First Amendment at CPAC

Dear Donald –

It’s CPAC week and there have been some doozies so far, and I want to try to get to them, but I really wanted to start with the basics – the first amendment. 

I love the first amendment. No one loves it better than me. 

It’s an awe-inspiring statement given how you and your compatriots have walked all over it. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe there’s a misunderstanding of what the first amendment actually is or says. 

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. 

    Let’s go down the list. In December 2015, you called for a complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.  Your travel ban identified seven Muslim majority countries, but allowed exemptions for religious minorities, functionally banning only Muslims from those countries. And despite your protests that this isn’t a Muslim ban, all evidence is to the contrary. 

    You’ve argued forcefully against news outlets that criticize you. You’ve called the press the enemy of the people.  Just today, you argued for opening up libel laws to make it easier to sue news outlets for stories that you find unflattering. Sean held a press briefing today in which he didn’t invite reporters from news outlets he thought were overly critical of you. You’ve even argued against the use of anonymous sources, a clear attempt to silence detractors and make it easier to take retribution against sources. 

    You’ve personally attacked individual citizens that question your inflated claims of success. You argued for banning flag burning, even though it’s been recognized as constitutionally protected freee speech for decades. Betsy gave a speech earlier this week in which she argued against safe spaces on college campuses saying that college professors were unduly limiting free speech, clearly not understanding that free speech doesn’t cover the right to harass and pursue others indefinitely. 

    You’ve argued that protestors and town hall attendees are paid. Sean argued that these are manufactured events. Wayne LaPierre of the NRA even went as far as to say they’re getting paid $1,500 per week.  Peter King argued that he won’t hold town halls b cause they undermine democracy. You’ve ignored petitions asking for greater transparency and have belittled those trying to express their concerns to their elected representatives. 

    So, forgive me if I’m skeptical of your “love” for the first amendment. 

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