Elon Musk loses another high-up Twitter exec over his support of transphobic ‘What is a woman?’ video

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On Friday 2 June, Twitter’s head of trust and safety – Ella Irwin – confirmed she had quit the company. Her departure came after owner Elon Musk endorsed an anti-transgender video shared on the platform. At least one other high-level Twitter executive – A.J. Brown – also left after the incident.

A day after Irwin’s resignation was reported in US media, she posted to Twitter:

I know there’s been a lot of speculation regarding what happened… I did resign but this has been a once in a lifetime experience.

Twitter: a company in chaos

Irwin is the second head of trust and safety to quit Twitter since Musk bought the platform. He has now reduced content moderation to essentially permit anything allowed by law.

Since taking over Twitter in late October, Musk has seemingly run the company into the ground. Although he bought the site for $44bn, its value has plummeted.

Moves made by the billionaire included sacking most of his staff, readmitting banned far-right accounts to the platform, suspending journalists, and charging for previously free services. This spooked advertisers, many of whom left the platform due to concerns over their products being associated with troubling content.

Musk said during a CNBC interview in May that he will continue to tweet his unfiltered thoughts even if it hurts his businesses. When asked what he thought of his controversial tweets making it harder to sell ads on Twitter or hurting the share price of Tesla, he said:

Read on...

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I don’t care… I’ll say what I want to say and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it.

Musk: courting the far right

Irwin’s departure came after Twitter was put under pressure by backers of an anti-transgender video called ‘What Is A Woman?’. They claimed that Twitter went back on a deal made with the Daily Wire to distribute the content free on the platform.

The video was created as the pet project of self-described “theocratic fascist” Matt Walsh. Walsh’s extreme hate speech against all members of the LGBTQ+ community is well known.

For example, on the subject of gay marriage, he claimed that “a union between two homosexuals is not, never has been, and never will be a legitimate marriage”, and stated that it would become “an institution populated by all forms of depravity and corruption”.

Pink News also thoroughly documented – and debunked – his claims that the increase in the number of queer kids was because:

The media, Hollywood and the school system actively recruit children into the LGBT ranks.

‘What is a woman?’

The film itself is little better than its creator. For a start, Walsh apparently attempted to trick trans people into appearing in it by masquerading as a queer-friendly organisation.

Whilst obviously transphobic, it also dabbled in regular old misogyny – even though it notably won praise from the likes of J. K. Rowling and other ‘gender critical’ pseudofeminsts. For example, Gawker reported on the damning conclusion to its titular question:

As his wife confirms at the end of the film in the family kitchen, a woman is “an adult human female, who” — here she hands him an apparently woman-proof jar — “needs help opening this”.

The film also contains a speech given by Walsh at a school board meeting concerning the rights of trans pupils. In it, he said:

You are all child abusers. You prey upon impressionable children and indoctrinate them into your insane ideological cult, a cult which holds many fanatical views but none so deranged as the idea that boys are girls and girls are boys.

Hate speech: apparently fine now

So, obvious misogyny and queerphobia from a hatemongering fascist whom we can all agree is best ignored? Sure enough, users flagged the video for its sensitive content and promotion of hate speech.

But no! There’s a free pass, so long as you’re bashing trans people along the way.

Musk said in a Twitter exchange with the creators that people had made a mistake. The video was reinstated on the platform. A post for the video reading “Every parent should watch this” was pinned to the top of Musk’s Twitter account.

This whole sorry saga is a microcosm of the political climate around trans people at the moment. Transphobia is a gateway issue. So long as you start by saying “aren’t those transes awful?”, you can get people to nod along with pretty much any hateful shite you care to say afterwards.

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse. 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Debbie Rowe, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, resized to 1910*1000

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  • Show Comments
    1. Matt Walsh is something of an easy target. After all, as pointed out, he describes himself as a theocratic fascist. He’s a Fundamentalist Christian and his attitudes seem to be stuck firmly in the 50s. All told, he’s quite an unpleasant person with very unpleasant views.

      So it should be a matter of interest, if not concern, that both his views and the film he made are so popular. We should be asking ourselves why. Obviously the place to start here is by watching the film. And watching it critically. The author here shows why people SHOULD dislike the film and the maker of it. What he never examines is why people DON’T. Yet that is, obviously, the more important question.

      For those who haven’t watched it, Walsh wanders across the US and outside asking various people, mainly academics, the question “What is a Woman?” He follows Socrates in this, who wandered about Ancient Greece purporting to be ignorant and asking people to enlighten him. Like Socrates, he lets the people he asks the question impale themselves on their own ludicrous stupidity.

      I mean, it shouldn’t be a difficult question to answer. Yet time and time again, none of these people, most of whom have degrees, doctorates and similar, can answer it in a coherent way. And, realising how dumb they look, they attack Walsh as they realise that he’s taking the piss out of them. One would imagine the Sophists in Ancient Greece were similarly annoyed with Socrates, for the same reason: They thought they were intelligent, but he exposed them as idiots. From the Social Scientist (with a PhD) who says he knows what a circular definition is, but then sticks with “a woman is somebody who identifies as a woman”, seemingly unable to see what horseshit he’s spouting, to a Therapist who inanely says, that it’s a difficult question, to a random transvestite who repeats the circular definition above and, when pressed to say what a person who identifies as a woman actually identifies as, says he doesn’t know, despite “identifying as a woman” himself!

      Matt Walsh exposes horseshit, and furthermore he exposes horseshit that a child could see. He points out that the emperor has no clothes and that all the people who say otherwise are talking horseshit. Really obvious horseshit. He shows just how ludicrous and ridiculous their beliefs are.

      And, lets be honest, this is why people like the author of this piece don’t like the film. Yes, he’s right wing and religiously extreme. But he talks sense on this issue and shows how ridiculous people like the author of this piece are. And that must sting. It’s hard enough being shown up as somebody dumb enough to believe ludicrous horseshit, but how much worse it must be to be shown up by a guy like Matt Walsh?

      Walsh has claimed to be the originator and driving force behind the Gender Critical movement. This is also horseshit, of course, him jumping on a bandwagon that was made by women, and by the feminist left-wing women that Walsh despises at that. This question and movement is too important to let the right wing co-opt it. As was obvious in the film, Walsh has far more things he’s trying to push against than just the ludicrous Men’s Rights Agenda that TRAs spout. This is a left wing movement and needs to stay that way. But it’s not helped when so-called “left-wing” people like the Canary editors and the author of this article push this ludicrous nonsense. Being left wing doesn’t, and shouldn’t, mean believing in and pushing ideas that are this stupid, this ridiculous and that attack and override the rights of working class women to push the agenda of a few spoilt, abusive men. Women say No. If you were truly left-wing, that would be the end of it. But you’re not. And it isn’t.

      This will not be forgotten.

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