On Wednesday, Twitter suspended the campaign account for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). His crime? Sharing a video of Black Lives Matter Louisville leader Chanelle Helm making violent threats at a protest outside of McConnell’s home.
In the video, reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal but now removed from Facebook and Twitter, Helm notes that McConnell fell and fractured his shoulder over the weekend. Instead, the senator “should have broken his little tragedy, wrinkled-(expletive) neck,” the BLM leader says. After a man refers to a voodoo doll, Helm replies, “Just stab the mother f**ker in the heart.” That comment went viral on Twitter. Helm told the Courier-Journal she stood by her comments.
Team Mitch was suspended after sharing the video on Twitter, McConnell’s campaign told the Courier-Journal.
“This morning, Twitter locked our account for posting the video of real-world, violent threats made against Mitch McConnell. This is a problem with the speech police in America today,” said McConnell campaign manager Kevin Golden. “The Lexington Herald-Leader can attack Mitch with cartoon tombstones of his opponents. But we can’t mock it.”
Golden was referring to a political cartoon in which the Herald-Leader blamed McConnell for killing things like health care, campaign finance reform, and his Democratic challenger for U.S. Senate, Amy McGrath. McConnell’s campaign shared the cartoon to mock it and then created a satirical photo with their own fake tombstones.
Golden attacked Twitter for allowing potentially violent anti-McConnell hashtags to trend, including “Massacre Mitch,” a hashtag blaming the Senate Republican for the recent mass shootings because he supports the Second Amendment.
“Twitter will allow the words of ‘Massacre Mitch’ to trend nationally on their platform but locks our account for posting actual threats against us,” Golden said. “We appealed and Twitter stood by their decision, saying our account will remain locked until we delete the video.”
“The user was temporarily locked out of their account for a Tweet that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety,” Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough told the Courier-Journal.
Twitter’s policy says users “may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people” and that the social network prohibits “the glorification of violence.” Calling out violent death threats is not the same thing as glorifying them, however.
It appears McConnell’s account has been restored, and the tweet sharing the threatening video has been deleted.
Neither the campaign account nor McConnell’s press account responded to a request for comment on that point.
— Tyler O'Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) August 8, 2019
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.