"WR6_gUnUj-ztiW07KQcOCnTel9A"/> Notes From Atlanta: You Can Ban Twitter, But You Can’t Ban Rebellion Against Injustice

Sunday, June 6, 2021

You Can Ban Twitter, But You Can’t Ban Rebellion Against Injustice

By Farooq Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

You can ban Twitter, or even the Internet, but you can't ban the righteous emotions that injustice animates. Or the rage and angst that people ventilate on social media as a consequence of injustice.  Only justice, equity, tact, respect, good governance, etc. can ban them.

Nigeria isn’t dysfunctional and insecure because of social media; it is dysfunctional, insecure, and tottering perilously on the brink of the precipice because of the incompetence, irresponsibility, and intolerance of the Buhari regime, easily the vilest and most insular regime in Nigeria’s entire history.

There was no Twitter when Nigerians fought totalitarian military juntas to a standstill. There was no social media or even mobile telephony when Nigerians organized and resisted the cancelation of the June 12, 1993 election, which ultimately ended IBB’s ruinous 8-year misrule.

 To think that banning social media or shutting off the internet will cause people to suddenly make peace with oppression and injustice is to be guilty of the most vulgar version of technological determinism, which is the wrongheaded idea that technology, not human agency, is the singular motive force of human actions.

People use social media; social media doesn’t use them. People will organize and fight with or without social media. If you don’t want rebellion, remove the conditions that birth and nurture it. It’s that simple. You don’t want a child to cry? Then don’t hit him or her.

4 comments:

Unknown said...

That's very true sir. The Nigerian government really need to see this. It's high time we rise and fight injustice.

Mohammed Bello said...

Good morning, Prof. I want to make a plea and to tap from your sense of fairness and expertise in communication. First, let me clarify that I'm not a Buhari supporter; if he leaves power today, I will celebrate. I also don't support his Twitter ban, I believe it was not well thought out. But there is one thing that I believe, which I want you to also verify, which is that his recent words and sentiment on the Biafran issue have been misunderstood and misrepresented. In his original words uttered when he met the INEC team a week ago, he did not gloat about conquest during the civil war neither did he threaten Igbo people. What happened was that the person writing his tweets omitted some of his words. After describing the carnage of the civil war, Buhari's actual words were "for those of us who went through all these things, we can't understand. So, we will treat them in the language they understand." The writer of his tweet cut out the words "we can't understand" and directly connected the words on the civil war and "we will treat them in the language they understand." Please get the clip of his meeting with INEC and put his words there side by side with the offending tweet. His words actually conveyed horror and regret over the carnage of the civil war and that those of them who fought it "can't understand" why some people would risk another war again. I'll love to know your findings. Thank you very much.

Farooq A. Kperogi said...

I listened to the video which, by the way, was also deleted by both Twitter and Facebook because it's indistinguishable from theoffending tweet. I'm unsure how his saying "I don't understand" mitigates the violent intent of "the language they understand."

In plain language, Buhari basically said, "Civil War is bloody. We killed the secessionists who attempted it before and caused them to surrender. These youngsters who are treading the same path as the older secessionists that we defeated don't know what it means to be in a civil war, which we won. Well, we'll be violent again like we were before, and that's what will stop them from the ruinous, ill-advised path they've chosen--like others before them.

Even you alluded to his violent intent when you mentioned "risk another war again." Talk if civil war during peacetimes to people whose parents died during a previous civil war is straight-up glorification of violence, which is against Twitter's terms and conditions.

Trump, as an incumbent president of America, where Twitter is headquartered, was censured and finally permanently banned from Twitter for glorification of violence. I don't know why Buhari should be exempt. Twitter is, after all is said and done, a private company with its own rights and obligations. I don't always agree with Twitter, but there's no requirement that anyone should have a Twitter account. People who choose to use it, by default, accept its terms and conditions and the consequences of violating them.

War, carnage, and bloodshed are not the only responses to dissident rhetoric. How about dialogue? In the US, several groups threaten secession every time. Even now. In fact, there's almost no country on earth where groups aren't threatening secession for one reasonor another. If violence is the only response a president can think of as a solution to threats of secession, he deserves to be punished by a private company he willingly chose to be a part of that says in its terms and conditions that it has no tolerance for violence.

The counter argument is that Nnamdi Kanu also advocates violence. Fair enough. But Kanu's vile tweets had been deleted by Twitter in the past when they were reported by people. Some were deleted the day Buhari’s were deleted. But it really doesn't speak well of Buhari that he is being compared with a violent, mentally ill thug like Nnamdi Kanu.

Mohammed Bello said...

But Prof, Buhari's threat wasn't directed at innocent people. It was directed at IPOB militants who have embarked on an insurgency. The president might have referred to Igbos in general in other comments but not in this one. In the build up to his threat, the president described what the insurgents were engaged in in the South East. He then followed it with the threat. Is there any country in the world which doesn't threaten or answer violent insurgents or terrorists with violence? I don't think so.