We are all aware of our first amendment rights. In this culture, we are inundated by claims of our freedom of speech as we burn flags, make “art” that depicts killing a sitting president and throw animal blood on someone who has a different view of the proper appreciation for a good ole steak. Even more, we are reminded that as the media releases pictures of the dead bodies of soldiers and releases classified information on our national security with dubious intent that is morally murky at best, that they are doing so for OUR good and that the fourth pillar of society is fighting the good fight on our behalf. Well, it seems it’s time that we clarify some of these hallowed rights that our forefathers set up for us as we pursue our unalienable rights to freedom and our individual pursuit of happiness.
Let’s begin where our nation did over 240 years ago. Why is it that our forefathers were so insistent that a free press and an individual’s freedom of speech were so essential to our national identity. They had a lack of representation in the British government, hence the cry of “no taxation without representation.” The king and his emissaries could monopolize the trade industry (see Boston Tea Party); they were hard pressed to assemble and voice their concerns (see Boston Massacre); if they wanted to share their views on the atrocities of the crown, they had better think twice before airing their sedition in the press! So, it is understandable that our founders wanted to allow a bit wider berth when it came to the citizens of this new nation.
Yet, somewhere between “give me liberty or give me death” and Kathy Griffin, we have clearly lost our way. Now everyone can fill the airwaves with their own brand of vitriol, stir the masses into anarchy repeatedly for only the sake of ratings and then hide under their God-given right of that oh so blessed “Freedom.”
Whether it be the Obamas on vacation, the salacious inference of an unholy alliance between Trump and Putin and maybe a Kardashian or two mixed in as well, our hallowed media is hell bent on bending the hell out of the truth. Gatekeepers to the truth no more, many of these charlatans of “covfefe” are nothing more than snake oil salesmen -- and I mean that with no disrespect to snake oil salesmen. It is up to “We the People” again to fight this literary savagery. In the same way we walk past the tabloid rack at the grocery store, it is now for us to esteem the true intent of our founders in granting us this freedom of the press and now demand accountability from the press. Unnamed sources, gotcha headlines that serve as little more than click bait for their advertisers is truly a real and present danger to our nation. We absolutely need truth and accountability in our government -- up to, and especially in, the highest offices; but when the information clutter dilutes the entire pipeline, then the conduit must be cleared. We have an inundation of information but no truth. We have up-to-the-minute breaking news with no context. It is said that freedom is always only one generation from extinction and sadly the fake news zeitgeist vs. the commander-in-tweet may be a foreshadowing of a much darker road ahead.