Racist Twitter trolls targeted comedienne Leslie Jones and other female cast member of the new “Ghostbusters” movie. Jones, the only black cast member, and her fellow white cast mates have suffered months of harsh criticism since the remake of the popular 80’s movie was announced. Jones has finally showed her frustration and anger at the attacks.
Jones, the first black female comedienne on “Saturday Night Live,” went to war earlier this week against Twitter trolls. She even engaged Milo Yiannopoulos, an advocate for the GamerGate group. Yiannopoulis’ followers are known to attack women in the name of equal rights. Strangely enough Yiannopoulos is a gay man. Gay people are another group who have been attacked by hate speech on Twitter.
The attack on Jones included comparisons to primates, including Harambe, the male gorilla who was shot dead in May at a Cincinnati zoo. Others trolls sent her pornography and created fake Twitter accounts that made it appear she was herself using hateful speech. Twitter trolls called her names and even faked pictures of her with semen on her face.
Jones responded via her own Twitter account, “Ok, I have been called Apes,” she wrote on Twitter, “even got a pic with semen on my face. I’m trying to figure out what human means. I’m out.”
Director of the new all female” Ghostbusters” reboot Paul Feig defended Jones on Twitter: “Leslie Jones is one of the greatest people I know. Any personal attacks against her are attacks against us all.” As a result he too became the target of attacks. Feig was criticized and attackers created a fake Twitter account set up in his name that sent out racist tweets.
Feig used the hashtag #LoveforLeslieJ to send his message. Other celebrities including Margaret Cho and William Shatner also used the hashtag in Jones defense.
On Monday Jones began to respond to the hateful messages. Her Tweets showed frustration, bewilderment and anger at the attacks. Many of her followers urged her to ignore the attacks but Jones felt differently. She Tweeted, “Stop saying ignore them or that’s just the way it is. Cause that’s bullshit. Everybody knows an asshole check them for their hate.”
Jones also turned her anger on Twitter by Tweeting , “Twitter I understand you got free speech I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let it spread like that. You can see on the profiles that some of these people are crazy sick. It’s not enough to freeze acct. They should be reported.”
Because of the attacks on Jones and other incidents Twitter has been criticized for not responding fast enough or strongly enough to trolls and hate speech.
After hours of back and forth between Jones and trolls Twitter permanently suspended the account of Milo Yiannopoulos, also known as @Nero. Yiannopoulos is accused of launching the Twitter campaign against Jones saying he had no “no regrets” about kicking off an online feud with the film star.
Twitter has struggled with controlling abuse on its service. Especially so for abuse targeting women. Twitter Chief Executive Dick Costolo openly admitted the social network sucked at dealing with abuse. After dumping Yiannopoulos Twitter again admitted it had “not done enough” to stop trolling. Twitter claimed it has worked at developing tools to make it easier to report and curb abuse. However Jones’ situation reveals that Twitter still has some work to do and the company admits it.
A Twitter spokeperson issued a statement saying, “This type of abusive behavior is not permitted on Twitter, and we’ve taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others. We realize we still have a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues.”
Twitter offered its rules on dealing with “hateful conduct.” Its policies warn against advocating any form of violence, attacks upon or threatening other users and warning that accounts set up for those purposes will be banned.
Breaking It Down
Racism thrives in the dark. The anonymity of the Internet, in this case Twitter, provides the perfect cover for cowards. America has a race problem and situations like this reveal this to be the unquestioned truth. Leslie Jones is the victim of racist who seem to think that the remaking of a movie with an all female cast is some how dangerous and an affront to white privilege. Why else would you attack women, a black woman, with such horrible words. People who seem to think that a movie like Ghostbusters with an all female cast is dangerous are as mature as they were when the original movie came out. Racism is fear, It is hatred. It is the fruit of the empty mind. People who speak out in the dark and hide behind Twitter handles are really saying, “I’m stupid and I don’t want anyone to know. Ms. Jones is right to lash out at these fools and at Twitter for their attacks. We need to hold not just the assholes who do these things responsible but also the jerks who provide the stage for them to speak. Free speech is an American right first and a tradition second. A wise man once said, “The reason we have free speech is so we can know who the fools are.” That is a powerful statement but we should have the right and power to shut them down when we discover that is just what they are…fools.