Trump, Twitter, and the First Amendment

Twitter shut down Trump’s account and Trump is crying “First Amendment!” “Free speech!” “Censorship!” The Constitution of the United States protects free speech. Any American can express their opinions, prejudices, truths, ideas, including criticism of government. This is a precious treasure of American government. In some countries, a person can be subject to arrest and seizure, in fact, imprisonment and even execution for speech that the government doesn’t like. It is remarkable that in the United States, citizens are free to say whatever they wish, provided it does not incite violence. An American can’t shout, “Fire!” in a crowed movie theatre. But that’s not the direction I want to go in here.

While Americans are free to say whatever they want, private publishers are in no way obligated to print whatever Americans want to say. I have poems that I want certain journals to publish. Some have declined to publish my poetry. Does that mean that my First Amendment rights are being violated? Is The Chicago Review compelled to print my poems because of the First Amendment? Of course not. I can publish my poetry on WordPress–and even WordPress can shut down my account if they wish. The same is true of Twitter. They have the freedom to publish whatever they wish, or to deny publication to whatever they wish. The First Amendment does not compel Twitter to publish anything Trump says at all. Twitter liked to publish Trump because he has an 88,000,000 plus following, and Twitter makes ad money off accounts with large followings like Trumps. But Twitter judged that Trump had inflamed the riot in the Capitol Building on January 6, and that he had the potential to incite more violence, so they shut his account down. They could have done so for lesser reasons. They could have shut him down for talking about the fly on Mike Pence’s head during the debates. Or for no reason. Most journals give me no reason when they reject my poems for publication. So Twitter suspending Trump’s account is in no way a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Free speech does not mean the right to be published. Trump can still talk, if anyone cares to listen. And this short essay isn’t about my trials in publishing poetry.

Publishing Poetry

I just discovered an alarming factoid.  I perused the New Yorker magazine submissions page tonight.  They state that they do not accept poems that have been previously published.  INCLUDING POSTS ON PERSONAL WEB PAGES!  I read further and discovered that they do not publish previously published poems even if THEY HAVE BEEN DELETED FROM A WEB PAGE!  I put many of my new poems up here on my page.  But I now find that that precludes them from publication in the New Yorker.  Wow!  I’m certainly going to need to think about this in the future.

I’m not criticizing the New Yorker.  This is merely a public service announcement to all my cyber friends on the web.

THE EYES OF ALL NEED NOT WAIT UPON ME

He turned toward me

As if for comment, or what didn’t need to be said

To indict Borofsky’s words painted black on a white canvass

I want to be great

I, a Swedenborgian divinity student; he, a photographer married to a conceptual artist

 

The lust to be great is quite a thing different from what is

Great in se

Not likely to produce what is great

 

–What is great–

Greatness is a gift

Vibrational resonance on the sound-board heartstrings thrilling the ode

That is what is human

A gift to us all—co-cooperation—collective consciousness all-soul

That is we human solidarity together

It is great to share all together collected around

A Prime Mover of soul

As is to me Borofsky’s Hammering Man and Picasso’s Untitled in Chicago’s Daley Plaza

Condense what is human freely among the affairs of daily life

These are not what humans commonly thought are metrics of greatness

A publication, a work alive 100 years after the artist’s demise, to be a class in a university, a

critic’s nod, mass appeal

 

Peace breathes in the spirit attendant relaxation of the choke-hold that is

The lust for greatness

And insignificance be not a curse;

The eyes of all need not wait not upon me

The satisfactions of being a good man among our common men are great enough to sustain

To be happy with the faces that you meet

And perhaps to touch a soul or two or two or three among the faces that you meet

And to touch the sky in private

For you don’t have to be tall to see the moon

And to walk humbly with a soul or two or two or three

And to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God