“President” Donald Trump has a love / hate relationship with the portion of the First Amendment that guarantees freedom of speech. He loves that it gives conservatives, Republicans, and people who think like him the freedom to voice their views. He hates that it does the same for Democrats, progressives, and anyone else who has opinions that differ from his.
He voices these contradictory beliefs on a fairly regular basis, when in typical Trumpian fashion he also proves to be completely oblivious to his own hypocrisy. Most often we see this when he rants about “fake news,” which we’ve all come to know means any news that Trump doesn’t like, including opinion pieces that don’t gush about his brilliance, business success, or large hands, or factual articles where Trump isn’t presented as the clearly defined “winner.”
We also see Trump’s anti-First Amendment tendencies when he claims that journalists are “the enemy of the people,” when he threatens to take away broadcasting licenses from certain media outlets, or when he prohibits specific journalists from covering a given event, such as he recently did in Vietnam during his meeting with Kim Jong Un.
During his now infamous CPAC speech this past weekend, however, Trump decided to change things up a bit and went in a different direction. Rather than trying to force those on the left to sit down and shut up, he proposed an executive order that would guarantee free speech at colleges and universities, therefore guaranteeing conservatives the right to freely state offensive views. This lines up with right-wing fears that institutions of higher learning are indoctrinating the children of good Christian Americans into the evils of progressivism and liberalism. Without an executive order from Trump, conservatives would be helpless to do anything other than nervously wring their hands and pray their own children don’t succumb to the temptations of evil.
Donald Trump appears unable to comprehend that any order he implements – whether it’s an order against “fake news” or an order bolstering free speech – would apply equally to all people and all groups. Anything designed to silence what Trump sees as “fake news” would apply equally (for example) to Fox & Friends, or Sean Hannity. Any executive order designed to guarantee conservatives the right to auditorium space and time at a local college would guarantee the same right to every other group as well. The system established by our founding fathers was designed to ensure balance; that’s why Trump has to work so hard to tilt the odds in his favor.
Adrienne Lilly lives in Upstate New York with her two children. She works as a manufacturing engineer.