Acclaimed actor James Woods reinvented himself as one of the most entertaining and staunch conservative figures through his Twitter handle since 2009. Whether covering Hillary Clinton stories better than most of the press or impressively standing against those trying to silence him, Woods never stood down — no matter the consequences.
Unfortunately, the “Videodrome” actor, who boasts nearly half a million followers, has quit Twitter over concerns of censorship.
It’s unfortunate to see Twitter lose James Woods, a true culture warrior, but it’s easy to understand his leaving.
“Since @Twitter is now in the #censorship business, I will no longer use its service for my constitutional right to free speech. #GoodbyeAll,” the actor tweeted to his followers on Nov. 18. His account has since been inactive.
The tweet came after the social media platform shut down the accounts of multiple Alt-Right users. The banning of accounts comes after Twitter put in place new counter-abuse tools that make it easier to report tweets that may target specific people or specific groups of people.
People who have been banned thus far from Twitter include reality star Tila Tequila and Richard Spencer, the head of the white supremacist National Policy Institute. “Twitter is trying to airbrush the alt-right out of existence. They’re clearly afraid. They will fail!” Spencer told The Daily Caller News Foundation about the Twitter ban.
Tequila’s account was shut down after an image surfaced of her at a D.C. event performing a Nazi salute. At the same event, Spencer delivered controversial remarks that have gotten far more press attention than they should have.
It should be noted that Woods holds no relationship to these two or others banned from Twitter, and he has not directly commented on their cases. It appears what frustrates the conservative actor more is the limiting of free speech by Twitter, as well as perhaps concern for its discretion. After all, the social media platform has run into trouble when disabling accounts before.
Breitbart Editor Milo Yiannopoulos was suspended from Twitter earlier this year after a run-in with “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones. Though Yiannopoulos sent no direct tweets to Jones that were offensive or abusive, Twitter suspended him for harassment due to the tweets of others.
Twitter’s history, mixed with its new ax-wielding banning tool, is likely the toxic mixture that convinced Woods to scram.
There is no doubt people like Tequila and Spencer have exemplified abhorrent speech. However, the press and places like Twitter are doing a dangerous thing right now. By focusing on a minority of hateful people, they seem to be twisting and infecting the motivations of those who didn’t want Hillary Clinton in office.
After they attempted to connect such hatred to the president-elect and his supporters, Donald Trump told The New York Times, “I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn,” in regard to the D.C. event involving Tequila and Spencer.
Twitter’s handling of limiting free speech can end with the unnecessary suspension of innocent parties in the case of Yiannopoulos. We’ve also seen the media give a grueling amount of press to people like Spencer, who represent a small minority.
“You are not helping to combat it by walling it off and saying it’s so repugnant that individual users can’t block them if they want, can’t mute them or engage them if they want,” libertarian magazine Reason’s Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie said, according to USA Today.
It’s unfortunate to see Twitter lose James Woods, a true culture warrior — but it’s easy to understand his leaving. The stifling of speech, any speech, is always a bad idea that only helps to further polarize and divide people — something the media and many on the Left seem keen on doing in the wake of the election results.