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Wednesday, June 5, 2024 | Back issues
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Op-Ed

How to gag Trump

May 13, 2024

There is a way to get the former president to stop violating gag orders. Also, TikTok invokes the First Amendment, but not for itself.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

It may seem hopeless, but it’s not. Donald Trump can be prevented from violating gag orders.

I have the solution.

Tiny fines clearly aren’t working. The threat of jail makes the ex-president salivate — imagine the fundraising when he sells portraits of himself in a jumpsuit matching his complexion hoisted on a cross.

The ex-president needs to attack and/or threaten anyone he doesn’t like. It’s in his DNA. He can’t help it.

So what do you do with a defendant who has no impulse control?

It’s obvious — order a full psychiatric evaluation.

Isn’t this what we all want? A definitive diagnosis from a panel of experts on the sanity of a guy who does Trump stuff. (I don’t think I need to define Trump stuff.)

Imagine the dilemma for the defense team after the experts conclude the ex-president is insane. Do you plead insanity to get out of the criminal trial? Is your client going to let you call him crazy while he’s running for president?

And then what happens when Trump attacks the psychiatrists on Truth Social?

Well, if he’s a danger to himself or others …

Someone please forward this recommendation to Justice Juan M. Merchan.

Another riddle. Can a microphone talk?

You use a microphone to talk, but the mike itself can’t talk on its own. Right?

And if someone takes your microphone away, can’t you just pick up another one?

This was the sort of thing I was asking myself after reading the 67-page petition filed in federal court in D.C. on behalf of TikTok and its parent company challenging the new law requiring it to divest or shut down in the U.S.

There’s a lot of other interesting stuff in there, but part of the argument was about protected free speech — of TikTok’s users, not TikTok itself.

Can’t those users go talk somewhere else? Think about time, place and manner regulations.

I don’t know if banning TikTok is a good idea or not. If the company really is inundating the Chinese government with dance and prank data, wouldn’t it be a good idea for the American government to flood the app with lies? This is a missed counter-espionage opportunity.

Anyhow, I recommend reading the petition for assorted fascinating tidbits.

For example, there’s this: “There is no question: the Act will force a shutdown of TikTok by January 19, 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere.”

They can’t?

Picture millions of silenced Americans wandering the streets with no hope of communicating again.

If TikTok can’t be replicated, isn’t there an antitrust issue?

Also, the petition notes that the Chinese government won’t allow a license of TikTok’s “recommendation engine” to any non-Chinese company that buys TikTok. China wants to protect Chinese technology.

But “TikTok is not offered in mainland China.”

So we’re talking about protected Chinese technology that can’t be used in China.

Make of that what you will.

Categories / National, Op-Ed, Politics

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