Twitter censorship, voter suppression, and Democratic hypocrisy

Within moments, after both President Trump and his press secretary characterized Twitter's "fact-checking" posts as "censorship," a torrent of feeble-minded and semi-illiterate Democrats raised their voices in unison to proclaim, "It's NOT censorship."  Most just make the statement and added no additional analysis, while others fatuously added that the reader can still read the tweet.

Of course, Twitter is engaging in the dictionary definition of censorship.  A censor is defined as "an official who examines books, plays... etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds" (emphasis added).  Censorship, the act of a censor, or "...the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient." Censorship can be conducted by governments, private institutions, and other controlling bodies.

One form of suppression is prohibiting speech.  The other, more insidious forms of suppression include inhibiting, restricting, repressing, intimidating, or, especially as regards speech, preventing the dissemination of information.  Herein lies the offense, and the hypocrisy. 

There is little question that the "fact check" and linked alternate information, even if true, well-intentioned, and apolitical, is intended to, and has the effect of suppressing a speaker's speech.  This is a conclusion that any child can reach from the explanations "why," speech must be fact-checked.  The justification is that suppression is necessary because the speech is dangerous, harmful, misleading, immoral, etc.  How can one claim that suppression is not the aim, and then argue on the basis why the speech must be "suppressed?"  Clearly the intent is to prevent the dissemination of the targeted information; readers can be expected to refuse to forward or share the information. lest they be put in the Twitter corner with a similar technological "dunce" hat for the effort. 

Further, the effect is clearly suppression.  Met with blazing intellectual "danger" and "detour" signs, what intellectual traveler wants to be known as the fool who proceeded into the information ravine?  Add to that the fact that many readers are just lazy, one would expect that many would bypass reading the novel in order to freely surf to the Twitter assembled crib-notes of an issue. 

The hypocrisy is that Democrats are rabid dogs when it comes to opposing another kind of suppression: voter suppression.  Every minor additional effort imposed, even if de minimis, is unacceptable voter suppression.  A free ID that can be obtained almost anywhere, and in our complex society, is reasonable and necessary for a myriad of other purposes (suggesting that few, if any, are, in fact, without one), is suppression so heinous that it spurs talk of racism, a horrid history of poll taxes, and contrived qualifications once designed precisely to actually suppress the voting rights of minorities.  There is no possibility in the Democratic hive-mind that "protecting" the vote of all Americans, including minorities, is acceptably attained by even a minimal burden.

Any burden is acceptable when countering speech with which Democrats disagree. Contrary speech is simply too dangerous. It is impossible to reconcile the Democrats contradictory positions.  Indeed, censorship should be opposed with the same fervor as efforts to actually suppress voting rights.

Lest one think that compromising by allowing small burdens to both is acceptable, speech, and particularly government speech, is afforded special status, best explained by the law that has created the "government speech doctrine."  Before proceeding,  the doctrine does not apply to the "case" of Twitter taking action to suppress speech, but the doctrine speaks to and demands special consideration of speech by the government and government officials. 

The “government speech doctrine” recognizes that a government entity “is entitled to say what it wishes” and to select the views that it wants to express. The government is not barred by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment from determining the content of what it says and can legally engage in viewpoint discrimination.

The reason is obvious; the government cannot function if it cannot not favor or disfavor points of view in enforcing or advocating on behalf of a program or policy.  So important is this necessity, that Supreme Court has accepted that it  applies even when the government receives private assistance in helping deliver a government controlled message.  The Supreme Court  has rejected First Amendment challenges to (1) regulations prohibiting recipients of government funds from advocating, counseling, or referring patients for abortion; (2) disciplinary actions taken as a result of statements made by public employees pursuant to their official duties; (3) mandatory assessments made against cattle merchants when used to fund advertisements whose message was controlled by the government; (4) a city’s decision to reject a monument for placement in a public park; and (5) a state’s decision to reject a design for a specialty license plate for an automobile. 

Our government, and its agents, public and private, are afforded special status under the law to speak without regard to opposing viewpoints in order to select, advocate, and implement policy choices and programs.  Government speech can be countered, opposed, and even vilified.  Suppression or burdening government speech, however, is and should be unacceptable.      

Twitter is a private corporation, and it, and its officers, directors, employees, and agents are free to speak in opposition to any other speaker, including the government.  So long as its efforts do not suppress the speech of others in a public space, it and they may speak as often and as vociferously as any speaker.  Perhaps Twitter can find a public platform that is not subjected to the whims and caprice of third parties suppressing their speech.     

Image credit: Pixabay public domain