What's the future for the First Amendment?

Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 9:44 AM

We're heading into a Brave New World of changes in America. I mentioned jobs and "draining the swamp" last week, the big changes that Himself's voters want. But there's lots more.

One big change looks to be the First Amendment. I'm thinking the Founding Fathers had good reason for the First Amendment and all five of the freedoms it lists: freedom of speech, even for those who disagree or even offend us; freedom of the press; freedom of religion, all religions; freedom to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Last week out of the blue, our ruler-elect Himself tweeted that anyone who burns the American flag should be in jail or lose their citizenship.

Flag burning doesn't even happen all that often in this country, although that could change with the new regime. It's deeply offensive to most Americans. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that burning the flag is a form of protected free speech. The late Justice Scalia voted with the majority on that.

Prohibiting flag burning would damage the actual freedom to protect the symbol of that freedom. And flag burning can be seen as an alternative to more violent means of protest.

The First Amendment might change in other ways too. Based on Himself's campaign rallies, freedom of speech can include unhindered use of racial, sexual, religious, and ethnic slurs. There's already been an increase in hate-type incidents around the country since the election, even in Durango.

Himself has disavowed his white supremacist supporters, at least sort of, reflecting his long history of disavowing any responsibility for the bad consequences of his words or actions.

But if you exercise freedom of speech to say or write something that smacks of criticizing or mocking Himself, beware. He takes offense very easily, and he strikes back. He said he'll change the libel laws.

Freedom of the press and fact-based news? As we know, Himself hates fact-based reporting, for good reason. And many Americans have been antagonized by fact-based news and have shown a preference for fake news that has proliferated on social media. I find Himself's ongoing demonizing of the fact-based media unsettlingly reminiscent of the way Hitler demonized Jews in the 1930s.

Freedom of religion? If you are anything other than a white heterosexual conservative Christian of northern European ancestry, you might want to keep a low profile.

Freedom to assemble peaceably and petition the government for redress of grievances? We'll see.

Be mindful that Himself is used to ruling his private empire. He seems to be bringing that mindset to the U.S. presidency. If Himself can cancel rights for people you don't like, he can cancel your rights too. So sad...