In a recent court case in Manhattan, seven “followers” of Donald Trump’s Twitter account sued the President on First Amendment grounds to prevent him from blocking them from his feed.
In arguing the president’s case, Trump’s lawyers brought an interesting argument—that the First Amendment rights of the seven plaintiffs were trumped, superseded was the word they used, by Trump’s First Amendment rights.
The concept of a hierarchy (or lowerarchy, if you will) of free speech rights is logical in a monarchy or oligarchy and necessary in a dictatorship. It’s a troubling concept when applied to democracy.
More than troubling, it’s absolutely toxic. The German Democratic Republic (East Germans) had that kind of false democracy. The leadership monopolized pubic discourse. The STASI were second only to Russia’s KGB in brutality and effectiveness of repressing any dissent from the party line. Even when the party line was the ravings of paranoid egomaniacs.
Trump’s lawyers also argued that it would “violate the president’s associational rights” if he weren’t allowed to block any followers he decided were unworthy.
A law professor from Duke University argued that, “if Donald Trump is giving a speech to 100 hand-picked people, and one of them heckles him, he gets to throw that person out.”
If Donald Trump gave a speech to 100 hand-picked people, you can guarantee they paid $10,000 to $100,000 apiece, probably didn’t even listen to his speech and would get kicked out only if their checks bounced.
Trump thinks Twitter is a bully pulpit, when in fact it is a caucus, where everyone gets to say their piece. The cacophony may be deafening, but silencing the quiet, reasonable voices while letting the megaphone-yielding bullies continue their bloviating (to speak at length in a pompous or boastful manner) won’t help at all.
The seven weren’t Trump followers in the traditional sense, but rather in the sense of bloodhounds following the trail of a miscreant. Not that you need to be a bloodhound to follow the swamp-gas stench of this president and his administration. The baying of the hounds also serves as a warning that mischief is afoot in the land.
The judge ruled in favor of the seven plaintiffs, but took no action, assuming that the president will comply with her decision.