Labels, No Arguments and Banning – With Emma Kennedy

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Earlier today I wrote about the outrage inspired by Milo Yiannopoulos’s book deal. And in a twist that will surprise absolutely no one, his book, which is yet to be released, now sits at the top of Amazon’s best seller list. In no small part due to the free publicity afforded to him by aforementioned outrage.

In my earlier piece, I made the following observation:

One of the reasons the left and so-called liberals keep waking up to things not going their way is because at some point they decided they didn’t need to make arguments anymore. Why should they when an inflammatory label and banning someone is an easier option?

 

This brings me to TV presenter and author Emma Kennedy to beautifully demonstrate my point for me. Emma decided to throw out the inflammatory label ‘white supremacist’ when describing and protesting Milo to her 100k strong Twitter following. This tweet has mysteriously vanished even though her staunch defence of it remains:

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So, now that we have the obligatory labelling and ‘no argument’ part out of the way, we progress to the logical finale of ‘banning’:

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But what’s this? An inflammatory label encore. I’m denigrated as a ‘professional troll’ for my questions.

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If Emma has deleted her initial charges of ‘white supremacy’ because she no longer believes them to be accurate, she should publicly retract. Unless she thinks ‘white supremacy’ is so trivial as to excuse casually throwing it around without merit.

UPDATE 31 December 2016

In response to this blog post, Emma Kennedy continues to wave her Swiss Army Knife of regressive tactics, namely: straw men, playing the victim card and outright lying.

The Straw Man

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I would attempt an argument against this mischaracterisation of my blog, but I don’t need to. You can simply scroll up and read what I actually said. Needless to say, crying about being blocked it isn’t.

Playing The Victim

I’m then accused of ‘sending my followers her way’ to specifically be ‘abusive’.

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Here’s a reminder of the tweet I sent:

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I’ve been on Twitter since 2012. I’ve never sent a single abusive tweet. Nor have I encouraged others to do so. In fact, I’ve written a lot about why I think being abusive online is wrong.

Outright Lying

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First of all, had I seen someone in my mentions calling her a ‘cunt’, I would have blocked them. The reason I didn’t see anyone behaving that way however is because no one appears to have called her such a thing:

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I congratulate Emma on being able to fully embody all the toxic traits of the far-left in so few moves.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

24 comments

  • Just seen Peter Ferguson, an Irish liberal and social activist, claim that people who use “SJW” and “regressive left” to label people, tend to be quick to block people.

    However, in my experience, it is the other way around. Those criticised as being SJWs and regressive left are actually the ones quick to block, as demonstrated by Emma Kennedy! Remember, it is they who set up the “block bots”.

    Nice work again, Stephen.

  • I agree with Stephen and Richard Sanderson’s comment above. Milo is a sh*t imo, but I’ve seen no evidence he’s a white supremacist. As Stephen says, that’s not a label to throw around casually. It’s also a difficult one to defend yourself against once it’s out there.

    Those of us who are traditional liberals need to take the label back from the authoritarian left. They are only small in number, but have a very loud voice that attracts a lot of attention – a bit like the far right.

    One of the most important things we liberals fought for was true freedom of speech. It was something that was given lip service to in the past, but often didn’t apply to women, gays, people of colour, non-Christians etc. Now there are many on the left who want to shut down speech they don’t agree with, and I’m really sick of it. They’re no different from those we fought to get equal rights for women. marriage equality, and all the rest.

    All I’ve just written is to basically repeat the theme of Stephen’s posts and podcasts. It’s why we need to continue to support him.

    • freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from reprisals of that speech. blocking you for something you said, right or wrong, is as proper a use of twitter as putting a . in front of a response. to call it shutting down speech is just as dumb as calling something someone says racist.

      stop with all the faux outrage. you can’t call it out on one side and then write whole blogs about how a single woman blocked you because she didn’t want to deal with you at all. who gives a fuck? you have no right to a lengthy discourse explaining her view from her, or anyone. you have no right to having your questions answered in the way you want them to be. you have no right to having your opinion heard by her.

      you have no right to even being allowed to tweet if twitter, a private company, decides it doesn’t want you to.

      stop fucking whining.

      you live in the UK, you have much bigger things to fight with real concern for freedom of speech.

      • Stephen Knight

        At which point did I even hint this was shutting down free speech? At which point did I say people can’t block who they want, for whatever reasons they want? At which point did I suggest Twitter can’t set their own rules? Thanks for coming here to argue with your imagination.

        • my response is to heather, not to you, but in the context of what you wrote because that’s how she framed it. not my fault your shitty website doesn’t show that. did you think i was replying to your “thank you heather”? what the fuck, i thought you were fairly smart.

          the truth is you didn’t argue with heather claiming this wasn’t “true” freedom of speech, you thanked her for it.

        • “All I’ve just written is to basically repeat the theme of Stephen’s posts and podcasts”

          if this isn’t true, perhaps you should speak up about it. i haven’t heard a single podcast, why would i.

        • i’m not annoyed, i’m trying to educate you. you’re floundering around, hypocritically calling people out for the same dumb shit you do.

          but please, ignore it and continue to look dumb.

          the important thing is you get the last word in on your own blog and get rid of ‘reply’. what else matters really?

          • Stephen Knight

            Feel free to quote back anything I’ve said or written and explain why it’s inaccurate or unreasonable. Until then, your tantrum doesn’t make a bit of difference and your incoherant ramblings won’t be published here.

      • You start of saying that “freedom of speech doesn’t equal freedom from reprisal” then say Stephen has no right of reply. Reprisal goes both ways mate. You’re writing rather a lot for someone who doesn’t think it’s a big deal too. It seems like you’re another one who only believes in freedom of speech for those you agree with.

        Oh, and I’m not sure whether you’re referring to Stephen or me as your incoherent rant isn’t clear, but I don’t live in the UK, I live in NZ.

    • I will continue to support him too. This person knows nothing about the spellchecker at all. What a superficial and totally fallacious remark to call him a professional troll. ??? He is a professional anti-troll.

  • I love your blog posts for their content, but also their conciseness. You get straight to the point in an often amusing way.
    cf Jerry Coyne. He too has good content, it appears, but I can’t read him because of his verbosity.

  • Already fed up with the whole “if you disagree with me you’re a fascist” attitude.

  • I’m trying to be understanding of the mentality of people who have responded so poorly the way Emma Kennedy and others have. I understand the outrage at Milo and his ilk. He seems opportunistic and fans the fires of hatred in exchange for money and attention.

    Obviously he’s too smart to say anything overtly racist even if he is. My hunch is that he has zero integrity but knows damn well the kind of people some of his shock tactics appeal to and precisely how to whip his haters into a frenzy. I think the correct response to his incessant trolling is to ignore him. I agree with you completely that the reaction has only bolstered book sales and played into his hands giving him more ammunition to criticise the left and whiney SJWs.

    I think what people have a hard time grasping is the nuance between disliking what people like Milo stand for and the defence of freedom of speech and expression. I saw this furore unfold in real time today and yesterday and one of the repeated themes to their criticism of you seems to be asking (although hardly ever reasonably or politely), “Yeah but WHY defend Milo’s freedom of speech in particular right now?” I can understand that question when it’s not steeped in baseless assertions of bigotry.

    Maybe embedding your defence of his freedom of speech in more specific criticism of him and why you’re not a fan would help get your point across clearer seeing as these people nearly always overlook the part where you say “I’m not a fan/Don’t like the guy”. Though I doubt it will help it is the tiniest display of understanding I can give for the baffling reaction to this. Charges of white supremacy and bigotry need to be backed up or not uttered. It’s disgusting and can potentially ruin lives if taken seriously. The emotive response is understandable but ill considered. Their hearts are in the right place but their heads are in the wrong place (up their own arse unfortunately).

    Also as an aside, this is my first comment (I think). I’ve been listening to your podcasts and admiring your work and clarity of thought over the past two years or so. So thank you.

  • Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, but it does appear from the twitter search image you posted that some individuals did call Emma Kennedy a cunt, though you said that hasn’t been happening. I’m not saying you did the name calling or requested it.

    @F Pentali: Heather didn’t mention blocking at all. What are you on about?

    • Stephen Knight

      All those comments predated my tweets to her and her Milo comments. And appear to be describing others

      • Thanks for the clarification. Neither of those things was obvious, and the the latter still isn’t, but I take your meaning, that “cunting” that preceded your comments couldn’t stem from your followers, even if addressed to her.

  • It actually took me a couple of minutes to appreciate the “labels” connotation in the cover illustration…I really like that. I’ve learned more from the spellchecker’s detailed blogs re: outrageous Twitter folly than anything else I can think of…actually part of the reason why I decided not to even subscribe to Twitter…this site represents free speech and rational thought and secular philanthropy so consistently, it’s why I subscribed to it four years ago.

  • Surprised no-one else has mentioned this yet: why did she say that *men* who blog about being blocked on Twitter need to get a grip? Why only men specifically?

    If she were male and had Tweeted “women who blog about getting blocked need to get a grip”, would it have gone unnoticed?

  • It’s quite adorable how many people have actually based their beliefs on things that they think are “just obvious”.

    Have they heard of flat-earthers?

  • Mitch Benn, a well known comedian on the radio, was vigorously promoting a boycott of the publishers of Milo’s book. I replied with the Chomsky quote:-
    “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

    He didn’t get it. For some reason I was called a “snowflake” for merely suggesting that uncomfortable viewpoints should be published.

    It’s depressing.

What do you think? Leave some comments!