GOP lawmakers attack Twitter for suspending congressman who broke hate speech rules

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Republicans in Congress are more upset at the social media website than at their colleague's blatant transphobia.

Republicans in Congress are outraged at Twitter after the social media website suspended Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) for violating the site's rules against hate speech.

Banks intentionally misgendered Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, the highest-ranking openly transgender official in U.S. history. Levine is a highly respected public health expert who served as Pennsylvania's physician general from 2015 to 2018 and as the state's secretary of health from 2018 to 2021.

On Oct. 19, Banks posted a tweet mocking the news that Levine had been sworn in as a four-star admiral for the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.

"The title of first female four-star office gets taken by a man," Banks wrote.

Twitter responded by temporarily suspending Banks' account on Saturday. Banks accused the company of trying to "cancel" him for "tweeting a basic truth."

Banks' tweet flagrantly violated Twitter's terms of service for all of its users, which include a policy prohibiting hateful conduct.

When users sign up for Twitter, they must agree that they will not "promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."

The policy explicitly states that Twitter does not permit "targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals."

Still, Banks' GOP colleagues rushed to his defense, saying he did nothing wrong.

"BigTech censorship & suppression of free speech is out of control," Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) tweeted. Spartz added that Banks "is accountable to his voters only" and urged Congress to regulate tech companies' "unlimited immunity."

"Twitter is censoring @RepJimBanks for refusing to go along with the Biden administration's performance theater," Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tweeted on Sunday.

"Twitter banned @RepJimBanks for pointing out the first female four-star general is a biological man," Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) tweeted on Monday. "The Left has truly lost its mind."

"Twitter shuts down @RepJimBanks's account because he correctly identifies a Biden official by their biological gender," Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) tweeted on Monday.

"Big Tech is the ENEMY of free speech," Rep. Lance Gooden (R-TX) tweeted on Monday.

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Gooden received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from interest groups representing the internet and telecom industry.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.