Why I Quit Twitter

Twitter continues to enable dangerous and irresponsible content and provide a platform for propaganda, hate speech, and gaslighting. I cannot in good conscience remain active on a site that knowingly causes so much harm. 

The final straw was Donald Trump’s tweet about Martin Gugino. Let’s begin with the facts. Gugino is 75 years old. On his blog he describes himself as a far-left activist with anti-government and anti-police views. On June 4, 2020 he was at a protest in Buffalo, New York. He approached police officers with what appeared to be a police helmet in his left hand and a cell phone in his right hand. An officer pushed Gugino, and he fell backward. Gugino hit his head, was bleeding and lost consciousness. He was later taken to the hospital, where he was treated for a concussion and a laceration.

The police report stated not that Gugino was pushed, but that he tripped and fell. Video evidence contradicts that report, and two officers were charged with felony assault. Gugino was not accused of anything, nor was he charged with anything. He wasn’t even referred to by name.

The Final Straw

5 days later, on June 9, Trump tweeted “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @ OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

One America News Network (OANN) is a far-right media outlet known for promoting conspiracy theories. The journalist that reported the story of OANN is Kristian Rouz, who also works for Sputnik News, a Russian propanda outlet. Rouz has been known to spread pro-Russia propaganda. The claims regarding Martin Gugino were unsubstantiated, and no evidence was provided.

Aside from holding far-left views, there is no evidence that Gugino is a terrorist. His is not affiliated with any known terrorist group. He is known to have worked with the Catholic Worker Movement and the Western New York Peace Center, both faith-based organizations.

Rationalizing Fascism

Some have speculated the issue was that Gugino was out past curfew. The police would have arrested him in that case. If the phone in his hand was a “scanner” meant to jam police communications, they would have arrested him. Many have wondered what he said to the police, as if there were any words that could justify shoving him rather than arresting him.

As for it being a “setup”, the notion that the police were somehow tricked into shoving Gugino, rather than asking him to step back without laying their hands on him, or stepping around him, or taking action to arrest him, is ludicrous. Are we meant to believe that he scammed them into callously walking past him as he lay prone and bleeding as well?

The insinuation that a 75-year-old man somehow faked his fall is, in my opinion, nothing short of batshit crazy. There is video evidence, from multiple angles, showing him go down. Yes, it appears that he stumbled. That’s what happens when someone pushes you. To have faked his injury means multiple people, from the EMTs that treated and transported him to the medical professionals that cared for him in the hospital, have colluded to support this story. It’s a stretch to find that theory more plausible than video of police shoving Martin Gugino.

And Twitter does nothing.

Twitter has not addressed this. Unlike some previous tweets, they have not fact-checked this one and placed a warning label on it. People are leaning in on this, agreeing with Trump’s implication that Gugino somehow deserved it. They cite his approaching the police at all as justification for abuse. His body language and the way he fell have been analyzed as much as the Zapruder film at this point, because some fascist so badly want to be able to justify the actions of these police. There’s a strong undercurrent that his politics, and the exercising of his First Amendment rights to state those views, are reason enough for him to get cracked. That’s just some good old fashioned McCarthyism right there.

I can’t take it any more. It’s not even the emotional drain, the toxicity that I’m exposed to, or the fact that I need to wade through mountains of garbage to find a nugget of connection with my friends. The use of the site at all makes me feel as if I’m excusing them for not addressing the bad behavior. Whatever small value or alleged convenience it provides to me is outweighed by the platform it provides for the rude, cruel, and willfully ignorant.

So I’m out. I’ve scrubbed my personal account and left a single pinned post that directs people here. While I might be cutting off my nose to spite my face, the blog will no longer syndicate there. The same goes for my  business account. If they ever change their policies, I might go back. I’m not holding my breath.

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