A Sadistic Game of Cat and Mouse

As I’m sure many of you already know, it’s not exactly unusual for me to have problems with the various censorious regimes that make up social media. I’ve written about it here before and I’ll probably write about it again. I’ve been hoodwinked, banned, deboosted, bamboozled and canceled by virtually every platform known to Orwell’s ghost and this trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

I’ve been persecuted for hurling “hate speech” because I dare to self-identify as an unrepentant tranny bulldyke and I’ve been prosecuted for promoting “radical extremism” because I’ve declared my undying solidarity with the people of Yemen in the face of a proxy genocide. I’ve hocked loogie after loogie into the smug face of every billionaire cyber tyrant from Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg and I’ve been thoroughly thrashed from one corner of the web to the next for my vulgar pride.

It’s all been said and done, and you’d think that I would finally take a hint by now and accept that me and this panopticon masquerading as a town square just don’t mix. But I can’t and I won’t. Something very deep inside still desperately thirsts to be heard and I refuse to abide by any self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” who refuses to afford me access to an audience. So, I shout, and I scream obscenities at the top of my lungs, and I get bound and gagged by the same old benevolent thugs over and over again, and I always take it personally.

It’s an endless game of cat and mouse that probably seems to defy all reason to any casual observer and I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion, staring at fresh bruises in the mirror, why I even fucking bother. Late last year, the bruises finally responded. Something very dark shifted in this ongoing melodrama this October that irrevocably altered my entire perspective on the trials and tribulations of censorship in the social media age. In fact, it was two things, the first one political and the second very deeply personal, but both feel tethered to one another by a single noose.

The political darkness that seems to have swallowed social media whole over the last three months is of course the fruit of Israel’s almost brazenly sadistic war on the children of the Gaza Strip and more specifically their effortless manipulation of the modern machinations of political correctness to cover it up. While one of the most fearsomely advanced militaries on earth utilizes all the latest in state-of-the-art weaponry to demolish crowded maternity wards, a second parallel army of Fortune 500 lobbyists and PR firms has descended on any debt be sodden coed with a megaphone who dares to cry foul in the face of genocide so as to blackball them with breathless accusations of holocaust denial and antisemitism.

Just ask anyone who has so much as typed the word genocide and the word Israel in the same sentence on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter since October 7th and they’ll tell you exactly what I’m talking about. Posts by well-respected activists and journalists with tens of thousands of followers have completely vanished from their loyal followers’ feeds without a trace. All the while, tiny brown bodies stack to the rafters of what few smoldering ruins are still left standing in the Gaza Strip.

Sadly, none of this probably would have even been particularly shocking to me at this point if it wasn’t for the personal darkness that swallowed my universe whole last year in tandem with this censorious crime spree. You see dearest motherfuckers; this is also the October that I finally broke down after months of mounting flashbacks coinciding with my accelerating gender transition and began undergoing a comprehensive regime of trauma therapy to deal with a childhood long shrouded in the shadows of the Catholic Church. Frankly, I was completely unprepared for what confronted me.

A screaming five-year-old girl inside a boy who begged the world to see her only to be sexually violated and terrorized into making herself disappear for decades because she just wouldn’t take a hint and shut the fuck up. That stubborn child just couldn’t except the insistence by a shadowy coterie of adult authority figures that her very existence was vulgar until a few of these adults gave her body something else to be terrified by other than the gender on her birth certificate. And suddenly the war became personal.

Every child dragged, dazed and bloodied, from the rubble became that little girl shattered in the mirror. Every callous IDF storm trooper became another pedophile priest. And every shadow ban on Facebook became another hand wrapped firmly around her bird like throat. I don’t write these things for fame and fortune. I write because something frail and proud deep inside me keeps screaming to be heard, begging to be seen. The only thing that has ever soothed that child’s bottomless rage has been arresting the fleeting attention span of an oblivious world, not for her, but for other children forced to exist in the shadows of the cruel and powerful.

This is why I write about war. This is why I pour hours into researching the places on the map that only drones seem to reach. It’s too late for that fiery little child who required rape upon the threat of eternal hellfire to be a good little boy. But it’s not too late for the broken children of Gaza, of Yemen and Kashmir and Artsakh and Donetsk. I hear their screams like my own in bed at night and I can’t fucking sleep until the whole world hears them too. This is how Palestine became painfully intimate this year and this is why censorship feels like fucking violence to me.

Try as I might, I can’t seem to separate the darkness of the personal from the darkness of the political and I refuse to try any longer. I see no difference between the Knesset and the Vatican, between Pope Benedict and Benjamin Netanyahu, between Catholic sex abuse and the Nakba. It’s all the same fucking shit. Powerful men breaking fragile bodies just to prove they can and devout followers silencing the noise made by the carnage they leave behind because order matters more to them than children.

This isn’t a conspiracy; it’s a strategy and it works. All systems of institutional power are threatened by the very existence of the individual because individuals are defined by an innate reluctance to be governed. We are all born individuals, so systems of power must disenfranchise and dehumanize children until they can be groomed into knowing their proper place among the silent masses.

A grotesque but inevitable side effect of this sick campaign to objectify the very young is the invention of an entire population specifically reared to be preyed upon by powerful men. It only follows that predation would then become a downright recreational activity for a certain subset of these powerful men elite enough to engage in it without repercussion and this includes the untouchable scions of social media.

As if genocide, censorship, and molestation weren’t enough, this winter of children’s discontent also happened to coincide with the revelation that Meta, the colossal conglomerate that owns both Facebook and Instagram, has been actively profiting off the exploitation of the children who they don’t bother to censor on their platforms.

Internal corporate documents unsealed as part of a lawsuit filed by the New Mexico Department of Justice against both Meta and their CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that not only did top executives market its messaging platforms to children while fully aware that the abuse of minors was rampant in these spaces, but they opposed measures made by their own employees to prevent this behavior specifically because it would put them at a “competitive disadvantage” with rival platforms.

Now, I personally reject assertions by rival authority figures like New Mexico’s Attorney General, Raul Torrez, that policing the social interactions of minors is an effective tool for combatting child exploitation, but Meta clearly does and there is something deeply deranged about a platform that can affectively silence someone for bringing attention to genocidal child abuse in the Gaza Strip but cannot be bothered to use that same technology to stifle known child molesters and it says everything that you need to know about the value these institutions place on children.

We live in a nation where children’s rights have been reduced to the level of livestock and freedom of speech has been reduced to a set of privileges bestowed upon us by a new technocratic feudal class and we have the nerve to act shocked when entire generations are being sold into a lifestyle defined by trauma. The only people who should be ashamed of themselves here are the adults in the room and the only way to shame them is to reverse their toxic power imbalance by weaponizing free speech.

I don’t possess the skills to do this but the generations beneath me do. Your average ten-year-old can hack circles around any Meta censor in their sleep. What they lack is the agency to defy a social order built on a collective learned helplessness. The only thing that I can do is scream like a five-year old girl and hope that they can hear her when she tells them that only they have the power to stop this madness.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.