In 2009, Ravelry first silenced, then banned conservatives. To prepare for 2020, it’s resurrecting the playbook, as are other social media sites.
Yesterday, Ravelry, one of the largest fiber arts social media sites, with a member roster 8,000,000 strong, made the equivalent of a loud, rude farting sound in the conservative blogosphere. It did so by openly and boldly announcing that all references on the site that in any way support Trump will henceforth be banned because (and I quote): “Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”
Putting aside the idiocy of that statement, one completely belied by Trump’s statements, his policies, and his supporters’ identities, statements, and political goals, I want to focus on Ravelry’s impulse to censor. Shouting down people and then shutting them up is the perfect Leftist social media paradigm.
Today’s Ravelry story, which goes back to the 2008 election, is especially interesting given that today is the day that Project Veritas revealed Google’s plan to prevent Trump’s reelection. In 2008 and 2009, social media sites were beginning to crack down on conservative voices. Conservatives grumbled, but went away without making too much of a fuss. The same happened in 2012. No wonder then, that in 2016, the big social media outlets assumed that conservatives would continue to be cowed. They had no idea that Trump would be the man to release the anger pent-up in conservatives for eight long years of insults and silencing.
Project Veritas’s most recent exposes of the social media giants show that they intend to use their extraordinary power over speech and information to return America to a 2008 political world. We need to see where things started in order to understand how they ended up — and in order to prevent this type of technological takeover from happening again.
To go back to the very beginning, the internet was tailor-made for crafts. Although crafters usually work in the privacy of their own homes, they are in fact a congenial group. They enjoy sharing ideas and untangling knotty problems. There’s also real pleasure in showing off a finished project to an audience that truly appreciates the effort that went into it. Also, for those who do crafts and have marketable skills, whether it’s teaching or designing projects, the internet is a godsend for bringing together seller and buyer.
Before my children came along and changed my focus, I was active in some of the earliest internet knitting ListServ groups. This was back in the early 1990s. Those groups very quickly became social. Thus, we not only exchanged knitting information, we also told jokes, shared recipes and child-rearing tips, and (something I remember vividly) focused heavily on the uses and mis-uses of Peeps come Easter. Parenting took away my time to socialize on the internet and, eventually, any spare energy I might have had for knitting.
It’s only in the last few months that my life has settled into a rhythm that sees me knitting again. In the 22 years since I last put my knitting needles down, I’ve learned that the internet has become a superb knitting resource in ways I never could have imaged back in 1993 or 1994. Although I have a beautiful collection of knitting books, they sit quietly on the shelf when I try to figure out how to do a new technique or remember a long forgotten one. Instead of dragging down a book, within seconds at my computer I can summon up videos or information pages (or patterns, free or otherwise) that far exceed the contents of those now out-dated books. It’s both exhilarating and rather sad.
But some things remain the same and knitters (and other crafters) are as congenial as they used to be. This means that, just as those old ListServs saw us conversing about things other than knitting, people on the current sites also want to talk about things other than knitting. And that gets me to Ravelry’s first foray into censorship, back in 2009, shortly after Obama was inaugurated. Back then, two conservative knitting bloggers told their tales at length. I’ll see if I can provide a shorter version.
Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together by reading the two blogs. Back in 2008/2009, Moi and MizDi liked Ravelry because it didn’t offer just information about what other knitters were doing, but also served as a notebook for fiber crafters, allowing them to chart project progress and to keep track of needles, yarn stashes, and other paraphernalia.
What didn’t seem to have changed since my time on the ListServs was that Ravelry was intended to bring people together around a shared interest, not drive them apart over something unrelated to the craft itself. Nevertheless, Ravelry supported political groups in which people could mix crafting and politics. The point of these groups was that people could replicate an actual physical space in which they could get together with like-minded friends and, while crafting, also talk about politics in a way that allowed for respectful (and even snarky) debate but avoided ugly personal attacks.
Here’s what MizDi has to say about those groups (and keep in mind that this was all taking place back in 2009):
For those that haven’t been keeping up, Ravelry used to be just a fiber arts community-type website. It has morphed into a site with “groups” for everything from people who like certain TV shows, to those who have particular affection for their pets or their pet cause, to people proud of their ethnic, religious, or political affiliations … to those that proudly proclaim themselves to be Lazy, Stupid & Godless (a.k.a. “LSG”) … their parents must be ever so proud. There’s even a group that calls themselves “Ravelry Rubberneckers” (a.k.a. “RR”) who supposedly try not to antagonize people in other groups by actually participating in said groups … instead, they direct their friends and co-horts to whatever groups has come to their attention through various means … and then they make fun of the people involved in their own group’s discussion pages. Nice, huh?.
Both Moi and MizDi found themselves in a McCain Ravelry group. MizDi describes the group’s makeup and the way in which it conducted itself:
The Bunker wasn’t originally “The Bunker” … it was originally a group started on Ravelry.com started by good friend and Bunker Babe EllieJane, who’d been “textually harassed” in a supposedly conservative group by moderators who were supposedly conservatives but preferred to side with liberal trolls over active *truly* conservative members … they are the ones that chased me out of the group, too. I tried to blend in at the GOP knitters group, but it wasn’t a very active group, and I refused to go back into the Conservative Knitters group because it had been made clear to me that I just didn’t belong there … I guess I wasn’t the right brand of conservative for them. Y’see, I’m what I call a “triple-threat” conservative … I’m a political, fiscal and social conservative. Some people are uncomfortable with that, and I let ’em be. But they didn’t let me be, and they didn’t let EllieJane be, so she started up her new group and invited me over to play.
Our new group (which later became The Bunker) was devoted to supporters of John McCain in his (failed) bid for the presidency. Many of us had supported others, but when it became apparent that McCain had the blessing of the Republican “powers that be”, we decided to do what we could to support the man … mostly because we knew what a disaster Barack Obama could/would be, and it was apparent that the way was being made clear for Obama….McCain was going to need all the help he could get.
In EllieJane’s McCain group, we started getting other people joining … some who’d been dissatisfied with the Conservative Knitters, some who enjoyed the GOP Knitters but were also looking for a more active group to play in. Some members came to us who’d initially been Obama supporters … until they started to really *listen* to what he was saying … some had been Hillary Clinton supporters, but became dissatisfied with the Dems because they treated her so but treated Obama as if he were (to quote AllyKatt) a ‘special snowflake’. MyDailyFiber quickly made a name for herself in our group and endeared herself to all members not only with her wit, common sense and unique perspective, but also her ability to churn our pro-McCain “Ravatars”. She also became the second Moderator pretty quickly, and was such a help to EllieJane that I can’t even describe it.
McCain’s decision to put Sarah Palin on the ticket energized the group but, within the group, as within America’s larger body politic, brought out the crazed haters. Back to MizDi:
When John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his choice for the VP bid, we were *very* enthusiastic, and gained members in droves! Soon we became a haven for over 600 members. We also became a convenient target for “trolls” … those who naturally disagreed with us, but who felt the need to “educate” and “enlighten” us … we poor, unfortunate, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, McCain supporters … we were often painted with the broad brushes of fascism, Nazi-ism, neo-con-ism, bigotry/racism, class-ism, and just about any other “ism” you could name.
Moi describes the same vicious attacks against conservatives:
I remember last year, shortly before the elections, I made a post regarding the immigration issue. I live in the Boarder-land so I know about illegal immigrants. I made my opinion known honestly and would you believe that one of these “guests” had the nerve to send me a private message calling me a racist– when I am of Hispanic heritage.
We as a collective have been called bigots, racists (even by the admin who stated that since a scarf reference about B.O. was made by a person from Mississippi it was a racist remark), intolerant, homophobic, etc etc etc. Any word you can think of (and you can even dig down into a dirty ditch and you’d probably pick up a name our group has been called) as derogatory.
(You can get the full details of the scarf story at the MizDi post. Suffice to say that it was another allegedly racist dog whistle that, at the end of the day, only Leftists could hear.)
Since 2016, Americans have discovered that Leftists, especially through their SJW and Antifa branches, are are poor losers. What The Bunker’s members discovered in 2009 was that they were also poor winners. Said Moi,
Ravelry (if you look at it from a political point of view) is very much left of center. Voicing a conservative opinion on the main boards is almost like sticking a target on yourself and inviting people to take a shot a you. As you can probably imagine- self preservation would deem that I stay in my bunker and let those people talk among themselves. I didn’t go to their groups, I didn’t reply to them when they posted in our group trying to stir the pot.
You would think that they would have left us alone since their candidate won. The particular group of women I am talking about are what I would classify as “bad winners” (the word “troll” would also be an appropriate adjective.
MizDi had the same take:
As the campaign season wore on, we got more and more troll activity. EJ, MDF, AllyKatt and the others instituted the best possibly policy in dealing with trolls … the theory is, if someone comes into your living room and (pardon me) craps in the middle of the floor, you don’t just leave it there to stink up the place … you clean it up and move on. Likewise, our moderators simply deleted troll posts. They tried not to engage trolls in any way … just delete, ignore, and move on.
Trolls don’t like this. They are special snowflakes and mustn’t be ignored when they so much with which to enlighten and educate you. “Resistance is futile,” they seem to think. “You *will* be assimilated, whether you agree with us or not, so just give in already!”
While the conservative group members, as a matter of stated policy, refrained from obscenities, personal attacks, etc., they did challenge Barack Obama’s politics and his peculiar reluctance to prove his American birth to silence the doubters. (As long-time readers know, I think Obama sat on the birth certificate proving his American birth so that he and his supporters could point to the doubters as “crazy racists.” I also think that, just as he told his publishers that he was Kenyan to help promote his books, Obama may well have told college admissions offices that he was Kenyan to help overcome his lousy grades. It’s all water under the bridge now, but I would love to live to be old enough to see Obama’s transcripts released to prove or disprove my theory.)
MizDi gives a vivid description of the type of conversations taking place in The Bunker’s knitting klatch, as well as they way in which the group’s moderators policed overt racism or other offensive material:
As the election cycle came to a close, we got more and more negative attention [from SJW trolls]. Now let me set this straight….for the most part, our members refrained from most profanity … the majority of us don’t care for it, and our membership respected that. We were not, however, politically correct. Political correctness is the anathema of free speech. We did NOT allow racism, sexism, or what most people with common sense would consider hateful. We did, however, allow our members to equate BHO with a socialist, as his own words and actions had confirmed this to us. We did allow our members to speculate and lament on the fact that BHO has spent in the realm of $1M in covering up whether he’s a natural-born citizen … it would’ve cost less than $20 for a duplicate of the “vault copy” of his birth certificate … you can figure that one out on your own, I’m sure. We did allow our members to be sassy, sarcastic, and lean toward “snark” … I’m sorry, but polite drawing room conversations concerning “the weather and everyone’s health” (c’mon, what movie is that from?) just didn’t suit a group geared to discussing politics … after all, in polite conversation don’t you avoid religion and politics?
As we got more and more unwanted attention from “opposition groups” such as LSG & RR, we got unwarranted “flags” on posts, claiming bigotry, racism, hate speech … I saw the posts that were flagged, and I saw the “reasons” for said flags … apart from a couple (mostly from new members who didn’t “get” the group yet and hadn’t read our rules) they were spurious at best … anything truly flag-worthy was deleted and the member who’d posted it was “talked to” by a moderator. We continually cautioned our members about “feeding the trolls” we tried to self-censor as best we could without stifling conversation and reasonable free speech. Many of us had left the Conservative Knitters group under more and more stringent dictates of “you can’t say that”, and we didn’t want the same thing happening in the McCain group.
The Bunker’s moderators eventually had to seek help from Ravelry’s site administrators — again, not because of what conservatives were doing, but because of what trolls brought to the group. MizDi again:
Actually, we asked for help before the election was ever over. Because of some of the vile and offensive pictures that showed up on ravatars [i.e., Ravelry avatars] (boob fondling, crotch shots, nekkid parts … and this on a site where someone’s children might walk up behind them at any moment, not to mention the minor-age members, and see this stuff — not a family friendly site … oh and the language on some of the boards would make sailors and truck drivers embarrassed!… but I digress) the site owner *finally* gave the users tools to hide offensive ravatars, including simple hiding of the picture or a “green” cover with which you could replace the ravatar of those with whom you disagree (which we gave the term “disagreening”). During the last two weeks of the election cycle, the owner actually took away rights to click on “buttons” indicating “love”, “disagree”, “funny”, “educational” and “interesting” because of the drama it caused … we actually had trolls pile on, clicking “funny” in droves, when a member talked about her mother’s death. Nice. Right.
After the election, the sore winning escalated, with the SJWs in Lazy, Stupid & Godless and Ravelry Rubberneckers actually escalating their complaints about conservatives on the Ravelry site. It began when the SJWs flagged the group’s name — “The Bunker,” which means a safe place to hunker down — as a pro-Nazi name.
The trolling got so bad that. . . . Well, you would think I would write that the trolling got so bad Ravelry told those sore winners to go elsewhere, either to another group within Ravelry or to another fiber arts site altogether. But of course that’s not what happened. Moi explains the official attitude towards the SJW attacks on conservatives:
Only behind the scenes [the site administrator] told our admin not only that he KNEW he was throwing them under the bus even though they have worked with him to clear up any issues that were flagged, but that he appreciated that he could work with our moderators without being attacked. These trolls (for a lack of a better term) went straight to the admin with their complaints (mind you about a group they didn’t belong to or agree with) rather than take up their issue with the groups moderators.
And with that, Ravelry shut The Bunker down. When Bunker members dispersed to or created other groups, the trolls followed.
That was ugly, but it got worse at the end of February. That was when members of the Bunker were banned entirely from Ravelry — without notice or explanation. By making this decision, Ravelry didn’t just silence conservative crafters; it locked them out of their notebooks. They no longer had access to their own information about projects or tools. Moreover, they lost access to patterns that they had purchased with real cash money. When another woman wrote to someone in Ravelry’s administration, the response referred to the conservatives as “children.”
Moi reached out to the Ravelry administration to protest what happened and that takes us to another post she wrote about her experience. A lot of the email thread is dedicated to that word “children,” which the conservatives found demeaning. The administration, however, felt it perfectly described the behavior that resulted when SJWs invaded conservative sites or followed conservatives to non-political sites.
Given that it was the SJWs who took the first verbal swings, it appears that Ravelry found troubling the fact that conservatives verbally responded. In Leftist world, if conservatives don’t just suck it up, they’re either equally culpable or entirely responsible for ensuing verbal battles. Having apportioned blame to its satisfaction, Ravelry first shut down conservative groups and then shut out conservatives entirely. It was a warm-up for what’s happening now. I would not be at all surprised to learn that, just as it did in 2009, after first silencing conservative speech, Ravelry then starts purging conservative crafters.
But back to the story….
When Moi pushed back about being permanently banned from Ravelry, Ravelry’s management referred her to their attorney, Craig. After he got over being offended that Moi wanted to know if she was talking to a real attorney, Craig stated his bottom line: “Trust me, the laws on this afe [sic] simple. I have a right to ban whoever, whenever I want from my website.”
The day after Craig announced his God status, Moi received an official notice of suspension from Ravelry because she was guilty of an “ongoing effort to disrupt the Website and the experience of its users.” Her guilt seemed to have been through association with The Bunker — which by that time had already been disbanded. Moreover, as Moi pointed out, these were tiny groups with perhaps 20 members active at any given time while, as a Ravelry administrator had acknowledged in earlier correspondence, other political content groups numbered in the thousands. Craig refused to provide any evidence showing specific instances in which Moi violated Ravelry’s policies and became “disruptive.”
Here’s the funnel: Beginning in the 1930s, the Left deliberately started a long march through institutions. Colleges and universities were major targets. For generations, these institutions of higher indoctrination have been churning out students who believe in Leftist ideas. Indeed, the better the student, the more they’ve absorbed the indoctrination. Today’s tech titans were all good students who ended up at good universities — places such as Harvard and Yale, where the Leftist infection runs deep and strong.
But it’s not only the titans, it’s every single white collar worker whom the titans employ. Go to any of the tech/social media/information sites — Google, Twitter, YouTube (a Google subsidiary), Yahoo, Pinterest, Ravelry, etc. — and they are people from top to bottom with college grads. These kids have been squeezed through the Leftist education funnel and they finally have the power to do something about it. That’s how you end up with this:
The first Obama election was a trial run; the second election was a proven formula; the Trump election was (for these indoctrinated tech types) a system failure; and they’re now doing their trial runs again. Unless we act, we’re over.
I’m going to start acting by slowly jettisoning my Bookwormroom gmail account in favor of a Proton account. I know it will take time to transfer everything, but I don’t want to give Google revenue from the ads it runs on my “free” email. I’ll keep you posted. Also, I’ve long since stopped using Google for my search engine. I recommend DuckDuckGo.