But the dilemma with social media culture in general, and on Twitter especially, is how to push back on bad opinions without chilling debate. I don’t like the notion that Yglesias should be intimidated out of sharing bad opinions that obviously need to be rebutted in the public square, especially since he was almost certainly speaking for others on the left.
We’ll all be better off if we have the space to persuasively rebut those arguments. The question is how to engage with bad ideas without helping cultivate an atmosphere that would prevent them from ever having been said. Otherwise we’ll basically be left with vanilla centrism and bad-faith provocation.
There are no easy answers. In the case of Yglesias, that task was tougher given the way he often used the platform. Unnecessarily mean-spirited attacks may make likes and retweets easy to come by, but the coarsened culture of political Twitter contributes to the coarsening of our larger political dialogue. That may sound silly, but if we can’t have good-faith debates about bad ideas, they’ll fester in echo chambers, away from the powerful influence of persuasive critique. It’s the problem with college campuses.