First things first now that Elon Musk has cleared the way for the return of the Grifter (I apologize but I cannot take the guy serious as a human being), a few quick comments:
The First Amendment is solid as a rock no matter what Twitter did to the former President/Grifter dude. Twitter is not the state and is not the government.
The First Amendment says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That famous clause from our Constitution is talking about state action, not private action. Private entities get to do what they want.
Twitter is a private company. They can throw anyone they want off their platform. So Musk’s continued notion that #45 was treated morally unfair by Twitter is nonsense.
I personally have been tossed off Twitter twice for posts that allegedly violated community standards. They were fair and constitutional though I see posts everyday on all sorts of private platforms that are seriously deranged and these posters do not get flagged.
Yet, to be serious, censorship and stopping free discourse with speech banning is not really good or a solution to the divisive, uneducated, hate filled bile spewing forth from social media platforms.
#45 engaged in a litany of divisive, destructive social media activity and it went on and on. He said so many hate filled things and posted so much bigotry, I lost track.
He broke the rules and got tossed. So be it.
Yet, on January 6, 2021, he publicly encouraged and called for an insurrection based on lies and misinformation. He caused violence and destruction. Some people died. This was over any legal line.
He hasn’t even repudiated what he did. He has double and triple downed on his assertion the election of 2020 was stolen. And instead of being indicted for his role in calling for mob rule, he remains at large, spreading his delusions of a stolen election.
But he has a right to free speech so let him talk again. Let him back up at the verbal plate. There is a line and he should be told, if you cross it, this time it is for life.
Elon Musk won’t say this and that is the problem. He is too rich to get it.
But for the sake of discussion — here is the truth about free speech under the Constitution — there are limits. People might not believe it but there are legal limits. Speech is not moral; it is legal.
The KKK does not make moral statements. Kevin Samuels, a popular You Tube guy who died recently, spent his time making all sorts of questionable moral statements. They have a legal right despite their avoidance of morality.
You cannot distribute obscene materials for example. But mostly, you cannot engage in speech that will result in imminent lawless action. Harm. Violence. Danger to others immediately.
I am not talking about yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire. But that is the odd analogy. A better example is January 6, 2021, the day of the attempted insurrection.
Until any of us calls for imminent lawless action (which #45 did on January 6th) similar to that, we deserve the benefit of the doubt from the state and private authorities. Let the First Amendment do its thing.
But the guy we know as #45 does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. He can be allowed back on social media but the rope is short. Be careful and brief. Everything you say or post now is subject to intense community review. We have witnessed your handiwork and it is destructive and dangerous to the world.
The First Amendment does not ask any of us to be moral or agreeable with our speech. The First Amendment says you can burn the flag. It says you can sit during the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance. You can also kneel (no pun intended) like a lot of people do now.
But if you suggest or instruct a large group of disgruntled people to head to the state house and overthrow the government based on lies (your lies), your rights are revoked. The question isn’t if #45 will violate the limits of our First Amendment. It is if Musk understands or cares to enforce a code of decency for the larger public.
In the meantime, is it time to ditch Twitter anyway, and I mean completely?
Previously Published on Medium