Some argue Twitter's ban on Trump's tweets limits freedom of speech. But Trump's followers usually rely on infotainment, alternative facts, doublespeak and propaganda. Manipulated into a hard-right viewpoint, they can't evaluate the veracity of Trump's tweets.
In addition, Trump's habit of labelling inconvenient truths as "fake news" creates a kind of "trust fatigue" in which many people just choose the viewpoint that seems dramatic or popular.
Trump's misinformation has real consequences, increasing COVID-19 (376,000 Americans versus 909 Australians) and threatening democracy. Would we allow a social media platform to someone organizing cruelty to animals? Is violence to politicians any less serious?
This shows how important it is that we Australians properly fund good quality news outlets like the ABC, SBS and our few good newspapers. The Coalition worries about Trump's freedom of speech but they also want to limit the funding of the ABC and SBS which hold them to account.
Rosemary Walters, Palmerston
A time to heal
America is a divided country that needs to heal. Donald Trump got over 70 million votes. With the speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi calling for another impeachment the country will never heal. Trump will leave office, he has no alternative.
It's interesting to note that the media, TV stations, including CNN, and the major newspapers are all calling him out. Where were these people when the Black Lives Matters demonstrators were rioting in Washington and numerous Democratic states and businesses were destroyed, lives destroyed, looting and being more violent and destructive than the Capitol protesters. This happened for months.
Where were Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Obama and Clinton then? It's a time to heal and not further divide a broken country.
Maggie Scott, Deakin
It's curious that so many of the right-wing politicians who are crying about freedom of speech and censorship are the same ones who block and ban people who challenge their ideas on social media.
They want total and unregulated freedom for themselves and their ideas, but at the same time they want to silence any opposition or dissent.
Their blatant hypocrisy speaks volumes about their lack of respect for true freedom.
Doug Steley, Heyfield, Tas
Ban the bombs
Given President Trump's character, it was worrying to learn from Clive Williams ("Until January 20, we have to hope Donald Trump forgets about Iran", January 12, p18) that there is no legal provision to stop a president from ordering a nuclear attack on whomever he chooses.
Congress can be bypassed, and the order to launch may indeed be carried out by operatives brought up to obey orders. The system, based on the hopefully deterrent effect of mutually assured destruction (MAD), in order to be believable, entails such a possibility.
Perhaps we ought to be grateful to President Trump for bringing such a dangerous system to our notice.
An alternative system for international security is maturing at present. On January 20 the nuclear ban treaty comes into effect, defining nuclear weapons along with chemical and biological weapons as illegal under international law. The current nuclear weapons states will not sign up to the treaty, of course, but the times, they are a changin'.
Harry Davis, Campbell
Tribunal under fire
Re: "Disabled boy left in locked classroom" (January 9, pp1 and 4).
The report informs readers the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal had criticized a primary school's management of a disabled and violent Year 2 boy.
The outcome is disturbing. The tribunal's flowery alternative was to fixate upon the ACT government's key goal of "an inclusive education system". That requires very significant resources which the ACT government simply does not provide adequately. That the school, in the tribunal's words, "could" have done things differently ignores realities.
It would appear the student's record of violence had under-resourced teachers nonetheless exhibiting a wide range of skills, and exercising an uncomfortably large set of responsibilities.
Certainly, there were alternatives to locking the boy in a room, or to suspending him as had been prior practice. In the interim, other students needed protecting.
Practicalities in any school setting appear to have eluded the tribunal. Rather, it has set an impossibly high bar for schools in general. As it is, the school in question acted appropriately, notwithstanding the boy's parents supposedly being at the end of their tether.
Patrick Jones, Griffith
China criticism unfair
Your recent editorial "US democracy is resilient and vigorous" (canberratimes.com.au, January 8) was about the criminal attacks on the US Capitol by Trump supporters.
It was spoiled by final comments that the "attacks overshadowed other troubling attacks on democracy... including in Hong Kong where Chinese authorities have arrested 53 pro-democracy activists".
First, the attacks in Washington were similar to, but not nearly as damaging as, the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. Why does the editorial praise criminal rioters in Hong Kong, but denigrate criminal rioters in Washington?
Second, Hong Kong is a city in China. How the Chinese government enacts laws is its own business. Non-Chinese critics should mind their own business, and shut up. This is particularly so as recently, especially over the past four years, China has been far more effectively governed than the US has.
False criticism of China damages Australia. For this reason, and for decency, The Canberra Times should strongly apologise to China for the paper's despicable editorial criticism.
Bob Salmond, Melba
McCormack said what?
So the "acting PM", the eminently forgettable "Mr whatsisname", has criticised Twitter for permanently banning crazy Trump tweets, merely because he was continually inciting millions of his more demented followers to violent protest?
So where does our national spokesperson stand on good old Aussie sports fans yelling racial abuse at an internationally televised match?
Or is offending a visiting national cricket team entirely a different and more serious matter?
And I used to think Barnaby was bad.
Richard Johnston, Kingston ACT
It's a super-spreader
Re: "Manuka answers SOS call" (January 9, p56).
Three matches in five days. Lots of visitors. Lots of spectators. Lots of risk.
Sydney can't host because of a thing called COVID-19, but Canberra can because we are relatively "COVID-safe"!
Ridiculous. Next we will have another outbreak here and Manuka, and Canberra, will be in lockdown.
Okay, have the matches. Make sure that players and organisers are in isolation. Have no spectators at match. Only have it on TV.
We do not need to take the risk. Thank you very much.
Marguerite Castello, Griffith
Trump a denialist
Congratulations on your editorial "Political change must help impact of climate change" (canberratimes.com.au, January 10) though you were too kind calling US President Trump a climate sceptic.
He was by and large a denialist, illustrated by his taking the US out of the Paris Accord.
Being a sceptic is an honourable term as it suggests a weighing up of evidence. Denialism, on the other hand, implies an ideological position not based on facts.
You quoted President-elect Joe Biden who, referring both to the pandemic and to climate change, said: "We're in a crisis" and "we need a unified national response to climate change".
This mirrors what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in mid-December regarding climate change: "Can anybody still deny that we are facing a dramatic emergency?"
Guterres called on all leaders worldwide to declare a state of climate emergency in their countries until carbon neutrality is reached.
New Zealand had just declared a state of climate emergency when the UN Secretary-General made the call.
NZ also committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern referred to climate change as "one of the greatest challenges of our time".
Our states and territories are responding to the climate crisis but not the federal government.
It should declare both a state of climate emergency and introduce a target of zero net emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2050 at the latest.
Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
TO THE POINT
LATE AND GREAT
In the article about movie car chases ("More than a stunt to this star turn", January 13, p10) the writer said Steve McQueen who starred in the film Bullitt, died 10 years ago; in fact he died of cancer in Mexico in November, 1980.
Rosalind Bruhn, Curtin
SILLY OF THEM
Centuries back when the idea of "freedom of speech" was being mooted by philosophers as an essential element in a democracy, they presumed it would be used responsibly by literate and sensible men (like them). Just like they presumed only intelligent and sensible men (like them) would vote and sit in future parliaments. How wrong they were - on all counts, including their gender presumptions.
Eric Hunter, Cook
The one thing Trump's shambolic leadership has done, especially in inciting the mob attack on the bastion of American democracy, is to also flush out the right-wing reactionary political leaders here in Australia who aligned themselves to Trump and his far-right world view. Shame on them.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
ON A PLATTER
Aahh. Trump l'orange, beautifully cooked. A lovely dish - best served cold.
Michael Bryant, Conder
Michael McCormack never seems to realise that whenever he tries to defend the indefensible, like Bridget McKenzie and the sports rorts saga, or becomes much more vocal when acting PM in order to make himself more relevant to ultra-conservatives like George Christensen, Craig Kelly and One Nation voters, he ends up digging a deep hole for himself ("McCormack failed simple task", canberratimes.com.au, January 13).
Sue Dyer, Downer
THERE ARE LIMITS
Free speech is great, but I remind those complaining about Twitter's and Facebook's ban on Donald Trump of the old saying: your right to shake your fist ends at my nose.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen
Donald Trump has said he might leave the US if he lost the election. Presumably he would flee to a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the US.
John Milne, Chapman
A SAD DAY
I find disturbing the report the US health insurers club has decided to suspend political donations to those congressmen who voted against certifying Biden as President-elect ("Companies suspend political donations", January 12, p.22).
This suggests a lobby group with a vested interest in preventing healthcare reform has its financial talons into every single lawmaker.
Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra, NSW
ENGLISH UNDER THREAT
Oh yes, Patricia Hagan (Letters, January 6). And you will have also noticed "normality" has become "normalcy" and "obliged" has become "obligated".
Why? One good thing about being old is that I won't have to witness the destruction of our language for much longer.