Queer Tech Writer Fired From New York Times After Just 7 Hours On The Job For Homophobic, Racist Comments

"We’ve decided to go our separate ways."

Within the course of a single day, the New York Times hired and fired technology writer Quinn Norton as an editorial page contributor after multiple tweets were uncovered in which she casually used racist and homophobic slurs and recounted her friendship with well-known neo-Nazis.

Norton, a self-proclaimed queer activist who previously worked at Wired, was hired by the Times to serve as its “lead opinion writer on the power, culture and consequences of technology.”

Norton, who Rolling Stone described a “self-defined anarchist” in 2013, was admittedly an unlikely choice for the paper.

“I’m as surprised as you are,” she wrote in a blog post published Tuesday, saying she spoke with Times editors about “my background, my philosophy, and my approach to the topic.”

Her allure, however, was ultimately her downfall: Norton was involved within online fringe communities like Anonymous and 4chan. However, these communities, in particular 4chan, often use offensive language, particularly the words “fag” and “retard.”

Such language seeped into her other aspects of Norton’s life. On Twitter, she wrote:

She also claimed she was friends with neo-Nazis, though she insisted she disagreed with their views.

In a Medium post Norton shared, she discussed the need to engage with racist friends and family members instead of shutting them out.

“The problem has always been white silence,” she wrote. “If you quietly unfriend them, stop going to their parties, make other plans at the holidays, you may feel better about yourself, all while your silence is still enabling and perpetuating their racism, and the harm it does in the world.”

In a statement announcing the hire early Tuesday, NYT editorial page editor James Bennet said he was excited, and hoped Norton would “help our readers understand what’s possible and what’s sensible, and where we’re all headed.”

Following the discovery of the tweets, though, Bennet explained in a statement Tuesday night, “Despite our review of Quinn Norton’s work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us. Based on it, we’ve decided to go our separate ways.”

Zachary Zane is a writer and activist whose work focuses on sexuality, culture, and academic research. He has contributed to The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and The Advocate.