Let’s Discuss Rights, Trumpers

It seems to me, if you’re going to talk about rights and your tendency is to piss and moan about someone’s rights being violated, you should at least have a working understanding of what rights are and how they work. And let’s be real here; Trumpers really have no idea what rights are and how they work.

For example, this past week, both major social media companies banned Donald Trump from their platform for postings that essentially incited the right wing riots at the Nation’s Capitol, in which various people were killed in the cause of terrorizing (yes, I used that word!) lawmakers, in an effort to keep them from officially certifying the electoral college counts and declaring Joseph R. Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election, so that he can take his rightful position as President of the United States at Noon on January 20, 2021.

On cue, the same Trump Cultists, who have been screaming for two months that Trump actually won the election, despite all evidence to the contrary, and that several states “cheated” in favor of President-Elect Biden. That position has been refuted by election officials in every one of those states, including members of the Republican Party. And the states Trump and his cultists cite are a scant few he won by a razor-thin margin in 2016. Apparently, those are the only states in which he thought the Russians would cheat for him (again) in 2020. It’s clear he expected the same states to vote his way again, despite his record.

Alright, I’ve strayed enough. This piece is about rights. And Donald Trump has no concept as to how they work, including the rights he thinks he has as “president.” However, he’s not alone; most Trumper have spent the last week lamenting his ousting from Facebook and Twitter as a violation of his “rights.” And that proves they know nothing about the rights they have as US citizens. Trump does have the right to free speech and free press, but so do all of the top officials at Facebook and Twitter. And what’s somewhat ironic is, if we liberals were to advocate for the heavy regulation of Facebook and Twitter, Trumpers would be on the front lines to whine about it, demanding the government protect the rights of Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, among others. And, depending on the level of regulation, they might be right.

But the fact of the matter is, while Donald Trump has the right to Tweet and post on Facebook, as long as it exists, Twitter and Facebook have the right to regulate their own platform, and to set whatever rules they wish for its use. And if we’re being honest here (and I will always attempt to do so because I believe in facts), Trump is actually not allowed to incite riots under federal law. Do we have the right to demand that certain people be held above the law? If we were talking about any politician other than Donald Trump, the True Cultists wouldn’t think so, but then, they seem to think he was “appointed by God,” so their logic is suspect, to say the least.

No one who becomes President is “appointed by God.” They are nominated by a majority of party votes, and they are elected by getting a majority of the vote in the requisite number f states to award them a majority of electoral votes, which is currently 270 out of 535. In fact, given the idiots the GOP has made their nominees in recent years, their picks seem to come from another, much darker, place. The exception was John McCain, with whom I disagreed on damn near everything, but who was an honorable man and the only one of the dozens of Republican candidates in 2008 who wasn’t reprehensible. But most of the candidates chosen by their party to carry the party standard for the presidency have been disgusting.

Anyway, let’s get back to rights. Let’s remind Republicans, especially the Trumpers, that no rights are absolute. For example, your right to free speech is limited by the harm your speech may do. In other words, your right to free speech and free press are limited to the point where what you say or print infringes on the rights of another. You’re not allowed to ask others to storm the Capitol and point guns at lawmakers. You are also not allowed to lie about the people who counted the votes in a way that creates suspicion or even triggers others to attack them physically. So, Donald Trump would NOT have the right to Tweet the type of shit he was Tweeting about, even if he did so in the public sphere.

But that’s an interesting thing, since the Bill of Rights only protects his (and your) right to free speech from public action. Twitter and Facebook are private companies, so the only way the government could protect Trump’s “rights” is if he had them, which is only possible if he was speaking publicly on public property, and not on a privately-owned platform like Facebook or Twitter. The exception might be if one of the platforms was banning, say, Kamala Harris, because she was black and/or a woman. She’s specifically protected under the law, so if Harris could prove she was banned from Facebook because they don’t allow Blacks or women from posting anything, she would have a cause of action. Since Trump is a rich white guy, and Facebook is owned and run largely by rich white guys, and Trump has no extra protection under the law as a person subject to rank discrimination, his right to free speech has remained intact. Especially given the amount of money he claims to have, he has the means to either buy a newspaper or a magazine, or a series of websites or radio stations and publish or say anything he wants to say, so it’s senseless to claim a loss of free speech rights on his part. Even you, the person reading this, do not have an inherent constitutional right to post on Twitter and Facebook, if they have cause to deny you (non-discriminatory) access.

No one has the right to force a private company to give them a forum. For all of the right wing’s histrionics, most of the efforts to get Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers, while kinda stupid, were not a violation of his rights. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have the right to free speech, but neither is entitled to have the government force advertisers to support them.

Again, our rights are limited, to a point. There is no right to a radio or TV program on which to spout your crap, and while some courts have said that news programs have the “right to lie,” (guess which news organization advocated for that right), that’s not based on anything real. If the lie is completely innocuous, you have the right to lie, but if the lie told qualifies as defamation, or a threat, or incites others to come after them with guns or pitchforks, or even Tiki torches and racist chants, then your right has abrogated someone else’s rights and you can’t claim the right to do that.

Learn how rights work, Trumpers. You have to know that before you start screaming about rights to the rest of us.

About Milt Shook

A writer with more than 45 years in the political game (and let's face it, it is a game). I am a liberal because facts have a liberal bias, and I really like facts. If you like facts, you'll like this blog. If not, you'll have a hard time.


Let’s Discuss Rights, Trumpers — 1 Comment

  1. Also one silly little thing:
    The law allows you to say anything your little heart desires, no matter how foolish, until, as is pointed out in the article, it causes someone(s) harm.
    That law does not require anyone to listen to the foolishness you decide to spout, nor require anyone to allow you to spout it anywhere you choose. You’ll be removed if you spout lies on my property.
    One more small point: no, i don’t have to stand and listen to you; i can leave and go somewhere more pleasant.
    Or turn your ravings off, if it’s on media.

    Thanks Milt