America's true color: Gagging Trump

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - January 11, 2021 - 12:00am

When Twitter "permanently suspended" (its euphemism for gagged and silenced forever) the account of outgoing US president Donald Trump, it essentially deprived him of and slapped prior restraint on his constitutional right to free speech and freedom of expression. And the wonder of it all is that no one in the supposed land of freedom and democracy is complaining.

Even the American media, with CNN at the forefront, all normally jealous of their rights and overly zealous about protesting perceived violations of such rights in others, are gleefully reporting on this development as if nothing can be more entertaining. Well, they are all sadly wrong. What is going on is driving the final nail on America's self-inflicted but well-deserved demise.

But isn't Trump guilty of using his Twitter account in inciting people to violent fits and driving them into murderous rage when they stormed the US Capitol? Maybe. But even American law, shorn of the devices of men, would vest in Trump his guaranteed presumption of innocence. He has to be tried first and proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Or does America teach and impose that only when it suits its interests?

Trump is less than two weeks from becoming simply Citizen Trump. He will be fair game then for every conceivable demand for accountability. That he is toying with the mad idea of pardoning himself has no legal leg to stand on. It is just ego masturbation pure and simple. While Twitter can indeed regulate content and act on the basis of its public responsibilities, it cannot pass judgment on what is yet to be written or said.

While certainly not all are his adoring fans, a good number of his hundreds of millions of Twitter followers have to be fairly presumed to hang on to his every word. By shutting out Trump from this very dynamic universe, not only has Twitter created a very large hole in its public, it more sadly and shamefully deprived them of their right to free choice. It disenfranchised hundreds of millions without so much as a polite excuse me.

When ABS-CBN was denied renewal of its franchise in a process that was the sole prerogative of the sovereign and independent Philippine Congress, many in America, from lawmakers to media and everything with a mouth but no brains in between, rose up to criticize and condemn the Philippine government in a most shameful and arrogant interference and intervention in another state's affairs.

Hearing the criticisms and the condemnation, the temptation is great to conclude it must be a band of heavenly angels passing judgment on lowly, sinful earthlings. That is until the realization dawns that, oh, it is just America throwing one of its patented hypocritical tantrums yet again. This is a country that calls attention to the mote in other people's eyes but never acknowledges its own.

But America has now gone too far down the road to self-destruction. It has turned on its foundations and institutions. And quite remarkably, it is not its favorite whipping boy Donald Trump who is responsible, far from it. Trump is just a product and ugly manifestation of the decades of unbridled and unchecked arrogance, self-righteousness, and hypocrisy. America is turning on itself. It is eating itself up.

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