Anyone who has read this site knows that we’re no fans of mainstream media. However, we’re also very big fans of the Constitutional 1st Amendment protections given to the press that allows us to gain knowledge about important issues. With Donald Trump threatening to make it easier for libel lawsuits against the media, we’re seeing one of the most dangerous roads that he has proposed travelling.
At a rally in Texas, he said he’s “going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.”
Again, we have been very critical of the majority of mainstream media outlets, but we have the right to be critical just as they have the right to do the things that force us to be critical. That’s one of the most important protections we have as a country in knowing that the news media does not have to operate in fear of retribution from the government or other powerful entities. Other countries have demonstrated that when we limit the freedom of the press, the ones who benefit are the very people that the press should expose.
This isn’t just scary. It doesn’t make any sense. Which Americans can actually benefit? Does he really believe that we wish Kanye West could sue a tabloid that reports about his money problems? Does any average American look at their press clippings of the week and wish that the libel laws were loosened for them? Who exactly does he want to help to “win lots of money?”
The real question is this: how can we even consider electing a leader that will directly attack the 1st Amendment so that he and his celebrity friends can make money off of news outlets?
Libel is bad. People can be hurt when news outlets spread falsehoods that can damage people. However, expanding any form of the law beyond its current Constitutional alignment is the first step towards quashing the free speech that Americans have embraced for two centuries. For someone who claims to be opposed to political correctness, an attack on the 1st Amendment is absolutely unacceptable.
It’s the first step down a very slippery slope that this country simply cannot afford.
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