Earlier this weekend notorious right-winger blogger and professional troll Chuck C. Johnson was banned from Twitter after he began soliciting donations toward the goal of “taking out” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson, who quit his job as a school administrator in Minnesota to join and cover the protests following Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri.
Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on with Twitter’s expulsion of Chuck Johnson.
For at least the fourth time in his sad, shameful, misogynist, racist career, Twitter has suspended the rightwing blogger Chuck Johnson.
This expulsion came after Johnson solicited donations toward the goal of “taking out” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. McKesson, who quit his job as a school administrator in Minnesota to join and cover the protests following Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, says he took the tweet “as a serious threat” and thus a violation of Twitter’s policies against threatening acts of violence. Johnson claims it was not a death threat but rather a call to support “investigative journalism” into McKesson’s past, presumably to discredit him.
Moreover, Johnson is outraged over the suspension, tweeting under a new account @citizentrolling– which a few minutes prior to my writing this sentence has now also been suspended — that Twitter is guilty of “censorship” and writing that the company’s enforcement of its policies exhibits a clear political bias against rightwingers like himself.
“Twitter doesn’t seem to have a problem with people using their service to coordinate riots,” Johnson wrote. “But they do have a problem with the kind of journalism I do.”
I’m struggling to know where to begin in describing the lunacy of Johnson’s argument. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t engage at all with Johnson who has failed to build a career through producing quality journalism or analysis and instead — in what must be an overwhelmingly sad discovery — has found that the only thing anyone will pay him for anymore is to spew hatred at the most vulnerable members of society, in particular rape victims. But his complaints raise some important misconceptions about Twitter, free speech, and who controls what can or can’t be said in the new digital content paradigm.
Now it appears that Johnson is threatening legal action against Twitter for loss of income that would otherwise be generated by his hateful tweets. Johnson emailed me the letter his attorneys sent to Twitter demanding the reinstatement of his accounts, attached in full below. What makes it so absurd is the notion that Twitter is somehow guilty of “censorship” or that the company owes him a living.
I felt this story was worth sharing because Chuck Johnson is perhaps the most famous example of the kind of tactics – namely trolling and/or intimidation – that so many on the right-wing are so fond of employing.