In Defence of Wiley | Ewell Gregoor
Like many Social Conservatives last weekend, I was scratching my head at who Wiley was when I stumbled upon his virulent outbreak against the Jewish Community. What proceeded was a forty-eight-hour Anti-Semitic harangue, of which Twitter was unusually slow to react. Last week I reported in The Mallard that Grooming Gang Survivor Dr Ella Hill was suspended from Twitter following her interview on TriggerPod. It is right to point out this double standard from Twitter when not immediately suspending Wiley. Twitter no doubt prescribes to the oppression hierarchy of which the Jewish Community ranks low.
Defenders of the Jewish Community rallied on Twitter, with calls for a forty-eight-hour Twitter Silence. This was confirmed. Many respectable journalists, political commentators and MPs joined in the silence. It gained a few surprising followers, least of all Owen Jones, who broke his silence with an article in the Guardian that asked, “why wait for a black celebrity to make Anti-Semitic comments to take such action”. Whataboutary at its finest from Jones, and an example of the oppression hierarchy to which so many social justice activists subscribe. Anyway, the movement prevailed when it was announced just a few days ago that Wiley would be permanently banned from Twitter. However, it has left me pondering, is this progress?
Double-think is nearly as discountenanced in today`s reality as it is in George Orwell`s dystopian 1984. I feel defenders of Free Speech often forget the virtues of double-think. What Wiley said was vile, disgusting, and deserving of real condemnation and censure from the Twitter Community. However, if you truly believe in Free Speech, of which outside the pre-existing law of Incitement to Violence, should have no limits. Then you must simultaneously denounce Wiley`s harangue, whilst defending his right to do so. There is a question mark that must be caveated, an investigation into whether Wiley`s “Hold Some Corn”, of which it is suggested is slang for shooting, is a direct call to violence, and would therefore be outside the parameters of Free Speech. If proven guilty of this offence Wiley should rightly face the full force of the law. And to caveat the caveat, our democracy also states that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
The role of Twitter in policing non-criminal speech has been widely discussed. I have previously stated that due to Twitters axiomatic influence in social and public behaviour, it could be argued Jack Dorsey is the de-facto World Dictator. If Twitter is allowed to limit speech it does not like and promote speech It approves of , whilst banning dissidents who refuse to follow the rules, then how can we deny that this is a technological resemblance of the USSR? No person or institution can have or deserves that level of power. You should always be cautious when institutions wield tyrannical-esk power, even if you agree with the decision they have made. You should always ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen with this power? And in the case of Twitter social engineering, the answer is axiomatic.
That`s not to say that Wiley does not deserve punishment for his vile words. Wiley`s manager, who is himself Jewish, decided he could no longer represent Wiley. Which is perfectly understandable and an example of their free choice and liberty. It will of course be the free choice of Festival Organisers and Music Venues to decide in the future whether they want to host Wiley, and it will be the free choice of any individual to judge any festival that did allow Wiley to perform. I fear, however, that society is becoming very unforgiving. Wiley`s actions are not bad enough that he does not at some stage deserve forgiveness. That he should not be able to move on and must carry this burden throughout the rest of his life. Should Wiley apologise, and not the inefficacious attempt of an apology in a recent interview with Sky News, he should be allowed to move on from his comments.
In the wake of Wiley`s recent interview with Sky News, I commented that I was prepared to give Wiley the benefit of the doubt (pending apology). I do not believe beyond reasonable doubt that Wiley is rotten to his core. In the interview I saw a man did not look well. It would be no surprise to learn that Wiley is plagued by mental health issues. Wiley made references multiple times that he was at the end of his career, that he was not Dave, a younger Brit Award Winning Artist in the Grime Industry, and that he did not have fans. So few people who have watched the clip, judging by the Twitter comments, seemed to pick up on this. It seems we are incapable of learning from the past where celebrities have been driven to suicide, rather than receiving the support they need.
I will offer my opinion on what could have been done better, or what may have been, in my opinion, a more appropriate course of action. The immediate outrage on Twitter was brilliant and showed how the large majority of Britain is not prepared to tolerate such views. A message that was much louder than the one that Wiley presented. The forty-eight-hour Twitter silence was in my opinion frivolous. Yes it succeeded in removing Wiley from Twitter, but did nothing to address the cause of Anti-Semitism and the heuristic for which Wiley developed those views. Was it any surprise that the harangue followed the much coveted news of Labour-whistle blowers in regards to the BBC Documentary, Are the Labour Party Anti-Semitic? Which caused a Twitter stand off between Corbyn defenders and defenders of Jewish bigotry. Wiley has previously expressed his admiration of Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter. Could there be a link? Does Britain have the courage to talk about the impact of the recent Black Lives Matter movement and the links to Anti-Israel bigotry? The Black Lives Matter U.K Twitter account publicly displayed its views in questioning Israel`s legitimacy recently. Forcing an embarrassing U-turn from many celebrity endorsements. It’s worth also saying that Black Lives Matter or the Labour Party may not have any relevance to why Wiley made his comments. The fact is we don`t know. Twitter silence and censorship of Wiley will not help us to understand why he holds these abhorrent views. What we needed, as what we will always need until the end of mankind if we want to continue to progress society, is to talk, to debate and to share ideas without fear. I cannot help but think the Twitter Silence was the easy option. How many of those who participated in the Twitter Silence would have the courage to discuss to the possible influence of Black Lives Matter and the potential impact this had on Wiley?
What Wiley did was bad, but the reaction that followed is typical of a regressive authoritarian culture that is sweeping the country and seems to know no boundaries. That is why today I have to write in defence of Liberty, and in defence of Wiley.
Photo by InsyncInSoul on Flickr.