Regarding “Uncle Tim”: Everybody’s Wrong.

Scott response

South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott delivered a rarity, an opposing party “replay” to a Presidential address that was eloquent, powerful, and relevant. However, Scott also fell into the ethics abyss by demanding that Twitter take down tweets that included the hashtag “Uncle Tim.” Scott called the trend “upsetting” and “so disappointing” this morning, saying that it shows the left “are literally attacking the color of my skin.”

Well yes, they are. That shouldn’t be surprise, since they have also been attacking the color of MY skin.

The conservatives, as the mainstream media likes to say when Republican point out hypocrisy, “pounced”:

Tim tweet 1

Tim tweet 2

Conservatives shouldn’t be calling for censorship on social media. They should point out what such words and attitudes indicate to be sure, but demanding that speech be taken off-line is ethically incoherent. By all means, allow the more revolting elements in the progressive mob reveal their character and their own hypocrisy. And point out the flaming double standards Twitter and Facebook apply to political speech.

Twitter, of course, is wrong in too many ways to tote up, as usual. After Scott and others complained, a Twitter spokesperson said that the platform decided to block a trend calling him “Uncle Tim.”

“This is in line with our policies on Trends, specifically: ‘We want Trends to promote healthy conversations on Twitter. This means that at times, we may not allow or may temporarily prevent content from appearing in Trends until more context is available. This includes Trends that violate The Twitter Rules,’” a Twitter spokesperson said.

So if a U.S. Senator says to take down tweets that are critical of him, Twitter does it? And conservatives applaud?

50 thoughts on “Regarding “Uncle Tim”: Everybody’s Wrong.

  1. I spent the last 20 minutes or so trying to find a statement from Scott or any Republican or Conservative demanding that Twitter take down the ‘Uncle Tim’ tweets. I saw several that properly characterized the racist and hateful tweets, as well as some that pointed out how Twitter was contributing to racism, but none that insisted they be censored. Perhaps I just didn’t see those demands, so a link would be helpful.
    Meanwhile, I’ll resist thinking Scott fell into an ethics abyss.

    • If you attack Twitter for permitting the tweets with those words, how is that not “Take down the tweet”? “I can’t believe you would dare stand on my lawn! It’s outrageous that you’re on my lawn! Nobody should ever be on my lawn!”

      That’s not the equivalent of “Get off my lawn?”

      But thanks for reminding me of this Spike Jones classic:

      Mary: No, John. It’s best that we part, John. You have another wife, and I have another husband, and he has another wife, and she has another husband. It isn’t the simplest sort of arrangement. It isn’t. No, after all our years of wedded bliss, it’s auf wiedersehen, John. We must think of the child. After all, we do have a child, and he has a child, and the child has another wife, and she has another husband, and he has a child, and that child, John, is our child. I must go away somewhere and figure this thing out. Auf wiedersehen, John, auf wiedersehen

      John: But, Mary dear, I know you have another husband, and that he has another wife, and that she has another husband, and that our own child, through marriage, is now my uncle and your sisters father on your grandmother’s side, but can’t we talk this over. There is still time, our divorce doesn’t become final for another five minutes

      Mary: We’ll talk it over some other day, John, but not today. For today is my wedding day!
      Bon soir, John. Prosit. Auf wiedersehen. Au revoir. Adios. Aloha.

      John: How do you like that? She didn’t even say ‘goodbye’!

    • Steve, A great deal of ink has been spilled here about the hypocrisy of progressive media but I do not think the comments were a call to take something down. Pointing out out the obvious lack of sincerity regarding the “Values” they claim to be the their own is a far cry from censoring the speech. Tim Scott meet speech he disagreed with with more speech – as it should be.

      • Chris,
        I don’t disagree with what you wrote; however, put yourself in the position of being Facebook, Twitter, etc. for a moment. All the bitching about their completely obvious hypocrisy is literally complaining that they’re not treating everyone equally in their censoring; therefore in a very real way, the bitching is justifying their censoring so they simply grease the few Conservative squeaky wheels that come up, censor the speech of the progressive, and then continue their pattern of unethically censoring speech of Conservatives feeling that their actions have been justified because they have some token bipartisan censoring.

        This is a vicious never ending circle of anti-1st Amendment tit-for-tat censoring. Eventually a Constitutional right that is “equally” infringed upon by opposing political spectrums in a war of tit-for-tat will end up being a Constitutional right that’s been completely bastardized and no longer enforceable.

        Constitutional rights for me but not for thee is how the Constitution dies.

        Liberty for me but not for thee is how liberty dies.

        • I agree that banning the hash-tag “Uncle Tim” is low hanging fruit for Twitter to appear bipartisan. It is a cheap stunt to ban a gratuitously hateful tag from the left that they will trumpet whenever they are accused of gratuitously censoring “hate” from the right.

        • I can see your point that we cannot claim censorship is wrong and then suggest that 2 wrongs make it somehow right. We need to figure out how to expose the “values” dishonesty they promote.

          I suppose how the response is nuanced makes all the difference in the world.

        • Ok
          I am trying to sort out how to expose the dishonesty of their values claims without being just as guilty in the process.

        • I did not hear on Fox nor can I find verification online that Scott gave Twitter any kind of deadline, not for ‘Trending’ nor for the actual tweets. As of a few minutes ago, “Uncle Tim” tweets were still there on Twitter, but the ‘Trending’ item was gone. To me, removal of the ‘Trending’ item is delayed editing, not a result of censorship. Twitter said it deleted the Trend because hummina hummina.
          Scott apparently did say that it was really disheartening to see “… even Twitter’s response to racism and racial slurs,” as well as, “If it comes from the left it must be okay, according to Twitter’s response 12 hours later.”
          If that’s a call for censorship, then I guess any criticism of individuals or media providers is a call for censorship. For me, that’s saying it is what it isn’t.

          • But censorship of the media is directly forbidden by the Constitution. Censorship by private corporations to advance one political view over another is government censorship by proxy, and needs to be seen and treated as such. So you point out that Twitter is censoring only one side of the spectrum, call them out on that, and dare it to allow the same level of ugly discourse on all sides, so we can decide who the bad guys are.

    • I understand that position, but I disagree.

      Calling them hypocrites could be just as consistent with a position that they should not censor anyone.

      If they have a censorship policy in place, but it is a policy that bans Trump entirely, but does not ban “Uncle Tim,” criticism of their hypocrisy could be tantamount to saying, “obviously, you people are incompetent in the art of censorship and should cut it out.”

      When I called people hypocrites for condemning “The Insurrection,” I was not suggesting that they should not condemn that occurrence, I was complaining that they had not ALSO condemned the Mostly Peaceful Riots.

      -Jut

        • They didn’t take it that way because that’s not how it was intended. Scott’s articulate: if he wanted to condemn Twitter taking down conservative tweets, he has the tools to be clear. (Of course, he knew that would be taken as “Let my party post racist tweets too.)

        • Steve, “It’s really clear that that’s not how they are taking it.”

          That may be, but they are idiots, and I neither take responsibility for their idiotic response, nor excuse it..

          -Jut

            • In general, perhaps. However, that can’t be a hard principle, as it rewards stupidity. We just got through a Presidency that was deliberately misunderstood by the Press. You can’t reward people for playing dumb, just as you can’t reward politicians for playing to the lowest common denominator.

              -Jut

  2. I also spent some effort to find a “Take down this Tweet” and failed, I didn’t find anyone that said 1st amendment etc, but for values of political speech they don’t seem hypocritical or unethical. Even better is Harris comment about this, with the ….but verbal construction. Stunning and Brave would have been better way to characterize his rebuttal.

    • Calling it bitching or calling it a calling out of racism and hypocrisy, Scott has pushed Biden and Harris both to state that America is not a racist country. Now, they have to square that with their contention of widespread systemic racism, something which can hardly be supported unless you look at disparate outcomes (for one minority) as the proof.

      • Here’s Johnny wrote, “Scott has pushed Biden and Harris both to state that America is not a racist country. Now, they have to square that with their contention of widespread systemic racism, something which can hardly be supported unless you look at disparate outcomes (for one minority) as the proof.”

        I’ve been asking for evidence to support the claims of systemic racism for a couple of years now and I’ve seen nothing yet that comes close to supporting the claims. “We the People” Really Want To Know

      • Which is the “proof,” as any other explanation is treated as per se racist. Grades, criminal activity, arrests, drug use, unwed pregnancies, lingering wealth disparities, failure to advance professionally, and much more, are all obviously caused by racism, because. And there is no counter argument.

        • According to Richard Fowler, throwing around partisan bickering over who is more racist is getting us nowhere. He thinks we need to address “racial inequities.” He cited as fact that a pregnant black woman is 5.2 times more likely to die during child birth. Here is a link to Fox News at Night:

          https://www.fox.com/watch/e9546f72df846ad30c48ae553a03e86f/

          The discussion starts around the 6:30 mark.

          Fowler thinks racial inequity includes lack of clean drinking water in Flint, MI, and lack of access to high speed broadband internet, and 20,000 miles of broken roads. Biden’s infrastructure bill will change that. Yes, it will.

          jvb

          Oh, did you know that Biden’s new green job initiatives reclassify existing jobs as green jobs? For instance, did you know that a resale shop is a green business? So is a pawn shop. So is a Dollar Store. Why? Because they don’t sell new stuff. The sell already made and repurposed stuff. Presto chango! Welcome to green job creation!

  3. I don’t think Twitter actually deleted anybody’s tweets in this incident. They just blocked the topic “Uncle Tim” from appearing in the “trending” list. It’s still okay to be racist towards Tim Scott on Twitter, Tiwtter just isn’t actively promoting it anymore.

  4. So…. Without calling out names, I think that some of the people saying they’re very concerned about free speech are simultaneously making one of the most basic free speech confusions out there: This is not, and cannot possibly be, a first amendment issue. Twitter is not the government, they’d just like to be.

    I wrote a bit about what a free-speech principled approach to social media might look like at https://humbletalent.substack.com/p/section-230 not that long ago:

    “[First, M]aybe this is more of an anti-trust or monopoly problem. If something can be done to lower barriers for entry to the markets, or if these corporations were broken up a little, perhaps we’d have a more diverse landscape. It pays to remember that despite the obvious right-wing bent to Fox, it’s owned by a left-of-center family. But a left-of-center family that really like money, and there is a market for right of center content. If the entire world must be split on partisan lines like it seems hellbent on doing, perhaps giving the right a space of their own is necessary.

    Second, it might be interesting to treat platforms as utilities; Somewhere out there, there’s an actual, honest to god, walking abortion that believes some genuinely harmful shit. That person still gets to walk into MTS and get a phone. They can use that phone to say all kinds of egregious garbage, and there’s not a damn you can do about it. That’s not a suicide pact, if they call you on their phone, what they say might be illegal, it might be harassment, there might be consequences. But if two Nazis want to Seig Heil at each other until they shrivel up and die, let them.

    The Platform-As-Utilities model has it’s own First Amendment ramifications, because the government would be compelling these platforms to host speech they might not like, but rights aren’t a suicide pact, and if the speech of fully half of America is abridged because a couple dozen people in offices control the platforms that are used to speak, that hits me as a bigger issue, and sometimes the solutions for problems aren’t perfect.”

    Also, I want to call out a specific block of text:

    “All the bitching about their completely obvious hypocrisy is literally complaining that they’re not treating everyone equally in their censoring; therefore in a very real way, the bitching is justifying their censoring[.]”

    Without putting too fine a point on it… No. If merely complaining about hypocrisy is enough to be labelled an anti free-speech censor, then everyone on this blog might as well hand in their cards on the way out, because I’m very sure that literally everyone that regularly comments here has managed at least once to complain about the double standards in media, social or otherwise.

    Let’s be real: The fact that the platforms are more likely to continue in their censoriousness and throw some friendly fire as a thin fig-leaf of neutrality doesn’t change the fact that it is still necessary to call out that hypocrisy, because if you don’t call it out, it ends up being the new normal, and you lose anyway.

    Because that’s exactly what would happen: This is not a first amendment issue, Twitter is not required to adhere to viewpoint neutrality, they are not accountable to you, and so without the pressure of public shaming, regardless of how they decide to react to it, you are ceding the feild.

    • Nope. I got this same argument on Facebook. First, this isn’t law, it’s ethics. The fact that Twitter has a right to abuse its power doesn’t make abusing its power right. Second, as many commentators are figuring out, this is government censorship by proxy. If social media is a necessary means of conducting political discourse, and it obviously is, then Twitter must bind itself to free speech principles. I’d call banning all speech by a former President is pretty clearly wrong, and the response by conservatives and free speech advocates should NOT be, “Be fair! Ban ALL former Presidents!”

      It was interesting that the specter of what Twitter’s capitulation to India’s call for censorship portended in my view arrived so quickly. I concluded that if Twitter would censor speech for India’s rulers, it would not blink at doing so for ours. And what happens? A U.S. Senator complains about an insult twitter allows to “trend” and Twitter changes its conduct.

      • Thank you for “censorship by proxy”. I have been trying to articulate why Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc., are engaged in ominous actions. Censorship by proxy is a perfect description of what they are doing.

        jvb

      • “First, this isn’t law, it’s ethics. The fact that Twitter has a right to abuse its power doesn’t make abusing its power right”

        So….. We can criticize it, right? Point out the hypocrisy? And that isn’t calling for censorship, right?

        Look, the fact of the matter is that most of the commenters here are correct, you’ll have a hard time quoting exactly where you think Tim Scott said that called for censorship, because he didn’t. The censorship, if we even want to call it that, is in the context.

        Tim Scott points out that Twitter is allowing a trend that discouraged him on the basis of race. That’s *obviously* something Twitter would have self-policed if it was directed against, for instance, Maxine Waters. Twitter’s response to that is predictable: When faced with an obvious rules conflict, they don’t free people up to say more, they default to censorship. So even though Tim Scott did not actually call for censorship, he’s committing censorship by proxy, because we all know Twitter will never do anything else.

        That’s ethical blackmail: “You can’t do the right thing (criticize us) because if you do, you’ll know we’ll do a bad thing (censor someone) and so you’ll be responsible for our behavior.”

        No. No no no no. Twitter is responsible for what it does. And Tim Scott isn’t responsible for anything that he did not actually say.

        • Humble, the way to call out Twitter would be to point out what it did that was objectionable—censoring speech, period. I don’t see how you can argue that Scott wasn’t clearly attacking Twitter because it did NOT censor “Uncle Tim”—which, incidentally, is not a racist term just because it can only be applied to a black person.

          • Two things, separate, but important.

            First, I fervently hope that I never wrangle myself rhetorically to the point where I end up arguing something like “Uncle Tim isn’t a racist term”.

            Uncle Tim is not a racist term because it can only be levied at a black person, it’s a racist term because the person uttering it believes that there is a point of view that black people should have, and that Tim Scott is a race traitor for not having it.

            Second, I’m not going to pretend to go into vapors over this. Not only did Scott not say the things you say he did, Twitter didn’t actually censor anyone. There were no Tweets deleted, no accounts locked, everyone was still able to tweet out “Uncle Tim”, and everyone could still see it by searching the hashtag. The one thing they did was suppress the hashtag from the trending list. God, if only that’s what Twitter did in the majority of situations, I don’t think I’d have an issue with Twitter. We need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, guys, there is absolutely no equivalency between deleting the Twitter account of the President of The United States for “incitement” he didn’t commit and removing a trending hashtag from the trending list.

            • 1. It’s not a racist term, except under the grotesquely distorted and expanded definition of “racism” People believing that African-Americans are “race-traitors” and “going along to get along” is offensive in many ways, but it’s not racist. Are feminists who believe that all women should oppose sexual harassment “sexist”? Scott’s critics are opining that it is illogical and against self-interest for a black man to be a conservative Republican, and thus they impugn his character, courage, and integrity, presuming that he has sold-out. How is that “racist”?

              2. It doesn’t matter what Twitter did, other than the fact that it acted in response to Scott’s speech. They are wrong to exercise censorship, they are wrong to use double standards, and Scott was wrong to imply that Twitter shouldn’t have permitted “Uncle Tim”

              3. Equivalency doesn’t matter: a tweet is either “hateful,” or it isn’t, and whether a tweet really shouldn’t be taken down, or really REALLY shouldn’t be taken down, is not worth debating. None of it should have been taken down, and really, you are going to stand on claiming that criticizing Twitter for having “Uncle Tim” trending is not advocating that Twitter NOT allow “Uncle Tim” to trend?

              • 1. “Are feminists who believe that all women should oppose sexual harassment “sexist”?”

                Not only does this not make the point you were trying to make, but it’s such a bad comparison I think it’s self defeating. Those Twitter users didn’t merely think that Tim Scott should hold certain policy positions because of the color of his skin or that Scott would benefit more from their view on race… they were calling him a traitor to his race for disagreeing with them. What does the actual comparison look like when you talk about feminism? Perhaps when Linda Sarsour opined that she should take Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s vagina away because Ali disagreed with Sarsour on Women’s rights and Islam. Was that sexist? I kind of think so.

                2. “It doesn’t matter what Twitter did, other than the fact that it acted in response to Scott’s speech.”

                The hell it doesn’t.

                First off, we’ve spent literal YEARS arguing that the responses to Trump’s speech aren’t Trump’s fault. Just because the result is predictable to the point of caricature does not change the fact that the people taking the actions are responsible for their actions.

                Second off, You called the definition of racism “grotesquely distorted”. We’re expanding “censored” to a really contorted place. Again: Nothing was deleted. No users were suspended or banned. Idiots can still tweet “Uncle Tim” until their Tweeters fall off. The only thing that happened, literally the only thing, was that Twitter took “Uncle Tim” off the trending list.

                3. None of it should have been taken down, and really, you are going to stand on claiming that criticizing Twitter for having “Uncle Tim” trending is not advocating that Twitter NOT allow “Uncle Tim” to trend?”

                Again…. Nothing was taken down. Literally nothing. But as to whether Twitter should curate it’s trending list, and whether people should have input into that: Obviously. I mean…. Twitter doesn’t just take the most common utterances on the Platform and label them trending. If that’s what they did, then “Fuck You” Would trend 365 days a year. The trending list is the result of an algorithm, and when the algorithm produces a result that Twitter doesn’t want to showcase, it’s not “censored” off the list any more than the millions of utterances that never made the list were censored by not being included.

                • Pong…

                  1. It’s a fine analogy. Racism is thinking that all members of a race are the same; sexism treats all women as the same. It’s ridiculous to add that thinking or wishing that all members of a race—or a sex— think the same isn’t a bizarre extension.

                  2. Scott made it clear that the right thing would be to not allow the UT tweets to trend, or allow them at all. He’s a government official, and shouldn’t be telling private companies who to censor, or criticizing them for legal conduct. Defaulting to “whataboutTrump”? Beneath you, HT. Twitter was wrong to respond in any way whatsoever to Scott’s complaints—see India. The same thing, as far as I’m concerned.

                  3. See #2.

                  • HT: On the other hand—the fundraising letter I just got from Tim Scott didn’t mention Twitter at all, or imply that the Uncle Tim posts should be censored. So that’s a point in your favor.

  5. What Scott should’ve done is encouraged Twitter to continue to allow the hashtag to trend, but pointed out the fact the Twitter rules only apply to one side of the debate. He should’ve stated that he was fine with people making racist comments against him from the left, because it revealed exactly who they are, and the more people who know that, the better. Sticks and stones, you know?

    Alas, he missed an opportunity. It seems outrage and delivering scoldings from a moral high-horse is so much more fun than standing by your principles while mocking your opponents for their hypocritical and transparently biased actions. Neither Scott nor anyone else should have to tell a website who’s rules disallow racist comments that “#UncleTim” was transparently just that, let alone demand the very censorship Scott supposedly hates.

    Too bad. I like Scott, I really like what he says, but he has a lot of learning yet to do. Here’s to hoping he figures this out and does better going forward, and stops taking himself so seriously that he diminishes his powerful words. Maybe he should listen to them instead of just mouthing them.

    Good job calling out Scott on this one, Jack. Those who value the Constitution and what it stands for can’t afford sacred cows in these troubled times, when every enumerated right seems to be under attack.

  6. Is it unethical to ask a company to adhere to standards they publicly state they hold?

    I swear we’re going to ethically make our way to the gulags.

    These companies are defacto monopolies, and let’s be honest, are a wing of a political party that seeks one party rule, so the “private company that can do what they want” wrankles.

    If Tim Scott calls attention to it, good. If Twitter wants to hold themselves out as a fair arbiter, then it’s not unethical to hold them to it.

      • We do, Twitter doesn’t.

        As a private company, “free speech” doesn’t apply, regardless what I think about their reach and influence.

        If Twitter sets itself out as the judge of civil discourse, nothing wrong with asking them to abide by it; to what practical end I don’t know, Twitter is what it is and will do what it will do, and they typically allow leftist incivility unfettered.

        If it in some way Tim Scott starts a trend of conservatives effectively reducing the spread of inflammatory leftist language on the platform infecting thoughts and actions creating such division and destruction (Hi Auntie Maxine! Who shall we harass today?
        I’ll bet her tweets, or the tweeting of her rhetoric flew freely – I’d love to be proved wrong… ), I’m ok with it.

  7. Scott Adams claims that the vast majority of the ‘trending Tweets’ are coming from conservatives retweeting so that they can complain about it. He’s probably right; I can’t be bothered checking.

    It is the reason I tend not to respond to all those ‘this is insulting to Jesus’ type complaints about movies etc. I figure it’s all just a marketing ploy.

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