Dan Popp
The press defends 1/5 of the First Amendment
By Dan Popp
May 3, 2017

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

Members of the media are pretending to fear some sort of attack on the First Amendment. After all, President Trump has made some Very Pointed Statements about biased gatekeepers posing as unbiased journalists. (I have a contrarian view on whether reporters can be objective, but it's beside the point here.) Methinks they dost protest too much, considering that President Obama was openly hostile to Fox News, and Presidents in general tend to have adversarial relationships with the Fourth Estate.

Or maybe just the Republican ones.

But this is all faux outrage, a show for the sheeple. The press doesn't care about the First Amendment – it only cares about one of that Amendment's protections: the one that applies to them.

Where was the press when the government was establishing a national religion under FDR, and then LBJ? Were they helping their audience understand that government almsgiving is illegal? Were they being dragged off in handcuffs shouting, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion!" Maybe I'm watching the wrong news sources, but I don't think that actually happened. We have a state church, in violation of the First Amendment, and the press could not care less.

What about prohibiting the free exercise of religion? Did the national media get all huffy and puffy when prayer was banned from school, when bakers were forced to violate the dictates of their consciences, or when nuns were commanded to pay for contraception and abortion? Where were the self-knighted champions of the First Amendment then? As far as they and their audiences know, these are all perfectly valid uses of government power.

If the Obama (or Hillary) administration had classified the public reading of Leviticus as "hate speech" punishable by prison sentences, fines, and maybe some re-education, how many in the mainstream media would have "fought to the death for your right to say" unpopular things?

My guess is: zero.

What about the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances? The press actively undermines this right every time it uses the word "protest" to describe a violent riot in which people are hurt and property is destroyed. And when Tea Party groups were persecuted by the IRS, the press did not man the barricades of liberty and hoist the banner of the First Amendment, but instead called the peaceable protesters names.

So if my math is correct – and please double-check it, I want to public school – "the press" is only even pretending to be concerned about one out of the five, or 20% of the rights supposedly protected by the First Amendment.

My heroes.

© Dan Popp


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