HH: I’m now joined by my longtime friend, law professor at the University of Tennessee, Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, who has for 15 years been at the forefront of internet free speech, who is now himself the victim of censorship by Twitter because of a tweet that he put out two nights ago. Glenn Reynolds, welcome, Professor, good to have you.
GR: Hi, good to be here.
HH: What happened?
GR: Well, you know, I actually tried to figure it out. I woke up and just found out my account was suspended, and didn’t know why and couldn’t find an email from them. It’s apparently a tweet I put up last night. They had a thing about how protestors were stopping traffic and surrounding vehicles on the interstate, and I said, perhaps a little too pithily, but it is Twitter, “run them down.” And apparently, that’s why, I don’t actually know that’s why they did it. but I assume that’s why they did it, because that’s what everybody’s talking about. I’ve heard nothing from Twitter.
HH: Now let me do what I did with Donald Trump last week, ask you to expand. I think I know what you meant. If you are threatened, you can defend yourself. Is that what you meant, Glenn Reynolds?
GR: Yeah, I’ve blogged about that before where we’ve had other interstates blocked and people surrounded by mobs. I’ve always said I would just keep driving.
HH: And so do you regret being pithy? Might you have said something along the lines of “If threatened, you can run them down?”
GR: I mean, I guess. Although I, you know, it’s Twitter. Pithy is what you do on Twitter, and you sort of expect people to figure out what you’re saying from context.
HH: Do you expect Twitter to shut off your opportunity to expand, expound and argue, maybe even apologize if people are offended and you believe it’s legit? But they’ve cut you off. That’s what I don’t understand. How can they cut you off?
GR: Well, I guess it’s just a button they push. I don’t really know. They seem to have been doing this to a lot of people lately. And you know, if I were a cynic, I would say that this is sort of an effort to shape the media battlespace between now and the election by silencing voices. And you know, if I were a cynic, that’s certainly what I’d think was going on.
HH: If you had it to do over again, would you post the same tweet?
GR: Oh, I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. Probably not. It’s got me on the radio with you this morning talking about it instead of having my normal morning.
GR: But I have to say I don’t apologize for the sentiment. I think that this tactic of blocking people on the interstate and surrounding cars is itself violent. It is threatening. It is not peaceful protest, and it should not be permitted.
HH: Do you think that the University of Tennessee will yield to the pressure, which is already mounting, to somehow punish you?
GR: I have no idea. I’ve heard nothing from anybody.
HH: And what would you say to those people who are urging that you be silenced and shut down and fired? This is a 1st Amendment that we’re talking about here. What would you say to them, Glenn Reynolds?
GR: That’s a lot for three words, especially considering all the hyperbole we’ve heard in this election already. We’ve heard plenty of people talking about the desirability of the assassination of Donald Trump and other things. It seems to me that that’s kind of a double standard, isn’t it?
HH: Have you read Ross Douthat’s column this morning, “Hillary Clinton’s Samantha Bee Problem,” about the cultural…
GR: I have read that column.
HH: What did you think of it? And do you fit into that narrative now?
GR: Oh, I don’t know. You know, there is a big lefty cultural apparatus that tries to enforce its views on everything. And frankly, it is probably the thing that is keeping Donald Trump alive, and it may be the thing that gets him elected, as Ross Douthat says. I think that’s totally right. And I think it’s funny, because you know, I grew up in the Civil Rights era. My dad was a moderately well-known civil rights and Vietnam protestor. And to be honest, it seems to me that then, the left was really all on for free speech, and now that they feel like they have gathered all the reins in their hands, they’re not so big on tolerance anymore.
HH: Now let’s put ourselves in the position of a Black Lives Matter activist who reads Glenn Reynolds’ tweet, “run them down,” because I always like to try and go to the other side and understand this…
HH: I’m rereading right now Darkness At Noon for a conversation, and Rubashov always does that, tries to imagine the other side. What legitimate argument would they have against your tweet, Glenn?
GR: Well, I’m sure they would say “This is peaceful protest” and that I’m advocating murdering peaceful protestors. But I’m doing no such thing. Blocking interstates, surrounding…
HH: That’s exactly right.
GR: …cars, threatening people, especially against the context of many police being injured, at least one person being shot and possibly killed, I haven’t heard the latest on that, and so on. I think anybody in a car is going to fear violence.
HH: And if you are, I think that that’s exactly what they think, is that you are advocating violence against peaceful protestors, and you are not, are you?
GR: No, of course not. I never, I’ve always been a supporter of peaceful protestors. I was quite a, I’ve been quite a critic of police violence in many contexts, and supported people who opposed it. But not when they’re violent themselves.
HH: And that’s what I want people to hear, and I wish you were able to get out and tweet links to your articles and your posts. You’re a police reform advocate, you are a law system enforcement advocate. You are a 1st Amendment speech advocate. But they’ve shut you down.
GR: They have.
HH: I don’t understand.
GR: Twitter doesn’t let me reply to anything. I can’t engage with anybody on Twitter. I have no voice.
HH: Well, that is, that’s unacceptable in America, and they have the right to do so. I know you will agree with me. Twitter can do whatever they want, because they are a publicly traded company in the private sector. But it’s wrong. You might have a lot of critics. It’s wrong.
GR: It is wrong, and I will say, I will say Twitter is a publicly traded company in the private sector. That’s true. Twitter, however, has repeatedly told its investors and its users that it does not censor. And I think that that’s really hard to believe.
HH: Have they, and again…
HH: Glenn Reynolds, good segment. Thank you. I hope by this time tomorrow, you’re restored on Twitter and able to defend yourself against charges and explain as you have here.
GR: Thanks, Hugh.
HH: Professor Glenn Reynolds of the University of Tennessee.
End of interview.