Ron Watkins considers himself something of a free speech absolutist. The Republican congressional candidate from Arizona often praises the First Amendment and condemns any regulation of speech.
However, that doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want in his Telegram chat. There is a list of forbidden words, the use of which will result in an automatic ban.
Contrary to George Carlin’s famous article on the seven words not to say on TV, no one seems to know which words are banned in Watkins’ chat.
Watkins is widely believed to have played the role of Q, the alleged government insider whose contributions to his father’s platform 8kun led to the QAnon conspiracy theory about satanic, blood-drinking pedophiles running the world. The latest “Q drop” came within days of Watkins announcing that he was stepping down as admin of 8kun.
After leaving 8kun, Watkins continued to spread lies about voter fraud and various conspiracy theories on his Twitter account. Then the platform banned him after the Capitol riot.
Since then, he’s amassed a massive following on Telegram, with subscribers tuning in to the same kind of open-ended questions that everyone pretending to be Q has posted.
Watkins maintains a Telegram channel solely for his own messages and another for subscribers to post as well. He promotes the latter and has referred to it as his “related chat channel.”
Watkins professes abhorrence of censorship of any kind, once writing, “Tyrannical leaders despise free speech.”
Like many who have been permanently banned from Twitter, Watkins hailed Elon Musk’s plan to buy the platform. “Mark my words, this will end with FULL restoration of free speech,” he wrote in April of Musk’s interest in Twitter.
But when it comes to his own chat room, he seems to have no problem restricting the language.
A search of his Ron Watkins chat channel [Code Monkey Z] Chat shows 40 people have been automatically banned for using a specific word or words in the last few weeks.
The year-long bans are imposed by a bot called SecOfDef.
Subscribers seem to have no idea which word or words are banned.
“What are the forbidden words? Don’t try to get booted,” one wrote recently.
The bot seems to have been created in the last few months. In March, a subscriber asked, “What is a banned word?” Banned words had not been mentioned before.
Since then, many others have asked the same question.
Neither Watkins’ main account nor his chat show a list of which words automatically ban subscribers.
Watkins didn’t respond to an email Thursday afternoon about whether and what words are banned in his Telegram chat and how he justifies banning such terms given his views on free speech.
Posts with racist, sexist, homophobic, and other bigoted terms don’t seem to block subscribers, as various derogatory terms and slurs can be easily searched in the chat.
Users may similarly call for violence or executions, and even make baseless allegations that Watkins’ father is a pedophile. (He has reportedly admitted to profiting from child porn websites.)
At this point, subscribers only have to guess what they can or can’t say according to Watkins’ rules.
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*Initial publication: June 10, 2022 at 8:49 am CDT
Claire Goforth is a staff writer at the Daily Dot and covers all topics related to politics and technology with a focus on right-wing extremism and conspiracy theories.
https://www.dailydot.com/debug/free-speech-advocate-ron-watkins-banned-words-telegram/ Free speech advocate Ron Watkins bans words in telegrams