Why I have returned to Twitter

David Bullard writes on Elon Musk's mission to free social media from the grip of the cancel cultists


It was just over a year ago that my Twitter account @lunchout2 was permanently suspended for ‘violating the Twitter rules’. I had already had a few run-ins with the Twitter censors before which had resulted first in a 24 hour suspension of the account and then a one week suspension.

I honestly can’t remember what my transgressions were but they probably had something to do with offending the increasingly sensitive army of social media bedwetters by making a ‘problematic’ joke or posting a micro-aggression. Twitter never have to give a reason; they just suspend your account and leave you guessing what it was that offended some blue haired, body pierced, non-binary member of the Twitter ‘shut down free speech’ department.

I do remember what it was that got me finally suspended from Twitter though, losing in the process the 24 000 followers that I had built up over a couple of years. It was a gallant display of chivalry on my part. As a well brought up lad with a thorough grounding in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer I decided to come to the defence of a lady in distress. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

You may remember that Lindsay Dentlinger , a journo at eNCA, got into hot water over a post budget TV interview she did. Her crime apparently was to tell black politicians to mask up before she interviewed them; something she allegedly hadn’t done with white politicians. This inevitably led to her being labelled a ‘racist’ and to the ANC rent-a-mob demonstrating outside eNCA’s Cape Town office and demanding she be burned at the stake or something along those lines.

The frenzy grew with anti-racism pickets being planned across the country and ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte leading the charge in Johannesburg. One might have thought that the ANC deputy secretary-general would have had more pressing matters to attend to last March (maybe the wide-spread corruption within the party?) but its seems not to have been the case.

As News24 reported at the time:

The ANC… issued a list of demands to eNCA, including that it withdraw the "offensive statement in which they defended Dentlinger"; that it issue an unconditional apology to all South Africans for the "pain and hurt that Dentlinger and eNCA have caused" and that the news channel send its journalists and management for human rights training to "learn the values of equality and non-racialism".

The conveniently ignored reality was that the TV coverage which went out was a montage of various interviews undertaken at different times and locations. As Geordin Hill-Lewis was courageous enough to publicly point out, part of his interview was filmed the previous October. This didn’t satisfy the baying mob though and COSATU, those much-loved economic saboteurs, came out with a statement which read:

The Congress of South African Trade Unions joins millions of offended South Africans in condemning ENCA for excusing Lindsay Dentlinger’s racist attitude towards black people. 

There is racial discrimination when different rules and standards are applied to people who differ by race.  Her failure to treat black politicians the same way as white politicians is racist and inexcusable.

Ms Dentlinger was understandably very upset by the accusations of racism and the demands for dreadful things to happen to her on social media which included rape threats. She admitted that she had not requested FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald to wear a mask in an early interview but said this had been an oversight. Eventually she capitulated and issued the usual grovelling apology which is always a big mistake because it implies admission of guilt.

Sure enough some buffoon from the ANC called Leruko Kalako announced that the apology was rejected because it was “wishy-washy”. You really can’t win with these idiots I’m afraid.

The obvious solution (with the benefit of hindsight admittedly) would have been for Ms Dentlinger to claim that by asking black politicians to mask up during a fatal COVID pandemic she was protecting black lives because they matter. By not asking white politicians to mask up she was clearly indicating that she didn’t care about the survival of white politicians. Bit late now Lindsay but keep it in reserve for next time.

I rode to the defence on my white charger by going onto Twitter and accusing COSATU of bullying a frightened woman and suggesting that they may like to do something useful like all go off and get a terminal illness. Not subtle I admit but social media isn’t supposed to be subtle. Anyway, that was it. Account suspended, followers deleted and I couldn’t be bothered to appeal because it just didn’t seem worth the effort.

Shortly after my suspension I reactivated a second dormant account I had on Twitter dating from 2012 and presented myself as ‘Cecelia Van Damme (No Relation)’ complete with a profile pic of Ena Sharples from the UK soapy ‘Coronation St’. Only about 35 people were in on the joke and they were my loyal followers.

The main benefit of this faux account was that I was able to view the Twitter ramblings of those who had blocked me under my previous incarnation. Nothing I tweeted as ‘Cecelia’ got me into nearly as much trouble as before but that was because I had very few followers and nobody knew it was me. To be successfully banned you need an army of woke snitches to report your every move to the Twitter thought police.

Last week, with the news that Elon Musk (the greatest living South African) had bought Twitter with some spare change he had hanging about I thought it was about time to emerge from the closet and reveal myself once again. So on Thursday evening I changed the name of the account to ‘The real David Bullard (thanks Elon Musk)’ and put up the profile pic we once used here of me and Mr Astro the cat. I invited my 38 followers to spread the news. Two hours later I had 570 followers and by the following morning the number had risen to over 2 000 and is still going up.

The question though is, am I going to be allowed to be my usual straight-talking self or is some algorithm going to swoop down and ban me again for upsetting somebody with a very thin skin? We shall see but I am optimistic enough to believe that the new management at Twitter may decide to leave it up to the laws of a country to police what is said on Twitter.

The best thing about the Musk takeover though is the panic that has ensued among the leftists, particularly in the USA. As several commentators have already remarked, the ‘liberal progressive left’ can only tolerate opinions with which they agree and will go all out to ban or cancel those with differing views, irrespective of whether they may be best selling authors, leading academics or highly qualified medics questioning the accepted COVID narrative. That’s fine for China maybe but not for any country that holds democratic elections every few years and encourages freedom of speech.

Many western countries are busy drafting laws which they believe will ban hate speech of any kind. Good luck to them. First those laws have to be passed after robust examination and discussion in parliament. If the laws are vague, unworkable or ridiculous they probably won’t be passed and if they are passed and turn out to be unpopular then you can always vote the legislators out of power next time around.

The point is that it is not up to a corporate like Twitter to make the laws governing what constitutes free speech. Particularly when they have been so obviously manipulated by politicians. That sort of interference is probably going to happen anywhere which is why it’s important to have other channels of communication which can question such tactics without fear of prosecution.

I’m sure that the Democrats in the US don’t like what Fox News and Sky Australia have to say about their gaga President and his hyena laugh sidekick but they have CNN and MSNBC in their corner so it all balances out. News channels critical of the government simply don’t exist in countries like China and Russia which is why China is getting so spooked that footage of the current chaos in Shanghai is making its way into the free world.

The most ludicrous criticism of the Twitter buy-out though is that Musk is very rich and could now be influential in what we are allowed to see and hear. Presumably these critics are all far too thick to have ever heard of the likes of Randolph Hearst, Lord Rothermere, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Frederick Barclay, Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bezos, Conrad Black, S I Newhouse and dear old Robert Maxwell. The common denominator here is that they are/were all very wealthy and all own/owned very influential publications.

Here in SA, the owners of Anglo American had a pretty strong media presence in pre democracy days through Johnnic Holdings and were politically active as Helen Zille would testify. The chairman of Naspers who own Media24 isn’t short of a bob or two I’m told and the less said about the Independent Group the better but nobody would deny that the owner likes to exert a bit of personal influence.

The only mystery is how the Daily Maverick is funded and why founder Branko Brkic (who has just returned from a six week European trip my sources tell me) constantly refuses to say. Perhaps not knowing who controls the media is more worrying than knowing. Just a free speech thought to conjure with.

David Bullard is back on Twitter @AustinFriars