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Terry Schilling: Trump Impeachment Puts Free Speech at Risk

February 10, 2021

From APP executive director Terry Schilling’s op-ed in Newsweek:

For some time now, concerns have been growing nationwide about restrictions on free speech and the censorship of disfavored views. These concerns are not without merit—what began as a slow purge of fringe voices by certain online platforms has intensified in recent months into a full-blown attack on certain ideas. Prominent voices in the media, big tech and even the halls of Congress call for proponents of views they deem “misinformation” to be completely de-platformed.

In recent weeks, would-be deplatformers have introduced a new term of art to justify an even greater crackdown on unwelcome political speech: “incitement to violence.”

This phrase refers to the allegation currently facing Donald Trump in his post-presidency impeachment trial, set to begin this week. Apart from a rather inane reference to a cliched figure of speech the president used (Trump said people should “fight like hell” for their country), the article of impeachment offers no evidence that he intended or even approved of what took place at the Capitol. Instead, it argues, Trump’s claim that the election was rigged in itself constitutes incitement. His political argument, they claim, was so evil, so pernicious, that just hearing the points laid out was enough to drive some in the crowd to violence.

The ruling class appears to share this line of thinking. Big tech used the same justification almost immediately after the riot to remove the sitting president from their platforms, and to shut down a competing social media app. The next day, Simon & Schuster announced it would be scrapping its deal to publish a book by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), implying that he was complicit in the violence for simply expressing concerns about the 2020 election on the Senate floor. Days later, Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) accused Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Twitter of attempting to murder her because he had conveyed those same concerns.

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Read the full op-ed here.

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