Experience the very best of summer in Atlantic Canada
Millicent McKay offers an insider’s guide to P.E.I.
Is tourism a trap for Atlantic Canadians?
Foraging for wild food in Atlantic Canada
Four food trucks to try in Newfoundland this summer
Underwater tourism is the ultimate immersive experience
Is Atlantic Canadian tourism doing luxury right?
Twitter's decision points to deepening anxieties over what some people view as increasing restrictions on their right to voice non-politically correct ideas
Free speech advocate Lindsay Shepherd, who was permanently banned from Twitter earlier this week, says the move underscores wider concerns that the firm has been overzealous in its censorship of right-leaning public figures.
Shepherd, a former Wilfrid Laurier University teaching assistant turned free speech activist, said she was permanently banned from Twitter on Monday, likely in connection to comments in which she misgendered trans woman Jessica Yaniv on July 14.
In an interview with the National Post Tuesday, Shepherd said her banishment from the social media platform is the most recent example of the San Francisco-based company limiting the free expression of some users. The company said it is banning some users as part of a bid to stem online harassment.
“Because this is a trans individual they are untouchable … they are allowed to mock and taunt me about my biology, they can say whatever crude things they want,” she said. “But when it comes to me wanting to take a shot back at that person and wanting to stand up for myself — or for my womanhood so to speak — I am permanently kicked off.”
The decision by Twitter points to deepening anxieties over what some people view as increasing restrictions on their right to voice unpopular or non-politically correct ideas.
Debate has been ongoing for years over whether private firms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram should be regulated in the same way traditional broadcasters are. The immense and growing influence of the platforms has caused even some market-oriented conservatives to mull whether more government intervention is required to limit the power of the online behemoths.
Shepherd acknowledged that the company has the full right to restrict her access to the site, but said it points to deeper problems in modern political discourse.
“The private corporation is allowed to censor speech, sure, but I think it’s a matter of looking at what they are censoring.”
Yaniv, who describes herself on Twitter as an LGBTQ2SIA and human rights activist, was not barred from the site after the spat. Canadian feminist writer Meghan Murphy was also recently banned from Twitter after an online fight with Yaniv, and has tweeted comments like “men aren’t women.”
The exchange with Shepherd began after Yaniv made comments about Shepherd’s female genitalia, saying “at least my p**** is tight and not loose after pushing out a 10 pound baby.”
Shepherd tweeted in response: “This is how men who don’t have functional romantic relationships speak. But… I guess that’s kinda what you are!”
Yaniv then responded with a comment that could have been in reference to Shepherd’s septate uterus, a reproductive condition that can cause higher rates of pregnancy loss.
“I heard @realDonaldTrump is building a wall inside of your uterus aka your ‘reproductive abnormality’ hopefully the walk works as intended,” Yaniv tweeted.
“At least I have a uterus, you fat ugly man,” Shepherd then said. “Of course, he thinks reproductive issues are something to be mocked.”
Shepherd made international headlines after she was disciplined by Wilfrid Laurier for showing students a televised debate featuring Jordan Peterson, in which guests discussed the use of gender pronouns. Shepherd said the debate, from TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, was shown as part of a class discussion about adding gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Shepherd deleted her Twitter comments shortly after making them, saying she knew Yaniv had successfully had other users banned in the past. She said she doesn’t regret her comments, but said Twitter’s decision could feed into the worsening divide between left and right.
“There’s always these people who celebrate when someone is banned from a social media platform,” she said. “Your instincts should not be to celebrate when someone you don’t like is vaporized, because now you’re not challenging your own ideas, you’re not facing any opposition, it just turns into an echo chamber.”
Shepherd said she will likely use other media outlets like YouTube to reach her followers. She said she would also consider joining Thinkspot, a platform proposed by Jordan Peterson that is intended to act as a counter platform to Twitter and other Silicon Valley sites.
Neither Twitter or Yaniv responded to a request for comment by press time.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019