Many are calling for Twitter to ban Ann Coulter from the platform after she appeared to encourage violence against leftist protesters who have interfered with Donald Trump's rallies. Coulter, formerly a conservative pundit, is now little more than a propagandist who tweets some of the most disgustingly pro-Trump sentiments of any important person the internet. Here is what she wrote on Sunday:
"I would like to see a little more violence from the innocent Trump supporters set upon by violent leftist hoodlums."
Coulter was likely referring to the recent clashes between pro-Trump and anti-Trump activists: a planned Trump rally in Chicago was cancelled on Friday because of security concerns.
Coulter's remark is truly despicable—she is saying, in no uncertain terms, that the maiming of her political enemies would bring her sadistic pleasure.
In response, critics of Coulter have called on the platform to ban her on grounds that she is inciting people to violence. But they are mistaken to suggest that Coulter's speech meets the legal definition of incitement: she is not advocating "imminent lawless action," which is what the Supreme Court requires for an accusation of incitement to hold merit. Saying that one would like to see violence happening is not the same as calling on others to commit violence at a specific place and time.
Twitter, of course, is not the government, and is free to restrict speech as tightly as it wants. Indeed, its terms of service prohibit users from making threats of violence or promoting violence. Does Coulter's Tweet fall under the imprecise category of "promoting violence"? Possibly, sure.
If Twitter bans Coulter, I won't miss her (okay, actually, I will—I enjoy grumbling about her horrible thoughts!). But users ought to be wary of such crackdowns on allegedly violent or hateful speech, especially since Twitter's efforts on that front seem increasingly politically one-sided. (Related: Did Twitter's Orwellian Trust and Safety Council Get Robert Stacy McCain Banned?)