Australian Conservatives Communications Director and former Australian Christian Lobby Director Lyle Shelton had of two of his tweets deleted yesterday and now his personal website has been taken down for having alleged incorrect web registration.
The deleted tweets related to an exchange Shelton had with actor, author and longtime Labor Party member Rhys Muldoon over the 150-metre exclusion zones outside abortion clinics where Shelton was defending the sidewalk counselling of pro-life campaigner Kathy Clubb. Clubb a mother of 13 was fined $5,000 for breaching Victoria’s abortion clinic exclusion zones, she is taking her case to the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of such laws.
Shelton’s exchange with Muldoon also referenced cases where women are coerced into abortions, which Shelton later confirmed on the Australian Conservatives’ website it related to NRL footballers Bryce Cartwright and Tim Simona forcing their girlfriends to have an abortion.
Shelton later confirmed that the tweets had been deleted for containing potentially sensitive content.
Shelton claimed this censorship is how democracy dies and believes that his tweets contained nothing more than a respectful exchange of opinions. Leftist critics of him responded by saying that Twitter is a private company who can deny service to anyone they choose, just like he advocates for businesses who don’t want to provides services for same-sex weddings.
Later in the day, Shelton confirmed his personal website lyleshelton.com.au had been challenged and taken down. He said he was working to get it back up but at the time of publication going to the website, you are still greeted by an error message. Shelton called this a threat to freedom. It is unknown where this exact complaint about his website originated.
Certainly, nobody is surprised by Twitter engaging in censorship, with many high profile political personalities being banned or shadow banned from the platform. The belief that it is a free speech platform is farcical. But personal websites hosted on private servers have long been considered secure for expressing political views, no matter how controversial. Lyle Shelton’s experience will be watched closely to see if it has any new web freedom implications.