The bullies of America know that Donald Trump has their backs. The bully can even be a race horse, for whom Trump will tweet a defense. Politically correct “MAGA” talk show hosts, people who are known to bully and harass on social media, can count on Trump to cry “censorship” when they are acted against. Naturally, Trump’s passion for free speech only applies to the free speech protections for his own tribe.
Last week, as part of his defense of James Woods, Alex Jones et al. Trump tweeted:
“When will the Radical Left Wing Media apologize to me for knowingly getting the Russia Collusion Delusion story so wrong? The real story is about to happen! Why is @nytimes, @washingtonpost, @CNN, @MSNBC allowed to be on Twitter & Facebook. Much of what they do is FAKE NEWS!”
When will the Radical Left Wing Media apologize to me for knowingly getting the Russia Collusion Delusion story so wrong? The real story is about to happen! Why is @nytimes, @washingtonpost, @CNN, @MSNBC allowed to be on Twitter & Facebook. Much of what they do is FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2019
Truth be told, the master of bullying on social media is Donald Trump. He does it with impunity because he is the president. Worse, Trump’s tweets carry the power and weight of his office. It’s in that context that the aforementioned tweet is disturbing.
It’s also the weight of the office that made it possible for Trump to summon Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to the White House to complain about the fact that he, Trump, was losing bots — I mean followers.
The rest of us aren’t so privileged.
Out in real America, people of color face harassment and abuse from Trump’s poor little misunderstood supporters. The same holds true on Twitter and probably on other social media. But the president is, again, silent.
If you’re a woman on Twitter, you actually find it necessary to include something in your profile saying you aren’t on Twitter looking for a guy. In fact, I’ve got “happily married” in my profile, but daily I still get several dm’s and several accounts who are ever so interested in “getting to know me.”
There is no tweeter with the power and weight of the presidency to advocate for the protection of your right to speak free of harassment.
I’m not the only one. If you look profiles of women in the resistance, odds are you’ll find “no dms” and not looking for relationships in their profiles.
Anyone who is Jewish and Liberal is more likely than not to have encountered a Trump supporter with some anti-Semitic sentiments.
Campaigning against Cyber-Bullying was supposed to be Melania Trump’s big project. Aside from her BeBest hashtag and a speech or two, Melania hasn’t done anything during the year since she launched the campaign. But hey, she’ll make an annual speech and cyber-bullying will go away, right?
I could venture that since she is as hostile to the free press, calling it “fake news” like her husband does, the first lady shares his views on bullying when the target is a critic. Maybe, like her husband, Melania believes critcism is only for the little others in the kingdom of Magastan.
It is not okay – unless the target is a woman, a liberal, a Jew, a Muslim, an immigrant, a brown person, a black person, a gay person.
See where I’m going with this?
Trump and his supports will scoff at the community standards established on social media even while they use the power of the state to attack the freedoms of privately-owned social media forums.
Meanwhile, Trump’s tweets have the status of being official presidential statements, since he hires and fires people on Twitter: announces policy, and uses the outlet to supplement the slander and taunting that Trump does at his so-called rallies.
So, when Trump tweets about banning certain media outlets from Twitter, he does so in his capacity as the president – not merely as some old guy yelling at people to get off of his lawn. But when he does this or when he summons Jack Dorsey to the White House, Donald Trump is acting under the authority of his office.
That office, however, is not empowered to regulate speech, as we all know. And as Donald Trump knows when it suits him.
Unlike you or me, Trump can summon Jack Dorsey to his office if he’s unhappy with the fact that so many of his lost “followers” are actually bots and fake accounts.
Unlike us, when Trump feels like he is being bullied or one of his friends is being bullied, he has the power of the presidency to come to their defense.
When Trump or his supporters harass women, threatening to rape them or do them some other form of harm, who is our advocate? Who do we have to summon Jack Dorsey to make the harassment stop?
And again, there is a double standard. If you decide to target Christine Blasey Ford for harassment; don’t worry. Donald Trump has your back.
If you’re a decent human being who cares about American democracy, the rule of law and treating all humans with dignity and respect – you may be on your own, but you are not alone.
At the same point, this isn’t a sustainable approach. If there are community standards, they should apply to everyone and they should protect everyone – not only Trump supporters and not only Trump opponents.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.