An “anti-fascist campaigner” and podcast host on Twitter had his account banned after he made fun of fellow podcaster Joe Rogan and former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon, allegedly because he engaged in “hateful conduct”.
Jim Stewartson, a host of the Radicalized podcast, which covers disinformation and the rise of extreme-right wing viewpoints in society, was banned from Twitter after he mocked Mr Rogan and Mr Bannon in a tweet thread.
Twitter reinstated Mr Stewartson’s account on Tuesday after a day of sustained pressure from supporters arguing the ban was not justified.
Mr Stewartson called Mr Rogan “Steve Bannon’s gimp” in a thread “exposing Rogan for promoting vile, misogynistic neo-nazi propaganda,” according to a statement he released through his podcast’s Twitter account on Monday.
He claimed his suspension was the result of Mr Rogan’s legion of fans brigading and mass reporting his comment to Twitter.
“Twitter’s reporting system was gamed by trolls who are upset that I was speaking out about Joe Rogan,” he claimed. “This was not authentic reporting. It was not ‘hateful.'”
He also pointed out that high-profile conservatives who have participated in speech he claimed was actually hateful have been allowed to continue using their accounts.
“Twitter did not suspend Rogan. Twitter did not suspend Paul Gosar for posting a video showing the murders of his colleagues. Twitter has not suspended Jack Posobiec for his nazi signaling, or Joe Flynn for his anti-vaxx propaganda. I could go on,” he wrote.
Hundreds of Twitter users responded in support of Mr Stewartson, calling for his reinstatement with the hashtag “FreeJimStewartson”.
It is possible that Mr Stewartson’s ban occurred because he used the term “gimp”, which has multiple meanings, one of which is a slur used against people with disabilities.
In the context of Mr Stewartson’s thread, it appears he was using the term as it relates to submissive men participating in aspects of the bondage sexual fetish. The term often is used in conjunction with someone wearing a “gimp suit,” – also called a bondage suit – which is a full-body latex suit. The term “gimp”, as Mr Stewartson appears to have used it, was popularised by the movie Pulp Fiction, in which a man in a latex suit called “the gimp” was used by a villain to terrorise two of the film’s main characters.
It appears he was suggesting that Mr Rogan was used by Mr Bannon as a submissive vessel for promoting Mr Bannon’s far-right ideology.
Mr Stewartson demanded he be reinstated.
“I want my account back,” Mr Stewartson wrote. “Feel free to let Twitter know if you agree. Much love. I’m not going anywhere.”
Mr Rogan, who is characterised by some as a far-right enabler but defended by others as simply a podcaster who promotes open discussion of all ideas, has frequently pushed back against social media companies that censor people for using speech deemed offensive by others. During one episode of his podcast, he said “authoritarianism in this country is like… there’s a lot of people that like it because it silences their opponents.”
“What percentage is spreading hate? What are the numbers? Is this wise that we shut down all discourse that you disagree with? Like, it’s not good if someone gets on there and they’re talking about violence against individuals or they’re spreading racist ideas or whatever the f*** they’re doing that disturbs people. You’re right. That’s not good,” he said during the episode. “It sets a precedent where the people that are in power can decide that something is ‘wrong speak,’ something is bad and that you can just eliminate it completely. And then when things like that happen, they keep going. They don’t just stop at things that we can all agree are terrible. They go to things that maybe you don’t think are terrible, but other people do. And then they keep going further.”