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Right-wing figures and far-right trolls mocked questions to Facebook's Zuckerberg about diversity. But it's crucial to understanding how platforms enable harassment.
This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was questioned on racial diversity within his company as he appeared before House and Senate committees to address Facebook’s handling of user data. Facebook -- and more generally, the tech industry -- has often been criticized for its lack of diversity, an issue that, as members of Congress pointed out, can hinder the platform’s ability to respond to discrimination against African-American users and fake news.
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) discussed the relationship between Facebook’s fake news problem and lack of diversity within the company itself:
— Natalie Martinez (@nat_geo_pun) April 11, 2018
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) asked Zuckerberg about racial discrimination enabled by Facebook and indicated a "growing distrust ... about Facebook's sense of urgency” in addressing such discrimination:
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) questioned Zuckerberg on Facebook’s lack of diversity:
REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD (D-NC): You and your team certainly know how I feel about racial diversity in corporate America, and [Facebook Chief Operating Officer] Sheryl Sandberg and I talk about that all of the time. Let me ask you this, and the Congressional Black Caucus has been very focused on holding your industry accountable -- not just Facebook, your industry -- accountable for increasing African-American inclusion at all levels of the industry. And I know you have a number of diversity initiatives. In 2017, you’ve increased your black representation from 2 to 3 percent. While this is a small increase, it's better than none. And this does not nearly meet the definition of building a racially diverse community. CEO leadership -- and I have found this to be absolutely true -- CEO leadership on issues of diversity is the only way that the technology industry will change. So, will you commit, sir, to convene, personally convene a meeting of CEOs in your sectors -- many of them, all of them perhaps, are your friends -- and to do this very quickly to develop a strategy to increase racial diversity in the technology industry?
MARK ZUCKERBERG: Congressman, I think that that's a good idea and we should follow up on it. From the conversations that I have with my fellow leaders in the tech industry, I know that this is something that we all understand, that the whole industry is behind on, and Facebook is certainly a big part of that issue. We care about this not just from the justice angle, but because we know that having diverse viewpoints is what will help us serve our community better, which is ultimately what we're here to do. And I think we know that the industry is behind on this.
Right-wing figures and far-right trolls scoffed at these questions on different social media platforms -- including Gab, an alternative to Twitter that has been called a "haven for white nationalists" and has on occasion served as a platform to coordinate online harassment -- dismissing them as “insane” and describing efforts to increase racial diversity as discrimination “against white people.”
Cory Booker is lecturing #Zuckerberg to have Facebook become a 'more diverse' company. Diversity is a code word for less straight white people.
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) April 10, 2018
Lol Congressman asks a question about Facebook increasing "racial diversity" at the company.
"Do you plan to adding an African American to your leadership team?"
Zuck: "We will work with you, this is an important issue."
— Gab: Free Speech Social Network (@getongab) April 11, 2018
Viewpoint diversity is kryptonite to corporate SJWs, especially in Silicon Valley. James Damore's Google memo was all about viewpoint diversity.
— Allum Bokhari (@LibertarianBlue) April 11, 2018
Members of Congress were not alone in their concern that Facebook’s racial homogeneity might diminish its capacity to create a safe environment for every user and protect user data. Bärí A. Williams, formerly a senior commercial attorney at Facebook, explained that racial diversity specifically would improve the platform’s ability to respond to data breaches, “fill blind spots,” and improve “cultural competency” through “lived experience.”
People aaking why diversity at Facebook is coming up when "this is about data breaches and privacy."
They aren't mutually exclusive. Because diverse folks can point out alternative use cases, or tell you how something may be exploited for nefarious purposes in their communities.
— Bärí A. Williams (@BariAWilliams) April 11, 2018
Yes, diversity of thought is relevant, but do not be intellectually obtuse to deny how the majority of it is created - through representational diversity lived experience... racial, ethnic, gender, ability, and geographical diversity is usually the cause of cognitive diversity.
— Bärí A. Williams (@BariAWilliams) April 11, 2018
While Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s intention to rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to adress many of the social network’s shortcomings, Molly Wood, host of the Marketplace Tech radio show, pointed out that AI is not a substitute for a racially inclusive workforce:
A lack of racial diversity in companies’ ranks is at the core of the harassment problem on their social media platforms, as online harassment disproportionately targets minorities of color. According to Pew, “harassment is often focused on personal or physical characteristics; political views, gender, physical appearance and race are among the most common,” with African-Americans experiencing more harassment because of their ethnicity than other groups, and women experiencing more harassment than men:
Some 14% of U.S. adults say they have ever been harassed online specifically because of their political views, while roughly one-in-ten have been targeted due to their physical appearance (9%), race (8%) or gender (8%). Somewhat smaller shares have been targeted for other reasons, such as their religion (5%) or sexual orientation (3%).
Certain groups are more likely than others to experience this sort of trait-based harassment. For instance, one-in-four blacks say they have been targeted with harassment online because of their race or ethnicity, as have one-in-ten Hispanics. The share among whites is lower (3%). Similarly, women are about twice as likely as men to say they have been targeted as a result of their gender (11% vs. 5%)
During a conversation with Wired about how Silicon Valley can address harassment in social media platforms, Black Lives Matter’s Chinyere Tutashinda talked about her experiences online as a black social activist, confirming Pew’s findings by remarking on the ways that people of color are targeted disproportionately online:
CHINYERE TUTASHINDA: I work within the social justice movement, and there’s no one, especially in the black community, who doesn’t expect harassment online. It’s just replicating what happens in the real world, right? How do we make other people know and care?
There is a lack of diversity in who’s creating platforms and tools. Too often it’s not about people, it’s about how to take this tool and make the most money off it. As long as people are using it, it doesn’t matter how they’re using it. There’s still profit to earn from it. So until those cultures really shift in the companies themselves, it’s really difficult to be able to have structures that are combating harassment.
Diversity plays a huge role in shifting the culture of organizations and companies. Outside of that, being able to broaden the story helps. There has been a lot of media on cyberbullying, for example, and how horrible it is for young people. And now there are whole curricula in elementary and high schools. There’s been a huge campaign around it, and the culture is shifting. The same needs to happen when it comes to harassment. Not just about young people but about the ways in which people of color are treated.
Experts have weighed in on the specific implications of social media platforms lacking racial diversity among their ranks. As Alice Marwick, a fellow for the Data & Society Research Institute, pointed out on Quartz,“the people who build social technologies are primarily white and Asian men” and because “white, male technologists don’t feel vulnerable to harassment” in the same way that minorities or people of color do, they often fail to incorporate protections against online abuse in their digital designs.
To illustrate Marwick’s point, take Twitter’s mute button, a feature that can filter unwanted content from users' timelines, making it easier for users to avoid abusive content directed at them. As Leslie Miley -- a black former engineering manager at Twitter who left the company specifically because of how it was addressing diversity issues -- told The Nation, the feature wasn’t perfected until a diverse group of people worked together to fix it:
[Leslie] Miley was a part of a diverse team at Twitter that he says proves his point. His first project as the engineering manager was to fix Twitter’s “mute” option, a feature that allows users to filter from their timelines unwanted tweets, such as the kind of harassment and personal attacks that many prominent women have experienced on the platform.
“Twitter released a version in the past that did not go over well. They were so badly received by critics and the public that they had to be rolled back. No one wanted to touch the project,” says Miley. So he pulled together a team from across the organization, including women and people of color. “Who better to build the feature than people who often experience abuse online?” he asks. The result was a new “mute” option that was roundly praised as a major step by Twitter to address bullying and abuse.
The blind spots caused by racial homogeneity might also delay platforms’ responses to rampant harassment. As documented by Model View Culture magazine, far-right troll and white nationalist sympathizer Milo Yiannopoulos was allowed to rampantly harass users for years on Twitter before getting permanently banned for his “sustained racist and sexist” harassment of African-American comedian Leslie Jones. As Model View Culture points out, racial diversity could be extremely helpful in addressing the challenge social media platforms face in content moderation:
From start to finish of the moderation pipeline, the lack of input from people who have real, lived experience with dealing with these issues shows. Policy creators likely aren’t aware of the many, subtle ways that oppressive groups use the vague wording of the TOS to silence marginalized voices. Not having a background in dealing with that sort of harassment, they simply don’t have the tools to identify these issues before they arise.
The simple solution is adding diversity to staff. This means more than just one or two people from marginalized groups; the representation that would need to be present to make a real change is far larger than what exists in the population. Diversity needs to be closer to 50% of the staff in charge of policy creation and moderation to ensure that they are actually given equal time at the table and their voices aren’t overshadowed by the overwhelming majority. Diversity and context must also be considered in outsourcing moderation. The end moderation team, when it comes to social issues specific to location, context and identity, needs to have the background and lived experience to process those reports.
To get better, platforms must also address how user-generated reports are often weaponized against people of color. Although there’s nothing that can be done about the sheer numbers of majority-White users on platforms, better, clearer policy that helps them question their own bias would likely stop many reports from being generated in the first place. It may also help to implement more controls that would stop targeted mass-reporting of pages and communities by and for marginalized people.
Ultimately, acknowledging these issues in the moderation pipeline is the first step to correcting them. Social media platforms must step away from the idea that they are inherently “fair,” and accept that their idea of “fairness” in interaction is skewed simply by virtue of being born of a culture steeped in White Supremacy and patriarchy.
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Despite claiming to advocate for victims of sexual misconduct, anti-immigrant campaign 120 decibel (#120dB) will do anything to scapegoat migrant men for sexual violence -- even downplay domestic abuse.
In an April 2 interview with far-right activist and YouTuber Brittany Pettibone, a “German identitarian” activist named Annika argued that domestic abuse by German-born men is different from sexual violence against women by migrant men because “most women” who are victims of domestic abuse “don’t really defend themselves” and “are quiet” while abuse against women in public places by refugees is “really torturous.”
Annika (who is often referred to by her other name, Franziska) is a spokesperson for #120dB. As documented previously by Media Matters, #120dB is a digital movement attempting to spread a xenophobic, anti-feminist message by riding the coattails of the #MeToo movement. #120dB, which has been heavily promoted by white supremacist “identitarian” group Generation Identity and its European leaders, claims sexual violence by refugee and migrant men is being ignored for fear of offending these communities and calls itself the “true #MeToo.”
In the interview, Annika conceded that incidents of sexual violence allegedly committed by migrants are overreported in comparison to domestic abuse because law enforcement “can't just go to a private place and do something in there, but the state can go to a public place and work against the rape there.” In doing so, she unwittingly undermined her movement’s reliance on the assumption that elites are covering up what they characterize as a wave of sexual assaults that they allege are disproportionately committed by refugees and migrants.
The reality is that migrants and refugees are disproportionately accused of violent crime, both in reports to law enforcement and in online news. In Germany, "foreign-looking suspects" are twice as likely to be reported for violent crime. In Sweden, that rate is 2.5 times. A January 2018 analysis by Germany newspaper Der Spiegel found that of 450 online news reports about 291 “purported sex crimes alleged to have been committed by asylum-seekers and immigrants,” the perpetrator was actually a refugee in only 95 cases, many of which occurred in refugee camps.
In their effort to scapegoat black and brown men for violence against women, Annika and her colleague Ariane dismissed Germany’s significant issue of domestic abuse, the vast majority of which targets women. That's not a great look for a movement that advertises itself as the “voice of forgotten women.”
Annika, who considers herself a “right-wing woman” and “anti-feminist,” has appeared in several interviews with Pettibone and her boyfriend, Austrian “identitarian” Martin Sellner. At least two of Pettibone’s videos on the subject appear to be monetized on YouTube. Pettibone and Sellner were both detained at the U.K. border and denied entry in March based on their plans to meet far-right activist Tommy Robinson and the likelihood that their extremism would “incite tensions” in the country.
From the April 2 YouTube video:
ANNIKA: It's different because the most rape in Europe from German people or from Swedish people, they take place at home, so in a private place. And there's no violence. The most women don’t really defend themselves. They are quiet and most times they know the rapist, so it's the husband or the father, or someone else related to them. So, they don’t really -- you just can't tell the truth afterwards because you don't have any evidence of it because you don't have blue arms [bruises] or someone heard you scream or something. But the other rapes -- from refugees -- these are really torturous. So you can see those girls are stabbed and they have blue arms and they screamed, and it's in a public place, so you have to go after them but in another way because the state can’t just go into a private place and do something in there, but the state can go to a public place and work against the rape there. So, it's both rape, but it's not the same, because there’s a huge difference [in] how the rapists are doing this.
ARIANE: And again, there is an enormous difference between engaging into sex with someone to have a higher position into your career, you can -- you still can say no. You can say no and then don't take this path, but if you're forced on the street like we already know about those things that happened. They are so just, just, just totally new. We didn't have that before that things like this went public.
Like domestic violence, which is also often done by women, just to mention that.
BRITTANY PETTIBONE (HOST): Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
ARIANE: And so many of those cases are not reported. And yeah, they happen in quiet and the state can't do much about it.
PETTIBONE: It’s very obvious, and it’s just a case of them underreporting. A lot of people don’t know that it’s even happening, and they’d be shocked to hear of the amount of girls and the ways in which they are being raped and murdered and abused.
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Alex Jones' ex-wife Kelly Jones said the prominent conspiracy theorist was violent toward her during their marriage.
Jones described her “nightmare” marriage during a wide-ranging April 3 interview on the David Pakman Show in which she talked about an ongoing custody dispute with her ex-husband, his threats last year against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and his rise as a prominent backer of President Donald Trump. The couple divorced in 2005.
Kelly said that she and her ex-husband met after she moved to Austin, TX, and was working for a public access TV station where they had the same producer. While initially drawn to him because he was “different than anybody I had ever met,” she said that several years into the relationship, “suddenly I was living in a domestically violent situation completely isolated from all friends and family.”
Citing what she described as her ex-husband’s “lack of control,” anger problems, and substance abuse issues, Jones said, “It was a nightmare to be with him, it was horrible, and especially towards the end it was awful, untenable.” Jones said she stayed in the relationship for as long as she did because she was in "a domestic violence cycle." But she said when she saw her children “starting to emulate” some of their father’s mannerisms, she concluded that “like a lot of domestic violence victims” she was “fooling” herself that “this isn’t having an effect on them.”
Jones said that she is speaking out to help others who may be in similar situations, telling Pakman, “The reason why I’m coming out so hard, too, is I divorced Alex Jones. And everybody looked at me and gaslit me and said I was a liar and worse and treated me horribly, victim-shamed me when I came forward with serious concerns about abuse, and neglect, and other things.”
“If that can happen to me with Alex Jones, there’s people back there all over Travis [County in Texas] and all over this country who don’t have the possibility of this kind of publicity because they didn’t divorce a notorious unwell person. But I did. Doesn’t that concern you, America, that this is happening in family court?”
Two former employees of Alex Jones’ Infowars outlet recently filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging abusive behavior from Jones and other Infowars employees while on the job. He is currently embroiled in controversy over his attacks against student survivors of the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and he is facing defamation lawsuits brought by individuals he or his outlet falsely identified as being involved in recent mass casualty events.
Kelly Jones’ full interview is below:
On his Fox News show, Tucker Carlson spent Women’s History Month parroting some of the grossest views of YouTube’s fringe right-wing anti-feminists in a series of segments about “Men in America,” mainstreaming their misogyny on prime-time cable news. Here’s some background on the men Carlson has been promoting:
Jordan B. Peterson: An “obscure Canadian academic” before he became popular on right-wing YouTube, Peterson insists “gender and class hierarchies are ordained by nature,” as The New York Review of Books put it; considers advocates for social justice “morons”; and has speculated that “feminists avoid criticizing Islam because they unconsciously long for masculine dominance.” His YouTube videos have been described as a gateway into the “alt-right” for men suffering from depression, and he has called Nazi sympathizer and infamous anti-feminist Milo Yiannopoulos “unstoppable” and “an amazing person.”
Stefan Molyneux: This YouTuber built his reputation by bemoaning feminism and complaining about the plight of men. He has asserted that young women should “look for security” from husbands, suggesting feminism destroyed Europe, and strongly championed James Damore, the Google employee who was fired after writing a memo contending that women’s underrepresentation in the technology field is due to biological reasons. To round out his extremism, Molyneux also traffics in white supremacist tropes like false narratives about the decline of white people, considers himself a “race realist” (euphemism for white supremacy) and has invited “‘alt-right’ extremists” on his show.
Gavin McInnes: Founder of the self-described “Western chauvinist” male fraternal organization Proud Boys, McInnes uses his online platforms to spew hateful vitriol. (Designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Proud Boys are specifically anti-women, as they embrace the belief that women’s primary role in society is to “stay home and make more babies” and explicitly ban women from their meetings.) He has called Oprah Winfrey a "slut" with a "ghetto mentality" who "was turning tricks" before becoming rich, described lesbians as “sexless, depressed old chubby dykes,” asserted that women should “probably not vote,” mocked women in the workforce, and made derisive comments about women’s looks.
Paul Joseph Watson: This Alex Jones lackey spends his time on the internet trolling feminists and Islam, mansplaining “things feminists need to understand,” and pushing nonsensical conceptions of masculinity -- like the idea that soy consumption drives testosterone levels down and reduces masculinity in men.
Owen Shroyer: Also a Jones lackey, Shroyer hosts his own show on Infowars and has spewed the most asinine conspiracy theories, like claiming that Hitler is alive and the U.S. government is covering it up, or that London Mayor Sadiq Khan was somehow involved in the Austin, TX, bombings. As reported by Right Wing Watch, Shroyer also once asserted that former first lady Michelle Obama was a transgender woman with intentions of establishing a mainstream “demonic” culture in America.
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Adult film actress and director Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, recorded an interview about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump, which is scheduled to air tonight on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Since she first came forward, some conservative media figures have chosen to attack her or to minimize her story.
According to Daniels, she and Trump had an affair in 2006. She first gave an interview about the affair in 2011 with In Touch Weekly, but it was only published in full earlier this year. While Trump has denied the affair took place, one of his lawyers, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 just a month before the 2016 presidential election to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Trump and Daniels have recently sued one another over the 2016 agreement.
Trump’s lawyers reportedly considered legal action to stop the broadcast of Daniels’ pre-recorded 60 Minutes interview, which will air tonight on CBS. And in recent weeks, some conservative media figures have also run defense for the president.
Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft: Daniels is a “washed up porn star.”
[Gateway Pundit, 3/6/18]
CNN conservative political commentator Jason Miller: “I think it is clear that Ms. Clifford is trying to essentially launch a second act to her career now.”
CNN guest Michael Caputo: “Let's not forget, this is a woman who gets paid for sex wanting more money.”
Fox host Sean Hannity dubbed CNN president Jeff Zucker the “‘porn king’ of cable news” for coverage of Daniels. Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity lashed out at CNN for covering Daniels’ allegations against Trump, calling CNN president Jeff Zucker the “porn king” of cable news. He also called CNN’s “non-stop coverage of Stormy Daniels” a “new obsession” of “basically soft-core pornography.” [Hannity.com, 3/23/18]
Fox media critic Howard Kurtz suggested other media outlets were devoting too much coverage to Daniels and accused them of being “rather gleeful in covering these stories.”
Conservative talk radio host Mark Simone: “Media [are] now in collusion with DNC to influence the next election” by covering Daniels.
DNC analysis showed Trump did 11% better with women voters then other Repubs and it helped him win. That’s why they are pushing Stormy Daniels so hard (and Rob Porter) they want to hurt him with women. Media now in collusion with DNC to influence the next election.
— MARK SIMONE (@MarkSimoneNY) March 11, 2018
Pro-Trump writer Jacob Wohl pointed to one photo to claim Daniels’ reported polygraph test was fake. NBC News acquired a report of a 2011 polygraph test Daniels took about her relationship with Trump, which came with a sworn declaration from the examiner about its authenticity. According to NBC, “the examiner found there was a more than 99 percent probability she told the truth when she said they had unprotected sex in 2006.” Jacob Wohl of The Washington Reporter used an image taken from a video of the polygraph test to claim it was fake.
BUSTED: Stormy Daniels' Polygraph test was FAKE! She doesn't have finger cuffs to measure her galvanic skin response. Also, the blood-pressure cuff on her arm should be on her upper arm.
This test WAS NOT compliant with the American Polygraph Association and was RIGGED!!! pic.twitter.com/bcJMY9NOTX
— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) March 22, 2018
Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen: Conservative Christians will stand by Trump because he keeps his promises to them. Fox News contributor and Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen defended conservative Christian supporters of President Trump from accusations of hypocrisy for violating their espoused values because he “does have one moral quality that deserves admiration: He keeps his promises.” From Thiessen’s March 23 FoxNews.com column:
During the 2016 campaign, Trump pledged to defend religious liberty, stand up for unborn life and appoint conservative jurists to the Supreme Court and federal appeals courts. And he has done exactly what he promised. The abortion-rights lobby NARAL complains that Trump has been "relentless" on these fronts, declaring his administration "the worst .?.?. that we've ever seen." That is more important to most Christian conservatives than what the president may have done with a porn actress more than ten years ago.
No one upholds Trump as moral exemplar. He is not the most religious president we have ever had, but he may be the most pro-religion president. Christian conservatives are judging Trump not by his faith, but by his works. And when it comes to life and liberty, his works are good. [FoxNews.com, 3/13/18]
National Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson: “People knew the accusations against the president” but didn’t care about them. In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) about Daniels upcoming 60 Minutes interview, National Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson said conservative Christians just don’t care that Trump allegedly cheated on his wife Melania:
"Christians want the president to be pastoral. We like that but that isn't really the job assignment," National Religious Broadcasters president Jerry Johnson told CBN News. "People knew the accusations against the president before he was elected and they said, 'Actually, we care about security. Actually, we care about the economy.' "
Johnson added that Christians "should identify with Christ" before any politician and called his vote in the 2016 election a "prudential" one. "You've got to vote. You have a choice. Who are you going to vote for?" Johnson said. "I voted for Mr. Trump. I don't regret that vote. I don't think Christians who voted for him regret that vote. We knew this was in the past, but his job is to keep us safe and to keep the government out of the way of business so the economy can grow and I think he's doing that." [CBN, 3/23/18]
Anti-gay hate group Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins: Trump’s behavior was in the past. Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council, also told CBN that Trump’s past behavior doesn’t matter because he’s keeping political promises he made to conservative Christians:
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, echoed the same sentiment to CBN News and said Trump should be judged on his behavior and accomplishments in office.
"To date, what has the president done?" Perkins asked. "The president has not engaged, to our knowledge, and I think we would know, in any of the behavior that he did in the past, prior to the election. What he has done is he's actually followed through on political promises." [CBN, 3/23/18]
In early through mid-March, Fox News barely mentioned Daniels’ story. The news explainer website Vox examined cable news transcripts and found Fox News has barely even mentioned Daniels’ name, especially compared to its main competitors.
On the March 23 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt interviewed far-right YouTube personality Laura Tam, known on YouTube as “Roaming Millennial,” effectively elevating Tam’s hate-filled online platform.
Tam appeared on Fox to express her discontent with the decision by all-female Mount Holyoke College to provide professors with techniques to facilitate a friendlier environment for transgender and gender nonbinary students. The segment misrepresented the college’s actions, but more insidiously, it acted as a de facto endorsement of Tam’s vitriolic online platform, where she has associated herself with Milo Yiannopolis’ anti-trans statements, boosted anti-Muslim extremist Tommy Robinson, hyped a false narrative about Sweden’s immigrant-induced “fall,” and embraced the “alt-right” “soy boy” trope. Tam has also been criticized for making “horrendously inaccurate” claims about race, at one point falsely claiming that black people are more likely to commit crimes than white people:
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): An all-women’s college is telling their professors not to say the word “women” in the classroom, instead to use more gender-neutral terms.
What was your reaction to this when you heard this story this week?
LAURA TAM: Honestly, I can't help but chuckle when I hear about things like not wanting to talk about the fact that there are two genders or anything to do with this nonbinary gender stuff. And as funny as I think it is, and I think it is a natural reaction to kind of laugh about, the fact is that this is becoming increasingly common across campuses all over the country and in Canada as well. We have these administrators, these leftist progressives who take their own ideological opinions, their political views and insert them into things like speech codes and diversity classes. They try to codify their opinions into school policies to try to indoctrinate students.
EARHARDT: Do you think they should open the door then for any gender then, because they are considered an all women's school? Actually, I'm not even allowed to say "women." An all-student school.
TAM: Right. And that's what's ironic about this. You have this school that doesn't have gender-inclusive admissions policies, but they're trying to have a gender-neutral environment. I mean, what are they going to do when some high school male footballer decides that he wants to just go and dominate their entire sports team and decides to identify as, I don't know, gender fluid? Because they can't be noninclusive, and they have to accept that. So it's kind of strange now that they're accepting all genders but still not males. I'm not sure how they're really, I guess, rectifying that in their own ideological system.
EARHARDT: Mount Holyoke [College], they sent us a statement. They say, "As we know not every Mount Holyoke student identifies as a woman, but every student has a right to live and learn in an inclusive environment that is free from hostility and respectful of their identity." What's your reaction?
TAM: Well, I guess it's great that they're trying to be inclusive, and they're trying to be accepting. And I respect that. But the fact of the matter is you can't have an all-female school, which is what they're still going to be. I doubt they're going to be opening their admissions to males. You can't have an all-female school when saying things like, "Yeah, you don't have to be female to be here. Once you're actually a student, you can identify whatever you want." I mean, you're kind of going to have to pick one. And I think this is an example of how inconsistent their ideology is.
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NRATV commentator Colion Noir added to his history of misogynistic comments when he criticized “sexy” MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski for being part of the “largest gun conversation this country has ever had.”
The National Rifle Association media platform’s newest commentator video comes amid repeated calls for stronger gun safety regulation after a February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, left 17 dead.
In the video posted on International Women’s Day, Noir claimed Brzezinski’s “entire knowledge on guns is based on the … Google search she did while standing in a Starbucks line.” Noir went on to say that despite this supposed lack of knowledge, Brzezinski “gets to be part of the conversation” while he “can’t be.” From the March 8 edition of NRATV’s Commentators:
COLION NOIR (NRATV HOST): Right now America is having the largest gun conversation this country has ever had, and no one bothered to actually invite the gun owners. Sure, they talk about gun owners, but they don't actually want them part of the conversation. Unless they need a bad guy to verbally accost, that is. They treat the conversation on guns like a line outside of a night club. And the asshole bouncer is our mainstream media. Sexy cable news anchor whose entire knowledge on guns is based on the "what is an assault weapons" Google search she did while standing in a Starbucks line this morning before work -- she gets to be part of the conversation. Sycophantic Democratic politician who believes we lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence -- he gets to be part of the conversation. Anti-gun groups financed by anti-gun megalomaniac billionaire, outed for lying and falsifying stats on guns -- they get to be part of the conversation. Journalist who, in an attempt to prove how easy it is to buy a gun in America, tries to buy a gun only to fail the background check because of his history with alcohol abuse and domestic battery charge -- he gets to be part of the conversation. But 34-year-old attorney with 11 years of gun advocacy documented online, in print, and video, who is also an NRA commentator, gets invited to ask the current president a Second Amendment question only to have the White House say sorry, we're going to focus on other topics and are going to find another participant in place of the gun topic. And then watch in confusion as they talk about guns. No, he can't be a part of the conversation. That's a true story, by the way, circa 2013, but I digress.
The NRATV commentator’s latest video adds to a long list of sexist comments he’s made, including referring to former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as “THOT” (which means “that ho over there”) in a tweet because of her support for stronger gun laws and comparing paying taxes on a firearm purchase to rape in another tweet. (He later apologized for the latter claim.)
During previous NRA videos, Noir also often intertwined his commentary on guns with commentary on women. In one instance, the video opened with a scene of a stylishly dressed woman standing in an alley. Doing a voice-over, Noir appeared to describe the woman, ranging from her clothing ("Her Jimmy Choos can't be comfortable, but you'd never know it"), to her intellect ("Chess, yeah it's a men's game, but when she plays, men pay"), to her actions ("Flirts more than you can handle, too. She's the kind to tell the bartender how to make her drink"). But in the final shot, the woman was seen holding a Heckler & Koch MR556 assault weapon and Noir revealed he was talking about the firearm the whole time (however nonsensically).