Ben Mora was a Bernie Sanders staffer. He had a private Twitter account where he posted a bunch of insult comedy about other candidates. Scott Bixby is a writer for the Daily Beast. He gained access to this private account and published an expose of the putatively shocking things Ben Mora had written like:
“”Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mora has tweeted, “looks like her name: pained, chunky, [and] confused origin/purpose.” Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg “is what happens when the therapist botches the conversion,” and his husband, Chasten, Mora predicts, will be “busted for running a meth racket” in 10 years. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a frequent subject of Mora’s private account, is called a “dumb Okie,” “an adult diaper fetishist” who “looks like shit” and who lied about having Native American ancestry “to get into Harvard.”
As a predictable result, the Sanders campaign was forced to fire Ben, and now Scott faces a backlash.
1. To say the obvious first- it is ridiculous to say that Ben was “harassing” presidential candidates as many have. It is impossible to harass someone using a private Twitter account totally disconnected not only from the ‘target’ of the putative harassment but also from anyone they know. It is almost impossible to harass someone as powerful as a presidential candidate while being an anonymous nobody. The same goes for “abusive”. I or Ben can no more “abuse” a presidential candidate than a possum can abuse me. The reapplication of terminology used primarily to describe gendered violence to the critique (however puerile) of some of the most powerful people in the world is disturbing.
2. The people suggesting that Ben’s tweets were somehow super problematic and so he deserved to be cancelled- are you so innocent? Do you really have nothing in your closet which if found wouldn’t cost you dearly? Maybe even something you’ve forgotten? A risque DM? A drunk joke at a party? You’ve had decades to slip up, after all. This is why cancel culture will always be chain linked hypocrisy, it’s a bunch of people accusing each other of being witches, hoping no one finds their spell books.
3. Why the fuck are Americans so blasé about people being fired. According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, it’s about three quarters as bad as your mother dying. The only circumstances in which it is acceptable to get someone fired is to protect others from grave harm (senior management and politicians excepted because they do this shit to others all the time). I would cut off my own finger in preference to getting someone fired. This is the kind of sicko mentality that at-will employment breeds. We should regard Scott more or less like he personally lopped off Ben’s arm because, in terms of personal impacts, they are about equivalent. Journalists shouldn’t be going after ordinary people.
4. Politics is about murder. Politicians are generally murderers. If you lose track of that because of their gentility you’re being an idiot. People get shot, starved and denied healthcare all the time. The war in Iraq caused a million excess deaths. I don’t have the words to say this eloquently or forcefully enough, but this is a spectacle designed to captivate you and make you forget that you are ruled by vampires. Anyone who is happy about Ben being fired but supports Biden or Bloomberg is, for this reason alone, a hypocrite who prioritises manners violations over murder.
Woe unto you oh Pharisees! Ye strain out a gnat, yet swallow a camel.
5. What about that Buttigieg staffer who called for Nina Turner to be “muzzled” using a public account. That’s way more fucked up. I don’t want him fired, but Christ, would an apology be too much to ask for?
6. Fuck the idea that this is just the “consequences of Ben’s actions”. In general, this slogan is always stupid because consequences don’t fall from the sky, they exist in a matrix of human interactions. Defending harming someone on the basis that it’s just the “consequences of their actions”- as if you had no agency is cowardly sadism. It’s also fundamentally circular “doing this causes this, therefore if you do this, you deserve this”. Take responsibility for the harm you, or those you are defending, are doing. Scott didn’t have to publish this piece on Ben.
7. Ben was more or less a nobody. Scott is vastly wealthier and better platformed than Ben, and Scott went after Ben on behalf of people who are unimaginably more powerful than either of them. Yet this is supposedly an anti-bullying action. Behold, the perverse heart of American civility culture.
8. Is it glib to say that some of us gays have a unique and sassy mode of communication, and to some extent deliberately misconstruing that communication and stripping it of its context is erasure? Probably- it sounds like trying to dismantle wokeitude with greater wokeitude. Nonetheless, there’s a fragment of truth here.
9. It seems that Scott Bixby has got himself in the shit for writing this piece. Judging by his feed he’s shocked that things he’s done online are having real-world consequences for him. Weird Twitter has a surprisingly long memory, and as the Sanders movement grows more powerful, win or lose, he should be worried about career fallout. The incentives favour making him pay- Scott’s is a great head to hunt- an exemplar of what happens to snitches and doxxers.
10. I do have a suggestion for Scott. Apologise and send Ben some cash. An apology alone would seem insincere, but if he gave Ben a big chunk of money this would be evidence of sincerity. Pay him out the money he lost from this fixed-term job, plus that much again for career damages. I can say that in the unlikely event Scott compensates Ben, I’ll respect him as someone who can at least recognise his mistakes.