Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw was recently a guest on an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, during which they had a lengthy discussion around “civil political discourse” online.
The conservative politician and US army veteran is qualified to discuss the issue: when Saturday Night Live decided to make fun of the eyepatch he is wearing due to a combat injury, Crenshaw decided against kicking up a Twitter storm of outrage among his supporters.
Instead, he promoted his message about “civil political discourse” all the way to appearing on SNL himself.
In conversation with Rogan, Crenshaw blamed “social media and woke culture” for the degradation of such a discourse.
On the one hand, they agreed, social media companies encourage polarization and constant outrage as basically their business model. Controversial and heated topic attract more attention and clicks – they are something of a virtual equivalent of a car crash that people can't look away from.
But Crenshaw also sought to put some blame on the users who engaged in this behavior – although they are encouraged and shoehorned towards it by the carefully algorithmically selected and surfaced content presented to them.
However, Rogan also noted the dangers of the “social engineering” angle behind this successful business model – considering that the corporations behind the social media are “all left with their policies.”
Rogan argues that this type of social engineering leads to censorship, and mentions the example of a “trans-exclusionary, radical feminist Megan Murphy,” who was banned from Twitter for life for making comments concerning trans women – men who become women – by saying that “a man is never a woman” – and as such, trans or not, should not be allowed “to invade feminist women spaces.”
The host argued that the case was “woke culture in its most boiled down form” – where “woke” is the term now widely used to describe awareness of various types of social injustices.
Crenshaw observed that this kind of dispute was also showcasing an “intersectional coalition (…) coming to terms with itself.”
Transcript from The Joe Rogan Experience:
Crenshaw: Maybe they should recognize that [algorithms are] extenuating that anger, quite a bit. And, you have to ask yourself at a certain point, well why? Why encourage that? It’s not helpful.
Rogan: No, it isn’t helpful and it seems like it’s only for profit. The reason why they do it is because the more people click on things the more advertising revenue they’re going to generate. I mean, it’s not a malicious idea. It’s just the algorithms have figured out, what’s the best way to keep people engaged. And that’s through outrage, it’s not through cuteness. Or adorable memes.
Crenshaw: It’s frustrating. You know what tweet is gonna get 50,000 plus likes. It’s gotta be hard-hitting. It’s gotta be punchy. It’s not gonna be like your nuanced, thoughtful take on issue “x.” That’s not gonna get a ton of traction. So there’s an incentive there. And it’s not totally the social media companies’ fault. Like, we always have to look to ourselves as a culture, I think. And be a little introspective. And just ask ourselves, why am I reacting… do I want to be this way? Do I want to be that person that reacts so angrily? That posts comments to somebody that I would never have the guts to say to their face? Do you really want to be that person? We have to ask ourselves as a culture about that. It’s a lot of what I wrote about after the Saturday Night Live thing.
We have to get to this point, and it’s a pretty low standard. Where we’re attacking ideas and not people. And, it’s a low standard, frankly, as far as political discourse. But it’s a good place to start.
Rogan: It is a problem. And there is a problem with the gatekeepers of social media. That these companies are all left with their policies. And they might be right with their business practices. And David Packman came on here and argued that, and it actually makes a lot of sense. In terms of how they still shuffle money overseas and avoid taxes. It’s a lot of right-wing business practices, but my thought on that is it’s probably just compartmentalization and you’re dealing with business people that have taken over some multi-billion-dollar corporation. This is the business aspect of it, and then you’ve got your social engineering aspect of it.
The social engineering aspect of it is very problematic for me. There was an article that was written recently. And one of the guys, was saying something about me and that, no, silencing white nationalists and keeping them off your platform is not censorship. Which is the dumbest way to sort of boil down my position on censorship and ignore the real problem of other people deciding what someone can or can’t say. And what is or isn’t offensive. And one of the best examples is a woman named Megan Murphy. She’s what’s called a trans-exclusionary, radical feminist.
She was in a debate with people about whether or not trans women should be able to invade feminist women spaces. So, a person who is biologically male, who becomes a female later in life, should be able to make decisions in feminist spaces.
Crenshaw: Like in their sports and all that.
Rogan: Yes, the sports is a big one for me. She says, but a man is never a woman. This is what she says. Twitter asks her to take it down. So, she takes it down, takes a screenshot of it, and reposts it. Like f*ck you, I’m gonna put it up this way. They ban her for life. You know who’s on Twitter for life? O.J. Simpson. O.J. Simpson murdered two people, he went to jail for armed kidnapping. He’s on everyday.
Crenshaw: Hamas, among other things.