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Verbal Harassment of Government Buildings Now Violates Twitter Rules, Apparently

Author and sex worker Maggie McNeill was suspended from Twitter Tuesday for a hyperbolic comment about burning the White House down.

@Maggie_McNeill's message from Twitter@Maggie_McNeill's message from TwitterAuthor, activist, and sex worker Maggie McNeill has been suspended from Twitter for an obviously hyperbolic comment about harming the White House. Her offense? McNeill responded to a tweet saying furloughed government employees working without pay should go on strike with: "They should. And burn the White House down."

On Tuesday, McNeill (who has contributed to Reason) was informed by Twitter that she had violated its policy against "targeted harassment" and "abusive behavior" and would receive a one-week suspension.

"'Targeted harassment' of a government building of the most powerful Empire on Earth?' McNeill quipped when asked about the suspension. "I had no idea I was so formidable."

McNeill called Twitter's decision "stupid and hilarious at the same time."

The debacle calls to mind one that Reason found itself in a few years back, after a commenter's quite clearly facetious remark about running a federal judge through a woodchipper was deemed grounds for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate, demand Reason commenter data, and bar Reason staffers from talking about any of it.

Thankfully, Twitter can't suppress speech through state force. But increasing skittishness by it and other social platforms means that a whole lot of hyperbole, humor, sarcasm, and otherwise benign banter is being caught up in content-moderation filters.

If a growing cadre of conservative and liberal forces gets there way, any missteps by digital platofrms could lead to serious criminal charges and costly civil cases. So we can expect to see silly suspensions like this start to get worse before or if they ever get any better.

Perhaps now is a good time to follow podcaster and reporter Thaddeus Russell's advice: "Drop what you're doing and contribute whatever you can to alternative social media spaces, before it's too late."

Photo Credit: @maggie_mcneill suspension notice from twitter

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  • Sevo||

    "...liberal forces gets there way, any missteps by digital platofrms..."

    Lucy, oh, Lucy...

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Men have been fired for less.

  • Quixote||

    This threat was no more "hyperbolic" than the inappropriately deadpan, and hence criminal, "parodies" that we had to deal with here at NYU several years ago. Anything of the sort, especially when it harms a reputation, poses an obvious danger to public order and should be dealt with by immediately calling the police. See the documentation of New York's leading criminal "satire" case at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • Yellow Tony||

    Lucy is the name of one of my roleplaying characters. A half-orc cutie whose skill in archery is as proficient as her ability to sexually disembowel dwarves.

  • Sevo||

    But can she spell?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Booooo

  • Brandybuck||

    I think the word you are looking for is "emasculate".

  • BambiB||

    Don't block her on twitter.

    Just deport her to someplace where her hatred will fit in. Venezuela maybe? Or N. Korea?

  • Jerryskids||

    "'Targeted harassment' of a government building of the most powerful Empire on Earth?' McNeill quipped when asked about the suspension. "I had no idea I was so formidable."

    Not McNeill herself so much, but we know how Lrrr feels about his favorite single female lawyer and he is, after all, the formidable ruler of planet Omicron Persei 8.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I think it is a bit disingenuous to claim the target of her hyperbole was the building itself. Otherwise I agree with the gist of the article.

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    It's a lot disingenuous. I mean, c'mon, she's not mad at the building.

  • Eddy||

    Hey, Washington monument, you look like you're overcompensating for something!

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, he is referred to as the father of our country; and he seems to have slept in a lot of places, so - - - - - -

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, I chopped down the cherry tree. With my dick.

  • Eddy||

    The cherry tree doesn't have a cherry any more.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I larft.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Ooh, let's do more George Washington quotes.

    "It is better to be alone than in bad company. With my dick."

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    "Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected. With my dick."

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    "My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. With my dick."

    Ok, I will see myself out now.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    "Worry is the interest paid by those who borrow trouble. With my dick."

  • Eddy||

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    "The foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing is a vice so mean and low that every person of sense and character detests and despises it. With my dick."

  • Eddy||

    Why would a prostitute be so concerned about whether government workers get paid?

    Wait, stupid question, never mind.

  • Ray McKigney||

    "If a growing cadre of conservative and liberal forces gets there way,"

    I can't even

  • SIV||

    "there"
    "they're"
    "their"
    "xir"

  • SIV||

    "there"
    "they're"
    "their"
    "xir"

  • SIV||

    ENB is just trying avoid the pronoun minefield.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Wait, I didn't realize they'd come for us.

  • Trollificus||

    Where do you think all the commenter names with "chip" and "chipper" in them came from? It was a response to that incident.Or so I've assumed.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    So we can expect to see silly suspensions like this start to get worse before or if they ever get any better.

    ENB, they're not starting to get worse, they are worse, and a lot worse, and it's no longer affecting free twitter and facebook accounts, it's affecting the income and livelihood of content creators in what appears to be collusion between payment providers trying to snuff out competition. May I suggest Reason writers have a sit down and do a story on this?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Who on the free speech beat around here is about to stand up for content creators who say and believe awful things?

  • Yellow Tony||

    How would one "stand up" for them? Assuming you're not implying we should coerce the offending parties, the only other viable method would be for people to abandon traditional social media platforms and use alternatives like Mastodon. I for one choose to do nothing because A) I am already not a participant in "social media" (However you define that.) and thus don't have any leverage, and B) I don't give a shit about them. They're adults; their actions have consequences; and as long as Twitter doesn't violate their contract with their users via a breach in the ToS or privacy policy, then c'est la vie.
    However, pushing "bad" actors to the outskirts of society whether physically or digitally is probably not a good idea. But society has to realize this first. (Doubtful, I know.)

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Mastodon is now into social media? So metal!

  • Yellow Tony||

    Shit taste, Chipper.

  • TLBD||

    If you use twitter you should follow Nick Monroe.

    As with most of these things, government is involved, yet the libertarian wants to base all reaction and policy on a hypothetical utopia where these are 100 private companies.

    In 15 years when Waymo has cornered the self driving market through regulatory capture and has succeeded in getting gas vehicles banned from highways, they'll probably start refusing to pick up people for wrong-think.

    And libertarians will be like, BUT THEY'RE A PRIVATE COMPANY, THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT, IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT START YOU OWN SELF DRIVING CAR COMPANY OR RIDE A BIKE.

  • Brandybuck||

    They are private companies. But they are acting like dicks for fear the government will drag them before a Congressional star trial. Again.

    It's like the old comics code. It was voluntary, but they only self imposed it to forestall the government stepping in and imposing speech restrictions. Social media today is under even more pressure from the the government, as it's both sides of the aisle along with overwhelming support from the academia, intelligentsia, and the popular punditry. Calls to nationalize Twitter and Facebook are not uncommon.

    Private policies to prevent yelling "woodchipper" in a private crowded theater are understandable in such a climate.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Use this post as an example.

    Why not just say, "Jokingly threatening arson should be perfectly acceptable speech"?

    Joking about assassinating the president is protected speech according to the Supreme Court:

    "In the case of Watts v. United States (1969), the United States Supreme Court ruled that mere political hyperbole must be distinguished from true threats."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....ted_States

    Why pretend that she's threatening a building--as if that would make it okay? Arson is scary shit. People could be inside! So what? Hyperbole is protected speech, and being scary isn't a crime. The issue isn't that she was only threatening a building. The issue is that it was hyperbole.

    I think it comes from a sick desire to imagine that we're obligated to only stand up for the rights of big-eyed bunnies who deserves our sympathy. Fuck that. Let's grow up! Jackholes have rights, too, and they tend to need their rights protected more than average people. Besides, we're standing up for people's rights, not the people themselves.

    She made a joke of arson. Offensive? Okay. Fuck you. That's also offensive. It's also protected speech. If Twitter can't handle it, then Twitter sucks. Fuck Twitter.

    Here's Gwar beheading Obama:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59lnwJVKPnY

    If people think that's racist and threatening, then they should feel free to go fuck themselves.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Haha, when I saw GWAR years ago, they beheaded OJ. Then they performed an abortion on stage and fed some chicks to a giant worm. After the singer ejaculated all over us from his two-foot penis. Good times.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Didn't one of the GWAR guys frequently appear as a guest on classic Red Eye?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Unfortunately, Dave Brockie is no longer with us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Brockie

  • RabbitHead||

    I remember them beheading Oliver North!

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Ken, I look forward to the day that your name becomes orange and clickable. You're one of the few posters whose blog I would read.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Seconded

  • Rat on a train||

    Do you know who else is orange and clickable?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Twitter is shit, but you have to be one dumb motherfucker to post that kind of crap with your real identity attached to the account.
    Remember when it was common sense to be protective over your personal information when sailing the digital seas? Most people probably don't anymore.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    What about when sailing the seas of cheese?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Once again, man, shit taste.
    Step it up I'm going to have to drop you from my Runescape friends list.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Great scott that is abysmal. What passes for music these days... *wanders off mumbling incoherently*

  • Rat on a train||

    Seven Seas of Rhye?

  • Tamfang||

    "Maggie McNeill" is not her True Name, so there's that.

  • TLBD||

    I just assume that no one is really anonymous anymore.

  • Rat on a train||

    I assume no one is real anymore. Just bots and socks.

  • Sevo||

    OT:
    Tom Steyer is running 'Impeach Trump!' ads on local TV, nudging up to the high-rent times near the sports and weather during the evening news. He's pretty much proposing impeaching him since Steyer doesn't like him.
    I for one, am happy to see Steyer marginalize himself as a fucking lefty ignoramus, and I hope the stations are charging him an arm and a leg for the ads.

  • LiborCon||

    Seven years of power
    the corporation claw
    The rich control the government, the media the law
    To make some kind of difference
    Then everyone must know
    Eradicate the fascists, revolution will grow
    The system we learn says we're equal under law
    But the streets are reality, the weak and poor will fall
    Let's tip the power balance and tear down the crown
    Educate the masses, we'll burn the White House down

  • DajjaI||

    I agree with you, and even worse, my previous account was terminated here at Reason for speaking out against the rhetoric of the chippers. (Of course, unlike Twitter, Reason doesn't send you a letter of explanation. Cue woodchippers: "So how do you know that's why your account got chipped?")

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    *fires up the 'chipper in preparation for Hihn disposal*

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Also Ken 'Popeshat' White

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    And Cato

  • TLBD||

    It is too bad Ken White is such a sanctimonious douche. I have a very high tolerance for that type of person, so I'll still read his stuff, but always with the knowledge that his own ego is far more important to him than the law.

  • Sevo||

    "And a likely cause that the libertarian label is rejected by 91% of ... libertarians. (Per Cato)
    Libertarian Moment? Or Eve of Destruction?"
    D
    Fuck off, Hihn. And please die.

  • DajjaI||

    I was suspended on twitter for much less. I have never, and would never, threaten anyone. Even in jest. Sex workers often behave in self-destructive ways. I'm all for decriminalization, but I don't think we should look to them for moral leadership on complex issues. And yes I would say the same thing about drug addicts. (And I have.)

  • Eddy||

    But we rely on Sherlock "junkie" Holmes to solve complex crimes.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    The big broad brush paints all sex workers.

  • buybuydandavis||

    That costs extra.

  • Sevo||

    DajjaI|1.8.19 @ 10:34PM|#
    "I was suspended on twitter for much less."
    Just a suggestion; don't bother with twitter.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    If you're going to get in trouble for verbally harassing a government building, you should go with some sick burns rather than burning. I'll help her get started:

    Have you seen the White House? As buildings go, it looks incredibly bloated. Those nasty thick columns on the front? If they were legs, they'd be the perfect illustration of thunder thighs. And the base of the columns are architectural cankles.

    Do you where Michelle Obama's inspiration to fight childhood obsity came from? You guessed it: living in the White House.

    But it's not just an overly large, lard-bedecked building, it's also tragically uncool. They call it the "white" house for a reason: it's so white bread, squaresville BORING it would make even your shawl-wearing grandma look like a crazy rocker chick in comparison.

    But like most houses, it's really a reflection of its occupants. This behemoth of a building has housed generation after generation of blowhard windbags whose main differences consisted of either being giant douches or turd sandwiches. If the whole building just slid into the Potomac, it would be a huge improvement for Washington, apart from polluting the river, of course.

  • Rat on a train||

    Truman should have hired Frank Lloyd Wright and Jackson Pollock for the White House reconstruction.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "'Targeted harassment' of a government building"

    Some people live and work in the building you were calling to be blown up. Including the President of the US and his family. Yes, it's all hilarious good fun to share your wish fulfillment fantasies of their assassination. I hope your visit with the Secret Service is equally amusing.

    Maybe you should fly out to DC to talk to them, and yuk it up on the plane about the bomb you might have in your carry on.

    Good times!

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    She was suspended because she didn't have a unitary name.

  • Luther Cockburn||

    "If a growing cadre of conservative and liberal forces gets there way" ... does Reason have an editor to keep tabs on there writers? As for the writer, the growing cadre of forces is 99% liberal. Liberals are the thought police. It's so weird how conservatives are now the party of free speech. Weird, but true. I always figured I was liberal and now I realize I'm conservative and I'll tell ya, there parties are a lot more fun.

  • PL@pierrelemieux.com||

    Penultimate paragraph: it should be "gets THEIR way."

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