Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

“The Greatest Threat to Democracy”

February 26, 2017

“The fake news media is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people.”

— Donald Trump, President of the United States of America.

“The first thing dictators do is shut down the press.”

— Sen. John McCain, R -Ariz.

“We must challenge this statement that the news media is the enemy of the American People. This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

— William H. McRaven, retired four-star admiral and Navy Seal, Commander of the bin Laden raid.

Truly news that really is “fake”is an enemy of a democratic republic,  but to apply that label to mainstream news organizations like CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post just because they ask tough questions is absurd. Without a free press a country cannot be free.

That is not to say that mainstream news organizations or any news reporters are above being criticized.  It also doesn’t mean I agree with the practices of some of them. However, to try to shut them down because they hold a presidential administration accountable and fact check what its representatives say, or oppose them editorially, in my view, is an unacceptable threat to democracy.

To me the most important amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the first one:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or of abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of  the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. 

(The Trump quote was contained in a Tweet. The McCain quote is from an NBC Meet the Press interview, and the McRaven quote is from The Daily Texan.)

Is Moving the Columbus Council Public Agenda a Move to Chill Free Speech?

September 3, 2008

   The Ledger-Enquirer’s Ben Wright writes (I know I used that phrase before, but I like it) that Columbus Council public agenda regulars Paul Olson, Bert Coker, and Bill Madison oppose moving the public agenda to the end of the meetings, with Madison also opposing the use of a traffic light to keep speakers within the 5-minute limit. The only problem I see with moving it is the perception that it is a move to chill free speech.  Whether it really is or not is debatable. And, as far as I am concerned, I have no problem with holding speakers to a five-minute limit.  If 5 minutes isn’t enough to get your message across, send an email.  All councilors have email addresses.

  Columbus Council is to be commended for giving time to citizens to speak to them. Not to do it will require a new ordinance, because the public agenda is placed right before the city manager agenda by an ordinance that Council passed years ago. Council could vote not to have a public agenda at all if it wished to do that.  The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but it doesn’t specify where, when, or how much time a speaker gets. And, as my good friend, former Bob Barr Jordan High band member (he played great trumpet)  and fellow Rotarian, Robert George says, “it doesn’t require that anyone has to listen.”

Council votes on the proposal to move the public agenda next week.