Right-wing provocateur Charles C. Johnson has gone over the line–again. Yesterday, after tweeting that he needed help in “taking out” civil rights activist Deray McKesson, Johnson was suspended from Twitter for the fourth time.
On Sunday morning, McKesson, best known as one of the leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, pulled up his Twitter feed and discovered that Johnson was crowdfunding an effort of some sort with a view toward “taking out @deray.” McKesson reacted just like anyone else would after seeing something like this:
So, I woke up to this. Hate is organized in America. & yes, I take this as a serious threat. pic.twitter.com/V0zThcJJs6
? deray mckesson (@deray) May 24, 2015
Later that morning, Johnson took to his blog, GotNews, to announce that he’d been suspended from Twitter. Johnson whined that he was being punished for “investigative journalism that breaks the mold.” He said he meant no harm to McKesson at all–he was only planning on doxxing him. Indeed, a number of Johnson’s critics have risen to his defense and said that Johnson’s tweet wasn’t threatening at all.
Okay, Chuck. I’ll play. Even if we do give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you had no ill intent, you’re asking us to believe that if you make a tweet or online post asking for help in “taking out” someone, that person has no right to feel threatened. If there’s anyone who believes that, there’s a bridge in Brooklyn up for sale. And even if we do give you the benefit of the doubt, you have tacitly admitted that you’re lazy, at best. You mean to tell us you can’t use something better than “taking out” to describe what you want to do?
Moreover, as Charles Johnson (no relation) of Little Green Footballs points out, some of Charles C. Johnson’s followers are among the worst people in the world–“neo-Nazis, white supremacists and right wing extremists of all kinds.” LGF’s Johnson points out that Charles C. Johnson has a bad habit of using incendiary language “in a very calculated way.” There’s a name for this behavior–stochastic terrorism. It has no place in any civilized discourse.
Johnson, you may recall, was suspended twice in the same week in October for posting the address of someone who had been exposed to Ebola in Dallas, then publicly asking for help in finding the boyfriend of a Dallas nurse who had been exposed to Ebola. A month later, he was suspended again–this time for trying to out “Jackie,” the University of Virginia student who claimed she had been violently gang-raped in 2012.
And that’s not even counting the numerous times that he crossed the line into conduct for which he should have been suspended and wasn’t. In October, for instance, he tweeted several pictures of himself standing outside what he described as “the world headquarters of Little Green Footballs”–an apartment where LGF’s founder hadn’t lived in almost 10 years. LGF’s Johnson didn’t find this at all funny, calling it “basically threatening.”
Incredibly, Johnson says–with a straight face–that he has been “kicked off Twitter for journalism” four times. You’ll have to take my word for it–in so doing, he tried to out “Jackie” again, and for that reason I’m not linking to it. So Johnson’s idea of “journalism” is plastering private information, and in the case of “Jackie,” crossing the line into invasion of privacy and possible criminal harassment. And now he’s whining about being persecuted? Boo-hoo-hoo, cry me a river, Chuck. You deserved to have your account suspended–a move that, in my book, was long overdue.
I say this as someone who is an honest muckraker. Many of my longtime readers both here and at Daily Kos may recall that in my college days, I was tricked into joining a highly abusive and controlling hypercharismatic campus ministry aligned with Morning Star International (now known as Every Nation), a network of dominionist and Christofascist churches and ministries. During my sophomore year, in an effort to expose their deceptive and abusive tactics, I pretended to rejoin them and make them think I was just like them. As determined as I was to bring down an outfit that, then as now, I considered to be a dangerous cult, I never even considered plastering the addresses, phone numbers or any other private information of my former “brothers” and “sisters” online. That would have been despicable, wrong, and possibly criminal.
Johnson is urging his followers to use the hashtag “#ChuckCJohnson” in an effort to get Twitter to restore his account. If Twitter is serious about cracking down on online threats and cyberstalking, it will keep Johnson’s account suspended. And this time, it should be for good.