“Do either of you agree with the proposition that Mother Teresa is issuing hate speech?”
Ted Cruz asked the question of Carlos Monje Jr. and Neil Potts, public policy directors of Twitter and Facebook, at a hearing on Wednesday.
Cruz had previously pulled up a pro-life quote from Mother Teresa that had been briefly pulled from Twitter’s platform citing “hate speech.”
For reference, here’s the quote (which is no longer censored):
What followed Cruz's bold question to the social media executives was a long spanse of tense silence before Monje Jr. attempted to talk his way around answering the question directly.
Check out the clip (get ready to burst out laughing):
The Washington Examiner commented on the awkward situation:
Facebook and Twitter executives were left speechless during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee Wednesday when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, brought out a previously blocked tweet with a quote from Mother Teresa and asked if it was considered hate speech.
"It's not just political, it's also ideological," Cruz said. "There have been multiple instances of, in particular pro-life groups, being disfavored. For example, here is a tweet that says that 'abortion is profoundly anti-women' and it's a quote from Mother Teresa and this tweet was blocked. Now it's fairly remarkable that Mother Teresa is now deemed hate speech. Do either of you agree with the proposition that Mother Teresa is issuing hate speech?"
Cruz's question left Carlos Monje Jr. and Neil Potts, who work as public policy directors for Twitter and Facebook respectively, silent for 12 seconds before Monje Jr. spoke up to inform Cruz that, currently, the account, which belongs to the Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, was in good standing as an advertiser with Twitter. However, Cruz quickly responded telling Monje Jr. that he was "very good at not answering questions." When asked again, Monje Jr. did not answer yes or no, instead insisting that every tweet has context behind it.
Life News also commented on what happened at the hearing between Cruz and the social media representatives:
During the hearing, Cruz started his questions by asking both representatives if their companies “considered themselves to be neutral public forums?” Twitter’s director of Public Policy, Carlos Monje, gave a long response but did not answer the question.
Cruz asked Monje about Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s stance on neutrality. He summed up by the Dorsey quote, “I don’t believe that we should optimize for neutrality” Monje pleaded ignorance. answering, “I have not seen that quote, sir.” When Cruz asked if he agreed with it, Monje gave another non-answer, saying “That is not how he is building the platform.”
When Facebook Public Policy Director Neil Potts was asked the same line of questions, he said that Facebook “represented a diversity of viewpoints.” Cruz pointed out that this was also not an answer. He said, “I’m trying to get a yes or no answer.” Neither representative gave an affirmative or a negative.
The hearing turned to questions about the censorship of pro-life groups on both platforms. Cruz brought up a tweet from the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List that was blocked for hate speech. The tweet was a quote from Mother Teresa, that “Abortion is anti-woman.”
Cruz commented, “Now it is fairly remarkable that Mother Teresa is now deemed hate speech. Do either of you agree with the proposition that Mother Teresa is issuing hate speech?”
A long silence followed. Monje tried to say that the account that tweeted the quote “was an advertiser in good standing.” Cruz stopped him and said, “Mr. Monje, you’re very good at not answering questions. Is it hate speech?”
Monje elected to not answer the question.
This accurate depiction of Monje Jr.'s response to Cruz from Twitter user Goonerworld76AFC made us crack up: