This post is not going to be about the government. This was an instance in which a private organization infringed upon my right to speak freely, and I am still deciding what to do about it.
The other day, I was scanning Twitter and trying to find something to argue about. The shooting had just happened and everyone was on talking about the NRA and how it was their fault that those children was shot and killed in Newtown, CT. I will go into this in greater detail when I feel it is time to post about the shooting that happened and go deeper into the gun control debate, but this is not the time. Needless to say, I tried to defend the NRA and the fact that simply put, we have a right to keep and bear arms. I did this by commenting on many of the tweets that were going up that were bashing the NRA.
I wasn’t getting any sort of a meaningful feedback on my comments, and the ones that were responding were not giving valid arguments (like calling me a Nazi for wanting to have guns in the hands of as many citizens as possible) so I decided to cash my chips and fall asleep. I awoke to some very disturbing news.
Maybe disturbing is an overzealous description. For those of you who don’t know me: I have an unhealthy addiction to social media, and I have this need to get my views out into the open that is unparalleled among all of my friends and family. Twitter is one of my main outlets for this addiction. When I woke up that morning to check Twitter like the morning paper, a habit that I have developed, I found that my account had been suspended. I could not tweet, refresh my timeline (Twitter had this name before Facebook for those of you who don’t know) or even check who was following me. Nothing.
So I naturally ran over to my laptop and tried to figure out what was wrong. There was a notification at the top of the screen informing me that my account had been suspended and that I had to resolve the issue by clicking on a link. I was glad that I was now able to resolve the issue and that I was not going to have to create a new account and try to build another political following. When I clicked through on the link that was provided, I was sent to a page that explained that the comments that I had made the night before had been thought, if I remember correctly, to have been “egregious and unsolicited” and that they were annoying the people that I had sent them to.
Let me first clarify: I did not say anything unsavory toward those people. The comments that I made were very level-headed, except for one time when I did call a guy a “dumbass” for calling me a Nazi (as mentioned before). I did not say anything that infringed upon the rights of others or moved to incite violence. Everything that I said was protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, and yet I was punished for it. I had to sign an online agreement that said that I would never do something like this or my account would be permanently deleted and I would be unable to recover it.
Something like this usually doesn’t get noticed. Whoever gets this electronic slap on the wrist just checks the boxes and doesn’t ever do it again. I don’t think that this is something that should be just forgotten about and swept under the rug. I don’t want to live in a world where something that you say on the Internet to someone else that is perfectly harmless can be censored and the person who says it is punished just for voicing their opinion. My opinion at this point in time might not be the majority opinion and it may appear to be unpopular, but it is still my opinion and I am entitled to it and my right to voice it.
I am trying to contact Twitter to voice my displeasure for this incident because I don’t want this to ever happen again to someone who is just saying what they want to say to try to get their opinions heard. I have even thought about dragging them to court and suing them for the the exact amount of my legal fees just so I can prove a point that something like this will not stand.
Twitter has a block function (which I have used many times) that can be used to silence someone who the user thinks is being annoying or not contributing anything positive to society. If someone wants to block me so that they don’t have to listen to my rants, then they can do that. When Twitter steps in and shuts my account down until I sign an online agreement saying that I won’t voice my opinions to other people when they are bashing the views that I hold dear, that’s crossing the line. If anyone from high-level Twitter management reads this (which you probably won’t, but I hope you do) then please hear what I have to say:
THE INTERNET IS NO PLACE FOR TYRANNY AND CENSORSHIP.
I will not be silenced because Twitter does not agree with my views or someone complained about something that I said. In this country, and in most civilized countries around the world, citizens have a right to speak out and give their views and contribute to the free exchange of ideas. If that right gets taken away, then the people have been deprived of a fundamental individual right, and this will not stand.
Just because you are a private organization does not mean that you don’t have to follow the Constitution. As a social media outlet, Twitter must adhere most fervently to what the Framers thought was an idea so important that they amended the Constitution to accomodate it.