The slim veneer of fake tolerance continues to slide off the American progressive, exposing the ugly underbelly of authoritarianism.
I first heard this idea on Facebook from a liberal Democrat friend. It has since spread like the plague from liberal publications like Daily Caller to reliably lefty outlets like Salon to “mainstream” media such as the Washington Post
If you google “Twitter should” the first result is “ban Trump.”
That’s a lot of folks googling it.
This is not an outlier action. And it is not due to mere Trump Derangement Syndrome (although that is obviously a real thing.)
The Authoritarian Worldview
This is a reflection of Progressivism’s knee-jerk authoritarian streak. And it is not new. College campuses have long been the leaders in this with Orwellian speech codes. It is also reflected in political correctness that runs a tech company founder out of a job for daring to think gay marriage is a bad idea; in the idea that it is acceptable for certain races to use verbiage that others are not allowed to use or one gender to have opinions that the other gender cannot; and the FBI purging all references to Islam and terrorism from old documents. (Fun reference: That was Winston Smith’s job for Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984. Seriously, read 1984.)
Those who push for such speech controls, and set themselves up as the arbiters of the controls, are uniformly on the left side of the political spectrum. It wasn’t always thus. The liberal 1960s agitators for anything-goes free speech are now the authoritarians wanting to shut down speech they find inappropriate. They are modern secular Puritans — but without any of the Puritans’ good stuff.
Everyone says they favor free speech in the theoretical, in the philosophical. But that’s the relatively cheap position. The costly stance is favoring it when people say things you find abhorrent, offensive, mean, stupid, ignorant. Is there still free speech then? If all speech is not free, none is.
But Trump is being irresponsible!!! they declaim through rolling hysterics. This misses the point that the love of free speech means that even the President should be allowed to say stupid things (maybe better they are said publicly then erased from tape or deleted emails?) Those promoting the idea that Twitter should ban Trump are assuming a position of superior judgment in deciding what is acceptable and what is not.
Their defense is that they are not advocating the government shut down free speech (although public universities are government-run) but that private enterprises should in this case, and presumably others they find distasteful. That is why this is not talking about First Amendment. But it also misses the point. The instinct remains to want to shut down disagreeable free speech. Considering that this is held by the same people whose ideology is that government is the solution to problems, the likelihood that the line would easily be crossed seems pretty high.
Holding the opinion that Trump tweets irresponsibly is fine. Trying to forcibly stop him or others from employing free speech that you dislike is at its heart authoritarianism, whether it is through government or corporations. One is a violation of the First Amendment, both are an affront to free speech.
It really is that simple.
More threats: Facebook and fake news
Presumably these same people are in favor of Facebook deciding what is “fake news” by using mainstream media decision-makers — who are similarly having conniptions over Trump’s tweets, posts, ideas and methodologies.
Facebook’s choice of liberal organizations as the final arbiters of what is “fake” news is hardly satisfying to conservatives who are always being shut down for unpopular opinions in liberal arenas — from universities to newsrooms to Twitter. The mainstream coverage of Jill Stein’s recount farce, which was all about her own publicity, was fake news from the start. But no fake news will go unreported if it is negative of Trump. But consider: What if the Facebook crew decided it was the Stein stories were fake news (which they never would have), should they have blocked those stories?
Of course not. It seems obvious when put in that context. All this would do in the end is expand the speech police further. There should be a deeper distrust of Twitter, Facebook or any others imposing speech codes.
How about this: We let the American people be adults and choose what to believe and not believe. You know. Freedom. And no, the President doesn’t lose his free speech because he says stupid things.
Here’s a fun prediction: If Twitter were to ban Trump, which I doubt they will, Trump or someone on his behalf, would start a new social media platform that he would use. The media would be forced to report on what he Trumpeted, and it would explode in popularity. Twitter would take a huge hit and there would be a further information silo effect.
The best route remains wide open, unfettered political free speech.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Revolutionary Act.