Posts Tagged ‘‘Funding Terror’’

Secular Talk: Trump Promises to Destroy the First Amendment

March 2, 2016

Donald Trump’s rage against the media for supposedly portraying him in a negative light has hit a new, very dangerous low. In this piece from Secular Talk, Kyle Kulinski discusses one of the Dimestore Duce’s speeches, in which he attacked journalists and the media as one of the lowest groups of humanity. He singled out in particular the New York Times and the Washington Post. When he got into power, he promised, he would extend the libel laws, so that people could sue them for their alleged lies and win ‘lots of money’.

Kulinski points out that this is Authoritarianism 101. The New York Times and the Washington Post are able to print their articles against Trump, because they’re protected by the First Amendment. You know, that pesky bit in the American Constitution that guarantees the people of America free speech. Trump wants to overturn that, and the protection it gives America, because journalists are saying nasty things about him.

Kulinski points out that there is absolutely no chance of this happening, as it would need a constitutional committee to be convened before there could be any change. But this is an authoritarian attitude. Authoritarianism is when you crack down and attack your enemies, while giving your friends a pat on the back. And you can see what he’s like by looking at how he behaves to his Twitter followers. Anyone who criticises him, he attacks mercilessly, while he praises those who supported him.

Kulinski also states that it’ll have a chilling effect on the media. Nobody, not even those who hate Trump, like to be attacked. So journalists will go softer on him, in order to avoid Trump lashing out at them again. So he’ll get them doing his propaganda for him. He also points out that what the New York Times and Washington Post wrote wasn’t libel. They merely discussed Trump’s failing businesses, like his casinos, using facts. Trump’s attack on free speech and promise to extend the libel laws is a threat, that should worry even his supporters.

Kulinski is absolutely right about this. Britain doesn’t have a written constitution, and our libel laws are extremely strict, so much so that they have been used to crack down on free speech. A while ago an American academic was sued for libel in a British court by a Saudi billionaire, Khalid bin Mahfuz, for what she wrote about the way the Sheikh’s charitable foundations had been used to fund al-Qaeda in her book, Funding Terror. She stated that the Sheikh was not involved in these transactions, nor was he even aware of them. And she was factually correct. This availed her nothing. Mahfuz won the case, arguing that while she was correct, it nevertheless harmed his professional reputation.

Private Eye printed a long piece reporting and attacking the judgement for it what it was – an attack that undermined the basis of democracy itself. In response, a number of American judges and states passed legislation officially declaring that British legal judgements and law had no validity in America, in order to protect free speech in their country from this and similar attacks.

And this hasn’t been the only time the libel laws have been used by the rich and corrupt to silence their critics. In the 18th and 19th centuries one of the way the British government sought to suppress those journalists and writers that criticised its corruption was to sue them for ‘seditious libel’. It why the great British journalist, Cobbett, spent several years in America, before returning to Blighty. Even foreign rulers got in on the act. One of the British radical journalists – I think it might even have been Cobbett again – was sued in the 1820s by the Russian Tsar when he described him as a tyrant, who ‘was ridiculous to his people’. Trump’s threat to expand the libel laws is a real danger to the genuinely great American tradition of free speech.

Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist, has boastingly called his show, Infowars, ‘1776 Worldwide’. He’s loudly backing Trump. What he fails to realise, is that Trump isn’t one of the Revolutionaries. He’s actually one of the Red Coats.

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