Twitter has finally banned Trump after years of allowing, if not encouraging him to incite his base, spread disinformation and break their own policies for the sake of “free speech.” But is speech really free if it’s an invitation to oppress anyone in opposition to it? The answer is a hard NO. Jack may want a gold star for banning Trump in light of the Capitol insurrection, aka for doing what should have been done ages ago— remove someone from the platform who was a threat to human lives. I wrote a letter to Twitter on April 22, 2020 with a heartfelt and fact-based assessment of why the account should be banned, that I’m not sure was even delivered, simply because Twitter already had blockades in place to disallow anyone from trying to disable the president’s account. And now, Twitter users have completely taken back their agency by laughing within the platform itself at the painstakingly massive problem it had a huge hand in causing. Honestly, that’s hilarious.
Watching the administration progress in recent months, I’ve often said “the comedy writes itself” — I’d bet SNL agrees. I’m not alone in feeling so sickened by the abhorrence that was this week while simultaneously so entertained. From black Twitter users claiming they’re now going to clutch their purses tighter when they see white people nearby (again, claiming a narrative that generally works against them — see recent Miya Ponsetto falsely accusing a black teenager of stealing her phone and then wearing a Daddy hat on Gayle King’s show while attempting and failing to defend herself), to DJs making memes about using Ableton to produce music in Nancy Pelosi’s office, to users already creating new accounts pretending to be an incognito Trump — the concept of joking about something that would simply never happen within your own community — is not lost on leftists.
To me, this shines a light on the correlation between comedy, depression, and intelligent people. I’ve taken myself outside of my body to observe the absurdity of how I went from being so full of rage back in April to essentially laughing harder than I have in months. Who wouldn’t want to watch a bunch of depressed comics come together to share their most self-deprecating moments that Americans should be able to relate to — at least, those who expected something of an insurgence? Those who have been paying attention, and have a high enough IQ to understand both what’s been going on in regard to political divisiveness as well as a sense of humor. Data from a 2015 study showed that in a group of 3700 Mensa members, depression and anxiety had more than double the prevalence than in the general population. Studies have also shown the contradictory personalities of comedians — namely, that comedy tends to be a form of self-medication. Not that we need a study for that — it’s widely known that depression is linked to comedy (see: Robin Williams), and ironically, if now was not one of the most depressive times in history, maybe we would be laughing less and crying more. Depression has tripled in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, according to results from a study published in September 2020. And everyone is hilarious now — but at what cost?
This is the letter I sent to Twitter on 4/22/20 — serious, concerned, and firm in what needed to happen.
This account is consistently threatening the safety and livelihood of people around the world, both U.S. national and international territories alike, especially in a time of a national state of emergency. A message encouraging citizens to “save your great 2nd Amendment,” otherwise known as the right to bear arms, is, in essence, inciting physically threatening riots during a time of pandemic crisis and creating fear-based division. This is also a massive blow to States’ Rights, wherein the federal government should NOT be biased toward a state’s ratification to an amendment of how/when to bear arms — which in and of itself is a terror tactic. Not only is this account inciting mob-like energy, but also is creating general confusion on what the federal government is or is not allowed to wield power over. The President cannot order a state to revoke stay-at-home orders that a Governor has put in place. This kind of behavior needs to be banned on Twitter, and not banning it is unethical and dangerous, and could very well be considered terror if people in these states continue to act on these visible encouragements by in-person, gun-wielding protests while wearing and carrying merchandise in support of the account making these statements. This happenstance is not correlation, it is causation.
Encouraging the states to re-open the country is also threatening the health and well-being of the seniors mentioned in this tweet, as well as others who are also vulnerable to the coronavirus. Twitter’s own policy on hateful conduct states that “You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people…based on age.” It’s been widely known, thanks to our doctors, that opening the country too soon will directly result in the spread of the virus and more deaths. Therefore, the President of the United States should not be allowed to encourage a physically threatening path that has repeatedly been debunked by doctors and scientists as a dangerous and incompetent idea. Again, this type of messaging coming from the President of the United States is leading to mass confusion and, for lack of a better term, civil pandemonium during a global crisis. It is dangerous, and should be banned. Lastly, the President does not have the right to override governor’s stay and home orders, so it’s clear he is inciting riot-like behavior from American citizens who should be obeying the careful orders made by their respective governors.
This next tweet is wholeheartedly a terror threat to Iran, citing that our navy will murder Iranian soldiers if they “harass” our ships, which is not only vague in that to simply “harass” is not specific, but also in that a message like this visible to the American public is stoking fear on top of an already fragile and tender general condition. Twitter’s policy on violent threats states that “We prohibit content that makes violent threats against an identifiable target” — this tweet, however, does exactly that — this account has tweeted that they have threatened violence against the Iranian military on an extremely vague basis. It does not matter what actually happened behind the closed doors of the Pentagon, or whether this is even true — the fact of the matter is that this tweet, in and of itself, is a violent threat to the Iranian military. If someone wrote “I plan to kill Iranians who harass me” in a tweet, that would be considered a threat no matter whether this person actually planned for or took steps to make this threat a reality — the messaging is still there. Additionally, Twitter’s policy states “Saying that a group of individuals deserve serious physical injury, e.g., “If this group of protesters don’t shut up, they deserve to be shot” is exactly the same as the messaging of a tweet that reads, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” Is there any weight to Twitter’s policy on abusive users for those in power? Who is Twitter really for, if not?
Additionally, this is abusive and threatening in that Americans need to feel as safe and secure as possible during a time of crisis — please see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for reference, in which it is described that the 2nd category of most basic of human needs includes personal security and health — both of which a threat like this is putting into question.
It is no secret that Twitter is a place for free speech, however, as a public platform based on publishing the text of others, I would argue that Twitter should be held to as close a standard as that of journalism. Twitter should not provide a platform that allows someone wielding massive influence to incite terror, encourage dangerous and threatening behavior, or spread panic to the American public. It sickens me to see Twitter let this type of rhetoric continue to be posted on its platform, which is supposed to “give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers,” not “create and share dangerous misinformation, inciting pandemonium, leading to global confusion and terror.” You have rules and stipulations for a reason — please adhere to them.
I hope that Twitter takes my accusations very seriously, as they are backed by your own policy practices listed on your website. Ban this account for the health and safety of Americans before it’s too late.
And now, I’m at home, laughing. Laughing at hundreds of angry predominantly white men carrying thin blue line flags, pushing over cops and defacing the U.S. Capitol — a building that represents their own freedom and democracy. Laughing at IRL satire, already written on the border wall between us and Mexico. As civilian activists largely involved in organizing from home while trying to avoid a deadly pandemic, what else can we do? It’s difficult not to chuckle at both the administration and the authority figures who blatantly allowed this to happen, because many people on the left can already relate to this overwhelmingly plausible experience. Some jokes more niche than others…
A reply to this last one had me cackling on the floor:
Because I, too, have sleep paralysis demons.
The key here is that those making jokes are laughing at the insurrectionist terrorists involved, not with them. We can relate only in the sense that we fully expected this to happen —I wrote a fucking letter predicting it 9 months ago. And now, we are allowed to make fun of you, because we told you so. We knew better than you, and therefore, all we can do is…laugh?
I do not fear for the threat of the removal of freedom of speech, because one user getting banned from one single platform is far less of a risk than the one he put forth previously and continues to do so, which resulted in countless lives being put in danger, and the actual death of 5 people. I think a user responding to a Patia’s Fantasy World story said it better than I ever could:
Bye forever, I hope.