On Wednesday night Donald Trump posted a comment on his floundering Twitter ripoff, Truth Social, teasing a “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT” coming on Thursday. The post declared that “America needs a superhero,” and included a picture of him as a Bizarro World cartoon crusader.
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Trump’s fantasies of himself notwithstanding, his big reveal turned out to be even more pathetic than anyone could have imagined. It was nothing more than another opportunity to pick the pockets of his glassy-eyed cult disciples with a sham offering of “Trump Trading Cards” at $99.00 a pop. But they are not even real cards, they are just digital NFT images. He starred in his own telemarketing ad to hawk his latest sucker bait…
“Hello everyone, this is Donald Trump. Hopefully your favorite president of all time. Better than Lincoln, better than Washington, with an important announcement to make.”
Come for the claim that Trump was a better president than Washington and Lincoln, stay for the "Trump digital trading cards" pic.twitter.com/qEKWYpgXL7
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) December 15, 2022
Whereupon Trump declared that he is selling NFTs – digital trading cards that “feature some of the really incredible artwork pertaining to my life and my career. It’s been very exciting.” He further revealed that any purchase enters the buyer into a contest with “prizes” (?) like dinner with Trump, who regards himself as something just short of a messiah. However, it’s notable that these cards are produced by a third party that is not owned, managed or controlled by Trump. He is simply licensing his name and likeness in order to fleece his flock. Which is so like Trump…
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That said, there was another announcement posted on his website shortly after the trading cards pitch. And it actually has more of the “majorness” that he attributed to the digital card con. In a lengthy video, Trump laid out his plan to “shatter the left-wing censorship regime.” And he would do it by imposing his own totalitarian control of free speech. What follows are annotated excerpts of his uncomfortably high-decibel harangue. He began…
“If we don’t have free speech, then we just don’t have a free country. It’s as simple as that. […] That’s why today I’m announcing my plan to shatter the left-wing censorship regime and to reclaim the right to free speech for all Americans..”
Never mind that the only free speech deniers in American politics are Trump’s Republicans. They have literally banned books in schools and libraries, and have sought to silence critics of Trump in their ultra-biased MAGA media. And notice that he doesn’t provide a single example of alleged censorship by the fearsome left-wing regime. Undeterred by reality, Trump continued…
“In recent weeks, bombshell reports have confirmed that a sinister group of deep state bureaucrats, silicon tyrants, left-wing activists, and depraved corporate news media have been conspiring to manipulate and silence the American people. They have collaborated to suppress vital information on everything from elections to public health. The censorship cartel must be dismantled and destroyed and it must happen immediately.”
What Trump is referring to here is the wholly manufactured and bogus “Twitter Files” “scandal” that was orchestrated by Elon Musk and purported to expose left-wing bias by Twitter when it suspended Trump’s account. After five data dumps, Musk and his cohorts failed utterly to achieve their goal of smearing the left. In fact, they actually proved that Twitter’s Trust and Safety team (who Musk recently fired) was exceedingly fair and conscientious in their deliberations and decision making.
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Then Trump gets to the meat of his whining with the articulation of his five-point plan…
“First, within hours of my inauguration, I will sign an executive order banning any federal department or agency from colluding with any organization, business, or person to censor, limit, categorize or impede the lawful speech of American citizens. I will then ban federal money from being used to label domestic speech as mis- or disinformation.”
Who wants to tell Trump that the federal government is already prohibited from “imped[ing] the lawful speech of American citizens?” Trump is merely declaring his intention to issue an executive order that essentially repeats the Constitution’s First Amendment. Except, that is, for the last part where he proposes to punish those who exercise their free speech by alerting citizens to the dangers of mis- and disinformation. Trump, a major supplier of disinformation, wants to make sure he can keep on doing that. Moving on…
“Second, I will order the Department of Justice to investigate all parties involved in the new online censorship regime, which is destructive and terrible, and to aggressively prosecute any and all crimes identified. These include possible violations of federal civil rights law, campaign finance law, federal election law, securities law, and anti-trust laws, the Hatch Act, and a host of other criminal, civil, regulatory, and constitutional offenses.”
Here Trump is threatening to force the Justice Department to – uphold existing laws? Yep. But let’s face it, when Trump makes this sort of threat, he intends that it be directed exclusively at his enemies. He and his administration are more prone to violating those laws, but he never bothered to hold any of those who violated them accountable when he occupied the White House. And there’s more…
“Third, upon my inauguration as president, I will ask Congress to send a bill to my desk revising section 230 to get big online platforms out of the censorship business. From now on digital platforms should only qualify for immunity protection under section 230 if they meet high standards of neutrality, transparency, fairness, and non-discrimination. We should require these platforms to increase their efforts to take down unlawful content such as child exploitation and promoting terrorism, while dramatically curtailing their power to arbitrarily restrict lawful speech.
First of all, Trump has no idea what Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is or does. While there is room to refine it, it is basically a protection so that online services aren’t held accountable for comments made by the public. Without it platforms like Twitter and Facebook couldn’t allow people to post comments at all.
Furthermore, Trump’s idea that platforms should have to “meet high standards of neutrality, transparency, fairness, and non-discrimination,” is an imposition on their free speech rights, as well as posing difficult questions about who sets those standards. The government? Trump wants to force private companies to allow all “legal” comments, even if they are racist, hate speech, or sufficiently vague incitements to violence. And he’s still not through…
“Fourth, we need to break up the entire toxic censorship industry that has arisen under the false guise of tackling so-called mis- and disinformation.”
In other words, Trump wants to prohibit private Internet platforms from refusing to post purposefully false information that has the potential to cause real harm. He wants fake COVID cures and anti-vaccine propaganda to be readily available. He wants lies about election fraud to stir up civil unrest. He even explicitly brought up his own fixation with phony election fraud saying that “Once you lose those elections … you no longer have a country.” Which brings us to his fifth point…
“Fifth, the time has finally come for congress to pass a Digital Bill of Rights. This should include a right to digital due process. In other words, government officials should need a court order to take down online content, not send information requests such as the FBI was sending to Twitter.” […] In addition, all users over the age of 18 should have the right to opt-out of content moderation and curation entirely, and receive an unmanipulated stream of information, if they so choose.”
To be clear, Trump is proposing the first law that would allow government – with a court order – to censor content, which would be unconstitutional. Remember, this is his plan for free speech and to end censorship. And while the FBI did inform Twitter about certain content that was false (and so did Trump and the GOP), they never had the right to force it to be removed. That’s Trump’s idea. And so is his suggestion that adults can “opt-out of content moderation,” effectively forcing private Internet platforms to post content that they regard as harmful, offensive, or otherwise contrary to their standards. Then Trump closed saying…
“The fight for free speech is a matter of victory or death for America and for the survival of Western civilization itself. When I am president, this whole rotten system of censorship and information control will be ripped out of the system at large. There won’t be anything left. By restoring free speech we will begin to reclaim our democracy and save our nation.”
The problem with Trump’s initiative is that it produces the polar opposite of what he claims is his intention. It would permit censorship, allow the government to force private businesses to post content they disapprove of, and shred the First Amendment. Which is all pretty much precisely what is expected of an aspiring authoritarian tyrant like Trump who has openly advocated banning websites he doesn’t like, such as Twitter and Facebook. America would be better off if his “major announcements” were all about trading cards and other snake oil ventures.
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