Twitter briefly suspended USA Today columnist Glenn Reynolds – better known as “Instapundit” – over a tweet he posted in reference to the unrest in Charlotte on Wednesday evening.
Reynolds manually retweeted a local television affiliate reporting that protesters had stormed a highway and blocked traffic.
“Run them down,” the conservative personality wrote.
Twitter suspended his account soon after and only restored access under condition the offending tweet would be removed, Reynolds wrote when he was permitted back on the social-media platform.
“Twitter has unblocked my account on condition of deleting the offending tweet. I’ve done so, but it’s here,” he tweeted, linking to a copy of his original tweet on a website. “I don’t want to be accused of airbrushing.”
Earlier, the USA Today columnist and University of Tennessee law professor defended the tweet on his popular blog.
“Sorry, blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars and surrounding them is a threat,” he wrote. “Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people. But if Twitter doesn’t like me, I’m happy to stop providing them with free content.”
Reynolds also discussed the incident with conservative radio-talk-show host Hugh Hewitt:
HEWITT: Now let me do what I did with Donald Trump last week, ask you to expand. I think I know what you meant. If you are threatened, you can defend yourself. Is that what you meant, Glenn Reynolds?
REYNOLDS: Yeah, I’ve blogged about that before where we’ve had other interstates blocked and people surrounded by mobs. I’ve always said I would just keep driving.
HEWITT: And so do you regret being pithy? Might you have said something along the lines of if threatened, you can run them down?
REYNOLDS: I mean, I guess, although I, you know, it’s Twitter. Pithy is what you do on Twitter, and you sort of expect people to figure out what you’re saying from context.
HEWITT: Do you expect Twitter to shut off your opportunity to expand, expound, and argue, maybe even apologize if people are offended and you believe it’s legit? But they’ve cut you off. That’s what I don’t understand. How can they cut you off?
REYNOLDS: Well, I guess it’s just a button they push. I don’t really know. They seem to have been doing this to a lot of people lately. And you know, if I were a cynic, I would say that this is sort of an effort to shape the media battle space between now and the election by silencing voices. And you know, if I were a cynic, that’s certainly what I’d think was going on.
HEWITT: If you had it to do over again, would you post the same tweet?
REYNOLDS: Oh, I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. Probably not. It’s got me on the radio with you this morning talking about it instead of having my normal morning.
REYNOLDS: But I have to say I don’t apologize for the sentiment. I think that this tactic of blocking people on the interstate and surrounding cars is itself violent. It is threatening. It is not peaceful protest, and it should not be permitted.
HEWITT: Do you think that the University of Tennessee will yield to the pressure, which is already mounting, to somehow punish you?
REYNOLDS: I have no idea. I’ve heard nothing from anybody.
Twitter has come under fire from free-speech advocates in recent months as it tries to cut down on abuse from individuals using the platform.
Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative provocateur, was permanently banned from the social-media service in July over tweets he published about “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones.