Freedom of Speech or Brazen Hypocrisy – You Decide
So there is a very heated debate on NamePros regarding Rob Monster and Epik and also about Epik’s resuscitation of the Gab social network (referred to as former and latter threads). What sparked those threads and the debate are posts and interviews made by Rob Monster on Twitter, Gab, and a white nationalist podcast. This also included negative press coverage by Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Wired, Seattle Times, CBS News, Southern Poverty Law Center, Fortune, BBC, and numerous other industry blogs. Rob’s subsequent posts on NamePros just stoked the flames of the controversy. You can read them for yourself, if you have a few hours to kill. The former thread has reached page 44 and over 1K posts at the time of this writing, the latter is at 25 pages.
What is the Controversy?
Although the controversy began when Epik revived the known hate-mongering Neo-Nazi/White-Supremacist social network, Gab (see the links above), it really came to a boiling point after Rob Monster posted the New Zealand mosque killer’s manifesto online and later the entire video of the killings.
He followed up by posting conspiracy theories casting doubt that the attack even happened.
His Twitter posts were not well received. You can also read Rob’s posts on the mentioned NamePros threads that expound on this theory.
In the words of one of the posters and originator of the former thread, MapleDots, “Well if controversy sells then Rob just filled the stadium”. And also, “Sometimes silence is golden and there is no winner when one uses a business platform to discuss these type of heinous events.” I think this basically summarized what came after.
All in the Name of Free Speech
The common theme throughout both threads is “free speech”. At least that is the justification to giving hate-speech and conspiracy theories a platform, according to Rob Monster. While not invoking “free speech” as the reason, Joseph Peterson has come to Rob’s and Epik’s defense on NamePros because he believes that registrars and hosts should be neutral (Joseph has made it clear he does not support that type of hateful speech, and quit over the scandals, first reported by OnlineDomain.com).
The problem is that if you go on the social media platforms that are hosted, supported, or part of the Epik family, you will find that overwhelmingly (if not 100%) of the “free speech” goes to hate-speech and conspiracy theorists. You can check out Watch Mask’s latest videos and the types of videos that Rob keeps backing up on that platform.
This led to this post from Domain Shane on page 21 of the latter thread:
Do me a favor. Rather than use your Freedom of Speech mantra for only one side, amplify the voices of those that represent the other side. Amplify the hidden videos of young black youth getting shot in the back by police. Amplify the voice of anyone on the left that is being buried by the news organizations or the perpetrators themselves. Freedom of speech is broad but you have made it political and chosen a side. Not ONCE have you defended someone of color or left leaning. Because you can’t get past your beliefs and truly defend what you claim is your reasoning.
You are a conspiracy theorist that thinks the Moon Landing, JFK, and the recent shootings are hoaxes. In short, you have an agenda. It is an agenda for all to see. You have every right to that agenda. But you are dragging your hard working employees and investors down with your agenda. I feel terrible for them and they are disappointed in your actions. I know for a fact that they have told you the same
I want to remind you that you are not a martyr. Your loss of business is not for a cause, it is from stupidity.
Another NamePros member, Bernard Wright, defended Rob Monster’s stance:
The MSM and social media are echo chambers for the left. Balance needs to be restored to the public discourse. Banning safe havens of free speech, such as Gab (the original topic of this thread), is the furthering of the leftist agenda in a direction that has a dangerous amount of momentum. Freedom of speech must be preserved, else voices of dissent become frustrated in their imposed silence.
Nobody has the right to impose their opinions or beliefs on others. We can engage in dialogue, and perhaps that will affect attitudes and beliefs. I will again defend Rob’s stance in declaring his support for an open market of ideas, even if he holds ideas that are different from my own.
Rob Monster’s latest post:
If anyone needed conclusive proof that the world of free speech has changed, Julian Assange’s arrest on April 11 at the Ecuadorian embassy after nearly 7 years of safe harbor would be a clue. One can debate whether Assange or Snowden are their own persons, versus controlled opposition. However, regardless of their actual allegiance, what seems clear is the overt change in climate. Censorship is no longer subtle. I hope folks are paying attention because the digital world is changing very rapidly.
Clearly, at the core of allowing or giving a platform for hateful speech and conspiracy theories is a deep-seated conviction on the part of Rob that such voices are being censored and denied their freedom of speech. Neither Assange nor Snowden fall into this category but they are the news of the day.
What is the Hypocrisy?
While trying to paint himself as a champion of free speech and anti-censorship, it appears that Rob has a lot of say when it comes to what posts stay and which don’t on NamePros. It may have something to do with the fact that Epik is a major sponsor, or it may not. But that is a valid question. The probability of such came to light when I posted this in the former thread:
4-year-old Christchurch shooting victim wakes from coma, and now she can’t see
Is there anything antagonistic or off-putting about the post itself? It is a simple link to a recent news story regarding the New Zealand mosque shooting, of which Rob posted on Twitter and Gab, and as such was the catalyst for the thread. Additionally there are numerous posts in the NP thread on the subject and clear denials from Rob of what actually occurred as reported by the media.
Additionally it was a follow-up to an earlier post I made where I referenced a phone call I had with Rob:
If you recall, I mentioned to you the dangers of minimizing terrorist attacks like that on the New Zealand mosque. Especially going as far as claiming it was a hoax, staged, not real. That it diminishes what the survivals and the families are feeling, intensifying their pain. And I used the example of the Parkland mass shooting and how it affected the survivors and their families. That it led some or many to suffer from PTSD and even led some to commit suicide. My point: words matter and can be as dangerous as weapons. Especially when someone is dealing with emotional pain or worse. The Bible says that reckless words can pierce like a sword.
Do you remember what you said to me? That those who died by suicide in the Parkland aftermath suffered depression because they regretted (or had deep emotional remorse) allowing themselves to be coerced into propagating that “staged” attack. I am of course paraphrasing here and could be out of context or I misheard. So I thought I’d give you the chance to clarify, expound, or refute that. It’s one point that really stood out for me. Maybe I misunderstood you. Do you believe that the Parkland mass shooting was a hoax as well?
You can read Rob’s response here and also here. But the point was that real lives were affected in a horribly detrimental and irrevocable way. And it is important to show love, empathy, and compassion. Not repost unproven conspiracy theories that minimize or deny the tragedy. And the news item posted above was an example of that.
However, that post garnered a fierce response from Rob Monster:
Tom – If you are trying to associate Epik with that event, you are a bigger fool than I realized.
The news story clearly frustrated Rob and led him to attack me. He called me a heretic earlier in the thread, and now a “bigger fool” than he actually thought.
I responded with:
Did Epik have anything to do with that event? Why would you automatically assume I would draw that conclusion? Just wondering what your thoughts are. Was that a fake as well?
Moments later that exchange was deleted from the thread.
I sent a direct message (DM) to the head administrator of NamePros, Eric Lyon, for clarification. I included Rob Monster in the conversation. Here it is (click on the image to enlarge):
Rob admitted that he had reported the post to the moderators with the purpose of having it removed. It was promptly removed. Does that sound like someone who is against censorship and for free-speech and transparency?
2 thoughts on “Freedom of Speech or Brazen Hypocrisy – You Decide”
The phrase “according to Rob Monster and Joseph Peterson” invites misinterpretation. It seems to imply unanimity. However, I resigned from Epik in March, citing the way in which Epik’s brand has been politicized.
Because my worldview is drastically different from Rob’s, and because I’m on the opposite side of the political spectrum compared to Rob, and because my remarks on topics related to Epik’s situation have been made independently of Rob in the context of my own resignation, it seems very misleading to attribute 1 shared viewpoint to Rob and me, as if there were no divergence.
My own position on free speech has emphasized that domain registrars ought to be neutral, agnostic, and apolitical, which is different in practice from what has emerged recently at Epik.
Someone looking for a viewpoint “according to Rob Monster [OR] Joseph Peterson” can read what either person has written in the NamePros thread or elsewhere. That would be more reliable than an article that fails to distinguish between 2 very different positions. Not only are the 2 viewpoints conflated, this article strongly suggests that talk of free speech (in the context of Epik) is “blatant hypocrisy”. That charge is present in the title. And the same insinuation begins the 1 sentence that names me personally:
“… ‘free speech’. At least that is the justification to giving hate-speech and conspiracy theories a platform, according to Rob Monster and Joseph Peterson”
By saying “at least that is the justification”, the implication is that those people named are being disingenuous. If this author believes I am a hypocrite, then he should say so directly and cite some action of statement by me. Yet nowhere else in this blog post am I even mentioned. Instead, my name is equated with Rob Monster; and then Rob’s views (which I don’t share) are attacked.
I have not shied away from publicly explaining Epik’s situation, criticizing some of Rob’s decisions / remarks, or sharing my own views. Indeed, I’ve done so voluminously within the NamePros thread cited above. A reference to me, if it were relevant to this article, could fairly be linked with my own comments and not handcuffed to views or actions that are not mine and which the author condemns.
I previously requested that the author revise the 1 sentence that names me, either removing the non-essential reference to me or clarifying the difference between Rob Monster and myself. Though we discussed the matter, he has so far declined to modify the post. That is somewhat frustrating, since he tells me he doesn’t believe I’m a hypocrite, yet he’d rather I add content to his blog by commenting than simply correct a misleading sentence. Granted, it’s a new blog and authors want participation and scoops. But it seems wrong to hold someone hostage to make a simple correction. In my opinion, writers have a responsibility to portray matters clearly.
We’ve separated you from the same sentence as Rob’s name and made a clarification:
While not invoking “free speech” as the reason, Joseph Peterson has come to Rob’s and Epik’s defense on NamePros because he believes that registrars and hosts should be neutral (Joseph has made it clear he does not support that type of hateful speech, and quit over the scandals, first reported by OnlineDomain.com).