Even as the folks from Black Lives Matter continue to post some of the most vile threats imaginable, Twitter decided to suspend a conservative columnist because of a Tweet he made during the Charlotte riots.
Shocker: Freedom of speech doesn’t exist on social media–but it should.
On Wednesday, University of Tennessee law professor and USA Today columnist Glenn Reynolds was so disgusted by the rioting in Charlotte that he somewhat immoderately posted a tweet showing a photo of Charlotte rioters shutting down a highway with the caption “run them down.”
After that tweet, Reynolds’ highly trafficked Instapundit Twitter account was shut down by the social media giant.
For his part, Reynolds went to his popular Instapundit blog and accused Twitter of stifling conservatives.
Blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars is a threat. Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people. But if Twitter doesn’t like me, I’m happy to stop providing them with free content.
Reynolds recieved support…
“If Twitter doesn’t like me, I’m happy to stop providing them with free content.”
— John Schindler (@20committee) September 22, 2016
Absurd. Instapundit suspended by Twitter for this tweet -> pic.twitter.com/ZMr7yMOdy1
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) September 22, 2016
@charliespiering They use any excuse to get rid of popular conservative voices.
— Jake Steward (@Prozac1776) September 22, 2016
— John Schindler (@20committee) September 22, 2016
Twitter has suspended @instapundit, presumably for being conservative.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) September 22, 2016
Other Twitter users pointed out all the racist, hate-filled tweets posted by Black Lives Matter followers to which Twitter had paid no attention at all.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 22, 2016
— M1A Patriot (@M1APatriot) September 22, 2016
— InfinitelyDeplorable (@InfiniteCircle8) September 22, 2016
Of course, Twitter summarily suspended the Instapundit account without any discussion with him first but did finally contact Reynolds after a ruckus was kicked up online about the suspension. Twitter offered to reinstate the Instapundit account if Reynolds promised to delete the tweet Twitter claimed is “inciting violence.”
Reynolds, though, says he was not the one inciting anything. It was the rioters doing all that.
As Reynolds explained on his blog:
I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. I fully support people protesting police actions, and I’ve been writing in support of greater accountability for police for years.
But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And locking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.
“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.
Still, Twitter has reinstated Reynolds’ account.
Twitter has unblocked my account on condition of deleting the offending tweet. I’ve done so, but it’s here:: https://t.co/DDkZd2el6Y
— Instapundit.com (@instapundit) September 22, 2016
Now the famed conservative blogger and columnist is mulling over whether or not he’ll delete his account and leave Twitter altogether.
On Friday, September 23, Professor Reynolds posted an apology at USA Today where he is a columnist.
He apologized for not living up to his own high standards for communication.
‘I didn’t live up to my own standards, and I didn’t meet USA TODAY’s standards. For that I apologize.’
Wednesday night one of my 580,000 tweets blew up. I didn’t live up to my own standards, and I didn’t meet USA TODAY’s standards. For that I apologize, to USA TODAY readers and to my followers on social media.
I was following the riots in Charlotte, against a background of reports of violence. Joe Bruno of WSOC9 interviewed a driver whose truck had been stopped by a mob. Trapped in her cab, she “feared for her life” as her cargo was looted. Then I retweeted a report of mobs “stopping traffic and surrounding vehicles” with the comment, “Run them down.”
Those words can easily be taken to advocate drivers going out of their way to run down protesters. I meant no such thing, and I’m sorry it seemed I did. What I meant is that drivers who feel their lives are in danger from a violent mob should not stop their vehicles. I remember Reginald Denny, a truck driver who was beaten nearly to death by a mob during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. My tweet should have said, “Keep driving,” or “Don’t stop.”
I have always supported peaceful protests, speaking out against police militarization and excessive police violence in my USA TODAY columns, on my website and on Twitter itself. I understand why people misunderstood my tweet and regret that I was not clearer.
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