In recent years, the word, “censorship” has become a pejorative term and has consequently lost its real meaning and value when used and digested appropriately
In recent days, President Donald J.Trump was, indeed, censored by various social media outlets. Most notably, of course, was the President’s favorite social media megaphone, Twitter.
Many on the Left run from the word, censorship, and are quick to replace it with another. In so doing, the Left almost suggests that the President wasn’t censored and no one should be censored — when in fact, he was, and his censorship was entirely appropriate.
To cultural libertarians, free-speech-Puritans, self-appointed leaders of the “Intellectual Dark Web” and Twitter Philosophers, President Trump’s censorship has been taken as an enthusiastic invitation to go full-blown Chicken Little, preach their gloomy political gospel of the impending doom of free speech in the Western World, perform their self-righteous holier-than-thou dance number for as long as the issue is politically relevant outside their cozy echo chambers.
To the President’s defenders, his censorship is supposedly many things, “Orwellian” (blah blah blah). However, to them, the President’s censorship is really just the thing they’d prefer to talk about at the moment, as opposed to the reason why The President was censored in the first place.
However, you can’t have a serious, meaningful conversation about censorship without including a discussion around why censorship is, at times, totally appropriate — as it was in President Trump’s case.
While the Left has mostly resisted using the word “censorship” to accurately describe what happened to President Trump in recent days, they have not been shy about sharing the many reasons why President Trump was appropriately booted from social media platforms like Twitter.
And, ironically, of all the many rational justifications the Left and other Pro-Trump-Twitter-Ban folks have put forth for Twitter’s removal of President Trump from their platform, the most important and salient ones are ones which are traditionally espoused by the very people who are most upset about Trump’s Twitter Ban.
On most days, the Anti-Ban crowd are evangelists for the judicial principle of, “originalism” — the conservative judicial philosophy that “the words in documents and especially the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted as they were understood at the time they were written.”
The Anti-Ban crowd contends that President Trump’s banishment from Twitter is an unconstitutional violation of his 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Originalism obliterates the contention that President Trump’s Twitter Ban was tantamount to an assault on his Freedom of Speech.
The First Amendment protects Americans from infringement on our freedom of speech by the government. Full stop. Not corporations. Not social media platforms. Just the government.
Twitter, like Facebook and all of the other platforms that gave Trump the boot, are not the government. Therefore, the First Amendment does not guarantee Americans, including the President, the right to get a Twitter account or keep one — nor do any other segments of the US constitution.
In fact, if we are going to talk First Amendment, the irony is that, while the First Amendment does not aid Trump’s position in the case of Trump v. Twitter, the First Amendment certainly grants Twitter as a social media company the same rights it does to all other forms of media, the right to choose who gets to use their platform to broadcast their message. And in this case, Twitter chose to take their megaphone away from Trump because of his choices.
The two groups who are most uniformly against Trump’s banishment from the Twitterverse are: far-right Republicans and Libertarians. And if there is one clear unifying thread that runs through those two groups it is the centrality of “personal responsibility” to their political ideologies.
Here again, when applying this most cherished of conservative/libertarian principles to the suspension of President Trump’s Twitter account, the anti-Ban position falls apart.
President Trump created his now-defunct Twitter account in the spring of 2009, and when he did, he agreed to the platform's Terms of Service — an agreement between the platform and its users which, among other things, set rules and boundaries for acceptable speech on the platform. The rules, policies, terms, etc., are regularly updated, and it is up to the user to take the personal responsibility to follow the rules and regulations of the platform.
For years, Trump has chosen not to follow Twitter’s rules, making it surprising he didn’t get the boot sooner. But in the days leading up to his eventual Twitter Ban, the President’s breaches of Twitter’s Rules were so outrageous and dangerous, the President got his just deserts.
No one forced the President to compose and publish the tweets that got him tossed from Twitter. It was his choice to say the things he did. The things he said violated the rules of Twitter and his account was suspended as a consequence.
President Trump did this to himself.
What about [other person who should be banned from Twitter]?
Russian opposition leader, politician, and anti-corruption activist, Alexei Navalny’s recent Twitter thread slamming Twitter’s censorship of President Trump was widely shared by the Anti-Ban crowd.
Within the thread, Navalny includes some classic what-about-isms:
Navalny’s argument here is compromised of two parts:
Part 1 — These other people should be banned if Trump was!
Part 2 — But they weren’t, so Trump shouldn’t have been.
However, while Part 1 may be true, but that doesn’t mean Twitter was wrong to ban Trump. It just means the others may need to be as well.
Furthermore, Navalny misses several critical pieces of the puzzle here.
First and foremost is that Twitter was responding to President Trump’s use of Twitter to incite and glorify violence; Trump wasn’t simply being punished by Twitter for being naughty out in the real world, they were holding him responsible for abusing Twitter’s platform by using it as a weapon for violence instead of a simple tool for communication.
Again, Trump did this to himself.
Secondly, as consequential as Putin, Maduro, and other nasty people who still have access to Twitter maybe, their global influence and importance pale in comparison to the President of the United States.
Before President Trump, every other President understood that the office of the President and the words they spoke held an elevated level of significance and brought an unparalleled level of scrutiny.
We often hear the political axiom, “the words of a President matter.”
And they do.
The President is supposed to be the Leader of the Free World and the global cheerleader of democracy.
President Trump has led an assault on democracy for years, but no more clearly and reprehensibly than he did when he aided, encouraged, and gave his “love” to those who terrorized the seat of our democracy.
The role of President of the United States is a role that is singularly unique from any and all others. Twitter cannot, should not, and did not, treat President Trump like any old Twitter user because he is not one.
The repeated BS charade of self-censorship by President Trump
Self-victimization is a part of President Trump’s DNA, and this was on full display when he got himself banned from Twitter.
His removal from Twitter is not an example of a slippery slope of censorship. It’s an example of a crazy person with incredible responsibilities consistently flaunting them, repeatedly ignoring the rules of his favorite communication tool — ever so consistent with his belief that he is above the laws and rules that the rest of us have to adhere to — and using a private company’s resources to incite and glorify violence.
President Trump was censored by Twitter and others because they are more responsible than he is.
Still, President Trump was not silenced, even though he has been virtually silent in the days following the horror show his supporters brought to our nation’s capital at his request. Again, he has silenced himself.
That bears repeating: President Trump has silenced himself.
He has chosen not to deliver a prime-time address to the nation on national television addressing the riots he asked for and his supporters started for him.
He has chosen not to walk into the White House Press Room to speak to reporters, just as he chose to end daily White House Press briefings long ago.
He has chosen not to give interviews to any news networks or newspapers.
He continues to have access to the White House Twitter account.
President Trump could instantly speak to the nation if he wanted to. But he has silenced himself.
He has access to an assortment of messaging megaphones no one else has access to, he is just choosing not to use them to boost his pathetic, nonsensical case that he has been censored and therefore silenced.
Side Note Consideration to Ask Yourself: If President Trump and his defenders are making the claim that he “has the right to Twitter” then do you and I have the right to the White House Press Room? Is it your right and mine to walk into a private newsroom and demand that they broadcast our message? Of course not. Those platforms for communication, like Twitter, are privileges that are earned and can be taken away.)
President Trump continues to have access to a plethora of tools that he could use to gain the world’s attention and share his message. If he chooses not to use them, that’s his choice, just as it was his choice to do everything he could to get tossed off Twitter.
President Trump used Twitter to broadcast messages that were socially unacceptable for any human, let alone the President of the United States, and clearly unacceptable to Twitter, according to their publicly stated rules and standard; after careful examination, Twitter chose to exercise their right and responsibility to remove him to suppress his unacceptable messages. That is the very definition of censorship… and in this case, there is nothing wrong with that.
Trump earned his censorship by Twitter. He has chosen to be almost completely silent since the insurrection of our nation’s capital.
He has chosen his fate.
It is our choice to fall for his charade or call it for what it is, bullshit.