by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In the wake of an unprecedented leak from the Supreme Court of a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, national Democrats have taken to social media appearing to encourage violence. Earlier this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a tweet calling on “friends in the LGBTQ+ community” to recognize this moment as “a call to arms,” stating in a second tweet that “we will not surrender our rights without a fight.”
Multiple verified Twitter accounts, including a senior correspondent at Vox, have tweeted calls to “burn it down,” referring to both the country and the Supreme Court itself.
Notably, this rhetoric is taking place on a platform that purports to ban the “glorification of violence” and that infamously issued a permanent ban against a sitting president of the United States for, according to Twitter employees, doing just that — though with far less specific and anodyne tweets. In its justification for banning Donald Trump, Twitter cited two tweets: “The 75,000 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!!!” and “To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th.”
Twitter tied itself in knots explaining how these tweets violated the company’s policy against “glorification of violence,” mentioning the “context of broader events” and “the ways in which the President’s statements can be mobilized by different audiences, including to incite violence.”
But this raises the obvious question. If use of the words “American Patriots” is, as Twitter claims, “interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol,” then how, exactly, is Twitter classifying calls to “burn it all down, “a call to arms,” and the statement that “we will not surrender . . . without a fight”?