Why I’m not on Twitter

22 Oct

Here are some Tweets from Todd Kincannon, former Executive Director of the South Carolina GOP, and self-proclaimed “Honey Badger of American Politics:

(I apologize for repeating Kincannon’s hate speech verbatim, but I do think it’s necessary. Instead of inserting … or [euphemisms], I believe it’s important to see and experience what he’s saying. That said, I’m not going to repost anymore of his hate spew because I also believe that you are what you consume, whether it’s food, images or language. And this gives me a case of heartburn and “food” poisoning, for sure.)

Back to Kincannon by Tweet. If you, like me, are wondering why someone would ever post things like this, here’s his explanation:

One of the things I like to do on Twitter is I’ll tweet something inflammatory, kind of borderline crazy-sounding just for fun. And I enjoy watching people go nuts. One of the best things about it is if you say something that’s borderline offensive or if it is offensive, the people that attack you and say just the awfulest [sic] things about you, they do the very thing that they accuse you of (http://www.theroot.com/buzz/south-carolina-republican-tweets-trayvon-martin-joke).

So to be clear: he does this for fun. He enjoys the impact he has. He loves getting other people to say “the awfulest” things.

All that, with no recognition that he’s not an equal target to the people he targets. I’m not saying that people who are transgender or poor or black teens are less than Kincannon. I’m saying that Kincannon is lobbing his comments from a place of cultural and institutional power. He chooses to be a target. And he cloaks himself in the judgment and presumed superiority and unassailability of The Majority and The Norm. Not to mention The Dominant Group That’s Not Afraid to Remind You People of Its Dominance (hence, his confidently “funny” quips about sending transgender folks to concentration camps).

In his mind, he’s starting a fight between equals. From where I stand, I see a bully. And let me say, I think that word is grossly overused and misapplied these days to describe a broad range of socially aggressive or unpreferred behaviors. But here, the shoe fits. (And I’m using social justice group Groundspark’s (http://groundspark.org/) definition of bullying as persistent, aggressive behavior by one person or group toward another, that is intended to cause distress or harm, and is facilitated by the imbalance of power between the aggressor and the target.)

If I had to point to example of this definition, I would pull up Kincannon’s Twitter account. I don’t see Kincannon as exercising free speech or inciting a dialogue among equals. I see him as bullying. And if you do, too, I encourage you to let Twitter know by (https://support.twitter.com/forms/abusiveuser).

Thanks. May your twitterverse be a more inclusive and mutually growthful place.

** Update on this post: I’m still trying to figure out how to contact Twitter because the link above only works if you have a Twitter account. As if what is tweeted only affects the twitterverse. (Note to Twitter: You are a megaphone that many of us can’t avoid hearing from, even if we live in the nontwitterverse. Unlike in Vegas, what happens on Twitter gets replayed everywhere.)

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