|I would like to thank Matt Walsh for his fighting spirit and unrelenting defense of free speech on Twitter. “The Truth Is Not Hate Speech” has been my motto and bellwether for over a decade. My belief the ability to speak freely with the TRUTH as our bullwhip, is a fundamental right as an American. The ability to cancel someone for speaking TRUTH is a form of tyranny when those people are not protected by the law of the land. John Adams once said “government of laws and not men” This means in a free society, government laws must be specific and understandable to not prevent average citizens from exercising basic liberties. Thank you Matt Walsh we are with you and proud to share your message today! – Craig Bushon
“What is a Woman?” Wins the Free Speech Battle
June 02, 2023 5:48pm
Yesterday we set out to co-opt and overshadow the first day of Pride Month. And although it didn’t happen exactly as I anticipated or planned, I would say we still succeeded.
To quickly review what we discussed on the show yesterday: here at the Daily Wire we decided we would celebrate the one year anniversary of our film “What is a Woman?,” and ring in Pride Month 2023, by releasing the film free for everyone on Twitter. We presented this idea to Twitter several weeks ago. They were excited about it. They offered us the chance to buy a special event page for the film, which would have all kinds of great extra features, and also ensure a wide reach for the film.
But then, only a few days before our streaming event, Twitter changed its tune dramatically. They told us they decided that the film is hate speech, that it violates its policies against “misgendering” — policies they removed from their written terms of service months ago — and they told us that we could not have our event page. Not only that, but if we posted the film on our own they would tag it as “hateful conduct,” disable sharing on the film, and make sure that nobody sees it in their feeds. They told us that our only way around this, the only way to post the film and not have its reach totally crushed, would be if we censored it ahead of time by removing certain scenes that Twitter found especially offensive. We of course refused that offer, and instead resolved to post the movie anyway, and have this fight with them in public.
If that’s what they wanted, that’s what they would get. And they got it.
That recaps everything we covered on the show yesterday. Things were left on a bit of a cliffhanger. It wasn’t clear what would happen when we posted the movie, if Twitter would make good on its threat to tag it as hate speech and censor it, and what, if anything, Elon Musk would do to step in and enforce his free speech promises. We were headed for a standoff, and we weren’t sure what the result would be.
Shortly after 8pm ET last night, we found out. We published the film as promised, in its entirety and uncensored, on the Daily Wire twitter page. For exactly two minutes, everything went well. In fact, there was so much interest around the film that in just two minutes 3,500 people shared it. But then the speech suppressors moved in.
Making good on their threat, two minutes after it was posted, Twitter slapped the “hateful conduct” label on it, disabled retweets, disabled comments, and removed and blocked it from everyone’s feed. If you tried to retweet it, you would get a message from Twitter saying that the content cannot be shared because it interferes with “healthy conversations.” And if this was not enough censorship, the phrase “what is a woman” was blacklisted from the trending list, and removed every time it appeared there. Twitter has been doing that for the past year, ever since the movie originally released. And they kept up that policy yesterday.
At this point, Elon Musk started to speak publicly about the issue, though his initial statements were somewhat ambiguous. Earlier in the day he said that the decision to censor the movie was a “mistake made by many people at Twitter,” and that it actually does not violate any of their policies. Yet, in spite of these assurances, it was restricted and censored anyway.
In response to that, Elon said last night that the problem would be fixed, the hateful conduct label removed, and sharing once again enabled. But he also, in a series of responses, said that the movie would be “advertiser restricted” and since it is “sensitive content” it won’t be “pushed to people unless they ask for it.” It was unclear — and is still unclear — what exactly any of that means. And at any rate, even as he said all of this, the movie was at that moment being actively suppressed by Twitter.
What does “advertiser restricted” mean? Does it mean that advertisers control what content Twitter users can see? If that’s the case, then how can Twitter possibly be a free speech platform? And what does it mean that “What is a Woman?” is sensitive content? How is it sensitive? Anyone who uses Twitter knows that some of the most vile, obnoxious, grotesque, and offensive content imaginable regularly makes it into your feed from accounts you don’t even follow. I have, on many occasions, seen videos of people dying — videos that pop up in my feed and automatically play — and aren’t apparently considered sensitive by Twitter. Of course I also see all kinds of content from the other side of the trans debate, none of which is ever labeled sensitive or hateful. Why would our film — which simply asks questions to people on both sides of the issue — be singled out in this way? And why would this happen on a platform that has newly professed its commitment to free speech?
These tweets from Elon were confusing, and the actions that Twitter was actively taking against our film were disturbing, but the picture was made more complicated by what we were hearing privately. The whole Daily Wire team was at the office late last night trying to coordinate our strategy to fight back against this censorship, and we were all getting texts and calls from sources who know what’s happening behind the scenes at Twitter.
Word was coming in from many different places that Elon was furious at his content moderation team and heads were rolling at Twitter headquarters over this. It was perhaps not a coincidence that at this exact moment, a Twitter employee from the “Brand Safety” team publicly announced his resignation from the company. This employee, Maie Aiyed, has a history of posting tweets scolding and mocking white people — not exactly the sort of person who should be involved in ensuring “brand safety,” whatever exactly that means. But if these are the kinds of people who are leaving the company, that’s probably a good sign.
There was no clear resolution on the issue last night, but when we woke up this morning things had changed. At some point overnight, the “hateful conduct” flag was removed from the film and sharing and retweeting was enabled. I started getting messages from people saying they saw the movie come up in their feed. A few hours later, as the ultimate capstone on all of this drama, Elon Musk himself shared the film from his account with a caption urging every parent to watch it. He also pinned the Daily Wire tweet to his account. It was a wild ride for 24 hours. It began with Twitter censoring the film and labeling it hate speech, and ended with the owner of the company tweeting his endorsement of it.
How do we make sense of all of this? Well, when it comes to Twitter, I think the most reasonable interpretation is that Elon Musk is still fighting with the leftist radical elements in his own company. Given how everything worked out, it seems clear that Elon intended for the film to be distributed uncensored on the platform, but the woke elements inside the company stepped in to sabotage it. In fact, this morning Elon confirmed that the resignations on Twitter’s “Trust and Safety” team were directly related to the film and the controversy surrounding it. So on top of everything else “What is a Woman?” has accomplished, it appears that also helped separate the wheat from the chaff over at Twitter HQ, which is a major accomplishment in its own right. We can assume that there are likely more woke foxes in the hen house, but the good news is that they are being rooted out and exposed.
The other lesson is the one we have learned many times in the past. On this issue, and really any other issue, the Left cannot win in a fair fight. They cannot meet us out on the field, in a pitched battle, and hope to prevail. They suppress, censor and deplatform because they know their position is insane and can’t be intellectually or morally defended. Their arguments are laughable and flimsy. Their claims fall apart under the slightest scrutiny. If open discussion on this topic was allowed, their side would be crushed into oblivion in less than a day. It is as simple as that. Trans ideology would virtually disappear overnight if the other side of the argument — the critical side — was allowed to speak openly and actually be heard without suppression or reprisal. The ideology hides behind a fortress of censorship because it is easily destroyed out in the open, and its proponents know that. That is why, it would appear, leftists at Twitter were willing to sacrifice their jobs for the sake of shutting this film down. They broke our agreement, publicly defied their boss, and put their careers on the line all in an effort to prevent people from seeing this film, and hearing the other side. That is how terrified they are.
And in the end, it was all for nothing. We win. You know, I will admit that throughout all of this I did feel a bit demoralized. Even though I’m used to it by now, and I know how these people operate, it can still be deeply frustrating to meet these artificial roadblocks every step of the way. It is one thing to have the other side arguing against us — we embrace that, we want it — but they won’t argue. All they ever do is try to shut us down and silence us. They refuse to play the game on a level field. And after a while the constant onslaught of censorship, suppression, demonetization etc., gets exhausting. With this film especially, it has been relentless. The movie has been deplatformed, banned, censored, blacklisted, ever since its release. Mainstream film critics refused to even review it. It has reached an enormous audience in spite of all of that, and had a massive impact, but in my more cynical moods I sometimes think about how much more of an impact it might have had, how many more people it might have reached, if the Powers That Be weren’t blocking and suppressing us at every turn.
Fortunately, though, as I was feeling slightly discouraged last night, I had my therapist Jordan Peterson on hand to offer some counsel. He said something that put it in perspective. He said that when you speak the truth, whatever happens is the best possible thing that could have happened. In other words, there is no use lamenting the consequences of speaking the truth. Because if you do not speak it, if you remain silent, then the results will always be worse, ultimately. And he is obviously right about that.
In fact, proving his point, now that the censorship has been lifted, and Elon has posted the film himself, it’s fair to say that more people will see “What is a Woman?” and hear about it than would have if the Left had never attempted to shut us down in the first place. It all backfired. The truth wins out in the end. They won’t play fair, they never do, but even in the rigged game they still lose.