John Massoud

\John Massoud

Earlier this week, Twitter, the popular social media site, suspended radio talk show host John Fredericks, ostensibly for his unyielding support of President Donald Trump.

Twitter is the second or third most popular social media site, with approximately 320 million unique users. For the record, Mr. Fredericks and I have had nothing good to say about each other for over a year, and we have had what can only be described as a long-running slow-burn feud starting previous to the 2018 GOP Convention, when on his radio show he made a rather elitist comment about movement conservatives such as myself (stating that many of us are dregs of society who were signed up to be delegates at the local Waffle House), and then allowed one of his talk show guests to insult the religious faith of many of us movement conservatives. (For the record – Fredericks had his Twitter account reinstated two days afterward.)

Today, I am doing something I never expected to do – publicly defending Mr. Fredericks and his right to free speech. Mr. Fredericks may be a lot of things, but he does not condone hate speech. Quite frankly, too many of us, in our zeal to be seen as doing something, have forgotten what hate speech is. Mr. Fredericks supports Donald Trump with great zeal. That does not make Mr. Fredericks a racist or sexist. That means that Mr. Fredericks has an opinion that is different from many of the 320 million Twitter users. And, too many people today do not understand the difference between hate speech and legitimate political disagreement. Saying that one supports traditional marriage is not hate speech or homophobic, it is a political opinion. Saying that all people of a certain ethnicity or race are lazy or stupid, that is racist. Saying that we need to get control of our borders is not racist, it is a political opinion. Saying that all Latinos should be shot is hate speech. Too many today cannot understand the difference. I think that Mr. Fredericks is dead wrong when it comes to supporting Medicaid expansion but the First Amendment protects his right to have an opinion that many of us disagree with.

Mr. Fredericks supports candidates and positions that I cannot and will never agree with. But that is his choice and his right to do so. I respect that and admire Mr. Fredericks for entering into the public arena on his radio show and offering his opinions. Movement conservatives do not agree with many things Mr. Fredericks has to say. But we live in a free society, which means that Mr. Fredericks has the right to opinions that differ from many movement conservatives. It also means that I have the right and responsibility to offer my differences with Mr. Fredericks and to do so in a civilized and respectful manner – something that many in a Twitter mob cannot fathom.

Many Twitter users believe that the ruder and more rigid they are, the more principled they are. That is ludicrous on its face. And stating or yelling on social media that anyone who disagrees with you is a racist who must be shut down is dangerous. The moment we cannot accept that another person has a difference of opinion and can still be a good person, the closer we get to a second civil war. Twitter should be ashamed of itself for suspending a moderate Republican because some simple-minded social justice warriors can’t handle the fact that someone disagrees with their opinions. And these social justice warriors must remember that if Twitter can suspend a man like John Fredericks, Twitter can also suspend someone who disagrees with anyone else. Meaning that one day, Twitter could suspend the accounts of the Twitter social justice warrior mobs that espouse progressive positions such as open borders – calling it hate speech.

The First Amendment right to free speech is there to protect people’s right to be wrong. The First Amendment is there to protect Mr. Fredericks’ right to support issues or things that many do not agree with. It exists to support my right to tell Mr. Fredericks when he is wrong. And the First Amendment exists for each of you to tell me when you disagree with me as well. Do the right thing Twitter – and stop suspending accounts of people who have different opinions than your mob may have.

John Massoud is a member of the Strasburg Virginia Town Council, is the vice chair of the Shenandoah County Republican Party, and is the vice chair of the 6th Congressional District Republican Committee.