‘Neil Before Zod’ says he’s no longer a public servant.
Blacklocks Reporter has a new story out, claiming that @ThatsMrNeil (AKA ‘Neil Before Zod’) – a prominent anti-Conservative voice on Twitter – is a government staffer.
According to the report, Neil denied interview requests and says he has resigned from the public service.
“Phoenix means we aren’t being paid at all,” he wrote in a previous tweet, referring to the Phoenix Pay System for federal employees. “But please, pile on, you typical civil servant-flogging conservative shill,” said Neil to Blacklocks in response to the report.
Blacklocks said Neil has “referred to legislators and other public figures as “urinal cake”, “syphilis”, “assholes”, “f—king idiots”, a “marzipan dildo”, “talentless shills”, “shitty”, “garbage”, “sewage”, “stupid”, “dumb”, “lazy”, pathetic”, “ignorant”, “dense” and other references.”
Neil has been criticized by both sides of the political spectrum, with Conservative MP Erin O’Toole claiming “He is one of the most negative, nasty voices on Twitter which is making the social media platform hard for average Canadians to access news from,” while NDP MP Charlie Angus said “You’re going to make ignorant, ugly statements and you’re hiding your name? How is that part of political discourse.”
Now, you may find this surprising – especially considering Neil has criticized me repeatedly – but I actually disagree with his real name being released against his will, and though I linked to the article to credit Blacklocks for the story, I won’t be writing his full name here. I also disagree with both O’Toole and Angus on this one.
The ability to criticize politicians and even brutally condemn people you disagree with anonymously is an important part of free speech. Anonymous criticism must be protected. After all, it’s authoritarian states that seek to expose anyone who has a ‘controversial’ or unpopular opinion, and that’s not the direction Canada wants to go in.
Neil’s aggressive attacks are part of free expression (even when he’s totally wrong in his attacks on yours truly). Him Tweeting doesn’t make Twitter “hard for average Canadians to access news from,” if you don’t like it just block him. And yes, anonymous speech – even brutal anonymous criticism of public figures – is actually a part of public discourse, contrary to what Angus claimed.
Part of being a public figure with some prominence – and I include myself in this – is that people get to criticize you. That’s just the name of the game. While I choose to use my actual name, others choose differently, and both are valid options in what is supposed to be a free society.
Also, the idea that it’s somehow wrong to swear or insult politicians is pretty foolish. Politicians swear constantly behind the scenes, lie endlessly, and are extremely partisan on Twitter (which is absolutely their right), so it makes no sense for them to criticize others for doing the same thing.
So, while I think Neil’s opinions are all totally wrong, we need to realize how dangerous it is if we start going after people for sharing anonymous thoughts. We need to defend free speech and free expression for everybody, even those we strongly disagree with.