MINOT, N.D. — President Donald Trump has been banned from Twitter, as you might have heard. In their official justification for the ban, the social media giant claimed that Trump violated their policies against violence's glorification.
Taken at face value, I think Twitter makes a defensible argument, even if it's not one I agree with.
The problem is that they're not exactly consistent with this stuff.
For instance, the President of the United States is no longer allowed on Twitter, but Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, a country that publicly executes people because of their sexual orientation, is still tweeting.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry and sundry other agencies and official representatives of the world's largest Communist dictatorship still have access to Twitter. China has violently suppressed pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, arrested and executed political dissenters, and maintains millions of ethnic and religious minorities in concentration camps.
Twitter still has a place for Louis Farrakhan, the high-profile anti-Semite and political extremist, not to mention the author and New York Times journalist Kurth Eichenwald despite his post about wanting to beat mask skeptics to death.
Twitter is not the only platform with double standards. In fact, the hypocrisy isn't limited to the tech industry. Earlier this year, the Times had a staff revolt on their hands over the publication of a column by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who called for military intervention to stop the violent left-wing protests last year.
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There was no similar outcry from the Times staff over a column from a Chinese apparatchik defending the communist regime's use of military force to suppress the Hong Kong protests.
There's a double standard for celebrities, too, who routinely get away with violent rhetoric on services such as Twitter.
For what it's worth, I don't support the silencing of Trump and his followers, despite the genuine dangers of their rhetoric. It's not all that fashionable these days, but I still believe that the solution for problematic speech is more speech.
Besides, why turn cretins like Trump and his more belligerent adherents into speech martyrs? Why drive them out of mainstream forums when they'll only find each other again in some new corner of the internet where they can egg one another on with less scrutiny from the rest of us who aren't going to follow them there?
I'd rather let the Trump movement speak freely, and publicly, in the same venues the rest of us use than to drive them underground.
Some of you may be tempted to reference certain misguided proverbs about shouting fire in crowded theaters. It would help if you recognized that the saying has its roots in a Supreme Court ruling which upheld government suppression of anti-war political speech.
Of course, that situation dealt with government censorship, not private companies curating their privately-owned platforms.
I want companies like Twitter and Facebook to live up to the idea of the First Amendment, as shaped by American law and jurisprudence, even if they're not legally obligated to.
If they aren't willing to do that, is it too much to ask that they be consistent in applying the standards they do embrace?
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.