GOP governor blocks thousands on social media just for criticizing him


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin banned people from viewing his Twitter and Facebook if they used words like 'nimrod,' 'tax returns,' or even 'womb.'

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has blocked almost 3,000 people from accessing his official Twitter and Facebook accounts because those people dared criticize him, according to a report from the Courier Journal, a tactic he described to staff members as "sweep out the trash."

Bevin is facing a lawsuit over the practice, with plaintiffs arguing that blocking users from his official social media accounts is a violation of their First Amendment rights.

And records related to the court case show just how absurd the things were that got users blocked from viewing Bevin's accounts.

According to the Courier Journal, Bevin's administration flagged words that would get users banned, including: "booger, carpetbagger, dictator, nimrod, tax returns, Trump, uterus, cervix, menstruation, and womb."

The list reads like something a fragile middle school boy would be scared of, rather than a legitimate reason for the adult governor of a state to block constituents from his social media.

Not surprisingly, 90% of the messages that got users blocked were critical of Bevin, according to the Courier Journal.

And a message obtained by the Courier Journal from Bevin spokesman Woody Maglinger shows that was by design.

"Hey, gang — negative comments seem to be really picking up on social media this afternoon," Maglinger wrote to other staff members in the governor's office, according to the Courier Journal. "All help blocking these jokers 😉 (when appropriate) much appreciated."

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing on behalf of constituents blocked by Bevin, said the comments that got users blocked weren't "obscene, abusive, or defamatory," according to the Courier Journal.

One of the messages that got blocked was from someone responding to a tweet from Bevin after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017.

At the time, Bevin tweeted that "you can't regulate evil," to which the user replied, "Front-runner for clown of the day @GovMattBevin. Of course you can't regulate evil, but you sure as hell can limit the damage one can do."

That seems like a criticism one should be allowed to make of an elected official without being blocked from interacting with that official again. But Bevin apparently can't handle it.

Bevin is not the only elected official who has faced a lawsuit over blocking users on social media.

Back in 2018, a federal judge ruled that Trump was violating the First Amendment by blocking users from his Twitter account — which he uses to announce policy and staff changes, as well as tweet about other deluded theories and infantile gripes.

Of course, Bevin might have a reason for trying to squash criticism of his governorship.

He is currently the least popular governor in the entire United States of America — a fact that doesn't bode well for him as he seeks re-election later this year.

Still, while blocking criticism might inoculate Bevin from seeing or hearing from constituents who are unhappy with his administration, it doesn't make those constituents go away. He can block them from his social media — but not from the ballot box.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.