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After comments that he would “open up” libel laws to sue journalists, a President Donald J. Trump would clearly be a threat to Americans’ basic liberties.

by Joey Clark

I can only hope the story of Donald J. Trump‘s presidential candidacy will one day serve as a cautionary tale, the moral of the story being passed on from this generation to the next: “When someone threatens your liberty, take them seriously. We didn’t this time around. And we’re sorry for being such boobs. Please forgive us.”

Donald Trump’s direct threats to liberty are apparent. When asked point-blank by CBS reporter Major Garrett whether he sided with liberty or security, he answered security. Accordingly, Trump has called for a boycott of Apple until they break the iPhone’s encryption, has appealed to closing up parts of the internet, and in 2013 implied his desire to see the “traitor” Edward Snowden executed.

In particular, when Trump called for “closing that internet up in some ways,” he anticipated the obvious criticism of his position, saying, “We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some ways. Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech.’ These are foolish people.

And now, Donald Trump is threatening the freedom of speech once again, saying:

One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m 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. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.

Trump’s plan to open up libel laws is a direct threat to the freedom of the press and political speech. Seeing a problem, any problem, Trump’s tendencies seem to be totalitarian. When he calls for making America “great again,” one has to wonder what he means by “great.” Maybe, by “great again,” Trump means to say unfettered by the restraints of American liberty.

Trump has, indeed, been pining a lot lately for the “good old days” or “how things used to be.” For instance, after one of his rallies was interrupted by a protestor, Trump said “You know what they used to do to a guy like that in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

Does that statement or any of the above sound like the words of someone who respects American liberty?

No, but it does sound like the language of a “lion.” After all Trump did retweet this harbinger, a quote from Benito Mussolini, reading “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”

After being asked if he wanted to be associated with a fascist, Trump defended himself by saying, “No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes.”

So, Mr. Trump, though I may be running the risk of being libelous here, allow me to associate you with another interesting quote from America’s Julius Caesar, President Abraham Lincoln:

Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond…a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?–Never! Towering genius distains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.–It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen.

Dare I ask, Mr. Trump, you lion you, will your distinction come from emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen?  I cannot yet prove it, but I venture it will be the latter.

Again, when someone threatens your liberty, take them seriously.

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