Back in the Saddle, Again
Our favorite weapons inspector returns to Twitter, on his terms
I was awakened this morning, as usual, by Maverick, my precocious 11-month-old Pomeranian, who communicated his desire to be let outside to do whatever dogs do first thing in the morning (preferably there, and not here, indoors.)
While Maverick attended to business, I scrolled thorough my iPhone, catching up on whatever had transpired in the world of social media overnight. Two things popped out at me.
First was a decision by the German Bundestag to tighten down on existing German criminal law by threatening imprisonment for the “crime” of “playing down (minimizing/denying) Russian war crimes.”
The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, Article 5, deals with “Freedom of expression.” It declares that “Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing and pictures, and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources.”
Not so fast.
Germany’s Network Enforcement Law, or NetzDG, seems to provide a huge exception to the notion of any right of free speech. The NetzDG, passed in June 2017 ostensibly to combat terrorist and extremist content online, requires social media companies to block or remove content that violates restrictions on hate and defamatory speech in the German Criminal Code.
German defamation law requires social media platforms to remove speech involving defamation, or communication which injures reputation, and “insults,” which harm an individual’s personal honor.
Scott will discuss his return to Twitter, and answer audience questions, on tonight’s episode.
German law has recently been expanded to criminalize persons who publicly display the ‘Z’ symbol used by Russian forces as a combat identifying marking. Persons who display this symbol are subject to a three-year jail term for “disturbing the peace.”
I decided that the best use of my time would be to write an article in which I would seek to violate every single possible clause in relevant law which criminalizes free speech as it relates to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and then seek to get it published in a manner which could be viewed by as many Germans as possible. I would then dare Germany to charge me.
Then I looked at the next item in my news feed.
Elon Musk had finalized his purchase of Twitter.
My morning suddenly was transformed. Back in July I had, in violation of Twitter rules, created a Twitter account so that I could monitor relevant tweets more effectively. I’m all about breaking rules when the rules are in open violation of the Constitution of the United States, a category I believe my permanent ban from Twitter fell into (I had been banned by Twitter for a series of tweets I had written in April addressing the Bucha massacre. I said Ukraine was responsible. Twitter banned me.)
But I am not a liar.
I created an account which used my real photograph, under the username The Author Himself @author_himself. I posted tweets promoting my book, Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, making it clear that I was the author of the book.
The account was not taken down.
Twitter was abuzz with the news of Musk’s acquisition, and several tweets were promoting the idea of Musk reinstating previously banned accounts. Of course, the account everyone was talking about was that of Donald Trump. One of the first things Elon Musk did in his role as Twitter God was to fire the senior Twitter leadership, including those individuals responsible for imposing the ban on Trump. Other tweets mentioned me, and my former Twitter account, @RealScottRitter.
I had, since my ban, regularly filed appeals to have my account reinstated. These appeals were ignored by Twitter.
I thought about submitting a new appeal directly to Elon Musk but was immediately struck by the insult such a process represented.
Free speech isn’t something Elon Musk gets to dole out. It is an inherent right as an American citizen, enshrined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
One should not have to ask for permission to exercise free speech.
I decided I would not submit an appeal.
Instead, I edited my Twitter profile, removing The Author Himself, and inserting Scott Ritter.
No more anonymity for me.
I then added the following text in the space allocated for biographical information:
“This account is in open violation of Twitter rules prohibiting banned persons from making new accounts. Free speech is everything.”
For my first tweet, I linked an article I had posted on my substack last week called “Bucha, Revisited.” Underneath I typed out:
Test, test, test.
Bucha was a war crime. Ukraine did it.
Test, test, test.”
I then hit “send.”
Within hours I was trending on Twitter.
My followers went from 6 to 13.6K and growing.
I am back. I am not asking permission to be here. Instead, I will tweet what I want to tweet, when I want to tweet, how I want to tweet, to whom I want to tweet.
I tweet on my terms, no one else’s.
That is what free speech is all about.
We will find out if Elon Musk shares the same vision.
(Note: Musk has put a hold on reinstating permanently banned accounts awaiting the convening of a special committee tasked with reviewing each case. I’m glad I did not appeal. Free speech waits for no man…even Elon Musk.)
One last comment on free speech.
Spectrum News in New York, owned by Charter Communications, announced that they will hold a debate this coming Sunday, October 30, involving candidates for the New York Senate seat currently held by the incumbent, Chuck Shumer. Chuck Schumer and his Republican opponent, TV personality Joe Pinion, have been invited.
Diane Sare, an independent candidate affiliated with the LaRouche Party, has not been invited.
Diane Sare is listed on the New York State ballot for November 8, 2022 election as a certified candidate for the position of US Senator from New York; she attained this status by filing over 66,000 signatures of New York registered voters, gathered in six weeks, and spread throughout the number of Congressional districts required by state election law after the New York State Legislature had passed changes in election law in 2020-21 to make the threshold for ballot access so difficult that, in their words, “only serious candidates with statewide support would gain a position on the ballot”.
Diane Sare is the only independent candidate to have achieved this goal.
66,000 New Yorkers want her on the ballot.
And now she is being silenced.
When contacted concerning this oversight, Spectrum’s New York State Political Director, Bob Hardt, explained that Sare would not be invited to join the debate because she did not “have enough support to receive an invitation.” When asked to clarify this benchmark, Hardt declared that the level of support was determined by “whether a candidate achieved 15% of support in at least two polls.” According to Hardt, Diane Sare “did not meet that criteria in any of the polls conducted this election cycle.”
Spectrum used three polls to determine the level of support used to screen candidates: Marist College, Siena College, and Emerson College.
Diane Sare was not listed as an option on any of the polls.
Diane Sare is a qualified candidate for the New York seat in the US Senate currently held by Chuck Schumer. Her voice is being silenced by establishment media, an action which is not only an insult to Diane Sare and the 66,000 New York citizens who signed the petitions that put her name on the ballot, but all Americans who believe that free speech is the cornerstone of American democracy.
The following are the relevant emails and numbers of representatives of Spectrum News; the parent company of Spectrum, Charter Communications, responsible for the October 30, 2022 debate.
Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter Communications, which owns Spectrum News, based in Stamford, CT (203) 905-7801;
Bob Hardt, New York Political Director of Spectrum NY 1, firstname.lastname@example.org, NY1 number is: 212-379-3
It would be nice if they were flooded with calls from concerned Americans demanding that Diane Sare be allowed to participate in the only debate being conducted for this electoral race.
Free speech can only survive if the American people value it enough to fight for it.
Don’t allow Diane Sare’s voice to be silenced by corporate media.