John Cooper, the frontman and bassist for the Grammy-nominated rock band Skillet, has criticized Twitter for permanently suspending President Donald Trump‘s account.
Earlier this week, the social media platform decided that the president had crossed a line too far continuing to use Twitter to repeat debunked conspiracy theories about the election, even after thousands of his supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol in an insurrection that left five dead. Twitter, which has a policy against inciting violence, undermining democratic processes and spreading election misinformation, announced it would no longer let Trump use its platform. Twitter suspended the president’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.”
Saturday, January 9, Cooper uploaded the latest episode of his “Cooper Stuff” podcast in which he suggested that Twitter’s decision to restrict Trump from broadcasting his message directly to his tens of millions of followers was a form of censorship, and that it amounts to an attack on freedom of speech.
He said (see video below): “Look, I don’t follow Trump on Twitter. I’m not into it. Some people love it; some people hate it; some people are in between; whatever you are, censoring the president from Twitter, no matter what they’re saying…
“People say all sorts of weird stuff on Twitter — all sorts of violent, inflammatory stuff. Look, I get it. But that is not gonna lead to somewhere good, and I think it’s got a lot of people really freaked out.
“To me, that’s not the freakiest thing. The freakiest thing to me is all the subsequent things. I’m, like, wait a minute — what does this mean? If Twitter has the power to censor the president, what does that mean? I think that’s what people are freaking out about.
“There’s tons of people that are conservative that don’t like Trump’s tweets,” he continued. “There’s tons of people that kind of wish he wouldn’t tweet so much. I don’t think that’s what people are freaked out [about]. I think people are, like, ‘Wait a minute. If they can do it to him, what does that mean for everybody else?’
“Already, people are losing their jobs — it’s been on the news; I’m sure you’ve seen it — people are losing their jobs depending on what they have supported. Because, basically, the idea is that if you are conservative, then that means you support the violence; you’re responsible for the violence. If you are conservative, then you support the violence, which is a product of white supremacy now — is what they’re saying.
“Freedom of speech is gonna be gone,” Cooper insisted. “I don’t know if you know, people are calling — even CNN and other famous people; we’re not talking about just nobodies; we’re talking about influential people in the cultural elite — calling for news sources to be yanked down. Even CNN is calling for Fox News to be yanked down from the cable stations. I don’t know what this is gonna mean.”
Despite Trump‘s claim that Twitter was violating his First Amendment right to free speech, private entities like Twitter have every right to take down or suspend user accounts, especially when they are being used for nefarious purposes.
“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said in a statement.
The statement listed two of Trump‘s Friday tweets as the reasons for banning his account. The first was his tweet that read: “The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!”
The second was his announcement that he wouldn’t attend the inauguration: “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter said that both posts “must be read in the context of broader events in the country and the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence, as well as in the context of the pattern of behavior from this account in recent weeks.”