And so it comes to pass that another celebrity leaves the internet. In this case it’s Leslie Jones, star of Saturday Night Live and the new Ghostbusters movie.
Having endured a day’s worth of tweets that focussed on her race – none of which I care to repeat – Leslie signed off saying she felt like she’s living in ‘a personal hell’. Go through her Twitter feed and you’ll see her tweets go from bewildered to downright rage fuelled to, most depressingly of all, a woman whose soul has been crushed. At one point, fake screenshots were created and distributed, trying to paint the comedian as an anti-Semitic homophobe. Screenshots that were circulated by a right-wing ‘journalist’ (whose name I will refrain from using for fear the utterance of his moniker will lead to him finally being crushed under the weight of his own ego).
‘I didn’t do anything to deserve this,’ she states in a penultimate despairing tweet. And she’s absolutely right. This has gone from being about your childhood being ruined, to deliberately trying to ruin someone’s actual life.
I’d like to say that having rallied around her, poking fingers and spraying her with enough vitriol to feed a BNP rally, some would have realised the folly of their idiotic behaviour. However, and perhaps predictably, the Twitter twits doubled down on their behaviour, arguing that it was ‘banter’ or, brandishing the clearly faked screenshots, telling her she had it coming. Some went so far as to say that her being in Ghostbusters alone was enough reason to crucify her with disgusting racist comments; killing any last shred of credibility the Ghostbros were hanging onto that hating this remake ‘wasn’t about women.’
And whilst Jones has left the Twittersphere, the culprits remain at large; pinning their offensive tweets to their feed like a dentist promoting the death of another freshly killed sentient being. They snigger and guffaw. They presumably high five themselves on a job well trolled. The ‘journalist’ (who again I refuse to mention in case he explodes from the joy of name being shot out into the electronic ether) has dismissed the events of the previous day, suggesting Leslie will get her revenge when she gets to punch a facsimile of him in Ghostbusters 2. Something that is very unlikely to happen because even Sony will have caught onto the fact that merely whispering his name keeps him alive for ten more years, and no one deserves to be immortal. As I type he is starting a fight with Will Wheaton and blaming feminism for his co-opting of a movie that was meant to make people laugh, and using it to tear a person down.
And what of Twitter? Well, their CEO reached out to Leslie two hours before she quit – and so after several hours of abuse – asking her how they could help. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that what was needed was an automatic block of those sending the offensive tweets. So far they’ve just blocked the aforementioned ‘journalist’, but even now, a quick search under Leslie’s name will dig up a hundred more vicious assaults against the actor, all sent after she left.
I’ve reported a number of these accounts and I find it bitterly amusing that, upon doing so, I’m given the option to simply ‘block’ the offender; as if somehow protecting my sensitive little eyes will be of benefit to those receiving the actual abuse. I’m not reporting these folks because I’m all emotional, I’m doing it because I want to see a change on social media. One that stops people from hiding behind an unearned cry of ‘what happened to freedom of speech?!’ I want it so that in 2016, minorities of any kind are not chased off Twitter by the 4chan gestapo.
This should not be a radical thought. And yet, every time I report something on Twitter or Facebook – which is another barrel of policies and guidelines drawn with crayons that will make you pull your hair out in frustration – nothing seems to happen. Heck, I even reported a death threat I saw sent to former Australian PM Tony Abbott and was told by the blue banner social site that they didn’t see anything that violated their guidelines.
There is some irony to all this. The supporters of the ‘journalist’-who-must-not-be-named-and-now-can-no-longer-use-Twitter are calling out the social network site for being ‘fascist’ and even arguing that being gay is the reason he’s been banned, and not because of his constant abuse. Whereas Leslie Jones was meant to suck it up and get on with her life, this one man’s blocking is seen as an indictment of everything that’s wrong with the ‘loony left’ and be turned over. Nope, no double standards here.
Those who cry that everyone is too politically correct, and that no one is allowed to say anything, are wrong. The truth is that everyone is allowed to say whatever they want. However, that doesn’t mean everything you say is meant to be agreed with. And once you start deliberately targeting people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or simply because they are a starring in the remake of a film that has Bill Murray sexually harass one of his students and Dan Akroyd get jiggy with a ghost, then you are not debating anything. You’re just being vile and insidious. And whilst the social media giants refuse to do more to protect their users, this will continue, which is the rotten cherry on this whole disastrous cake of garbage.