Minneapolis, Sep 24 (AP/UNB) — Actor James Woods has been locked out of his Twitter account over a tweet he sent out months ago that was found to be in violation of Twitter's rules.
The tweet was posted July 20 and includes a hoax meme that said it came from Democrats and encouraged men not to vote in the midterm elections. Woods got an email from Twitter on Thursday saying the tweet "has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election." The email says Woods can use his account again if he deletes the tweet.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, Woods said this means he'll be allowed back on Twitter only if he decides to do what Twitter says. He says he won't do that, and he won't delete the tweet.
"Free speech is free speech — it's not Jack Dorsey's version of free speech," Woods said, referring to Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.
Twitter said it doesn't comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons. A spokesman for the social media platform said by email that he had nothing more to share when asked if Dorsey would respond directly to Wood's comments.
"The irony is, Twitter accused me of affecting the political process, when in fact, their banning of me is the truly egregious interference," Woods said. "Because now, having your voice smothered is much more disturbing than having your vocal chords slit. If you want to kill my free speech, man up and slit my throat with a knife, don't smother me with a pillow."
Woods said if he deletes the tweet, it would force him to watch his step with everything he says in the future, chilling free speech. The email Woods received from Twitter said Woods would be suspended from the social media platform permanently if there are repeated abuses.
He noted that his original tweet was reposted by his girlfriend on Friday and had been retweeted thousands of times by Sunday. His girlfriend's account wasn't locked, which he said was proof that he'd been singled out because of his large Twitter following.
Woods, who has more than 100 acting credits to his name and starred in several movies including "Salvador," ''Ghosts of Mississippi" and "Casino," has more than 1.7 million Twitter followers and is known for his conservative political views. His Twitter page is still online, though he can't access it. Many of his recent tweets include his views of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago.
The meme that Woods posted in July said #LetWomenDecide and #NoMenMidterm. It claimed to be from a Democratic group, but it was determined to be a hoax campaign to encourage liberal men not to vote in November, according to the website knowyourmeme.com.
Woods called it a parody. In his tweet, he acknowledged the meme likely wasn't real, saying: "Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible ..."
The tweet is considered to be material that would suppress votes or deliberately deceive, and was found to be in violation of Twitter rules.
Social media companies like Twitter have come under pressure to get hate speech and posts that could influence elections offline, learning quickly that they can't please everyone as they try to act as gatekeepers of discourse. Dorsey testified before the GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month, as the committee examined whether Twitter has censored conservatives.
The AP reached Woods on Sunday through his girlfriend's Twitter account. After he shared information over messaging, he agreed to have a FaceTime conversation so the AP could verify his identity.
Woods said he wants open discourse, and called the situation a dangerous one for free speech.
"I wish this were about an unknown Twitter user so that I could be even more passionate about it," Woods said. "This is not about a celebrity being muzzled. This is about an American being silenced — one tweet at a time."
Providence, Sep 6 (AP/UNB) — Author and actor Christopher Kennedy Lawford, who was born into political and Hollywood royalty, sank into substance abuse and addiction and rose to become a well-known advocate for sobriety and recovery, has died.
Lawford died of a heart attack Tuesday in Vancouver, Canada, his cousin, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, told The Associated Press. He was 63.
Lawford was in Vancouver living with his girlfriend and working to open a recovery center. He had been doing hot yoga, which he did often, but the strain of it "must have been too much for him at that point," Kennedy said.
Lawford was the only son and oldest child of Patricia Kennedy — sister of John, Robert and Ted Kennedy — and Peter Lawford — the English actor and socialite who was a member of Frank Sinatra's "Rat Pack."
"I was given wealth, power and fame when I drew my first breath," Lawford wrote in his 2005 book, "Symptoms of Withdrawal: A Memoir of Snapshots and Redemption," the first of several books he wrote about his substance struggles.
He wrote that his parents got telegrams predicting big things for him from Bing Crosby and Dean Martin and said he once got a lesson in doing "The Twist" from Marilyn Monroe. The cover of his books shows him sitting poolside as a child with his uncle and soon-to-be-president John F. Kennedy looming behind him.
He spent his youth frolicking with Hollywood stars on one coast and rubbing shoulders with political stars on the other, living between libertine Los Angeles and the hyper-competitive Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, where he was a big-brother figure to John F. Kennedy Jr.
"You can't get much more fawned over than being a Kennedy male," Lawford wrote.
His life with drugs began with LSD while at boarding school at age 14. In the years before he had experienced the assassinations of his two uncles and his parents' divorce in 1966.
With heroin and other opioids as his substances of choice, Lawford leapt into deeper substance abuse in drug-heavy 1970s Hollywood, where his father also abused drugs and alcohol as his career faded. Peter Lawford died in 1984. Patricia Kennedy died in 2006.
In his memoir, Christopher Lawford told tales of mugging women for money, panhandling in Grand Central Station and getting arrested twice for drug possession before getting sober at 30.
"There are many days when I wish I could take back and use my youth more appropriately," Lawford told The Associated Press in 2005. "But all of that got me here. I can't ask for some of my life to be changed and still extract the understanding and the life that I have today."
Patrick Kennedy, the former congressman from Rhode Island whose father is Edward M. Kennedy, said his cousin "did something very difficult," airing family secrets and temporarily hurting his relationships within the Kennedy clan when he wrote his book.
"He had the courage to know that he had to find himself, and he wasn't going to be able to do it while holding on to the old family narrative," Kennedy said.
Lawford was "tormented by the fact" that for a time he was estranged from his sisters, Patrick Kennedy said.
"Over the years of recovery, he ended up reconciling with his sisters, happiest I ever saw him," Kennedy said.
His life's work became helping others recover — including his cousin.
"He was the absolute cornerstone to my sobriety, along with my wife," Patrick Kennedy said (the former politician had been addicted to drugs and alcohol). "He was the one who walked me through all the difficult days of that early period."
After his memoir, Lawford authored several more books on addiction and recovery, most recently 2015's "What Addicts Know."
He worked steadily as an actor, with moderate success. He had a small part in 2003's "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," made appearances on TV shows including "Frazier" and "The O.C." and had recurring roles on the soaps "All My Children" and "General Hospital," playing a senator in the latter.
He told the AP in 2005 that his famous dual identities both helped and hurt him in Hollywood.
"The names give you entree, absolutely, but it's a kind of a double-edged sword," he said. "People do pay attention to you, but nobody gets ahead in Hollywood unless they are really lucky or they deserve it."
He is survived by his sisters, Sydney, Victoria and Robin, and his children, David, Savannah and Matt.