Americans take free speech for granted, and rightfully so. No generation since the country’s origin has lived without it. But just because people in America have been free to speak their minds for a long time, doesn’t mean that the election of Donald Trump is not a threat to that freedom.
On the campaign trail, Trump railed against the press, repeatedly singling out the New York Times for their ‘unfair’ coverage if it was critical of him. He also threatened to change libel laws, if elected, so it would be easier for him to sue members of the press if they didn’t say ‘nice’ things about him all the time.
Renowned journalist Christiane Amanpour expressed deep concern over Trump’s behavior toward a free press when she was honored at the Burton Benjamin Memorial Awards in November.
In her acceptance speech, Amanpour said,
I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home. Ladies and gentlemen, I added the bits from candidate Trump as a reminder of the peril we face.… this is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdoğan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al.
As all the international journalists… know only too well: First the media is accused of inciting, then sympathizing, then associating–until they suddenly find themselves accused of being full-fledged terrorists and subversives. Then they end up in handcuffs, in cages, in kangaroo courts, in prison–and then who knows?…
We must fight against normalization of the unacceptable…. let’s fight for what is right. Let’s fight for our values. Bad things happen when good people do nothing.
(Watch the full acceptance speech video here)
Limiting freedom of the press is the stuff dictatorships and communist regimes are made of. However, that’s not the only threat Trump poses to the American way of life. As president, he’ll be able to control the internet.
There are already hints that Trump’s army of anti-regulation Republicans will head straight for net neutrality rules, eliminating them as fast as they can. That would leave millions of people open to ISP’s throttling access to their competitors, or blocking them completely.
From Salem News:
Deregulation raises concerns for consumer advocates — not just in terms of rolling back rules, but also potentially allowing more huge mergers, which several analysts expect despite Trump’s campaign swipes at big media. Under the coming administration, a laxer FCC could result in even higher cable and internet bills, worse customer service and fewer choices, says Harold Feld, senior vice president at public-interest group Public Knowledge.
Creativity, originality, invention, and expressing critical views of the government are all products of free speech. Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy. Without it, media is nothing more than a government propaganda machine.
No one is saying that Donald Trump will completely eliminate the rights of the First Amendment or open access to the internet. However, he will have the power as president to make it much harder to enjoy both.
The New York Times suggests that there’s a lot more at stake here than the possibility of new libel laws.
…What happens here has profound implications for the rest of the world. If press freedoms are not defended with maximum resolve in the United States, it will be impossible to promote and defend such a fundamental principle anywhere.
In essence, it is the American people who must defend their freedoms. They did not come easy, and will surely not be lost without a fight.
To express your views on the issues outside the voting booth, contact your member of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Maryann Tobin is the author of “Afterlife: The Journey Of A Dog‘s Spirit” This heartwarming story is told through the eyes of an animal spirit that has been sent back to earth in the body of a small dog. His mission is to help a young woman discover that their destinies are more connected to the powers of the Spirit World than either of them ever imagined. If you’ve ever shared your life with a dog or any other pet, you will never look at them the same way again after reading this book. Get your copy now on Amazon.com
Featured image CC0 public domain https://pixabay.com/en/constitution-4th-of-july-july-4th-1486010/