Six months ago I published a piece at Comment Central called ‘Social media and the place (wo)men’ about social media threats to free speech. Since then this topic has become even more pressing, and even more talked about – see, for example, this piece from Alistair Heath in the Telegraph today:
The strategy, for tens of thousands of activists working in digital packs, is to bully, shame and destroy anybody who doesn’t agree with them, who dares to express a different opinion or who fails to signal their virtue appropriately. Ad hominem attacks were once seen as bad form: today they are rationalised using bogus theories.
But commentators still aren’t quite getting what’s going on, so I think what I wrote in that piece is more timely than ever. It isn’t just the online mobs that have brought about the current situation. What we’re seeing is a pincer movement, which has two arms. The Twitter mobs are one arm, but the other is the placemen. Or the placewomen. The place(wo)men, if we’re writing like a pretentious academic.
The left has put a lot of their people into strategic positions in institutions, Universities, charities, companies, government departments, and so on. By ‘strategic’, I don’t necessarily mean the top positions. Big bosses in business these days are often left-leaning, but usually they’re not that left-wing enough to really be bothered with this stuff. They’ve got companies to run. Bosses of charities and government departments, on the other hand, are more in to this stuff themselves. And almost everyone under 50 at a modern University is a Believer. But mostly we’re talking about positions where a talentless leftist can bring influence to bear, such as in the HR department. They’re the ones stifling dissent and setting things up.
Once the setup is ready things can swing into action, with the pretext of a Twitter mob. A Twitter mob gets going — I say ‘mob’, but often it’s just a few people — and the place(wo)men can go into action putting the last piece of the scheme into action. You will have seen this a lot recently, when you see a news story that says “The complaint from a twelve-year-old girl that sparked a massive change in how company X does its business’, or ‘The tweet from an innocent student that led to the downfall of Hollywood star/politician/company director Y’.
The lone tweet mentioned is never the real cause. After all, leftists complain about normal stuff millions of times a day every day on Twitter. No, all the pieces have been put into place beforehand, and then the place(wo)men will look for a suitable tweet to light the blue touchpaper with, to make it look as though this was a completely spontaneous, grassroots thing.
So yes, Twitter mobs have some power. But not as much as you think. It’s the use they’re put to by the place(wo)men that’s the real problem. The pincer movement is where the crushing power lies.
Update: A good, related post at Ace of Spades:
He notes that in the old days, people communicated about these interests [ie. comic books] on message boards. But leftwingers began seeking out moderator positions on these boards, and then would only permit their leftwing friends to become moderators.
Once they were in control of moderation, they began purging every single non-leftwing non-SJW commenter from their sites. Or at least the ones who didn’t learn to be Silent …
Now, why does such a minor thing as comic book message board moderation matters? Well, because at the same time, Social Justice Warriors within the company — hired to appease Social Justice Warrior agitators at Buzzfeed, Jezebel, the Mary Sue, etc. — began agitating to take the company full SJW.
When Marvel started experiencing poor sales, the Social Justice Warriors claimed that turning white characters black, male characters female, and straight characters gay, while filling every story with loads of clumsy, blunt leftwing political messaging, would attract a New, Better, Woker audience and bring sales to new heights.
Now, back to that purge-of-non-SJWs-from-fan-message-boards: When Marvel Comics now looks for evidence about this theory, they naturally look to fan message boards for either support or refutation of the theory.
And what do they find there?
Well, now that the only people permitted to comment there at all are all SJWs, they find that the theory seems to have a lot of support behind it. Why look — on all these comic book message boards, everyone’s just ga-ga for more leftwing politics in superhero comic books!
The higher-ups at Marvel Comics don’t know the secret about why these message boards are all Full-On SJW, and the SJWs within the company don’t share that information with them.
So– Marvel Comics decides, hey, we looked at “the data,” and this SJW Plan sure seems viable!