With the silencing of Trump, how does freedom of speech feel?: Global Times editorial
Published: Jan 10, 2021 10:38 PM

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Twitter banned the account of US President Donald Trump. Other US social network giants followed suit. The impact might be even larger than that from the intrusion into the Capitol by Trump's supporters. Divergences on the silencing of Trump are greater than the riot itself, and such divergences would further divide US society and lead to more hatred and confusion.

Does the silencing of Trump breach the principle of freedom of speech? No matter what the first amendment says, that Trump cannot express his opinions on social networks and lost the right that every ordinary American enjoys definitely violates the principle of freedom of speech endorsed by US political elites. "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This is how the US, as "the beacon of freedom," has lectured the world.

In fact, the political connotation of freedom of speech has been concealed by the discourse power of the US and the West. Freedom of speech does have political and ethical boundaries. The silencing of Trump unveiled this true essence of freedom of speech.

Some claimed that the social networks' ban on Trump exactly shows US democracy and freedom. But this argument is pretty pale. Trump is outgoing and has been forsaken by the US system. He spoke freakishly when he was in power, and nothing happened. But as he is losing power, several US social media platforms staged a simultaneous "suppression," which reflects the true political scenario of his silence.

Besides being a right, freedom of speech is held high in political struggles. After all, the boundary of freedom of speech and freedom of speech itself are both defined by those in power. Trump lost the election, but persisted, and consequently he was pushed out of the boundary of freedom of speech by pro-Democrat social networks.

If Trump still does not surrender and has enough supporters, they will further challenge the US opinion order. As the situation exacerbates, it would become an ideological "civil war."

The US is reputed for its democracy and rule of law. But recent incidents are enough to prove that it is a society blatantly dominated by politics. US ideology endorses political struggles, so the rules of freedom of speech must be defined within the context of political struggles.

The US election has ended. Not only should the Republican Party admit its defeat, but also Trump and his hardcore fans. Trump's social media accounts have accumulated enormous political vigor. His attitude in refusing to admit his defeat will pose potential risks to the US system, and blocking his accounts is a way of rectification. As a political resource in the US, freedom of speech will not be allowed to oppose the US system and the victors in the system. That's why Trump's freedom of speech was ruthlessly deprived.

The US has been mired in chaos recently. The fight among different forces exposed the true nature of the US system. All the principles - democracy, freedom and human rights - are placed aside in the midst of domestic political tensions, and so is the high moral ground of the US system.

This will do no good to Washington if it wants to continually call itself the "beacon of freedom." But don't expect it to change course. It will play the same old tricks again.

The US relies on its advantage in strength to play hegemonism. As long as it is still the most powerful country in the world, it will stage rounds of ideological attacks based on its own interests.

Washington would still label the violent riots in Hong Kong as a "democracy movement." It would not feel ashamed of its double standards when it called those breaching the Capitol Hill as "rioters." It would continue to accuse China of suppressing freedom of speech, despite the fact that it suppressed President Trump's freedom of speech. 

The world has undergone profound changes. The US has been stricken by both nature and its internal rifts. It is delusion that humanity will pretend nothing has happened and that unfair and unreasonable things will exist forever.