Quinn Norton ‘Sad and Angry’ That NY Times Fired Her Over Internet’s ‘Bizarro-World’ Doppelgänger

“A digital effigy of me was built and burned,” says writer, whose past gay and racial slurs drew condemnation

Technology writer Quinn Norton has weighed in for the first time on her rapid hiring and firing from the New York Times, weeks after several of her tweets, that included gay and racial slurs, were unearthed.

The self-described “anarchist pacifist” said the internet “created a bizarro-world version” of herself when it dug up her old tweets, in a first person essay for The Atlantic. Norton tweeted in 2014 she’d “been friends with various neo-nazis in my time,” although she’s “never agreed with them.” Others pointed to tweets where she called someone a “little crybaby fag,” and used the word “n—-r,” when they called for the Times to immediately fire her.

But, according to Norton’s new essay, her ideological stance as a pacifist made it impossible to distance herself from her Nazi friends.

“I was called a Nazi because of my friendship with the infamous neo-Nazi known on the internet as weev — his given name is Andrew Auernheimer; he helps run the anti-Semitic website ‘The Daily Stormer,'” said Norton. “In my pacifism, I can’t reject a friendship, even when a friend has taken such a horrifying path. I am not the judge of who is capable of improving as a person.”

On her use of homophobic slurs, Norton said she was using “in-group language” while working with Anonymous, the online activist hacker group. Norton added that her use of “taboo language” in support of President Obama led to her being tagged a racist.

Norton — who was set to join the Times as its head opinion writer on “power, culture and consequences of technology” — said she’s been the victim of “context collapse,” where isolated tweets are being used to paint an unfair picture of her. The fallout has left the writer “sad and angry.” 

“I have seen strange ideas about me online before, but this doppelgänger was so far from resembling me that I told friends and loved ones I didn’t want to even try to rebut it,” said Norton. “It inspired a horrified confusion in myself and those familiar with my work and my character. A digital effigy of me was built and burned.”

She concluded saying her “early terrible writing” can still be found online, and that she hopes readers will “look for context if you are seeking to understand me.”

You can read the full essay here.