King Twitter-Mob

In an unexpected move, the normally tedious Krugman fan-blog Noahpinion has published a sane and non-partisan post on the reign of the Twitter-mob:

Earlier this week Pax Dickinson, the Chief Technology Officer at Business Insider, was fired after a number of his tweets regarding women and minorities drew public outrage. Pax (if that is his real name) is only the latest of a growing series of individuals who lost their jobs after expressing unpopular or offensive views. In July Jack Hunter resigned from a position on Senator Rand Paul’s staff after past statements in defense of the Confederacy came to light. In May, Jason Richwine resigned his position with Heritage after the details of his Ph.d dissertation (which speculated on issues involving race and IQ) were reported in the Washington Post. Psychology professor Geoffrey Miller managed to keep his job after one of his “fat shaming” tweets went viral, but was censured by his employer, was forced to undergo sensitivity training, and is subject to a number of other administrative penalties.

And that’s just in the last few months. Going back further one can find the same story playing out over and over where an unpopular comment draws popular outrage, leading the offender’s employer to (quite rationally) seek to disassociate itself as quickly as possible.

(Note the amusing usage of “rational,” in the economist’s sense of the word, in the second paragraph, above. We could rewrite it as, “leading the offender’s employer to (quite rationally – i.e., self-interestedly) seek to disassociate itself as quickly as possible.”)

Two things:

  1. Watch yourself, Mr Neeley. If Brad DeLong reads this, he’s going to be furious. We wouldn’t want you to end up on the wrong end of somebody’s pitch-fork.
  2. You repeat “popular” throughout the article, as though the crime of the individuals mentioned in the post was that they somehow offended the sensibilities of the majority. In fact, the majority could scarcely care less about such things, and, if pressed, would come down a lot closer to the side of the heretics than that of their inquisitors. Our unfortunate thought-criminals did not offend popular opinion, but popular liberal opinion, – that is, they offended the gaggle of media-types, hipsters and students that dominate Twitter – and, unfortunately for them, liberal opinion just so happens to have a lot more influence than the opinion of the majority.

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