

  1. Corporations can do whatever they want. Sell our data to China, give away our location to our ex-husbands, put trackers on our phones.

    It’s in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

    More seriously, it looks like Instapundit has deleted his twitter and moved over to Gab in solidarity. Which will do more to normalize gab in the short term than anything else I could think of.

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        • Hrm. Instapundit hasn’t gabbed in 5 months (and a number of the people he gabbed to have deleted their gab accounts entirely…) and that made me wonder about Milo and Milo hasn’t gabbed in 8 months.

          Something happened in the last 5 months, I guess?

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          • Perhaps it’s the natural conclusion of the process Scott Alexander described here:

            The moral of the story is: if you’re against witch-hunts, and you promise to found your own little utopian community where witch-hunts will never happen, your new society will end up consisting of approximately three principled civil libertarians and seven zillion witches. It will be a terrible place to live even if witch-hunts are genuinely wrong.

            It certainly seems consistent with stuff that’s been going on with Gab in the past six months or so.

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            • Oh Scott Alexander. How does he manage to be spot-on but wildly wrong at the same time? If you read this article, Scott Alexander basically thinks Wolf Blitzer is Danton and Jack Tapper is Robspierre.

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                • Hey Imma let Saul finish, but first lemme butt in and say what I think Alexander gets wrong.

                  He acknowledges that conservatives fled the public square of shared information because the information wasn’t to their liking.

                  But argues that it was hostility from liberals that forced them to do it.

                  The way I remember it, conservatives spent about thirty years alternately pleading, demanding, suing, legislating, and literally praying for greater fairness in mainstream institutions, and it was basically all just hitting their heads against a brick wall. Then they defected to create their own.

                  No, they didn’t want “fairness”.
                  I was there, I was part of it, one of the voices Scott remembers hearing.

                  We didn’t consciously want bias in our favor, but we wanted the media to portray a world which we thought was correct but wasn’t.

                  The whole fuss over the cultural canon for instance, is premised on the idea that the cultural hierarchy of the early 20th century American gentry was somehow the default existence for the entire world; stories that were told from another point of view were biased.

                  Even to this day, the world as it is depicted by Jon McNaughton or Ben Garrison is what they believe is the objective unbiased truth of existence.

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                  • We didn’t consciously want bias in our favor, but we wanted the media to portray a world which we thought was correct but wasn’t.

                    It’s mostly dropped off the list of salient political controversies, but it wasn’t all that long ago that Creationism was a pretty significant front in the Culture Wars [1]. I’m not sure that means Alexander is totally wrong, but there are some problems with his line of argument.[2]

                    [1] Something this surprisingly interesting Michael Gerson piece reminded me of. It’s oldish but I just read it.

                    [2] MSM outlets tend to contort themselves out of an interest in fairness in a way that antagonizes liberals while doing nothing to mollify conservatives. I tend to dismiss appeals that boil down to, “If you’re taking fire, you’re over the target,” even before I notice how fucked up the actual coverage can be. “Come, see the exotic Trump Supporting Rube in its natural habitat: Maude’s Diner in Shamblesville, Ohio.”

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                • This passage:

                  FOX’s slogans are “Fair and Balanced”, “Real Journalism”, and “We Report, You Decide”. They were pushing the “actually unbiased media” angle hard. I don’t know if this was ever true, or if people really believed it. It doesn’t matter. By attracting only the refugees from a left-slanted system, they ensured they would end up not just with conservatives, but with the worst and most extreme conservatives.

                  They also ensured that the process would feed on itself. As conservatives left for their ghettos, the neutral gatekeeper institutions leaned further and further left, causing more and more conservatives to leave. Meanwhile, the increasingly obvious horribleness of the conservative ghettos made liberals feel more and more justified in their decision to be biased against conservatives. They intensified their loathing and contempt, accelerating the conservative exodus.

                  I think the first paragraph is true but the second paragraph is wildly off. There is no sane way to look at the MSM especially big 24/7 news networks and say they have gone very far to the left. MSN has some liberal shows in the evening block but they also have Hugh Hewitt on to provide balance. Their morning hosts are center-right NeverTrumpers. CNN clearly hates having to take a side during the Trump years and wants to go back to when they can just do scopes, access stories, and the Horserace because that requires less actual reporting.

                  I think the MSM is taking more of a role in calling out Trump’s lies but they still refuse to use the word lie and it is only because Trump bullshits all the time. There isn’t anything left-leaning in saying “Firing tear gas against refugees seeking asylum violates international law” because it violates international law.

                  But Scott Alexander is so loathe to admit that liberals might be right or have a point because it goes against his independent inconclast intellectual brand ™. He also doesn’t want to offend the really hard right but can write complete sentences part of his audience. So he makes it seem like Fox News is a mistake but mainly because CNN just announced the reformation of the Committee for Public Safety and then did a sing-a-long of the Internationale in English and Spanish and then put the clenched fist in their logo.

                  It is just as revealing as when the Quillette editor admitted that there probably was a right-wing version of identity politics and PC but she did not care because “Ewww liberals have cooties” sums it up.

                  In short, he might not like Trump but the Quillette and Alexander’s brand of politics is also anti-Liberal and anti-anti Trump.

                  Or as a former OTer observed large chunks of libertarians and libertarian-sympathaziers hate liberals more than they love liberty.

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                  • It is just as revealing as when the Quillette editor admitted that there probably was a right-wing version of identity politics and PC but she did not care because “Ewww liberals have cooties” sums it up.

                    Quote, please.

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                    • COWEN: Probably in the media? In general, intellectual life, but if you take, say, the United States as a whole, do you think it’s left-wing or right-wing political correctness that’s stronger and more destructive?

                      LEHMANN: Yeah, it’s probably right-wing political correctness.

                      COWEN: That’s worse?

                      LEHMANN: Yeah, but what I know and what I come up against in my life is left-wing political correctness because I live in an urban center, and I mix with people who are doing their PhDs. I have friends who are academics, and I’m interested in open inquiry.

                      If you restrict open inquiry on universities, then I’m going to stop paying attention. If you’re talking about on a national scale, it’s probably right-wing political correctness that is a bigger problem.

                      COWEN: Can you imagine a Quillette of the future that has more articles criticizing right-wing political correctness, albeit outside of academia, than left-wing political correctness?

                      LEHMANN: Probably not.

                      https://medium.com/conversations-with-tyler/claire-lehmann-tyler-cowen-political-correctness-social-norms-australian-culture-e52e2c08c629

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                      • So, she is concerned with the PCism in her field and its destructive tendencies but acknowledges that there are other things one could, and should, worry about.

                        Not seeing an “Ewww liberals have cooties” there. Just the opposite, a Don’t Stare Into the Abyss vibe.

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                        • She admitted that right wing PCism is a bigger problem nationally (you know where laws and regulations are passed and all) but she is more concerned with a campus crusade run by overeager 18 year olds without power. Or with a rude comment at a dinner party.

                          This strikes me as revealing.

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                  • My theory is that the American Right grew so pathologically ideological during the Cold War that even non-partisan commercial reporting looks extremely liberal to them. They are so utterly convinced of their truth, they can’t stand disagreement on even the most minor point.

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                    • They are so utterly convinced of their truth, they can’t stand disagreement on even the most minor point.

                      This is a pretty accurate of just about any political faction. Lots of politically involved people treat the mere act of advocating for an opposing policy as de facto bad. I’m not sure how much explanatory power that has in regards to the American right.

                      My competing theory is that Conservative movement got just about every substantive thing that it wanted. Communism was defeated as a global force. Orthodox economic theory no longer favors the command economy. Tax and regulatory burdens have been lowered. With all of that exhausted and too little investment in new policy ideas, the only thing keeping the movement going is culture war.

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                  • But Scott Alexander is so loathe to admit that liberals might be right or have a point because it goes against his independent inconclast intellectual brand ™.

                    Yeah. I mean, here’s an interesting clue he misses:

                    Stanford historian Robert Conquest once declared it a law of politics that “any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing”. I have no idea why this should be true, and yet I’ve seen it again and again.

                    There’s a really obvious reason for this (pre-Trump): The American people are much more liberal about most things than the actual current system is.

                    Conservativism (As says in this thread) got everything it wanted, by which he means all the non-cultural war stuff. That is, the party itself got what it wanted. But not because Americans shifted to their positions. Even ‘conservative’ Americans aren’t conservative in that way. Conservative Americans are conservative in the sense they have strong opinions on a bunch of cultural war stuff, but they still want their kids to have health insurance instead of crippling student loans. And they want rich people to pay a lot of taxes. And they’d like their lettuce not to kill them. And various forms of gun control. And that there are jobs for them. And that the banks are kept from crashing the economy, and other regulations. (Seriously, who the _hell_ was in favor of repealing the fiduciary rule? Literally who wants that besides investment firms?)

                    That is the reason that non-political groups of people drift into ‘left-wing’ ideas, because a lot of those ideas aren’t actually ‘left-wing’. They’re just sorta what everyone thinks. This isn’t some vast conspiracy, this isn’t liberal college professors, this is just people generally think that way.

                    To be clear, I’m not claiming all ideas are good ideas. They’re so incredibly vague it’s not even possible to judge. And people wanted Prohibition, both of alcohol and drugs, and it’s becoming clear for a while that the second Prohibition was just as bad an idea as the first. My point is how that is how most people think: Vague thoughts that ‘The government should do this thing, fix this wrong, help those people’.

                    For many people, left and right (Although more on the right because the right has been encouraging this for decades, so that it can instead do things people don’t want.), this view is then ‘filtered’ through some specific ideas of who should be entitled to participate in that society. And not, for example, ‘welfare queens’. Or by how those things are unworkable, or how accepting those things will result in more important things, like they will get jobs if only those pesky regulations would get out of the way.

                    But most everyone, even people on the right, still _want_ those things, even if they don’t think they can get them. So ‘How do we get those things’ will be a place that topics of conversation go! It’s not actually weird at all.

                    This means that, to people who are politically savvy in general, lot of conversations, which are apolitical to the people having them, sound amazingly liberal. Surely this must be liberals politicizing neutral spaces! Except it’s not. What actually happened is that conservatives sorta moved the Overton window so far to the right that they left non-politically-savvy people behind

                    I mean, I live in a very conservative area. Not just a conservative state, but a conservative area of a conservative state. I hear ‘extremely liberal’ ideas presented by supposedly conservative people all the time. Like…instead of all this ‘obamacare’ and ‘socialized medicine’ and ‘single payer’ nonsense, these stupid partisan solutions, the government should just…cover the cost of health care if it’s more than, like, a thousand dollars a year. Unless the person is making a lot of money. Like, scale it to their income. (While I stare at them oddly and hold my tongue.)

                    And then: Trump. And everything I just said became somewhat invalid. I mean, it’s all still true. But now there is specific _anti-Trump_ sentiment on top of ‘vaguely liberal ideas’. That actually is a real thing, an actual political thing, and it is indeed is invading previously neutral spaces.

                    There’s a really obvious reason for that, though: Trump is trying to do a lot of horrible things that a lot of Americans feel are out of bounds.

                    People have _always_ been willing to ‘violate our norms’ about general political neutrality if the government was doing horrible things. It’s just, in the past, the amount of people who thought that was happening was, like, 0.001% of people. (And most of that was conspiracy theory nutjobs offended by objectively untrue things.) Now it’s closer to…20%?

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              • Oh Scott Alexander. How does he manage to be spot-on but wildly wrong at the same time?

                I love how he thinks that GamerGate was ‘originally’ some legitimate movement that a bunch of horrible people latched on to.

                No, GamerGate was ‘Hey, let’s be horrible’ politically-neutral situation that a bunch of far-right ‘personalities’ glommed onto because being horrible to people played extremely well with their audiences. Hell, the original thing didn’t have anything to do with ‘liberal bias’ at all. It only _became_ that after the movement became right-wing due to the aformentioned horrible right-wing personalities. Before that point, it was a swirling mass of incoherent nonsensical hate aimed at a couple of women.

                Rabid Puppies, meanwhile, was at least about liberal bias, although not in ‘sci-fi’, but in the Hugo Awards. Except, of course, the idea that there was ‘bias’ by the voting population of that is…sorta inherently stupid, when you think about it. That’s not so much ‘bias’ as the ‘the people who vote for the Hugo Award have a particular type of story they like’. That’s not how ‘bias’ works.

                And before anyone goes ‘But, wait, the left constantly complains about bias in the Oscars and stuff’…yes, and what they complain about is the selection of the voters for that. The Motion Picture Academy is not only invitation only, the membership is a _secret_, and it’s mostly a bunch of old white guys. Granted, they tend to be _liberal_ old white guys, but still. The left are not happy with that, and are trying to change the composition of the voters.

                The voters of the Hugo Award are Worldcon. Anyone can go to Worldcon and vote. It isn’t any sort of ‘bias’ that they like a certain type of story. What the Rapid Puppies did there was…annoy the voters by figuring out a way to get only stuff on the ballot that the voters didn’t like, and even if they had liked it they didn’t particularly like how it had been done, so the voters…voted ‘None of the above’.

                That’s not even a culture war thing, that’s just…pissing off a sci-fi convention.

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                • Scott Alexander is living evidence of Orwell’s proposition that “some things are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.” He is very bright and analytical but he has his sympathies. This causes him like many other bright intellectuals to be more gullible and less skeptical than he should in certain situations. Scott clearly has sympathies to young heterosexual men that are struggling sexually and romantically. When he sees a movement even vaguely based around this demographic he gets all dewey eyed.

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                • I love how he thinks that GamerGate was ‘originally’ some legitimate movement that a bunch of horrible people latched on to.

                  No, GamerGate was ‘Hey, let’s be horrible’ politically-neutral situation that a bunch of far-right ‘personalities’ glommed onto because being horrible to people played extremely well with their audiences. Hell, the original thing didn’t have anything to do with ‘liberal bias’ at all. It only _became_ that after the movement became right-wing due to the aformentioned horrible right-wing personalities. Before that point, it was a swirling mass of incoherent nonsensical hate aimed at a couple of women.

                  Yes, Gamergate was instigated and prolonged by a bunch of semi-professional and hobbyist alt-right trolls. But underneath all of that was a basic gentrification issue. A lot of people felt that the space to which they had retreated to escape certain kinds of social status games was being colonized by people who explicitly wanted to play those social status games. Rightly or wrongly, people get possessive of space, both physical and social. That is really not a hard thing to understand unless you’re trying very hard not to.

                  The fact that some people will do everything that they can to deny this very obvious fact just demonstrates Alexander’s point, which is that people selectively employ empathy and understanding to boost the status of people that they like and lower the status of people that they don’t like.

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                  • …the space to which they had retreated to escape certain kinds of social status games was being colonized by people who explicitly wanted to play those social status games.

                    That sounds like a terrific sci-fi plotline.

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                  • Nah, Gamergate is Terrible Nerds badly dealing with the face with Nerd Stuff becoming more mainstream, Less Terrible Nerds now have the choice of talking to Normies instead of Terrible Nerds about nerdy stuff, thus making it harder for people to drop them as friends when they act like Terrible Nerds.

                    I mean, if you want to call the idea of, “hey, how about not using terrible slurs in online chat and being terrible to just about every woman you run into, including gatekeeping her and oh yeah, instead of 100% of gaming being aimed only at your demographic, we’re going to take it down to 75%,” gentrification, then OK, you have fun with that.

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                  • I find it very hard to believe that there was no social status games in fan circles before nerd culture became mainstream. From my brief participation on the periphery of fandom, there was a lot of social posturing and social status games. The nerds that were farthest away from normal and who devoted the most time to the hobby in terms of organizing events, cosplaying, making models, or whatever else had the highest status. People who approached fandom more casually had less status.

                    The new entrants into fandom might have wanted to play social status games that the older members did not like but nearly any human group is going to involve social posturing and status games.

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                    • Why should I have empathy for a bunch of people who acted like a bunch of five year olds who didn’t want to share their toys?

                      At least the five year old has the explanation that they’re five.

                      I completely get their reasoning. I just think it’s bunk. Hell, I have more empathy for racist Trump voters in rural Wisconsin than I do for Gamergators who are upset they’ll have less anime boobs in their video games.

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                      • You should not do anything that you don’t want to do, but herein lies the disconnect:

                        You see empathy as something you deploy selectively based on how much the person in question deserves it. I see empathy as something that I deploy because it helps me understand the world better.

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                        • The limitation is that it may help you understand their motivations, but it’s of limited use when their feelings are rooted in bizarre misapprehensions. C.f. the conservative culture warriors who interpreted teaching evolution as “liberal bias”.

                          Of course, with GamerGate this is further complicated because there was so much bad faith on the part of the Gators that I’m somewhat skeptical that there was ever any good faith to be found.

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                        • Is this a good time to confess that everytime I’ve tried to figure out what Gamergate is/was/should-have-been I come away with no idea what Gamergate was.

                          I feel like I should have a position, but I’m totally serious when I say that I have no idea what you all are talking about… even after trying to figure out what you all are talking about.

                          Its weird. Like having a favorite Football team in the Premier League weird. I feel like I’ve failed at comboxery.

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                          • My explanation of what Gamergate was is completely different from Jesse and DavidTC’s.

                            My explanation involves the concept of entryism and discussions of the so-called “Mean Girls” social control tools and the people that they work really well against and the people that they don’t really work well against.

                            Clarkhat wrote an essay about it back in 2014.

                            But, keep in mind, I’m one of the wrongthinkers on the site. It’s probably better for you, socially, to take Jesse and DavidTC’s explanation at face value. I mean, Clarkhat isn’t even allowed on Twitter anymore.

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                            • That’s OK. Erickson has picked up the thread of Pinochet fanboyism, and I’m sure some other big-name conservative will be along to advocate for a genocidal campaign of germ warfare against Muslims before too long.

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                              • I still think of Erickson as the RedState guy who, when push came to shove, thought that Fiscons (and their cousins the Libertarians) were the unnecessary part of the coalition for the future.

                                I mean, I suppose he was right… now that I look back on it.

                                I don’t know if he’s being just as much of a visionary now as he was then or if he’s grasping at relevancy.

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                              • What’s interesting is to extrapolate current trends into the future.
                                Specifically, the mancrush the Trumpists have on Russia, and the Russians nostalgia for Stalin, the ur-Putin.

                                National Review article, circa 2020: “Stalin Reconsidered- Tyrant, or Swamp-Drainer?”

                                Powerline essay: “Katyn Forest- The Soros Connection!”

                                Glenn Reynolds: “That Guy Blocking a Tank in Tianmen Square- RUN HIM DOWN!”

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                      • “Why should I have empathy for a bunch of people who acted like a bunch of five year olds who didn’t want to share their toys?”

                        Surprised to see you claiming that the idea of cultural appropriation is bullshit…

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                  • Yes, Gamergate was instigated and prolonged by a bunch of semi-professional and hobbyist alt-right trolls. But underneath all of that was a basic gentrification issue. Rightly or wrongly, people get possessive of space, both physical and social.

                    Not ‘instigated’. It was instigated by an asshole making up random obviously-false claims that really had nothing to do with politics. That was seized by, as you say, people who were ‘possessive’ of their space who now had justifications to attack someone they’d seen as invading their space. That was the start.

                    The semi-professional and hobbyist alt-right trolls (and some left-wing trolls, too.) showed up slightly later….and sorta helped some existing Gamergate people escape into the wider alt-right.

                    That is really not a hard thing to understand unless you’re trying very hard not to.

                    Oh, I understand it. I just don’t think their behavior or this justification is acceptable. Heck, they appear to know that’s unacceptable as a reason, hence them making up a different public reason.

                    Why? Because people can’t just lay claim to an entire leisure activity they currently participate in. The ‘gamers'(1) of Gamergate weren’t upset about a group coming into their forums or even in their online gaming. They were upset about a group that also seemed to think they were gamers, mostly because they too played those things called ‘video games’. Or they…thought they had the right to buy video games or something. Or that a video game magazine dared to try to interact with those people.

                    This isn’t gentrification, where existing people are pushed out. This isn’t even…cultural theft or misappropriation. Each individual game, like any work of art, could have a community around it, sure. There have been things, purchases of franchises or companies, where the existing player base got pissed off when a franchise turned into something else, and maybe in some sort of framework that could be a legitimate complaint that existing players had a claim to that, and something was taken from them. I’m not sure that really holds up, but at least some analogy could exist.

                    But the whole medium of video games? No. No one gets to own that. That’s absurd. Hell, even if that was ownable, it’s not owned by the _Gamergate_ people.

                    On top of it, they appear to think the people they don’t want, the group that is invading video games, is women, which is factually wrong.

                    First, any supposed ‘claim’ of past possession by men is dubious. The percentage of female video games players has been estimated at between 40%-50% over the past two decades in the English speaking world. Video gaming has always been ‘moderate male bias’, not ‘male dominated’. (And I won’t even get into the fact that men don’t get to exclude women from traditionally male-only spaces without a very good reason. Because, like I said, this _wasn’t one_.)

                    Second, almost all the small recent gender shift to slightly more woman then men playing video games (Which the news media likes to report breathlessly) was not due to women starting to play the games that these ‘gamers’ think are important, it’s about women now playing games on their phone or Facebook or whatever.

                    The ratio of women to men playing the only video that these ‘gamers’ think count, the AAA action games, is basically exactly same as it’s always been, even if that ratio is higher than they probably realize.

                    So, yes. I understand their complaint in the sense that I follow what they are (not) saying. I get their secret motives and their sense of what is going on. I get all that. It’s just really stupid.

                    The funny thing is, there is a ‘gentrification’ going on, in that new players are actually moving into AAA video games and changing them. At least at some level. But it’s not women. It’s _young people_. So it’s less ‘gentrification’ and more ‘the inexorable passage of time causing the next generation to replace us’.

                    Current young people want video games about different things with different sorts of characters in them. They want games where they can play as someone besides a white straight male, and where other such characters exist in the game. They want games with diversity and other stuff in them. Yes, even straight white young men think it’s slightly more interesting to have diversity.

                    And so video game companies can make money by doing that. They get more audience than they lose. They’ve been on top of this trend for basically two decades. You can go back in time and almost see the progression, from changable gender of the main character, to a gay couple to the side, to perhaps a single gay romance option for the main character, to more of them, then basically everyone is bi, and here’s a trans character, etc, etc.. It’s nothing to do with women playing more games…it’s to do with generational turnover, the average birth year of video game buyers.

                    Gamergate’s problem, of course, is even assuming they understood this (Which I don’t think they do) is that complaining about how video game companies are cateering to young people sounds…dumb. Also, the idea that ‘old people’ somehow own video games is kinda surreal. I mean, _I_ am aware that older people play video games (Like, uh, me.), that a lot of people who grew up with video games never actually stopped and kept that as a leisure activity. But it would be a very strange objection to present to the public.

                    Granted, complaining about women playing video games sounds almost as silly, which is why they had to invent other complaints.

                    In fact, I’m not really sure why I should have to understand their dumb concerns if they’re too ashamed of them to state them publically.

                    1) In quotes because they don’t get to speak for all gamers.

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                      • Ed Note: This comment was resurrected after being lost in the server migration.

                        If you look carefully, the allegation was that she _got positive reviews_ of her game for her alleged behavior. You do remember the whole ‘Ethics in journalism’ concept, right? That somehow there was an _ethics violation_, and not just random attacks on a woman for supposedly having an affair?
                        She did not, in fact, get a positive review. At all. No such positive review (Or any review) by the man she supposedly slept with, existed.

                        Hence my point about it being ‘obviously-false’. This isn’t, like, some debatable thing.

                        In case you’re wondering how on earth such a delusional idea somehow _founded_ GamerGate, how the premise, the entire concept of the thing, was literal nonsense: What actually happened was an anti-Zoe-Sharp piece was dropped into a group of assholes that already hated Zoe Sharp, and they read a long list of people she allegedly was sleeping with, and noticed one of them was a video game reviewer, and they already knew she was a video game programmer, so just leapt to the conclusion she’d had sex in exchange for a good review.

                        They didn’t bother to check if he’d actually ever reviewed anything she’d done at all. He hadn’t.

                        They sorta managed to salvage some of this because, before this alleged affair had started, he’d done a piece on the failure of a gaming reality TV show she was involved in, and quoted her blog. Which I guess means…he should have disclosed he was going to date her in the future and otherwise…can’t use her publicly available blog as a source?

                        Oh, but, wait, but while they were together, he wrote a list on another website that included her game…in a list of 50 other indie games that was basically just a list of ‘currently popular indie games and what platform they were written in’.

                        And, of course, if there had been an ethics violation, it would have been on the part of the _journalist_, not the person supposedly having sex with him to supposedly influence his story. Whereas, I bet most people, even those who keep up to date on this, don’t know his name.

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                          • That first one is in 2012, which well before any of this. She didn’t even start dating _Gjoni_ until November 2013.

                            Heck, even the January 2014 on is actually too early to fit into any sort of ‘affair’ framework, but that is the list of 50 games I mentioned. I guess he did, subjectively, call the game ‘powerful’ and ‘darling’, so…okay. If she was having a relationship with Grayson at the specific time, which the guy who literally accused her of the relationship said she wasn’t, I guess that would be inappropriate? Or…not really. That seems a thin thread to require a disclosure for, even pretending there already was something going on.

                            Like I said, they basically just…forgot to check if there was a review. The group hated Quinn with a fiery passion, and wanted something real to attack her for, and ‘She’s a game developer, and she slept with a game reviewer! It must be some ethics violation, she slept with him for a good review, yeah, that sounds good!’ happened and they moved on, and later everyone started looking around and going ‘What the hell review are you talking about?’, and they had to scramble to sorta just…look for mentions of Quinn in anything Grayson wrote.

                            It’s like some sort of hyper-incompetent conspiracy theory. Like a 9/11 Truther theory that plane that crashed into the White House was an assassination attempt on Bush by Cheney, and everyone else just looks around confused and says ‘Uh, what plane that crashed into the White House?’

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                            • Hey, y’know, just keep doing that thing where you argue that situational ethics are Good Actually, that the appearance of impropriety is meaningless, and that if the stakes are small then moral behavior is unnecessary. I’m sure that’s gonna go great places for you.

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                                • Absolutely. There was also a stink where a guy got fired following giving a game a review of 6 out of 10 even though there was a Full Press Ad Campaign on the review site.

                                  More recently (and humorously), IGN gave Fallout 76 a rating of 5 out of 10.

                                  The joke is that the game is so bad, it doesn’t even appear on IGN’s 7-10 scale.

                                  Edit: From The Critic:

                                  Duke: Why the hell do you have to be so critical?
                                  Jay: I’m a critic.
                                  Duke: No, your job is to rate movies on a scale from good to excellent.
                                  Jay: What if I don’t like them?
                                  Duke: That’s what good is for.

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                              • Hey, y’know, just keep doing that thing where you argue that situational ethics are Good Actually, that the appearance of impropriety is meaningless, and that if the stakes are small then moral behavior is unnecessary.

                                Uh, actually I argued that the chronological passage of time is relevant, and people cannot disclose relationships that do not exist yet.

                                Gjoni, the person that alleges Zoe Quinn cheated on him with Nathan Grayson, also alleges this cheating happened April 1-6th 2014. To quote him, the person who literally started all this: ‘To be clear, if there was any conflict of interest between Zoe and Nathan regarding coverage of Depression Quest prior to April, I have no evidence to imply that it was sexual in nature.’ (Gjoni’s original post had a confusing sentence saying that she cheated on him with a string of men, including Grayson, starting in later March, and then later clarified the relationship with Grayson started in early April, it was the other men in March.)

                                And thus an article posted by Grayson on January 8 2014 would have _not_ been while he was with Quinn. Likewise, the article posted in 2012 is also not while he’s with Quinn.

                                The actual article supposedly held up as to when he would have been ‘with’ Quinn is this one: https://kotaku.com/the-indie-game-reality-tv-show-that-went-to-hell-1555599284

                                That was published March 31, 2014.

                                Now, assuming everything Gjoni said is true, that article might need a disclosure on it, because the end of it quotes Quinn’s blog heavily, and if they were already together, even without specific ‘cheating’ having happened, it would need to be disclosed.

                                Except, no. It seems incredibly weird that Gjoni specifically seems to know the cheating, _at earliest_, started the next day, but might have started later. That’s a weird thing to specifically know and Gjoni is a liar who’s been manipulating stuff to start with and I don’t believe his earlier accidental confusion which caused Gamergate to latch on to this proof and ignore his later ‘clarification’. I suspect the cheating happened days later and Gjoni is just pretending to be unclear when it did, but wants to outright avoid saying it had already started when the article was written, which could be considered libel.

                                He’s _very carefully_ lead people to think ‘This is a violation of journalistic ethics’ without actually saying so, and in fact he’s literally saying the opposite. As he’s explicitly admitted when he talks about putting the fact Grayson worked for Kotuko in there. He doesn’t mention who anyone else works for.

                                In the real world, Kotuka investigated and seemed to have accepted his claim that he was not with Quinn at the time, even if he was after.

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                            • If the argument is that she traded sex for reviews, I agree. that totally did not happen and anybody who says that it did is unable to provide an example. I suppose that we should be pleased that nobody is arguing that there was coverage exchanged for anything.

                              (And, indeed, if coverage was exchanged for stuff before she even met that guy, I don’t know why that guy would have been upset when he found out that she cheated on him. What a thin-skinned guy.)

                              What the whole thing did seem to do, however, was unearth a weird set of conflict-of-interest and cronyist kinda relationships between all kinds of Tastemaker types.

                              And there is a weird tension between the Tastemaker types and the self-identified “gamers”.

                              The tension still hasn’t been resolved.

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                              • What the whole thing did seem to do, however, was unearth a weird set of conflict-of-interest and cronyist kinda relationships between all kinds of Tastemaker types.

                                I mean, sure. Maybe some of the gaming review world is too chummy with people in it, although I will point out we’re actually talking about a _free online game about depression_, or Zoe Quinn getting some PR, none of which actually seems…harmful in any real way.

                                This is opposed to the _really obvious_ conflict-of-interests of paying-for-good-reviews-with-ads that anyone who had as much as glanced toward the gaming industry had to shield their eyes from the blinding nuclear glare of. In the past, gaming magazines literally had contractual agreements where, in return for early access or ad buys, they promised good ratings to games that people then went and bought. (I.e., wasted money on.) Hell, Driv3rGate was just a decade before all this!

                                ‘Hey, some woman maybe got free press because she was sleeping with the writer of an article’ is so far down the list is not even funny. People get all sorts of bullshit free press all the time because they manipulate systems. I’m not saying that’s what Quinn did, but it’s not some _important thing_ even if it was entirely some sort of plan.

                                And this wasn’t the only time Gamergate hyper-focused on sex instead of actual scandals. For example, they tracked down the fact that a man at PC Gamer was dating a woman at Ubisoft. This…didn’t really lead much anywhere, PC Gamer hadn’t had him reviewing Ubisoft games already because of that, but when this became public barred him from any Ubisoft coverage at all, and made better rules, and said he should have disclosed this in some past articles. So, Gamergate had a useful victory and changed something for the better. Now some disclosure rules are better. Good.

                                But it’s weird how Gategamer basically had nothing to say about the _actual_ Ubisoft ‘scandal’ that happened just a few months earlier, where Ubisoft gave reviewers free tablets so they could review Watchdogs using them, which had some add-a-tablet-interface gimmick. Just…handed them out for free. And those reviewers then turned around and gave what…a lot of people consider unreasonable good ratings to that game. (Hilariously, Watchdogs is what the Driver series evolved into. It got sold, and renamed, and reworked due to that.) I put ‘scandal’ in quotes because the gaming media didn’t treat it as one, and in fact barely talked about it!

                                Corruption has _scale_, all instances of it are not equally important. In the end, a single writer with a slight bias is just that, a single writer. Paying off the entire industry with free gifts or free travel or ad buys is an entirely different level. Gamergate could have gone in and blown that wide open, it was exactly the right time and right existing level of exposure, and had been studiously ignored by the gaming media.

                                But worrying about who is sleeping with who allowed Gamergate to dig through the private sexual lives of a woman, which was waaaay more interesting to them than actual systematic corruption.

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                                • This is opposed to the _really obvious_ conflict-of-interests of paying-for-good-reviews-with-ads that anyone who had as much as glanced toward the gaming industry had to shield their eyes from the blinding nuclear glare of.

                                  I’m pretty sure that that was already a scandal. Indeed, even now there are jokes about how AAA games that only get an 8.9 must be execrable. (That’s what Gamespot gave Doom 3, oh a million years ago.)

                                  I put ‘scandal’ in quotes because the gaming media didn’t treat it as one, and in fact barely talked about it!

                                  Yeah. The gaming media was more or less held in contempt. Still is, as far as I can tell.

                                  But I can also say that one of the big problems coming up is with the Tastemakers now having influence not on how games are rated, but on how they’re made in the first place.

                                  There’s this new hyper-Protestantization going on within the Tastemakers and they’re telling game designers that the new games have to be Christian Games or else they’ll be painted as whatever the modern version of “Satanic” happens to be.

                                  When the Tastemakers were merely giving Doom 3 game scores of 8.9, that was baked into the cake. (See the quote from The Critic about the rating scale Jay Sherman was expected to use. This has been around for a while.)

                                  It’s the “gaming needs to change according to our new worldview” that caused somewhat of a problem.

                                  Now, it’s somewhat self-correcting… there are a handful of game companies that I could point out that followed the Tastemakers’ New Rules that weren’t rewarded for doing so in the same way that games like, oh, Fallout 76 tend to be rewarded. (And a handful of new games that deliberately are *NOT* hyper-Protestant that are being rewarded in the other direction.)

                                  We’ll come out to the other side eventually and get back to the old problems of EA getting our favorite titles and turning them into phone pay-to-win games.

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  2. I do not believe that social media should ban anyone, short of those threatening the physical safety of others.

    This is a forlorn hope as long as social media businesses depend on people wanting to their platforms, and which make their money by selling their users eyes, clicks, and “engagement” to their customers, while using the content that those users generate to attract other users.

    It’s possible that Kelly was not a sufficiently obnoxious hairball and that Twitter made a bad business decision by banning him. It’s also possible that they would be better served by being more transparent about the process they use to decide who to ban (but in the latter case I seriously doubt it).

    But the basic purpose and structure of social media is at odds with them being essentially free-for-alls with a commitment to the “free speech” of their users.

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  3. I remember when Sgt. Samuel Doe pulled a successful coup against the government in Liberia. I was shocked that someone that low on the totem pole could pull something like that off.

    It seems as though their are those in the U.S. who would like to do Liberia one better, and be led by Cpl. Jesse Kelly.

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    • For some reason, I had assumed that Kelly was a Marine officer and I was a bit confused by his shtick, because all the Marine officers that I’ve known have been pretty smart, pretty self-aware guys. The lower enlisted Marines that I’ve met… well, that’s a different story. So this makes more sense to me now.

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  4. I know nothing about Jesse Kelly, far less than you do, so this is not at all particular to him.

    However, I have observed the following behavior, and not just from right-wing people:

    1. Be “edgy” and “controversial” to drive viewership.
    2. Push the boundaries constantly.
    3. Veer over the boundary and get yourself censured somehow.
    4. Use your martyrdom to drive more interest and viewership.
    5. Repeat

    Often, when they describe how they got banned, the omit really important details of why they got banned, and claim martyrdom. I’ve seen this so much I glaze over at these reports.

    That said, Twitter is doing this all wrong. And that’s because they’d prefer not to do it at all. But there is a tragedy of the commons here, and they must do it. So they do it all wrong.

    What I think they should do is articulate clear standards, with smallish penalties – suspension, not termination, for instance – and administer them immediately.

    But that probably costs too much money, so they will be complaint driven and slow to respond, and basically ruinous.

    I’m glad you enjoy Twitter, and I hope you are able to keep doing it.

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    • 1. Be “edgy” and “controversial” to drive viewership.
      2. Push the boundaries constantly.
      3. Veer over the boundary and get yourself censured somehow.
      4. Use your martyrdom to drive more interest and viewership.
      5. Repeat

      Often, when they describe how they got banned, the omit really important details of why they got banned, and claim martyrdom.

      This is the most thorough and concise description of Jim Acosta I’ve seen.

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      • One reason I think allegedly respectable conservative Bluechecks get so bent out of shape whenever someone like Kelly faces even mild consequences for being an edgelording drip is that they understand that the way to get attention and ultimately professional and financial success is to anger (“trigger”, “own”) as many people (“libs”) as possible, and then complain about how irrational the people they’ve been deliberately antagonizing are.

        This is also why I basically dismiss complaints about how social media platforms are too eager to ban conservatives or censor them or whatever.

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