Our President has been claiming for years to be a staunch advocate for free speech, but in his rally in Arizona yesterday, he made it clear that he has no inkling of what it really means.
Trump’s one-sided fight to protect free speech
Take, for example, his speech in Warsaw in June, where he said “We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.”
Or this tweet from his campaign days:
But dig deeper and you will find that most of these are spent pandering to Conservatives for supposed liberal censorship of free speech in churches and college campuses. Like at this rally, just days before his speech on Poland, where he claimed “We will not allow the government to censor sermons, to restrict the free speech of our pastors and our preachers.”
There archives are literally overflowing with examples like these.
Trump only protects free speech that serves him
That claim of his that the government is restricting free speech in churches? It’s his fight to allow churches to endorse political candidates, like him. That restriction was a trade-off for their tax-excempt status. If they want to get into the game of government, they should pay their fair share to help run it.
His rallying cry against alleged violation of free speech at UC Berkeley? It’s because they uninvited Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter, an ardent supporter of President Trump. Was that censorship or an issue of plubkoc safety, given all the protests underway? Obviously, it was censorship for Trump. And yet strange that he didn’t pitch a fit about them canceling an appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos.
But the grand-daddy of all his self-serving hypocrisy was during his rally in Arizona, when he lambasting news media for upholding the right of free speech for hate groups.
The American President and first-amendment protections
Don’t forget, the President is sworn to preserve, protect, and defend our constitution. One of the most passionate arguments for genuine protection of the First m-amendment comes fromAaron Sorkin’s The American President.
America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.”
Even hate groups must enjoy that right, which is why their actions and speech are covered in the media.
Take NPR’s interview with white supremacist extraordinaire Richard Spencer. It made me physically sick to listen to, but he has a constitutional right to express his beliefs and the media have a moral obligation to cover that. But they don’t have to endorse it, and they almost universally denounce whatever isbeing said or done in the name of hate.
Lest we forget, the very media he condemns has given him an unfettered platform to spew his decisive rhetoric of hate. And furthermore, his condemnation only comes after a full week of public pressure for his flaccid response to the lethal violence from white-supremacists in Charlottesville. A response that, to any reasonable person, smacked of actually condoning their actions.
So in this case, the media covering the protests, rallies, and talk of these hate groups over the last week is working against Trump because it is highlighting his political need to garner their support. But perhaps most egregious and hypocritical of all is his endless rampage against the media exercising their freedom to report on his endless stream of lies. Since January of this year, he has tweeted over 100 times about so-called “fake news” coverage of events that cast him in a bad light. That is a full 10% of his entire twitter volume since taking office.
Let’s be honest. Free speech and freedom of the press only apply when it serves Trump’s interest. Which means he has absolutely no idea what it means at all.
Featured image from wikimedia commons.