On January 8th, two days after the Donald Trump Insurrectionists assaulted Congress, Twitter finally suspended his account. It was a long overdue action to prevent him from inciting further violence and disseminating ever more preposterous and self-serving lies. Unfortunately, it came after five deaths and the desecration of America’s seat of democracy.
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Trump got away with exploiting social media for years, where he recklessly radicalized an intellectually challenged and emotionally vulnerable confederacy of conspiracy crackpots. He deftly manipulated them to serve his own brazenly selfish and nefarious purposes. It culminated in the riots in Washington that Trump’s deliberately inflammatory rhetoric triggered.
However, that is not the end of the story. Trump will surely continue to advance his egomaniacal aspirations. And he will be aided and abetted by Fox News. On Saturday evening, Fox’s Senior Trump-Fluffer, “Judge” Jeannine Pirro, hosted the Republican’s leading propagator of political cowplop, Jim Jordan. This excerpt from their discussion is illustrative of the deranged mindset on the right:
Pirro: To limit those who are Republicans, to literally get them off the Internet, Facebook and Twitter. I mean there is basically, not just a removal of free speech, but it is a removal of our freedom.
Jordan: Yeah. This cancel culture is dangerous. It’s the most dangerous thing going
That’s right. Removing Trump from Twitter is “the most dangerous thing going.” Clearly more dangerous than the deadly rioters that Trump incited with his incendiary and delusional tweets about election fraud. And far more dangerous than the coronavirus that Trump downplayed and allowed to spread unchecked, killing 400,000 Americans.
Fox News would never engage in that sort of “cancel culture.” Well, except that they have totally refused to give me any airtime to reveal how dishonest and dangerous they are. I mean, what’s up with that? They are removing, not just my right to free speech, but my freedom.
And it’s not like Trump deserves this online suppression. Has he ever “cancelled” anyone? Well, you know, other than cancelling Fox News whenever they have been less than unconditionally adoring or insufficiently flattering for his elephantine ego. If Fox ever permits a Trump critic to speak – even if just momentarily so they can prepare an attack – Trump immediately whines that “Fox News is dead“ and insists that everyone stop watching and switch to even more worshipful channels like OANN or Newsmax.
What Jordan, Pirro, and Fox News continue to fail to understand is that the free speech protections in the Constitution only prohibit government censorship. Twitter is a private company with stated rules that users must comply with. They include refraining from advocating violence and disseminating falsehoods that could result in harm. Trump violated those rules regularly.
The evidence of the harm Trump caused was recently documented in a study that found that after Twitter banned Trump, “online misinformation about election fraud plunged 73 percent.” That’s a pretty revealing statistic that attests to the hypnotic influence Trump has on his cult disciples. It isn’t just an accounting of his Twitter activity, but the combined effect of the retweets and other regurgitation on the part of Trump’s followers.
The fact that Trump’s absence from Twitter and Facebook can have this profound an impact on the disinformation that circulates online is justification for removing him and any other party that seeks to mislead the public in ways that produce violence and tangible trauma to society at large. And that being the case, how about we do Fox News next?
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