Censorious Mobs

Articles are now being retracted and journalists forced to resign for expressing opinions that upset Twitter mobs.

The opinion expressed is on such a trivial, ridiculous subject and the objections to it are so childish and pouty that it’s stunning that a journalist would get censored over it. It’s even more stunning that nobody seems to care much. This can touch absolutely any of us at any time. If we accept that it’s ok to let social media mobs silence people at whim, there will be nobody to defend us when this happens to us. We need to push back against aggrieved mobbing.

This is a very serious issue. All of us need to pay attention and take a stand against it.

5 thoughts on “Censorious Mobs

  1. I’m honestly kind of surprised how powerful transgender issues are. People express all sorts of opinions every day, offend all sorts of people, and offer all sorts of ill-considered articles. But transgender issues seem to be the ones that writers are currently risking the most danger over.

    I can think of any number of topics where the level of tangible harm at stake is higher than in this case (in the end, we’re arguing over a cinematic portrayal, not over the treatment of immigrants or the rules for police shootings) and yet people express unpopular opinions without the same level of risk. That’s not to say that they never get criticism, never have a hard time being published, etc., but at least they know that if their opinion piece is out there they don’t have to worry that the publication will subsequently back down in the face of protest.

    Yet on this issue, people are terrified. Why? What makes this issue so powerful?


    1. This issue goes to the heart of the neoliberal dogma that humans are gods unto themselves and that everything should be subject to individual choice. People see their whole worldview being put into doubt. It’s like making an Evangelical doubt Jesus. It’s so intimately terrifying because it’s the only religion left, the only dogma. I say therefore I am what I say. I exist therefore I shop. The world ceases to have meaning if you doubt this dogma.


      1. For some people it’s definitely about that.

        I also think that signaling virtuous concern for a tiny minority is much less threatening to neoliberalism than supporting efforts to help larger numbers of people. In the end, helping tiny groups is cheaper than helping large groups. And encouraging the proliferation and fragmentation of identity labels undermines solidarity. (I never thought I’d sound that Marxist.)

        And it’s an easy game to pull off, because the public is (naturally, understandably, and to a large extent nobly) sympathetic to small, vulnerable groups.


        1. You are right because virtuously adding pronouns to one’s email is a trivial, easy act. Everybody does that and talks about that but how often we hear about housing discrimination for trans people, for instance? And that’s a real issue that causes real harm.


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