Thanks largely to a battery of what was soon to be the last of President Trump’s tweets, the Trump Twitter account (which is not the POTUS account) has been suspended. It is reportedly a permanent ban.
News of the censure is all over social media, and if it doesn’t precisely dominate social media, it’s only because there is so much other current tomfuckery to discuss: dudes in buffalo hats in the halls of Congress, disputed election results, and any number of new (predominantly D) HRs not least among them.
That suspension has been likened by some to censorship, a violation of free speech, even a violation of civil rights. It has been described by others as a necessary action, deserved punishment, even the culmination of a conspiracy to engineer a socialist government.
But was it either of those? Neither? Both? Was he inciting an insurrection or utilizing what the Supreme Court describes — and defends — as “extravagant exaggeration employed for rhetorical effect”.
Note: this is a work in progress. We make no apologies for updates and edits.
Numerous unsavory people and groups maintain social media accounts. Among them are Islamist groups, influential Islamist individuals, narco-terrorists and cartel leaders, many people and groups who’ve been accused of violating human rights, many legislators and officeholders, and numerous world leaders.
Is it right, just, or fair that the Trump Twitter account (and for that matter other accounts) was shut down? Who else has been shut down? Let’s see who else is active, and then hit some point-counterpoint things to consider.
Suspended Twitter Accounts
1. Hezbollah Twitter
Hezbollah’s Twitter account was suspended over a year ago. It’s hard to argue with that unless maybe you’re pro-pogrom.
2. Michael Flynn Twitter
The account of former national security adviser LtGen Michael Flynn (USA, Ret.) was suspended the same day as the Trump Twitter account, apparently for similar reasons. One reason cited was his support of QAnon.
A Twitter spokesperson reportedly told NBC News, “The accounts have been suspended in line with our policy on Coordinated Harmful Activity. We’ve been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm, and given the renewed potential for violence surrounding this type of behavior in the coming days, we will permanently suspend accounts that are solely dedicated to sharing QAnon content.”
3. Mohsen Razaee Twitter
The then-official account of Dr. Mohsen Rezaee was suspended late in 2020 for violating Twitter’s rules against abusive behavior. Razaee, a senior military officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council, has openly expressed his desire to ‘raze Tel Aviv to the ground’. “We have been looking for…a pretext,” he said, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
In December, after his suspension, Razaee was quoted by Arab News as saying, “The Western countries are concerned about Iranian science and nuclear technology, which is entering the nuclear industry and in all other industries, and is witnessing steady industrial and productive growth. The fear of the West goes beyond the fear of Iran producing a nuclear bomb, because if the Greater Iran emerges north of the (Arabian) Gulf and the Sea of Oman, 15 countries will join Iran. If the Greater Iran is formed, it will interfere with global policymaking. Our duty is to bring back again the glory, greatness and might of ancient Persia, and we can carry out this task.”
Edit 09h11 CST 1-13-21: this account, which was screen-shot on Monday 1-11-21, has been deleted or redirected. See #1 in the next section.
So who is still active that maybe shouldn’t be? Let’s see.
Active Twitter Accounts
1. Mohsen Razaee
You may recall Mohsen Razaee from a couple of paragraphs ago. His (apparent) new Twitter account, @ir_rezaee vs @rezaee_ir, must signal a reformed and far less anti-Semitic Secretary of the Expedience Discernment Council. Mention of his place on INTERPOL’s most-wanted list and involvement in a couple of terror attacks have been removed from Wikipedia (at least the Persian one, which is hardly surprising; as of this writing it is on the English one).
Edit: the suspended account mentioned in the previous section is no longer available to view.
2. Paul Kagame
@paulkagame on Twitter and @paulkagame on Instagram.
President of Rwanda since 2000, de facto ruler of the country for at least half a decade before that, Kagame is the former leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). The RPF is sometimes lauded as the savior of the Tutsis during the Rwandan Genocide, which the Kagame government uses as a tool to deflect criticism (often levying accusations of “genocide denial” at its detractors).
It is also guilty of killing huge numbers of Hutus in retribution. He later backed the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (ADF) during the First Congo War, during which, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, some 200,000 Hutu refugees were murdered. Often after using promises of humanitarian relief as bait to lure them out of hiding.
Médecins Sans Frontières and other organizations report that many of those killings were done using machetes, knives, and hatchets. Sometimes children were killed by smashing their heads against the boles of trees. Sexual assault and torture were systemic, and in some cases, relief efforts were blocked by military formations of the Rwandan army.
More recently journalists and opposition leaders have, with his assistance, disappeared (in at least case been beheaded) while support for rebel groups in surrounding countries (such as M23 in Congo and elsewhere) continues. They’ve also been arresting people (including children and the elderly) for vagrancy and deviant behaviors.
Here’s an interesting fact: just a few days ago (as of this writing), Kagame had hotelier Paul Rusesabagina. Ruseabagina was the manager of the Hotel des Milles Collines, later made famous as the “Hotel Rwanda”. He rescued more than a thousand people, mostly Tutsis, during the Rwandan genocide, and is the recipient of the United States’ Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is not expected to survive incarceration.
Nour isn’t a person, it’s an organization. The al-Nour Party, or “Party of the Light”, is the political arm of the Salafi Call Society (Al-Da‘wa Al-Salafiyya) and the primary Salafi party of Egypt, which seeks the “gradual implementation” of Sharia law with the avowed goal of establishing a Wahhabi theocratic state. While the party officially supports democracy, it’s leadership denounces democracy as apostasy, and while it officially supports women’s rights, it also urges gender segregation both in education and in public places and replaces the faces of its female political candidates with pictures of flowers or party symbology.
You can find al-Nour on Twitter at @alnourpartyeg.
4. Mohamad al-Arefe
Muhammad bin Abdul-Rahman al-Arifi (@mohamadalarefe) is really popular on Twitter and Instagram. He doesn’t like Shias (they’re non-believers who should be killed”), hates the “cowardly” Jews more, and supports the Muslim Brotherhood. During a 2007 interview, he opined that a man was allowed to beat his wife if she disobeyed him, and opposes allowing women to work outside the home.
In 2015 he allegedly praised those responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attack and was later banned from the United Kingdom as a threat to their society. He was later banned by both Switzerland and Denmark.
You can follow al-Arifi on Twitter, @mohamadalarefe or connect with him on Instagram, @dr.mohamadalarefe.
5. Emmerson Mnangagwa
Emmerson Mnangagwa became the President of Zimbabwe (née Rhodesia) after a “military assisted” transition. Setting aside the activities of his Bush War days, Mnangagwa has spent the last few years jailing journalists, political activists, and trade union leaders, while handing subversion charges like candy.
In early 2019 security forces responded to protests over fuel prices, killing at least 17 people, raping a like number of women, and injuring scores more. Alleged victims of sexual abuse have been urged to report the crime to their local “Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit”, though charges are rarely if ever brought against the accused. Later that year masked men abducted satirist-comedienne Samantha Kureya, tortured her, and forced her to drink sewage.
In mid-2020, two female Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists and a female member of Parliament were snatched up from a protest in Harare, tortured, and sexually abused. Their bodies were later dumped near the town of Bindura. Just a few months ago Mnangagwa’s administration began legislation to criminalize any criticism of the government and the “unauthorized communication or negotiation by private citizens with foreign governments”. That includes NGOs and humanitarian agencies.
According to Zimbabwean Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, “Other actions that will become punishable include planned and timed protests deliberately designed to coincide with major international, continental or regional events or visits.”
You can follow Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa on Twitter, @edmnangagwa.
6. Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei
The Ayatollah Khamenei prob’ly needs no introduction here — nor to the victims of the mass murders in Mahshahr in late 2019. Khamenei, who believes there is “no cure for Israel but its annihilation”. After all, the “…Zionist cancer is gnawing into the lives of Islamic nations.”
Khamenei has been accused of arranging the assassination of nearly 200 defectors around the world, the killing of several thousand members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), and the repression of the Baháʼí religion (including the identification of all who practice that faith and the monitoring of their activities), declaring them najis, or unclean. Those who are convicted of insulting Khamenei are often thrown into prison.
The Ayatollah believes in gender segregation, preaching that gender equality is a Zionist plot to corrupt society, and has reportedly justified the rape of teenage girls before their execution by explaining that the execution of a virgin is forbidden in Islam. Juvenile offenders in Iran can be executed at age 9 for girls and 13 for boys.
In 2019 he appointed Ebrahim Raeesi to be head of Iran’s judicial branch, some 30 years after the judge ordered the execution of several thousand people, and later that year was responsible for the killing of some 1,500 people by security forces after a fuel price increase. Another 300 or so were killed a month later.
You can follow the Ayatollah on Twitter, @khamenei.ir.
Because Jane is an ignorant slut, we’ll look at some different perspectives on the “fairness” of the Trump social media suppression. We’ll discuss this in the comments below. There are a number of good reasons to do so, including the need for civil discourse, the chance we’ll cover something that someone didn’t think of, and if you’re completely entrenched in your position, the chance to get a look into how the opposition thinks. “Time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted.”
Note: ironically or not, we’ll be deleting comments that don’t contribute to the discussion, particularly those that are just an excuse to practice typing expletives.
Feel free to weigh in so this can be expanded.
reminder: this will be an ongoing post with occasional expansions and edits.
Point: Trump’s access to social media platforms was wrong. It is censorship. This is a free country and that is a violation of his free speech.
Counter-Point: Shutting down Trump’s social media was not wrong. This is a free country, which is why Twitter, Facebook, and the others are free to ban him. They are private businesses.
Counter-Counter-Point: It was wrong. They are private businesses, but they effectively monopolize modern mediums of mass communication. That is de facto censorship when it comes to contemporary speech.
etc. There is, no doubt, a counter-counter-counter point, and so on ad infinitum, but we’ll stop there.
2. It’s a private business.
Point: the social media companies are a private company. They can do what they like.
Counter-point: Then Klein, dba Sweet Cakes by Melissa, v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, should immediately be reversed and the bakery should get the money it paid in fines refunded.
3. Inciting violence.
Point: The content of President Trump’s tweets were what caused the suspension, not his political affiliation or his loss of the election. It was how and what he was saying. He was using his platform to incite violence and unrest and to interfere with the democratic process. You can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater and you can’t glorify violence.
Counter-Point: But the Supreme Court has already ruled at political hyperbole does not qualify as a threat. Watts v. United States, 395 U.S. 705. Robert Watts was arrested because he said he was going to shoot President Johnson.
“What is a threat must be distinguished from what is constitutionally protected speech. The language of the political arena … is often vituperative, abusive, and inexact.” (from the SCOTUS opinion of the case). It was “…a kind of very crude offensive method of stating a political opposition…” not a true threat.
It’s rhetorical hypberbole.
4. But what about the others?
Point: Trump shouldn’t have been shut out of social media. The Trump Twitter account was never on par with truly bad accounts.The Ayatollah Khamenei and others still have their accounts, and they’re guilty of many things that violate Twitter’s alleged community standards. Khamenei, al-Rafiri, and others like them foment trouble and violence at home and abroad. They urge anti-Semitic action, support radicalization, and promote “lone wolf” attacks in the US and other countries (especially in the West).
Counter-Point: He should have been shut down. They’re over there. He is here. He’s POTUS. He was inciting violence and unrest in our own country. It’s not the same as someone doing so in Africa, or the Middle East, or some Third World country.
Point: Although aggravating and irresponsible, Trump’s statements did not violate the law. SCOTUS First Amendment precedent approves the (judicial) punishment of “inflammatory speech” if it endorses violence. Trump’s tweets did not do so. “Advocacy of ideas” and “expression of belief” is not incitement to riot.
Counter-Point: That’s a legal interpretation. It is not an interpretation organized under Twitter’s own business guidelines, which he (and anyone who is on the platform) agreed to when he signed up.
6. The Free Market
Point: If they’re private businesses and can thus do what they want, why must businesses forcibly shut down for COVID reasons if they want to remain open.
Counter-Point: This circles back around to public safety. Freedom of speech — and commerce — is a right only until it threatens the health and wellbeing of others.
7. Other Options Available
Point: If you don’t like a particular social media platform or means of communication, use another.
Counter-Point: That worked with Parler really well, didn’t it? Information is a commodity. You cannot do so if there is a monopoly on such frequencies. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter should be subject to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, just like AT&T was. Carnegie’s Steel Company, the American Tobacco Company, and Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company were big then: information and communication are the currency of today. (The same thing could be applied to Apple, Google, and Amazon.)
That’s if for the moment, but there will be more.
Aaaaand, go! Keep it reasonable, please.
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