Longtime BU antagonist and inveterate racist demagogue Robert Stacy McCain has been permanently banned from Twitter for abuse and harassment. Given his penchant for doxing and smearing political opponents, this development was as inevitable as the sunrise, but it has predictably spawned angry reactions and denialism from right wing Twitter users. Denouncing the social media service, fans of McCain have spent the last several days flooding a #freestacy hashtag, threatening to boycott advertisers, and ranting about censorship in blogs.

A former reporter and editor for the right wing Washington Times, McCain was best-known for fawning coverage of neo-Confederates and white supremacists. He left the newspaper in 2007 after an argument with a fellow editor over the firing of Fran Coombs, who was also an unapologetic racist. McCain’s habit of launching into bigoted diatribes in the presence of co-workers was also reportedly a factor in the dispute.

McCain slid onto our radar here at BU during 2012 when he became a key outlet for goofball conspiracy theories about Brett Kimberlin. Thereafter, he became a constant thorn in the side of several friends of this writer, many of whom left Twitter altogether or reduced their interactions due to the constant troll-swarms that McCain would stir up against liberals who drew his ire by questioning his bizarre narratives. During the time that I wrote here under a pseudonym, McCain returned his attention to those friends in an attempt to credit them with my work, digging up personal information and publishing the details in his blog in a misdirected, vengeful effort to shame and humiliate people he wrongly believed to be writing my stories. Between 2012 and 2015, McCain’s victims filed probably hundreds of reports with Twitter’s Safety Department in an effort to have him banned, or at least chided, for blatant violations of the rules against targeted harassment, but without success.

Four months before losing his job as Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo admitted that such failures were responsible for the flight of core users from the platform “by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.” In an example of the ‘free market’ speaking, Twitter’s stock price plummeted as the company’s growth slowed. The service had developed a terrible reputation for enabling and ignoring abuse, such as fake profiles, death threats, rape threats, ‘revenge porn,’ cyberstalking, and worse, all scaring off potential advertisers. In an effort to clean up the company’s image, earlier this month Twitter announced a new Trust and Safety Council that included several online civil society organizations. Predictably, conservatives and libertarians immediately hated the whole idea, prophesying that it would mean the oppression of right wing voices by liberals and feminists — predictions that have seemingly been fulfilled with McCain’s permanent banning after years of getting away with everything short of actual murder.

What finally seems to have ended McCain’s reign of terror was a series of rants he launched against Anita Sarkeesian, a member of the Trust and Safety Council who was already the focus of years’ worth of deranged attacks and conspiracy theories for having opinions about the portrayal of women in video games. Channeling the misogyny of so-called ‘Men’s Rights Activists,’ McCain’s attacks spurred another round of violent threats against Sarkeesian, prompting his suspension. When McCain switched to his backup account without changing his behavior, it was also suspended.

Although we do wonder what took so long, those of us who’ve been on the wrong end of his bad behavior are relieved to see McCain receive his comeuppance at last. Our only complaint is that it took McCain sliming someone on a Twitter board for the service to finally follow through on what should have been a slam-dunk in 2012. But those who excuse McCain’s bad behavior as ‘free speech’ — or rather, speech that they believe should be free of consequences — are raging in a #FreeStacy hashtag. This moment is deeply ironic: some of the same people who condemned, doxed, harassed, and threatened #StopRush Twitter users for their boycott talk against Limbaugh’s advertisers in 2012 are now threatening to boycott companies that pay for promoted tweets. Of course, McCain himself was one of those people.

Meanwhile, a chorus of blogs is screeching about censorship. Libertarians are concern-trolling at Reason.com and decrying an “Orwellian nightmare” at TheWeek.com. Jeff Dunetz, who is himself one of the most despicable attack dogs and disgusting narcissists in the wingnutosphere, has reprinted an ‘open letter‘ to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey from Ali Akbar, McCain’s former employer, whining about the absence of conservative (read: rabidly right wing) groups on the Trust and Safety Council.

A listing of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council members reads like a buffet of New York interest and lobbying groups. There’s no trust in the Council, nor is there a transparent outline of how they’re working or governing over all of us—the users.

Akbar, a Republican political operative who also has a long history of fraud and a nasty habit of stirring other people to harass his enemies on Twitter, is repeating a new conspiracy theory in which the Trust and Safety Council supposedly has plenipotentiary powers to micromanage Twitter’s daily affairs. As usual, this narrative is a nonsense bogeyman created to fuel another round of ’emergency’ fundraising and victimization mythology.

The #FreeStacy hashtag users are also raving about Twitter preventing their topic from ‘trending,’ thus minimizing attention to their issue, but again this is not without irony. In 2011, for example, Occupy activists complained vociferously when they thought their hashtags were being suppressed. Last year, Twitter yanked API access from liberal group #UniteBlue because of their successful formula for making topics trend at will. Where were all these libertarians and conservatives when their ideological opponents were being suppressed? Were they perhaps too busy tweeting Anita Sarkeesian’s address or threatening to shoot people who attended her talks?

These complaints also overstate McCain’s prominence on Twitter. As many observers had noted before his suspension, the vast majority of his followers were just bot accounts. Ironies abound: when McCain first purchased these ‘batch follows,’ he was very upset at how fake they appeared to be, and tried to blame their too-sudden appearance on his political enemies. Even as recently as a few weeks ago, his few hundred actual human followers ascribed this event to me(!) in yet another ridiculous conspiracy theory that deflected from McCain’s own errors in judgment. But now that he’s been suspended for abuse, McCain’s tens of thousands of fake followers are suddenly proof of his great popularity and touted as evidence that Twitter had better ‘wise up.’


At Michelle Malkin’s aptly-named Hot Air blog, Ed Morrissey whines:

I have enjoyed Twitter in the past, but enjoy it less and less these days. That’s not because of the trolls; it’s because of the very real sense that Twitter doesn’t value free speech or the participation of my friends and colleagues, and that we’re only tolerated for as long as we don’t cross their orthodoxy in any significant manner. What makes this so absurd is that Twitter is about the least substantial communication platform in popular use, thanks to its 140-character limit. Dorsey and the TSC treat it as a medium of such importance that competing views outside their comfort zone must be somehow suppressed, while ignoring the fact that Twitter only really matters as a fun and quick way to engage people without the very barriers they are erecting.

So where was Mr. Morrissey when McCain was making Twitter “less and less fun” for me, my friends, our fellow liberal activists, and any woman who dared to have opinions not formulated by a man? Sure, McCain has the right to walk into a party full of diverse people and declare aloud that Trayvon Martin “deserved” to be shot dead for being a black male in a hoodie — and yes, he’s actually said that — but McCain has no right to expect everyone in the room will just politely tolerate his racist asshat behavior. Nor should he expect the objects of his constant, grinding attention to just grin and bear it while a small army of trolls takes his cues to invent new ways of circumventing Twitter’s block and mute functions. And before anyone defends his innocence in such a scheme, remember that it’s exactly what McCain has repeatedly accused his enemies of doing to him.

McCain’s suspension therefore belongs in the same category as that of Charles C. Johnson, a notorious troll and hatemonger who finally lost his account for making threats after being suspended four times for publishing personal information and real-life stalking. Pax Dickinson, the anti-feminist ‘brogrammer’ who famously lost his job as Chief Technology Officer at Business Insider over his racist and bigoted tweets, has made the comparison between Johnson and McCain himself in a blog post about Twitter’s “crackdown on free speech.” At the end, he makes this chilling announcement:

Charles Johnson and I are soon going to be launching an information marketplace called Wesearchr.  I’m really excited about this company, it is absolutely unlike any other existing media business and it’s been great fun to develop something truly unique.

Those of us who’ve watched these cads the longest get the sinking feeling that Wesearchr is a dox machine — that is, an information website specifically built to enable the social media harassment of political and ideological enemies. If so, the Twitter Trust and Safety Council apparently has plenty of work ahead of them.

  • T2588

    These so called constitutional scholars are screaming about censorship and first amendment rights on a private entity, which doesn’t guarantee free speech at all.
    Terms of Service agreements are bitch, huh?

    • ToS, how do they freaking work?

      • T2588


    • Hibernia86

      Just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it should be done. If he was banned specifically for harassing people, then that is okay. But if he was banned for being “misogynistic and racist” then that isn’t okay because too often people get banned by sites when the vast majority of people would agree that what they said wasn’t bigoted. And even if it was I’d much rather have the KKK on Twitter rather than have Twitter start deciding who was morally acceptable or not because I don’t trust them to make that decision. The entire point of free speech is that each person gets to make up their own mind what they think rather than having the higher ups do our thinking for us.

  • Frendo DaPeeples

    The First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to have a Twitter account. It says the government can’t pass a law stifling your right to have an opinion. You can hate whoever you wish to hate. Twitter does not have to provide you with a platform.

    • What does it say about the glibertarians that they think the Constitution imbues them with a right to abuse people using a social media service?

      • Hawker40

        Aren’t these the people who believe that a place of business has the right to “refuse service to anyone”?

        • Except THEM. They never figure THEY will be the ones refused service.

        • Kitty Smith

          Yeah, butsee. They meant black people. And gays. And muslims. And japanese. And…

    • Hibernia86

      But if Twitter starts banning people based on their political beliefs then it further separates the society into echo chambers where people only talk to others that agree with them. If you believe that you have the correct views, then you ought to be able to listen to other people who disagree with you without having a crisis. People should be able to defend their beliefs. It becomes dangerous for democracy when people feel unable to speak their mind in their own community without losing friends or their job.

  • Mi Hi

    You lost me when you started to defend Queen SNARKeezian. I’m not against women. Just THAT particular woman for her demands for censorship (even on matters that have absolutely nothing to do with gender equality) and constant demands that she not only have the last word but the ONLY word allowed. She’s a Trump-class demagogue.

    • When did she demand censorship? Be specific. And how does her “demanding censorship” possibly excuse death threats, doxing, or threats of mass-shootings?

      Just to be clear, McCain has also demanded censorship — of LGBTs, of feminists, or liberals who anger him. For that matter, his entire Brett Kimberlin conspiracy theory was little more than a demand for government to imprison a man without trial over imaginary crimes. So tell me when did Sarkeesian take part in actual lobbying on Capitol Hill to put her enemies in prison? Outside of your imagination, when did that ever happen?

      • Mi Hi

        A year or so ago, she gave a review for a video game where the developers went out of their way to have a lead female character that was strong and self-determined. Despite all that effort, SNARKeezian still roasted it because she said it was too violent. It seems that absolutely nothing will ever make her happy and any attempt to do so is doomed to fail since she’d rather complain and censor in order to keep her name in the limelight.
        And I’m not talking about that McCain idiot. His stupidity is self-evident. It’s the mention of SNARKeezian’s name that makes my blood boil. SNARKeezian is so odious that if she attacked Hell, I’d find something good to say about the Devil.

      • Mi Hi

        I did leave a detailed reply earlier, but I guess it got deleted because it made too much sense here. Oh well.

        • We don’t delete comments unless they’re personal attacks, and I don’t see it in our Disqus queue, so maybe you just don’t understand how to leave comments? Feel free to try again.

          • MiHi

            Is that the lie you’re pushing now? So we cannot even say anything non-flattering about Her Highness Queen Sarkeesian without it being censored under the BS of calling it “personal attacks”? You can delete any comment all you want since this is your site, but please do not lie and give a BS rationale for your censorship. And above all, please do not block that person’s ability to Reply so you can prevent everyone from finding out what you REALLY did. If you’re going to censor comments, then at least man up and be honest by saying that you fear differing opinions.
            (And btw, I noticed how you not only censored my comment but even blocked me from being allowed the dignity of a reply, thus forcing me to create a whole new account so I can get my word out again. THIS is what I’m talking about when it comes to SJW behavior; their demands to not only have the last word but the ONLY word. “Progressives” acting like autocrats are part of the reason why people are flocking to demagogues like Trump.)

          • No one censored your comment. Disqus auto-approves most comments and only holds them for having too many links or embedded content, but yours never even appeared in the moderation queue. And at that point, we would have approved it (because free speech) unless it engaged in personal attacks *on other commenters.* (Do you see Sarkeesian commenting here? No? Then that’s not it.) AFAIK nobody here has blocked your account, either, as you’re not on our blacklist. If we were going to oppress you we would have deleted your original comment instead of replying to it.

            So I’m left to conclude that your complaints are another instance of fake victimization. You pretend to have left a comment — which I note you did not take the trouble of trying to reconstruct, which omission makes sense because your prior assertion is preposterous nonsense — and now you’ve constructed a whole new martyrdom out of thin air so you can feel better about your mendacity.

            But thanks for helping drive the Google-ranking of this post with comments.

          • MiHi

            Oh please render unto me a freaking break! First you get busted trying to censor comments AND prevent my original account from posting, now you try to claim I’m playing the victim card. How cute.
            Fact remains that you tried to manipulate discussion by censoring my rationale on why I find Sarkeezian to be a demagogue, then you lie some more by saying that my original Disqus account isn’t blocked.
            And if all you care about is driving Google-rankings, then you truly are a sad little person.

          • “Busted”? What proof have you presented other than your own complaint?

      • Hibernia86

        I do greatly disagree with her assumption that if something is sexy therefore it must be sexist, but usually the controversies over people getting banned aren’t controlled by her specifically. I think that there is too strong of a push on the far left that anything they deem “problematic” should be kicked out of any media, even if most people would agree that the statements aren’t bigoted. I’m not going to defend McCain because I know very little about him, but I have not yet found anyone who has a screen shot of the tweets he was banned for so I can’t tell whether it was warranted or not. But I am of the opinion that unless someone is directly harassed no one should be kicked off twitter no matter what they say.

        • I find this to be an amazing argument: “Twitter deleted his awful tweets, so I can’t see how awful they are, therefore they must not have been that awful.”

          • MiHi

            Keep spinning, but your preference for discussion manipulation via censorship is apparent as it is grotesque.

          • Sooo you can accuse me of censorship with zero evidence, but Twitter can’t suspend McCain without evidence? I see how this works.

    • You lost me when you made all that up.

    • You feeling OK?

  • I didn’t know he was banned on Twitter. Well deserved!

  • William A. Ferguson



  • RogerS

    Robert Stacy McCain is a total slimebag who can only get support from other slimebags. Since Twitter is now finally getting some balls, let’s all do a campaign to ban his best buddy, the Prophet Mohammed hater Aaron Justin Walker of Manassas Virginia. His Twitter handle is @AaronWorthing because he is too afraid to use his own name to attack Muslims. Remember his “I am Pam Geller” tweets for weeks after Garland, Texas. But he never said, “I am Aaron Walker.” What a lowlife. File Trust and Safety complaints on him now.

    • Hibernia86

      You want to ban someone because they hate the Prophet Mohammed? You think that Twitter should be allowed to decide what someone believes? Are you attempting to dox AaronWarthing for having a different opinion from you? Even if Mohammed is the founding prophet of Islam, that doesn’t protect him from criticism. This idea that we should limit free speech so long as we don’t use the government to do so is against liberal values and is not something any self respecting progressive should accept.

      • MiHi

        SJWs are vile. They are just as bad as the most rabid of rightwingers.

  • sillybill

    Speaking of Men’s Right’s Activists, anyone seeking further info and mockery of their demented statements and actions should check out David Futrelle’s blog We Hunted the Mammoth. Infuriating and hilarious, sometimes simultaneously.