Twitch is an online streaming service popular with gamers. They became the first platform to actually give Donald Trump more than a slap on the wrist for violating their terms of service. They have suspended the Trump Campaign’s account for 30 days because they posted video of Trump calling Mexicans murderers and rapists and another where he referred to some as being a very tough hombre breaking into a young woman’s house. A few days before these posts by the Trump Campaign Twitch said they were stepping up their efforts to combat hate and abuse on their platform.
This is not a freedom of speech issue. This is Twitch’s platform and we are all guests using it. If you want to stay you play by their rules. It is akin to telling your guests that you don’t allow cursing in your house as you find it offensive. Then a few minutes later a guest starts dropping F Bombs. You are well within your right to ask that guest to leave. You are not depriving him of his rights to use that language. You are telling him he can use that language but if he wants to stay at the party in your house he must follow your rules. That seems reasonable. How would you feel if you had no control over how people behaved in your home?
What makes matters worse is Twitch just said they were cracking down on behavior they deemed offensive. We can debate whether those video clips contained offensive material but the point is moot. It’s Twitch’s house and what they say goes. It was almost as if the Trump campaign was daring Twitch to act. Dare taken. Does the Trump campaign have nothing they could put on Twitch to promote Donald Trump that would not be questionable? If your whole political campaign is based on things some might find offensive then really what is your goal? Is it to lead? Maybe it is to be a shock comic.
Comedians get told all the time before shows what topics we can’t cover and what words we can’t say. Comedians who like to make money and have a career comply. Comedians who want to be a martyr to a very small part of the population and not be looked at as professional immediately go out of their way to break the rules. It is not that comedians are being silenced. It is not a violation of freedom. The venue has the freedom to book whoever they want. A venue has the freedom to make the rules for their place of business. I can either comply or tell my jokes in a place that has no problem with what I want to talk about. I have the freedom to choose. I can take my jokes elsewhere. I just can’t tell them where a venue prefers I don’t tell them.
Which brings us back to internet platforms. If the Trump Campaign wants to be on Twitch they will play by Twitch’s rules. If they want to say whatever they want they can take it to websites like 4 Chan which lets anything go. The choice is the Trump Campaign’s.
The only thing we really have a right to expect is for an internet platform to make everyone abide by the same rules. We can ask for fairness. Still, in reality, it is their house and they can favor who they want. They owe us, the general public, nothing. If enough people bristle at their rules and their enforcement they may change or they may fail. I’m sure they have calculated that the people who find calling Mexicans murderers and rapists offensive far out- number the people that want to die on we should be able to call Mexicans rapists mountain.
Besides I don’t use Twitch. Excuse me while I play Donkey Kong on my Atari 2600.