When you are the US President, I hope you have a basic understanding of what is and isn’t a suppression of free speech rights. Tonight, Donald J. Trump proved he has absolutely no idea of what Free Speech even is.
.@Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election. They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
So, I would like to take a moment to explain free speech. Free speech means that you can say whatever you want and the government (with few exceptions) cannot stop you from saying it. The government cannot shut you down in political discourse and you are entitled to your opinion.
What it doesn’t mean is that an enterprise can’t. So, if you come to a news website and start yelling “I hate Democrats!” expect to be downvoted into oblivion. Is that an attack against free speech? No. Because as a private entity, an organization can set its own rules. Think about it. You can say whatever you want about subjects, but that doesn’t mean I have to tolerate you at my dinner table.
This is also a good explainer:
Trump is now getting the most bracing lesson on what the First Amendment actually says about free speech on Twitter from a spate of experts, who note he is dead wrong about it (again). Not that it will matters to him or his followers, it is, as he says, BEAUTIFUL #gojamesmadison pic.twitter.com/D05EJAJnmF
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) May 27, 2020
In truth, it was our founding fathers who understood this basic idea.
None of this should surprise anyone who has followed Trump, who has never believed in the First Amendment. Take it away, ACLU:
Trump has mocked the First Amendment’s right to freedom of religion by calling for a ban on Muslims from entering the country and criticized those who believe in the freedom of speech as “foolish people.” He has endorsed attacks on protesters and the imprisonment of people who burn the flag. He has attempted to silence and marginalize his critics by forcing staff, and even interns, to sign unconstitutional non-disclosure agreements and revoking, or threatening to revoke, the security clearances of former administration officials. His administration has also proposed to dramatically limit the right to protest near the White House and on the National Mall.
Trump’s attacks on Twitter could also be seen as an attempt by the US Government to suppress the journalistic intent of a private company (Twitter), which would be a violation of the first amendment.
Just a reminder, there are ways to do things about this problem.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.