OPINION: Trump Is a Danger to Free Speech

Last week Hillary Clinton has threatened a conservative political action committee with a lawsuit, angrily boycotted Fox News, complained about unflattering media photos, and demanded that a National Review editor be fined for making politically incorrect comments about her.

Oh, wait. That wasn’t Hillary Clinton doing any of those things. That was Donald Trump.

Trump’s seemingly endless capacity to bully and insult his critics has been entertaining, sure, but is quickly becoming dictatorial. His calls for (mostly conservative) political pundits to be silenced, fined, and boycotted should give pause to anyone in America who cares about free speech.

The Club for Growth, a political action committee dedicated to supporting free-market, limited-government conservatives [Editor’s note: The Club for Growth has an apparent hatred for genuine, Tea Party candidates as evidenced by its penchant for supporting Establishment candidates in a number of recent contested GOP primaries] recently produced an ad critical of Trump over his past comments promoting a socialized healthcare system, higher taxes, and Wall Street bailouts. How did Trump respond? With a cease and desist letter warning that a lawsuit would follow if the ads didn’t stop.

Trump also launched a boycott against Fox News this week because the network had allegedly been “unfair” In its coverage. The issue? The network reported CNN poll numbers that found Trump’s winning margin over the other Republican candidates dropping from 35% to 24%. In response, Trump said he’s refusing interviews until he is guaranteed favorable coverage.

One Fox source told The Hill Trump decided to boycott because he “doesn’t seem to grasp that candidates telling journalists what to ask is not how the media works in this country.”

Despite the boycott, Trump was still watching and dictating orders from afar.

Last Wednesday, National Review Editor Rich Lowry made a somewhat crass remark about Donald Trump’s manhood on Fox News. Trump responded with a furious tweet: “Incompetent @RichLowry lost it tonight on @FoxNews. He should not be allowed on TV and the FCC should fine him!”

(Never mind that the FCC doesn’t issue fines against cable news.)

There you have it. In just a few days, Trump offered three draconian responses to political speech he deemed unfriendly. And that barely scratches the surface. He also went on a tirade against CNN, the New York Times, Politico, and the Associated Press for citing the empty chairs at a campaign event in South Carolina. And who can forget his calling Fox’s Megyn Kelly a “bimbo,” and his endless stream of insults against well…any idiot loser who fails to clap loud enough every time Trump speaks?

Although he’ll use any format to issue broadsides, the courts are, by far, Trump’s preferred remedy for conflict.

The Daily Beast recently posted a piece about his long-documented history of deploying lawyers to combat anyone who speaks ill of his name. And that piece doesn’t even include his threats to fellow Republicans for copyright infringement if they utter Ronald Reagan’s well-known 1982 campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” which Trump trademarked for himself after stealing it from the Gipper. Or the fact he also fired off a cease and desist letter to a Boston-based t-shirt maker selling shirts that said, “Donald is Dumb” and “Stop Trump.”

You want tort reform? Start by limiting the number of lawsuits Donald Trump can file against political enemies.

It would all be fun and games if Donald Trump weren’t actually campaigning for the highest office in the land—and leading in the polls, a fact he believes earns him the right to laudatory media coverage.

One can only imagine how many press passes would be revoked by the Trump White House, if he deigned to keep a press corps around at all. Much more likely a Trump-approved reality TV camera would simply follow him around, unquestioningly documenting his greatness, similar to how President Obama restricted independent media access in favor of government-controlled media. WHTrumpTV! It’ll be yuuuuuge! NBC will pay for it! Right?

More seriously, Trump’s eagerness to use the courts and other agents of government power against his political opposition is not the mark of a leader. It’s a common trait among tyrants.

Trump may be campaigning as a Republican but his actions don’t reflect any understanding or appreciation for the core values enshrined in the First Amendment that guarantee Americans the right to criticize politicians.

His actions are much more aligned with far-left Democrats who want to pass rules and regulations to keep conservative personalities such as Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin off the air.

Conservatives have suffered through the era of Obama where the IRS was used as a political weapon against Tea Party groups, a filmmaker’s attempt to air an anti-Hillary Clinton film went all the way to the Supreme Court with Citizens United v. The Federal Elections Commission, and Democrats have relentlessly campaigned to silence those who donate to conservative causes.

Donald Trump is telling us he, like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, also believes in using the brute machinery of government to savage political enemies. Pay attention. Free speech is at stake. (For more from the author of “Trump Is a Danger to Free Speech” please click HERE)

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