Trump and twitter

TRAVERSE CITY — President Trump, who clearly never read Pinocchio as a child, is furious at Twitter for labeling several of his tweets as false.

OK, yes, technically they didn’t say, “The president’s tweets were big, fat, phony lies.” What they did do, however, is put a label under two recent tweets of his claiming that mail-in ballots are fraudulent.

Trump votes by absentee ballot, by the way. (He’s not into irony.)

The label says, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and links to news articles with those inconvenient things called facts. (Also something Trump isn’t into.)

This, of course, enraged him. “Violation of free speech!” he thereafter roared. “I’ll close them down! I’ll regulate them! I’ll …”

No, he won’t. He can’t. And if he somehow can then this nation as we know it is over.

Everybody in the land of the free and home of the brave has the right to speak their mind, even a president who lied a stunning 18,000 times during his first 1,170 days in office, according to the Washington Post. (If you’re into math, that’s an average of more than 15 lies a day, which is darned impressive. Say what you want about the man, but he is a master of his craft.)

But nobody has the right to have their free speech broadcast on anyone else’s platform without their permission.

You can spray-paint knock-knock jokes on the side of your house if you want.

But you can’t spray them on mine. (Although I may make an exception for this one: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Dwayne. Dwayne, who? Dwayne the bathtub! I’m dwowning!)

You can hang a sign on your car saying that “Donald Trump is the greatest president in history.” And I will laugh ’til I choke.

But you can’t hang one on mine.

You can even come to my website or Facebook page and say anything you want — as long as I’m OK with it. But if you post something that’s rude, stupid or false, I’m going to take it down and probably block you from my page. (I have a much quicker block finger than I used to. My patience for stupidity is running thin.)

If I block you or delete your message, does that mean I’m violating your right to free speech?

Nope. My website, my rules. Deal with it.

Twitter, Facebook and others are exactly the same. They are not public utilities. They are not government-owned entities, required by law to treat everyone equal. If they wanted, they could only allow left-handed people to post.

So when Trump violates their standards of fairness and decency, they have every right to slap a warning label on him. They’ve actually been ridiculously patient with him, if you ask me.

Twitter’s move is a good first step, though. Bullies have to be called on their behavior or they keep right on bullying.

It’s nice to think Trump might see the light and rein himself in. But that’s about as likely as me donning a MAGA hat.

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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him avis email at andrewhellercolumn@gmail.com.


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