GOP Candidate gets Twitter account suspended after targeting the future Duchess of Sussex
Views 30 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 13 - 2018 | By: Nicci Carrasco
While the royal engagement of Prince Harry of Wales and actress Meghan Markle is old news, a recent Twitter debacle generated a hybrid of celebrity and political drama. Paul Nehlen, a Republican candidate running to replace incumbent Paul Ryan in his Wisconsin congressional district, tweeted a racist image using the couple’s engagement photos. Nehlen superimposed an image of the “Cheddar Man” onto Markle’s face. The caption read, "Honey, does this tie make my face look pale?”
The “Cheddar Man” is currently Great Britain’s oldest complete skeleton that provides researchers with a framework for what the earliest of ancestors could have looked like. After completing a facial reconstruction, scientists presume Cheddar Man had dark skin, dark curly hair, and light blue eyes. Nehlen received many negative responses. One most notable being Patrick J. Adams, Markle’s co-star and on screen fiancé. Adams tweeted, "Oh @pnehlen – you're a sad and sick man with no sense of shame or class. Get a life. And don't go anywhere near MM – she's got more power, strength, honor and compassion in her fingernail than you'll ever know in this lifetime. Way above your weight class."
Many Twitter users reported and complained about Nehlen’s verification status on the social media app as he refused to remove the tweet. The Republican candidate also has a reported history of tweets and statements that promote anti-semitism. It was not until a day later that Twitter suspended Nehlen’s account.
This calls into question the process of verification for popular social media platforms like Twitter. These platforms that lie at the intersection between freedom of speech and anti-discrimination efforts force us to ask whether we want to affect or be affected by media platforms. Should Twitter users expect the platform to hear their cries? Or should the platform continue to specify parameters for the complicit user?
Another issue at hand is the emergence of criticism toward the mixed-race actress. Not to mention, the crushing expectations that popular media has placed on Markle. When the news of the engagement first broke, media outlets criticized Markle for her sexy and scandalous role as Rachel Zane on the hit drama Suits. There even exists a petition aiming to prevent Markle from obtaining a royal title upon her marriage to the young prince. Back in 2011, Queen Elizabeth awarded both Prince William and Kate Middleton their titles of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the day of their wedding. We anticipate the same for the new bride to be. Media outlets such as News.com have chosen to “expose” Markle’s complicated family history to fuel the fire and portray her as “unfit” for royalty.
Since the incident, Kensington Palace spokespeople have shied from commenting. How far is too far? Are these media outlets capitalizing on Markle’s American nationality and mixed racial identity? Will the buzz surrounding the couple ever die down? Can and/or should Twitter be in charge of patrolling and censoring trolls? Perhaps this will lead to the Suits/The Crown crossover episode you’ve been secretly dreaming about.