With the rise of overlord thought police media figures deputize themselves as enforcement officers.
The New York Times ran a piece recently about a social media platform that is growing in popularity. Initially, the app Clubhouse may sound like a step back in communication evolution; it allows users to gather and speak with each other on audio. So it is a variation of the conference call. The rise in its use makes some sense in the age of Zoom pandemic meetings, as this allows select teams to gather and speak freely and openly.
According to the New York Times, this is a problem. The Times wrote about all of the issues behind it and then sent out this promotion on the piece.
Unfettered conversations are taking place on Clubhouse, an invitation-only app that lets people gather in audio chatrooms.
The platform has exploded in popularity, despite grappling with concerns over harassment, misinformation and privacy.https://t.co/zeVeHlAZy3
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 15, 2021
Before even getting into the article, there is so much at issue in just this one tweet. They actually declare free expression is a bad thing. It is an astounding stance to start, but for a media outlet to be upset over open expressions is disturbing. Also, the irony is these ‘’concerns’’ they list off are coming primarily from one source; themselves. As we will see, they are the ones doing the initial complaining, and then use any resulting outrage to justify reporting on what they instigated.
As for that image, it is more than apt. I know it was placed as an illustration of Clubhouse, but it more accurately displays the infantile practices that are in play at The Times. This is not a case of an offense springing out of a discussion, creating a furor, and the paper reporting on the effects. They are actively seeking out the offenses and then touting the individuals involved, blowing their whistle on supposedly offensive content. And guess who is determining what is considered offensive?
This coverage of the Clubhouse freedom issue is just the latest example of The Times pulling on the social Hall Monitor sash. In looking to root out supposed misinformation they turned their focus to encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram. Michelle Goldberg last month wrote of the Big Tech shutdown of President Trump that there could be danger in this execution, but she could not hold back from praising their actions, including the shutdown of Parler.
Now Clubhouse is in their crosshairs, with The Times sending their favorite social scold out on the case, Taylor Lorenz. Co-Written with Erin Griffith Lorenz goes into details of individuals who have incurred aggressive behavior from users on the app. There is no quadrant of the web that does not have these bad seeds (the YouTube comment section is infamous for this reason) so highlighting them as emblematic is operating in bad faith. But Lorenz goes so much farther in her efforts.
Taylor has made a name for herself as a self-appointed advance team for thought police enforcement. She has become renowned for her hectoring reports of wrongthink taking place, something she actively takes part in. Go back and note that tweet from the Times, where they stipulate that Clubhouse activities are ”invite-only’’. This means Lorenz has either been an active participant or, just as likely, she has wormed her way in anonymously, looking for trouble. She has been locked out of meetings at times, something she has complained about, and she also has bragged when she stealthily enters a discussion.
Earlier this month Lorenz created her own internet dust storm when she reported on a meeting that was held on Clubhouse. A meeting was staged with some tech figures to discuss the GameStop-Robinhood story. In the course of the talk, in regards to those involved in the stock purchase gambit referring to themselves with the dreaded ‘’R-Word’’ [used in this manner to avoid FaceBook ostracizing], someone repeated the accursed phrase. Lorenz took to social media to loudly proclaim that Silicon Valley titan Marc Andreessen had invoked the term.
— Dr One Horse Pony PhD (@1DavidNorman) February 7, 2021
One problem; he had not. The moderator of that discussion confirmed that not only was the term used generically — to reference those who reference themselves with that word — but also it had not been Andreesen who said it. Lorenz was non-apologetic, and then something interesting happened. The very mob that Lorenz had hoped to visit upon Andreesen had instead gone after her due to the dishonesty and hackery of her report.
As a result, Lorenz locked down her account in response to the backlash. This was a move that carries all manner of irony, starting with the fact that verified Twitter accounts are forbidden from doing so, violating the terms of service. But this was the same woman who complained outwardly that it was wrong for her to be locked out of private meetings, and now she saw fit to lock everyone out of her account.
Further, the tweets above, where she brags about a burner account, appear to violate the standards and practices of her employer. The Times has a rule against using false identities or affiliations.
But when it comes to this gutter-level journalism the rules are rather fluid, as we saw. It is perfectly acceptable to call out the dogs on a perceived offense, but when you get called out on it and the blowback falls onto you, suddenly the mobs are regarded in a negative light. In response to the reaction she created for herself Lorenz dropped this victim-claiming thread where she condemned the lies and bad faith being used against her — which she ignores as a response to the lies she told and bad faith she employed.
This is the level of thought with our media titans today. We are talking about, after all, the paper that recently fired Don McNeil retroactively over an offensive word he used clinically 2 years ago in another country. Policing of the language is not looked at with a critical eye, nor with a recognition of what this could lead to down the line. Media figures and outlets are cheering for their own demise via this method. They fail to see that those like Taylor Lorenz are not the only ones who can determine what is offensive speech.
They also fail to see, as Lorenz herself demonstrated, that the retribution they call for can come down onto them just as easily. The remarkable aspect is not just that they encourage the silencing of free expression, it is that they fail to learn from their own experience the downside of this very infantile and dangerous game they wish to play.