By Robert Rees and Clifton Jolley
“When somebody says something about me, I am able to go bing, bing, bing and take care of it.”—Donald Trump
We stand at the precipice of a crisis. A crisis of communication that may muzzle the federal government and silence one third of our Republic’s tri-part government.
The villain? Twitter.
Twitter has announced a stricter regulation of civility in all posts (which all by itself could reduce tweets from more than a quarter million a minute to a few dozen).
This will come as bad news to Trolls, Nazis, Alt-Right extremists, and Steve Bannon, whose Breitbart News survives by satisfying baser appetites for conspiracies, extremities, insults, and general nonsense.
Much of which will be prohibited if Twitter is faithful to its commitment to eliminate:
· Non-consensual nudity
· Unwanted sexual advances
· Hate symbols and imagery
· Violent groups
· Tweets that glorify violence
Twitter commits to being inclusive and equitable in its administration of the new standards, saying, "The rules are the rules, we enforce them the same way for everybody."
Really? Everybody? Including POTUS?
Since the election of Trump to the Presidency, Twitter has become the lingua franca of political discourse and the principal tool of our principal tool: our Twitterer in Chief, a man who appears to have neither principles nor character nor a knowledge of how to use other tools of civic discourse. (Watching him read speeches is as painful for his audience as it appears to be laborious for him.)
A paucity of communications caused by Trump suffering a banishment from Twitter could lead to a Constitutional crisis by putting out of action Trump’s most regular mode of communication: #realDonaldTrump.
If you doubt our alarm, compare the following to the new Twitter rules. Trump has:
· Threatened violence against reporters in general and CNN in particular (posting a video of himself beating up on the entire network! And a train labeled “Trump” crashing into a figure labeled “CNN.”)
· Shown a doctored video clip of him driving a golf ball that hits Hillary Clinton, knocking her off her feet.
· Encouraged violence by the NFL against protesting players such as Colin Kaepernick. And encouraged more violent hitting on the football field.
· Said of one protester, “I'd like to punch him in the face.”
· Suggested police officers need not protect the heads of persons being arrested when putting them into a police car.
· Posted violent images on Twitter and used rhetoric so mean-spirited and full of rage it would put any of our children in the corner with a mouth full of soap.
As for Twitter’s emphasis of “non-consensual” as a causa for discipline, non-consensual is Donald Trump’s modus operandi. Whether soliciting sex or Trumping for the termination of network broadcasting licenses, Trump likes everything better when no one but him is required to consent.
Unwanted sexual advances? One has difficulty believing any of Trump’s “advances” are wanted, much less the sexual ones. Just the way he shakes hands—pulling off-balance the unlucky in what he believes to be a show of dominance—should be sufficient to cause anyone not to want to be touched. (One worries what he might do were he to grab a woman as he brags of having permission to do.) And there are more than a dozen women who complain of his sexual advances and his unwantedness.
Hate groups? He insists there are “good people” marching with the neo-Nazis, he re-tweets images and messages from fascist websites, he campaigns to have innocent African American kids executed (Central Park Five), and he insists (by various vocabularies and mis-directions) that Muslims should not be permitted to enter the United States.
There can be no doubt that, based on its stated principles and his Twitter pronouncements, once the Twitter rules go into effect, President Trump will no longer be permitted to use Twitter. His principal methodology and technology for communication will be lost, leaving no way for Trump to tell Rex Tillerson he is wasting time with North Korea. No way to tell Mexico how much they owe for the wall or Mexicans how many of them are rapists. No way to lecture everyone that Puerto Rico is “an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.”
And worse: nothing to do at 4 a.m. No one to talk to and no way to talk. Imagine Trump sitting all alone and thinking: “I wonder what time it is in North Korea? And without Twitter, how will I get Kim Jong-un’s attention? Maybe just one, small, tactical nuclear weapon?”
Will our Republic survive?