Trump is dangerous for the first amendment

Trump is dangerous for the first amendment

I have a small copy of the Constitution that I keep on my bookshelf. I don’t open it up very often – there’s really no need to – but it’s nice to know that it’s there. 

I wouldn’t call myself an overly patriotic person, but I’ve always admired our Constitution. It’s only 7,591 words long if you count the signatures and the 27 amendments, and the original Constitution is made up of four sheets of paper measuring 28 3/4 inches by 23 5/8 inches each. It’s pretty remarkable that something so short – I’ve written papers longer than that – could form the foundation of our entire system of government. 

However, my favorite part of the Constitution is the First Amendment. It grants so many of the rights that we as Americans are privileged enough to enjoy. There aren’t very many countries where you can openly criticize your government and live to see another day. If we were in Russia, you might find yourself pushed down a set of stairs by big men with guns. That’s why it’s a shame that our president has become so enamored with threatening these precious freedoms, specifically the freedom of the press. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 11, NBC posted an article online that reported Trump said he wanted to increase the nuclear weapons arsenal tenfold during a meeting in July. It was after this meeting that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called Trump a moron. Trump, in typical Trump fashion, flew into a tirade, tweeting his frustrations for the entire world to see. 

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” Trump tweeted at 8:55 a.m., an hour and 32 minutes after the article was posted on NBC’s website. I can only imagine the petulant look on Trump’s face during what was no doubt an hour and a half of stomping around and pouting. 

Now I know, at this point, we’re not supposed to take Trump’s tweets seriously, but the mere suggestion of trying to silence an American news outlet is a gross overstep of our federal government. It’s inconceivable that the leader of the free world would be OK with threatening an institution protected by the Constitution. I thought the Constitution was sacred to Republicans? They don’t want you touching their guns, but they’re completely fine with letting the federal government silence the press? 

You cannot cherry pick the Constitution, Mr. President. You can’t skim through it and take out the parts you don’t like. The First Amendment is the same amendment that grants the freedom of speech, and everyone loves his or her freedom of speech.

The free press is the called the fourth branch of government for a reason. It’s important, and the American people need the press more than they may know. Without the press, there would be no way to easily disseminate information. Without the press, there would be no way of knowing whether or not your government officials are telling the truth. There’s no Watergate without Woodward and Bernstein, and I think everyone can agree that Nixon’s resignation was good for the country. You have the press to thank for that. 

Having a free and fair press is imperative to maintaining a healthy democracy, so journalists should be ethical and fair at all times. That’s why news outlets police themselves. If a journalist acts unethically, then they’re fired or reprimanded by the outlet they work for. It’s not the government’s job to control the news media. 

By suggesting that the government should be allowed to muzzle the press, Trump is proving that he only cares about the Constitution when it’s convenient for him. That’s a dangerous precedent to set.

Chandler Gory is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column runs biweekly. 

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