Glenn Reynolds, a conservative USA Today columnist and University of Tennessee law professor known by the moniker Instapundit, was suspended from Twitter on Wednesday for urging drivers to hit protesters blocking a highway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Reynolds tweeted a link to a live video stream of demonstrators stopping traffic on I-277 during the chaotic second day of protests over the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. His comment read “Run them down.”
Twitter suspended his account shortly after the tweet went up and outraged commenters accused Reynolds, who also runs the Instapundit website, of inciting violence. Several users preserved screenshots of the tweet.
Run them down.
That tweet was bad enough. Far worse is Reynolds's defense today.
Sorry, blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars and surrounding them is a threat. Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people. But if Twitter doesn’t like me, I’m happy to stop providing them with free content.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Was just on Hugh Hewitt talking about this. Since Twitter won’t let me respond to — or even see — my critics, let me expand here.
I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. I fully support people protesting police actions, and I’ve been writing in support of greater accountability for police for years.
But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.
“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.
Meanwhile, regarding Twitter: I don’t even know that this is why I was suspended, as I’ve heard nothing from Twitter at all. They tell users and investors that they don’t censor, but they seem awfully quick to suspend people on one side of the debate and, as people over at Twitchy note, awfully tolerant of outright threats on the other.
Twitter can do without me, as I can certainly do without Twitter.
So he absolutely was advocating for violence, in particular vehicular assault, against protesters. The standard is that if you block the road, and he runs you over, it's automatically self-defense no questions asked.
This is a tenured law professor saying this.
Oh but it gets worse: Nick Gillespie shows up and continues the defense at Reason because he's a nice guy and a blogger.
Well, I hope he is reinstated immediately and keeps on giving Twitter "free content." Over the past 15 or 20 years, Reynolds (whom I interviewed for one of my very first stories at Reason, about the potential influence of the Supreme Court case United States v. Lopez) has been one of the most-interesting and thoughtful voices on the broadly defined right. He writes everywhere (I recommend especially his USA Today columns) and books such as An Army of Davids and The Higher Education Bubble are the product of an incredibly sharp and serious person with an eye on the possibilities offered by technological and cultural innovation. Since coming online in 2001 shortly before the 9/11 attacks, the Instapundit site has been nothing short of a godsend, collecting and sharing links on an immense variety of topics from electoral politics to private space exploration to human longevity to flash sales at Amazon (for these and other reasons, Reynolds is sometimes called "the Blogfather"). I don't always agree with the spin the various contributors put on current events, but it's the first or second site I check every day after Reason.com.
Whatever you think of the tastefulness of his suggestion regarding the protesters in Charlotte, the idea that he is seriously inciting any sort of actual or real threat is risible. I can appreciate the various pressures that Twitter is facing from all sorts of perspectives. The service is constantly being asked to take material down for any number of reasons, and the requests aren't simply coming from SJWs with bees in their bonnets (indeed, it seems as if the most numerous requests from copyright holders). Twitter lists the most common reasons for suspending accounts here.
He was reinstated later on Thursday morning, of course.
This is what we're up against. This is what I mean by there's a different legal, cultural, and social standard for black people exercising anything that looks like a right: a right to gather, a right to protest and air grievances, a right to bear arms, they either apply to black people only with the permission of white people or do not apply to black America at all, and the penalty for violating this goes all the way up to death, guys.
And this is why. We're just obstacles to Reynolds. We're in his way, and if we violate that, our lives are forfeit. Automatically. Not only is he unapologetic, but he doesn't see any possibly reason as to why he should have been made to care in the first place, and the bad guys here are Twitter and liberals for pointing out he's advocating violence against people.
Black Lives Matter, guys.