It was one thing for Twitter to transparently side with Joe Biden by censoring the President of the United States in the midst of an election campaign. It’s quite another thing for the social media giant to side with rioters who set fire to a police station by censoring the President of the United States even more aggressively.
Minneapolis and several other cities around the country are currently contending with a wave of rioting unseen since the dark days of 2015, when violent protests caused the utter destruction of Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake foolishly gave people “space to destroy” her own city.
In Minneapolis, a police station was set ablaze on the third straight day of looting and wanton destruction. In Louisville, Kentucky, rioters attempted to flip over a police transport van as gunshots rang out in the background. In Columbus, Ohio, a band of rioters stormed the Ohio Statehouse, smashed windows, and had to be cleared out with tear gas.
No free and self-respecting people can accept this state of affairs. Minnesota Governor Tim Waltz has already deployed his state’s National Guard to assist in restoring order as the situation threatens to spin even further out of control.
President Trump even took to Twitter to express the federal executive’s backing of the decision to enlist military support in quelling a dangerous riot.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he tweeted. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
Instead of allowing this message to stand on its own merits, as millions of similar tweets do every single day, Twitter chose instead to hijack the president’s tweet in order to make a completely different political statement in support of the people burning police stations and looting businesses. According to Twitter, the tweet violated rules against “glorifying violence,” requiring users to click past a disclaimer to that effect in order to read the presidential message. The fact that Twitter executives have chosen to hide behind their terms of service to claim justification for their censorship makes it no less objectionable.
The only people “glorifying violence” during these riots are Democrats such as Representative Ilhan Omar, who was able to tweet— without the faintest hint of censorship — “Our anger is just. Our anger is warranted.” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther used Twitter to justify rioting and looting because “racism exists across the country, state, and right here in Columbus” — also without any threat of censorship.
So, now Twitter itself has joined the chorus glorifying the unacceptable violence perpetrated by the “thugs” the president called out in his tweet. Violent criminals, it seems, have Twitter’s full backing, while a righteous statement of civic determination to hold those criminals responsible for their destruction of American communities, including minority-owned small businesses, gets flagged as potentially dangerous.
Since there will inevitably be those who try to claim that Twitter was forced to take action due to the president’s use of descriptive language, that word game has to be dismissed out of hand. It is a simple statement of fact that unrestrained looting invariably leads to shootings and other violence — in this present situation, President Trump’s tweet actually describes events that have already taken place. In Minneapolis, there has already been at least one fatal shooting of a man allegedly attempting to loot a pawn shop, who was allegedly shot by the pawn shop’s owner.
Twitter’s imaginative and self-serving interpretations of its own nebulous and constantly-changing terms of service is a naked effort to cover the company’s exploitation of its platform to unfairly influence American politics. The only distinction that matters is between those who glorify rioting, looting, and arson and those who glorify the rule of law and our military, law enforcement, and civil authorities who preserve it. By censoring President Trump’s forceful call to restore order so justice can be properly applied to the tragic death of George Floyd, Twitter has placed itself firmly on the side of lawlessness.
Madison Gesiotto is an Ohio attorney, former Miss Ohio USA and an opinion contributor for The Hill.