In 2011, Justine Tunney was an anti-establishment organizer within Occupy Wall Street, exhorting class warfare on the sidewalk. Today, it appears that Tunney spends her time ranting against the poor, advocating for the overthrow of American democracy, and not least notably, working at Google's New York branch.
What exactly happened between now and then is unclear. Remnants of the Occupy movement have worked to distance themselves from Tunney, whose views are increasingly of the neo-techno-fascist variety, rather than inclusionary leftism. In February, Tunney seized control of the @OccupyWallStreet Twitter account, which she claims to have created, proclaiming herself the rightful founder of the entire movement. The resulting backlash wasn't the first she's faced from people of all political alignments.
It's now difficult to tell if Justine Tunney is a real person or not. Reading her Twitter and blog, she seems like some sort robot intelligence, an artificial entity designed to offend and disgust. No person can be this awful, right? Is it an act? A long-con of hardcore trolling? At a time when anti-tech resentment is at a high, can someone possibly be this brazen?
It seems to be true. With Google buses turned into symbols of software decadence, Justine Tunney is petitioning the White House to make Eric Schmidt the "CEO of America." She is really proposing that the underfed be given a flavorless vitamin sludge instead of food.
The world turns to Silicon Valley and asks, Must you act this way? Tunney replies, Fuck you, peasant.
Is Justine Tunney the id of white collar tech, or just a terrible person a little more terrible than most? What happened between her stint as the social media guru of Occupy Wall Street and her poisonous persona of today? What made her switch from lefty geek and coding enthusiast to technocrat authoritarian, tweeting about the establishment of Silicon Valley overclass? Her own writing is an incoherent mix of jumbled politics and futurism. It doesn't answer much.
So, I gave her a call at her office, Google's mammoth New York headquarters. When I asked if she really believed that some Americans would be better off as slaves or servants, she asked me to forward any questions I might have to Google's press email account—which never replied—and said "please don't listen to the lies people tell about me," and then hung up.
But the problem isn't what others are saying about Tunney—typically just "Is this person for real?"—but what she's saying so loudly herself. The problem is also with her employer, which stays silent on Tunney's toxicity, and provides her a comfortable, climate-controlled perch.
Google's corporate "Code of Conduct," by which all employees must abide, demands that Googlers above all "[do] the right thing more generally–following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect." It's difficult to see how Tunney's 16th-century views on race, class, and equality would be considered respectful by all of Google's roughly 50,000 employees. Unless she's some sort of singular coding talent, there's little reason to keep one of the web's nastiest trolls (at best!) around.
In the meantime, Google's letting itself be represented by a hateful fascist.
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