Don’t ever tell David Simon he can’t tell someone to “die of boils.”
A few weeks after saying he had been banned from Twitter for violating the social media platform’s rules, the “Wire” creator is back with a vengeance — telling CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey to “die of boils” and “drop dead” (among other things).
It’s likely that similar incendiary tweets are what got him banned in the first place.
Earlier this month, Simon tweeted that another Twitter user should meet a similar fate and soon after found himself banned from the social media platform. (That tweet no longer exists. Twitter states in its policy that users “may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people.”)
Simon’s radio silence on Twitter following the death of his friend and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain seemed odd, but former Baltimore Sun reporter and novelist Laura Lippman revealed that Simon, her husband, had been banned from Twitter and might not ever come back.
Simon, known for his bold opinions and Shakespearean insults on Twitter, also stated on his personal blog that he’d been banned from the social media website for tweets that violated its rules and thought it unfair.
In a blog titled “Bourdain,” Simon stated that while others have freely shared “anti-human” opinions on immigrants and spread lies about young survivors of the Holocaust on Twitter, fighting back with words on Twitter was not allowed for him.
But now he is back.
In a series of tweets, Simon took the Twitter founder to task for selective censorship: Simon’s tweets telling trolls to “drop dead” or “die of boils” had violated the platform’s user agreement, he says, but the original awful tweets by said trolls stayed on the platform.
Simon writes, “So, die of boils, @jack. Yup. There it is. The sum total of my crime against Twitter. I've told you to drop dead, as I told libelers and liars to drop dead. You can say that constitutes a threat, but that would be empty and embarrassing. I hold no dominion over life & death.”
A spokeswoman for Twitter stated in an email to The Sun that she could not comment on the individual account due to privacy and security reasons, but that “Twitter prohibits behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.”
The spokeswoman also noted that the account was not suspended. She noted that when a tweet violates Twitter rules, Twitter requires the violator to delete the tweet before they can tweet again. An email notification is also sent to the user to let them know which tweets are in violation of policies. The user will then have to delete the tweets or appeal Twitter’s review if they believe they made an error, she wrote.
Simon, who had tweeted that he has been waiting for two weeks for a response to his appeal, stated in an email to The Sun that he has not heard directly from Twitter, and that he’s not hopeful.
“I have no hope for any other outcome than that eventually I will be booted from their platform for rhetorical replies to the worst kinds of bots and trolls that are neither threats nor harassment and are, on the merits, entirely justifiable. If not today, then in a week or whenever the stupidity of the Twitter algorithm finds me,” he wrote, adding that there aren’t many options for Twitter participants who are facing racist and libelous tweets.
Twitter users can choose to ignore or engage with such tweets, which Simon wrote validates both racism and libel, or users can “call it what it is, hold the perpetrators in an appropriate light and then block.” The latter, however, can “result in your exile, while the slander and racism factories will remain, validated and protected. That's a rigged game. And a dishonorable one for Jack Dorsey or anyone else,” he wrote.
While Simon says he does not subscribe to Twitter blocking anyone who can demonstrate that they are human, and that he’s in support of open speech for all, “open speech certainly should allow me to tell you to take a long walk off a short pier, or grow like an onion with your head in the ground, or die of boils if you bring racism or slander to my threads,” he stated. “These are not actual threats of violence, nor are they harassment given that I am not delivering a string of insult or attack.”
Lastly, Simon wrote that he does not think bots require access to open speech, and that should people want the quality of Twitter to improve, prohibiting anonymous posting is “the singular remedy.”
“People who have to stand behind their opinions are more responsible, careful and ethical than trolls relying on anonymity,” Simon wrote. “But hey, that's me, I stand by what I write.”