The latest in the Donald Trump Constitutional Crisis Sweepstakes comes courtesy of our good friends at Twitter. Recently, the Knight First Amendment Institute posted a demand on Twitter that President Trump unblock his critics on Twitter, citing…wait for it…the First Amendment.
That’s right, kids. An institute committed to the First Amendment has asserted trolling a sitting President is a free speech issue. And people wonder why I think we’re doomed…
If it were just the Knight First Amendment Institute going out on this limb by themselves, it would be easy to dismiss it, but there are others, including attorney Lawrence Tribe, who take it seriously and are arguing the President should not have the ability to block people because it stifles their free speech. Now, I’m not a lawyer like Mr. Tribe, but I have a little experience with the First Amendment, given that I’m using it right now.
How can I put this so Mr. Tribe, the Knight First Amendment Institute, and others like them can understand? Oh yeah. This isn’t a free speech issue!
Twitter is a private company and, as such, they have rules that each user has to follow. (Whether those rules are enforced evenly or at all is another matter for another blog entry.) Twitter also allows users the ability to block or hide some people’s posts at the discretion of the user. In fact, previous Presidents have blocked Twitter users before Trump, so it would lead me to believe it’s not really a free speech issue so much as it is a don’t-be-an-assbag issue.
The sticking point the Left has with this position is the fact President Trump has a Twitter an official White House Twitter account as well as a private one. Their argument is the fact Trump is President means his private Twitter account is a public forum because he is a government official. Yeah, that’s not how the First Amendment works. The first five words of the First Amendment read, “Congress shall make no law,” which means…well, that Congress can’t act. Since the President is not a member of Congress or the legislative branch, the First Amendment prohibitions would not apply to him, even if he is President.
The most confounding part of the Left’s line of thinking for me is how they can say their free speech rights are being violated by not being able to respond to whatever the President tweets. Hmmm…if only there were a way for these people to respond using the same technology the President uses. Oh, wait, there is. It’s called Twitter! The very forum they use to see what the President says is the same one they can use to issue a response. Trump isn’t stopping them from tweeting; he’s only ignoring what these folks tweet for various reasons. As hate speech critics are so quick to point out, the freedom to speak does not guarantee an audience. And, oddly enough, some of the same people who say hate speech isn’t protected are the same ones who think their tweets are free speech. Things that make you go “what color is the sky in your world?”
In the end, the Left’s treatment of President Trump’s Twitter as a free speech issue is shakier than Michael Moore in a vat of Jello on the San Andreas Fault during a 7.2 on the Richter Scale. No matter how many times they try to make it so, it just doesn’t work. Although I have to admit it’s funny to see people who get offended at insignificant things working so tirelessly to defend the right to troll.