February 12, 2021
New Orleans The scurrilous, criminal provocateur, James O’Keefe, and his Project Veritas have finally been reined in after a dozen years of mayhem and damage. Ironically, they are being hobbled by a new sheriff in the public space where many live: Twitter. The latest O’Keefe escapade seems to have involved some standard mock confrontation with some guy who heads the Facebook Office of Integrity.
Let’s just stop for a minute and consider what we are dealing with here, because the only thing that comes to my mind is George Orwell’s classic book, 1984, and the use of what he coined as “newspeak.” As Merriam-Webster defined it:
In Orwell’s fictional totalitarian state, Newspeak was a language favored by the minions of Big Brother and, in Orwell’s words, “designed to diminish the range of thought.” Newspeak was characterized by the elimination or alteration of certain words, the substitution of one word for another, the interchangeability of parts of speech, and the creation of words for political purposes.
If it’s not doublespeak or newspeak for O’Keefe to call something Project Veritas, which is based and traffics in lies, not veritas, the Latin for truth, or Facebook of all companies to have something and someone at an Office of Integrity in a company that has almost none, then I don’t know what is. Both of these operations seem to want us to live in their own version of a totalitarian, corporate-controlled and corporate-though regulated 1984!
I would say that I’m digressing, but I’m not sure I believe that. Anyway, Twitter permanently banned Project Veritas citing their repeated disclosure of people’s personal information despite repeated warnings. In more good news, they temporarily suspended O’Keefe himself for the same until he deleted the post. He claims he appealed and was denied and now refuses to delete, so with any luck, he’s permanently banned as well. About time that they received their just desserts, even though I’m sure they will find other avenues for their mischief, although even Fox News might hesitate a bit now in this new climate.
I wish I didn’t feel little like they are doing the right thing for the wrong reason or something like that. Twitter shouldn’t allow misinformation which is O’Keefe’s specialty, but are they police, and if so, what are the laws in their kingdom? Twitter also says that Trump is banned permanently even if he runs for president in 2024. Instagram, owned by Facebook, banned Robert Kennedy, Jr for his crazy anti-vaccine rants as well. None of these guys were new problems, so I’m uneasy about whether these companies are just walking around with their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing in social media world, or there are any bright lines governing these actions.
O’Keefe, Trump, Kennedy, Jr. are all a special breed of unaccountability seeped in impunity and balderdash, but so are Twitter, Facebook and the like. Governments at least have a process that pretends transparency and accountability, answerable finally to the public, so why aren’t they doing this job, rather than all of us left at the whims of private actors and big corporations?