- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2022

Note: This story has been updated to reflect the status of the suspended account and include Twitter’s comment.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri Republican, was locked out of her Senate campaign account for a tweet declaring that “men pretending to be women” don’t belong in female sports.

Hartzler campaign manager Michael Hafner posted a shot Monday of the Twitter message saying that his boss’ account had been “locked for violating the Twitter Rules,” specifically for violating prohibitions on “hateful conduct.”

Her tweet said: “Women’s Sports are for Women, not men pretending to be women.”

Mr. Hafner responded by tweeting: “Height of stupidity reached today.”

Ms. Hartzler, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, has been an outspoken critic of policies allowing male-born athletes who identify as female to compete in girls’ and women’s sports.

She used the same phrase that got her banned two weeks ago in a tweet promoting her campaign ad about Lia Thomas, the University of Pennsylvania swimmer who has smashed women’s records after competing for three years on the men’s team.

Her account was suspended Monday night.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the tweet violated the platform’s prohibition on “hateful conduct,” which includes “deadnaming,” or using the pre-transition name of transgender people.

“Per that policy, we prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category,” the spokesperson told The Washington Times. “This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”

The flagged tweet retweeted the Hartzler campaign ad, which begins: “Meet William Thomas, ranked #462 in men’s swimming. Meet Lia Thomas, ranked #1 in women’s swimming. Only one problem: It’s the same person.”

Ms. Hartzler could spring herself from “Twitter jail” by deleting her tweet, but her campaign said she won’t remove it.

“Vladimir Putin is a murderous psychopath who invaded a sovereign nation causing death and destruction, and is currently allowed to tweet,” said the campaign statement. “Yet, Twitter believes the bigger threat is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee saying women’s sports are for women. It’s shameful, utterly ridiculous, and a horrible abuse of censorship by big tech giants to stifle free speech.”

Mr. Hafner also blasted the tech platform for suspending Ms. Hartzler while the Russian president’s account remains active.

“Good: Murderous psychopath who invades sovereign nation causing death and wreaking destruction,” he tweeted. “BAD: HASC Congresswoman who says women’s sports for women. INSANITY!”

American Principles Project president Terry Schilling responded by accusing Big Tech companies of “once again ramping up their election interference on behalf of the woke left.”

“Rep. Hartzler’s message was a simple one: biological males should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports,” he said. “Numerous polls have shown that her view is shared by a strong majority of Americans. And yet, because a few people at Twitter see this view as ‘hateful,’ Hartzler is now banned from one of the internet’s largest platforms, just as primaries are starting nationwide.”

The Heartland POD, a left-wing podcast, responded by blasting anti-transgender legislation and attitudes as “flatly un-American.”

“The stories of men taking over women’s sports, the fear mongering, it’s calculated. It is designed to ratchet up the anger while defining what it means to be ‘acceptable’ to society,” said the tweet. “It is disgusting. It is wrong. It is flatly un-American.”

Ms. Hartzler is vying for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat against a field that includes former Gov. Eric Greitens and Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

She has been endorsed by Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican.

Whoever does win the Republican nomination will be a strong favorite to win the November election in conservative Missouri, especially in a midterm election that usually favors the party not in control of the White House.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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