Editorial

Lefty Journalists: Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

Scott Greer Contributor

It only took a few hours for The New York Times to fire its newest hire on Tuesday.

Tech journalist Quinn Norton was announced as the Times’ lead opinion writer on tech issues around 3 p.m. est Tuesday. Right after the announcement was made, left-wing reporters began digging into her Twitter history and found a lot of eye-opening posts.

In several tweets, Norton was found to say “fag” and other slurs, while being a “queer activist” herself. She also said she has been friends with “neo-Nazis” in the past.

The tech writer certainly didn’t keep it business professional on her Twitter account, and apparently the Times spent no time looking at it before hiring her. After being alerted to these unseemly tweets, the Grey Lady parted ways with Norton.

The Norton saga came a day after New York Times opinion section editor Bari Weiss received a ton of flak from left-wing journalists over a pro-immigration joke, which they were taking as a pretext to bash Weiss for failing to adhere to progressive orthodoxy in her writings.

A tough week for the Times, and for the ability to make jokes on Twitter.

The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Joe Simonson persuasively argued that Norton got unfairly railroaded in her situation. “We’re talking about this woman’s use of language nearly five years ago. Given how many leftist journalists are still in their 20s, do we really want to review what kind of language they used when they were still in college? Oddly, most leftists barely believe in the concept of self-responsibility, yet they draw the line at bad jokes someone told a few years ago,” Simonson wrote. (RELATED: New York Times Fires Writer After Deciding It Went Too Far In Its Search For Intellectual Diversity)

He’s got a point, but it should be remembered that leftists are very insistent the same standards should not be applied to themselves.

Just last week, many of the same leftists crusading against Norton and Weiss were defending Deadspin contributor Jesse Farrar over his offensive humor. In a tweet, Farrar joked he wanted to drown conservative students. When Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk remarked that the dark tweet was probably a joke, the leftist writer insisted, “I am not joking.”

That was all a part of his particular humor, but it’s understandable why a few did not think it was a joke. He did flat-out say “I’m not joking,” which demands everyone understand his unique sense of humor to know he’s not.

Conservative outlet IJR reached out to Deadspin for comment on the matter. Deadspin deputy editor Barry Petchesky replied that he couldn’t argue against drowning conservative students. “And while I would not personally advocate the method mentioned in Farrar’s obvious joke Tweet you seem to be using to try to snitch on him to his employers, I can’t argue that it wouldn’t make the world a better place,” Petchesky told IJR.

Man is that funny.

Farrar’s leftist defenders believe that everyone should understand his humor and it’s a serious outrage to report his jokes to his employers, forgetting that they do this all the time to their political opponents.

A perfect representation of this completely unaware approach is given to us by Paste Magazine. Paste writer Shane Ryan celebrated Farrar’s “ironic leftist” humor as great comedy and claimed it should have been obvious that that’s what it was. Ryan deplored the “thinly disguised attempt to bring real-world consequences down on [Farrar’s] head” and claimed that the comedy writer wasn’t really a public figure, thus he shouldn’t be expected to face consequences.

“Charlie Kirk is a hyper-sensitive dweeb, and his idea of justice is trying to ruin the life of someone who made a joke on Twitter. People like that are poison, and deserve the worst,” he concludes.

Wonder if Paste believes the people going after Norton and Weiss also “deserve the worst.” It is odd that the writer would conclude an article celebrating Deadspin with that assertion. The left-wing sports blog is a leftover from the defunct Gawker media empire, which was an operation dedicated to ruining the lives of public and private figures alike.

Even though there was much hand-wringing that a publication would inquire about Farrar to another outlet that publishes him, there likely won’t be any negative effect on his comedy career from this ordeal.

The same could not be said if a right-wing writer told a prominent liberal he believes all leftist students should be drowned. That joke would have had few defenders and the person who made it would be made unemployable. Nobody would have told an outraged liberal outlet that a media inquiry about the joke made them think drowning leftist students is a defensible idea, as Petchesky argued.

Drowning conservatives is just something we should all laugh at, and you’re a dope who deserves to be drowned if you disagree.

Farrar’s case isn’t the first time left-wing figures wanted an exemption from their own rules. When MSNBC let go progressive commentator Sam Seder back in December over an old, off-color joke about Roman Polanski, his dismissal became a free speech cause celebre for the Left. (RELATED: Liberals Want To Be Exempt From Their Own Social Media Rules)

In the original headline to his New Republic article on Seder’s termination, Jeet Heer bewailed how “Weaponized Outrage Is a Threat to Journalists’ Free Speech.” The original headline was probably a little too honest and “journalists” was later dropped from it, but the point was made clear regardless. Seder deserves a different standard for his bad jokes because he’s a progressive and one of our friends.

The outpouring of support for Seder worked and he got his MSNBC contributor gig back.

Real-world consequences for Twitter jokes is just a thing we have to deal with. It would be great if everyone could understand every person’s humor, but that’s not the case and both sides have a shared interest in ginning up outrage over old tweets.

It’s just the Left that believes it deserves an exception from these rules. They’re the ones who pioneered the tactic of getting folks fired and harassed over tweets, but they will justify those acts as either serious journalism or righteous activism. Returning the favor to leftists, however, is a dire threat to free speech.

Since most of the media world is left-wing, well-connected and proper thinking journalists and writers don’t have to worry about their offensive jokes coming back to haunt them.

As long as you’re seen as having the right views by the right people, you can joke about disemboweling conservatives and not worry about career repercussions.

Follow Scott on Twitter and buy his new book, “No Campus for White Men.”