They’re coming for you next: While the bulk of blacklisting going on right now in America is coming from the left with the goal of silencing their opposition, the control freak nature of our society is doing harm to many others for sometimes the stupidest of reasons.
Today’s blacklisted American falls into this latter category. On January 21, 2021, Will Wilkinson, a writer at the very liberal Niskanen Center think tank in Washington, was fired because an apparently conservative twitter mob had complained about a very stupid tweet he had sent out. The wording of the tweet, sent the night after Biden’s inauguration, was ugly, without doubt: “If Biden really wanted unity, he’d lynch Mike Pence.”
Wilkinson claimed in his apology that the tweet was a very bad attempt at satire, making fun of both the left and the right, both of which had expressed at some time or another real anger or hate for Mike Pence. It didn’t work, which is not surprising considering the mindless emotional nature of Twitter. Instead, at first glance it looked like he was sincerely calling for Pence’s lynching.
As noted by Glenn Greenwald at the link,
During the Bush and Obama years, Wilkinson worked at the libertarian CATO Institute but, even then, he was not much of a libertarian. As he himself explained, he is far more of a standard-issue neoliberal that one finds everywhere throughout DC think tanks, the op-ed pages of large newspapers, and the green rooms of CNN, just with a bit wonkier style of expression and a few vague libertarian gestures on some isolated issues. That self-description was in 2012, and he since then has become even more of a standard liberal during the Trump era, which is why the Paper of Record made him a contributor opinion writer where he published articles under such bold and groundbreaking headlines as “Trump Has Disqualified Himself From Running in 2020.”
In other words, Wilkinson is a moderate liberal whose track record does not justify him being fired for one dumb tweet.
No matter. He wrote it, it bombed as satire, it caused a mob with pitchforks to gather against him, and his think tank employer fired him. So much for freedom of speech in America. It now looks like the New York Times might blacklist him as well.
What this story teaches more than anything is the wisdom of staying off Twitter. Its format encourages short, brainless, and snarky rudeness with little thought or content. You post commentary there and you are almost certain to downgrade your thinking to that of a three-year-old. Which in turn will spark a mob of other three-year-olds to attack you in kind.
In the end, no one benefits, and the intellectual standards of our culture simply decline.
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