Free Press

Trump Is No Match for the First Amendment

Far from undermining freedom of the press, the president's fulminations prove its durability.


When 400 or so news outlets ran editorials chastising Donald Trump for his anti-press demagoguery last week, they made an important point about freedom of speech in America: Journalists may be mad at the president, but they are not afraid him, which is no small accomplishment in a world where reporters who offend powerful people can end up behind bars or below ground.

Americans owe their freedom of expression to the quasi-magical powers of words written more than two centuries ago. Combined with an independent judiciary, those words continue to provide robust protection for people who annoy the government.

The First Amendment is the reason Trump's recommendation that purveyors of "fake news" lose their broadcast licenses was repudiated by the man he chose to head the Federal Communications Commission. "The FCC under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai declared, "and under the law the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content of a particular newscast."

The First Amendment is the reason Trump's suggestion that flag burners should be jailed or stripped of their citizenship was a non-starter. The Supreme Court, in decisions joined by Antonin Scalia, the late justice whom Trump has described as the model for his own nominees, has twice ruled that flag burning is a constitutionally protected form of expression.

The First Amendment (combined with a federalist system that puts states in charge of writing defamation standards) is the reason Trump's plan to "open up those libel laws," which he views as insufficiently protective of his reputation, went nowhere. The Supreme Court has said the Constitution requires public figures like Trump to prove "actual malice" (knowing or reckless publication of verifiably false statements) if they want to recover damages for defamation.

The First Amendment is also the reason Trump's description of "the fake news media" as "the enemy of the people," although poisonous to civil and honest debate, has not curtailed freedom of the press. To the contrary, it inspired a unanimous Senate resolution "reaffirming the vital and indispensable role the free press serves" and condemning "efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press."

Reporters Without Borders moved the United States down four notches in its World Press Freedom Index between 2016 and 2018, mainly because of Trump's open hostility toward the people who cover him. But far from undermining freedom of the press, the president's fulminations have proven its durability.

As a journalist, I am hard pressed to name another country where I would have more freedom to speak my mind. And I'm not just thinking about countries where critics of the government are routinely arrested or murdered.

Consider the U.K., which appears five spots above the U.S. in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. Although freedom of expression is supposed to be protected by British common law and statute, there are several broad exceptions that would never pass constitutional muster in the United States.

This month, for instance, Mark Meechan, a Scottish YouTube personality known as Count Dankula, lost an appeal of his conviction under a British law that makes it a crime to send a "grossly offensive" message via "a public electronic communications network." In the offending video, titled "M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi," Meechan shows his girlfriend's adorable pug watching a speech by Adolf Hitler, lifting his right front paw in response to "sieg heil," and reacting with seeming enthusiasm when asked if he wants to "gas the Jews."

Whether or not you think Meechan's video is funny, the principle at stake should be clear. As the British comedian Ricky Gervais observed on Twitter, "If you don't believe in a person's right to say things that you might find 'grossly offensive', then you don't believe in Freedom of Speech."

The president of the United States does not seem to believe in freedom of speech. Luckily for us, his beliefs are irrelevant.

© Copyright 2018 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

NEXT: Cohen Pleads Guilty to Tax Evasion, Claims Trump Told Him to Pay Off Paramours

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  1. Oh God, more Trump is Hitler nonsense.

    Trump has every right to call the media out for being enemies of Americans, which they are. Almost the entirety.

    The media has every right to conspire and say they will be brave and bad mouth trump.

    Most of the media are propganadists for Lefty causes and Americans are not buyong it anymore. One of Trumps greatest achievements is getting the media to admit to Lefty bias that we all knew was present.

    1. Then go on their web sites and set them straight otherwise STFU.

      1. The big media web sites are behind paywalls. The ones that are not rarely have comment sections.

        And honestly, *this* is a comment section. Has Reason ever taken any complaints voiced on here to heart?

        The major consolidated media outlets are all located in major urban areas. Given the voting records of major urban areas, is it any wonder that our major media outlets only represent one side?

        The left has gone nuts over the rise of citizen media. I personally am extremely glad that the lock on information has been broken.

        And yeah, Fox exists as a major media outlet as does the Wall Street Journal. Uh, exceptions that prove the rule?

      2. Which sites, dum-dum?

    2. Seriously. Anybody who is even a moderate centrist, basically anyone not explicitly left leaning, has been able to see the blatant bias in the media for decades. And it really went into overdrive mode during Bush II and Obama's terms. The fact that a Republican politician finally had the balls to say what everybody already knew out loud was what shocked and horrified them... Conservatives aren't allowed to fight back against dirty leftist tricks, and this was the crime Trump TRULY committed.

      1. Yup. Trump set their agenda back some years, maybe a decade or two. He also cannot be manipulated by the media. Trump leads the media around like yipping dogs. Trump cares about Americans and America and wanted to do something about it.

        Those are dangerous things for Lefties trying to destroy America.

      2. The fact that a Republican politician finally had the balls to say what everybody already knew out loud was what shocked and horrified them

        Of course it did. Because no journalist has been paying attention to the major GOP meme about the press since - oh - probably Nixon and McCarthy. Growing into shockjock radio and Fox as ACTUAL business competition to the old/fake/unfairunbalanced press.

        Conservatives aren't allowed to fight back against dirty leftist tricks

        You're wrong. But that phrasing of it is exactly why they often lose. Because no one else except PR flaks for each side gives a shit about some fight between 'conservatives' v 'leftists'.

        this was the crime Trump TRULY committed

        The 'crime' he committed against the media establishment was being an effective populist. Obviously the media establishment is just part of that broader establishment - has been since prob 1922 or so - and the rest of the media has become remarkably subservient to the media establishment over the decades (prob for career preservation reasons). Trump was just very effective as a populist (more so than Sanders or Paul2008 or Dean2004 or Perot1992 or Wallace1968) which surprised the media establishment. And Trump is still governing in campaign mode - much like Obama did for his Presidency.

        1. Is Trump the first person on the right to EVER say the media is not telling the story quite right? No. Of course not. But name me another important politician who has called them out from stem to stern as being slanted, biased, and completely full of shit? I can't think of one.

          So at best you can argue that it's a matter of degree. Old GOP people might have popped off a few shots out of a .22 at the media... Trump launched a nuclear arsenal. BIG DIFFERENCE.

          I would say much the same for the fighting back against dirty tricks. Most GOP politicians would take a few stabs here and there, but none I can recall ever just unloaded on the double standards used against them. Nor did they tend to resort to fighting dirty themselves. You can say it's not dignified or whatever, but the way Trump has just straight low brow insulted the shit out of the media, leftist politicians, etc has worked brilliantly. That's the kind of stuff the left has been doing forever, but few of any importance on the right ever fought fire with fire.

          I more or less agree with the last point. They can't understand how THEIR opinion and THEIR narrative didn't win the day... And it enrages them. Nobody likes losing their grip on power!

    3. Apparently Trump is 'undermining the oress' If he exercises his right to free speech and criticizes them.

      1. I agree. That seems to be the press' main complaint, that Trump is calling out their fake news, often contradicting their reports regarding his actions and proving their stories are fake. You don't see the MSM outing their anonymous sources when those sources are proven to have lied to the press, which is essentially advertising for anonymous sources to come forward with fake information to write more fake stories about Trump.

        Sullum's article does mention Trump's statements regarding potential government restrictions on freedom of speech (Trump's "plan", "recommendation", and what he "said"), but Sullum doesn't clearly point out that Trump has done nothing to restrict the press.

        The press thinks only it has the right to publish fake stories, and objects to Trump doing it, e.g. proposing a "plan", "recommendation" or having "said" he will do something to restrict press freedom. LOL

  2. Its rather apparent that when RWB considers 'press freedom' they consider it only in terms of the professional press.

    If nobodies who spout wrong-think can go to prison simply by stating their opinion, who cares...they aren't reporters.

    1. This is characteristic of the left at large.

    2. Actually that's pretty transparently NOT the case if you actually look at the countries that rank surprisingly high in press freedom (v the ones that you would expect to rank high).

      Jamaica at #5; Costa Rica at #10; Estonia at #12; Uruguay at #20; Surinam at #21; Ghana at #23; Cyprus at #25.

      These are all about decriminalizing media 'infringements' against those in power and forcing govt to let media report on transparency/corruption/etc without bad things happening to them

      1. The US has had a relatively poor press freedom score re RWB since at least 2013 (prob longer but I'm not going to bother to look) because of stuff like use of Espionage Act, punishment of whistleblowers, police hassles of journalists doing their job, no shield law, wikileaks/Snowden, denial of entry to US for those who write controversial stuff overseas, confiscation of media/camera stuff at borders. That is the sort of stuff that restricts credentialed press - and obviously even more so freelance/independent types.

  3. Absolutely. The First Amendment has been thoroughly vindicated by the Trumpocalypse. (More accurately, it helped avert the aforementioned.) However the 400 editorials were in no way a defense of the First Amendment. If you read them carefully, they actually only defend themselves as having the right to be protected. If you're not one of them then sorry buddy you're out of luck. Remember, CNN's banana peel commercial implying that fake news can be dangerous and thus must be regulated. It's pretty cynical but I'm not worried.

    The next big battle on free speech is in social media. Facebook for example is under a lot of pressure to censor 'holocaust denial'. This would be thoroughly catastrophic if they did this. However the government cannot protect us, nor can new laws. Instead, we the people must demand that Facebook uphold free speech. We can do this by ending our stupid, self-destructive campaign to demand that Facebook censor fake news and hate speech. This actually leads to more violence and yes this is proven. If we really hate hate speech then we can fight it ourselves. And yes I do it every day. And guess what? It's fun!

    1. You actually read the article, didn't you? You're only supposed to read the headline and maybe the first few sentences and then jump down here to the comments and start frothing at the mouth about Treason magazine and their TDS. Even though the article is actually a back-handed compliment to Trump for proving how stout the First Amendment is.

      1. Funny what you call a compliment.

        Obama got compliments.

        Every Reason article that has to mention a good deed by Trump, is tempered by utter contempt for him.

        Reason: Trump wants military parade for troops (Get the pitchforks)

        Reason: Trump cancels military parade for troops (Get the pitchforks)

        Sometimes Reason staff simply get mad because they got trolled by Trump and dont have a target to attack. Its sad really. If they put forth that energy on furthering Libertarian agenda items and harping on the actual things politicians do wrong, the World would be different.

        1. That's OK. Every Reason article that exhibits even the slightest hint of Trump Derangement Syndrome is countered by you appearing in the comments with your Trump Dingleberry Snacking.

          1. TDSer so upset youre trying make up words.

      2. What the fuck? 1A's stoutness has not been tested at all by Trump. Because he has done nothing to suppress 1A.

        But 1A is being challenged by others. But these are not mentioned.

        1. Because he has done nothing to suppress 1A.

          Yasure yabetcha. Why just yesterday, an NSA whistleblower was sentenced to 5 years in jail for leaking info to the media.

          The info? NSA report about Russian hacking into voting software.

          No threat to the 1A here. Move along now.


    2. If you read them carefully, they actually only defend themselves as having the right to be protected.

      Mainly because the media, and a lot of other people, have misunderstood what was meant by "freedom of the press." They seem to think "the press" is referring to a special class of people (journalists) who are allowed to print whatever they want. IOW, they think they're special and that the government grants them special privileges that the rest of us peasants don't get to enjoy. In reality, "freedom of the press" was supposed to mean the freedom of everyone to use mass communication technology (the printing press in their day, the internet now) to get their message out. The framers of the constitution believed individuals were smart enough to figure out for themselves what was and wasn't "fake news."

      Obviously this is a complete misunderstanding of what rights are and where they come from. They think that rights are granted by the government as opposed to something that we all share based on our humanity and that the government is supposed to be constrained from infringing on by the constitution (spoiler alert: it didn't work).

  4. Some of Trump's inclinations might not jive with the first amendment, but his actions have easily been within his legal limitations. Further, he certainly is in a unique position where almost all of the professional press is so against him that nearly everything he says and does is disingenuously reported in an overtly negative manner that bears little resemblance to the truth. He is right to call them out and put them on notice (even if there is nothing he can legally do) especially considering the complete 180 degree turn in tone from his predecessor.
    I'm really curious how in the hell the UK is ranked higher in press freedom than us. Legal action is taken against reporters frequently and they are barred from reporting a broad variety of things. Consider also Tommy Robinson going to jail for attempting to inform the public of and report on a court case involving a child grooming gang.
    Let's be realistic and see that the majority of the press is doing itself no favors. I certainly want them to be speaking truth to power, but they are merely the lapdogs for one power and the attack dogs against any other.

    1. The reason that the UK is ranked than the USA in 'freedom index' is because the media and Socialsits use propaganda tools like that freedom index to sway Sheeple's views in the direct the Socialists want.

      America has been and will be an enemy to Socialism. The USA has survived every Socialist attack to date- British, French, Nazis, USSR, Chinese...

      They hate Trump because he symbolizes fighting spirit against the Socialist trend.

      Remember when people used to say about unconstitutional domestic spying "oh well, the government has everything anyway" or "Im not doing anything wrong anyway". The unconstitutional domestic spying has not stopped but people are fighting back. That fight is how illegal government programs get stopped and hopefully domestic spying is ended soon.

      1. The USA has survived every Socialist attack to date

        Even FDR? LBJ?

    2. I'm really curious how in the hell the UK is ranked higher in press freedom than us.

      Presumably because Teresa May doesn't tweet mean things about them. Words are more important than actions to some people.

      Usually it's the same people who are paid to write a bunch of words (journalists). I suspect that's because otherwise they'd have to face the harsh reality that nothing they do actually matters. Most of them became journalists because of delusions of grandeur about "changing the world through the magic of words" or some such horseshit They picture themselves as noble purveyors of "truth" and the slovenly masses as mindless robots hanging on their every word as opposed to thinking individuals with minds of their own. If journalists actually realized how pointless and meaningless their lives really are many of them would probably commit suicide.

      1. "If journalists actually realized how pointless and meaningless their lives really are many of them would probably commit suicide."

        And that's a worthy goal.
        Let it be done.

        1. Im helping. I refuse to pay for anything from behind a firewall or give donations to Reason.

          I dont buy magazines or pay for tv.

      2. Here, you can look for yourself.

        Basically, we get marked down for,

        1. Not giving professional journalists special privileges, such as immunity from being compelled to testify in court.

        We can't do that because everybody has EQUAL freedom of the press in the US, and a legal system can't function if you can't compel testimony.

        2. Not having a politically monotithic media, which gets scored as "political polarization".

        3. Not subsidizing media outlets.

        Essentially the problem is that the "press freedom" ranking isn't about freedom as Americans understand it, but about a whole bunch of other things Freedom House considers important to a healthy press.

        So the UK gets rated ahead of us on "legal environment" despite having censorship laws, and "economic environment" because they have a lot of press subsidies.

        1. So "press freedom" is the freedom to print or broadcast what the government says is news.

          1. Not just government, but progressive govt.. Trump doesn't count.

        2. Well I just read what you linked and your interpretation is full of shit. Our lack of press freedom is EXACTLY about freedom as Americans understand it - or maybe used to understand it before far too many of us went along with the notion that simply chanting USAUSAUSA in unison is both an expression of our freedom and the limit of the extent to which we can allow criticism.

  5. Jacob, if you REALLY don't see how "fake" the media is... You're blind. Fake News is not the most accurate way of stating what is going on, "intentionally misreported to be as damaging as possible news," would probably be more accurate... But it's Trump. It's not the most accurate way of saying it, but it gets the point across and is catchy.

    He has shit talked off the cuff, but he hasn't done as much to suppress actual reporting as even Obama did, let alone Bush II or others... So try again.

    When the overwhelming majority of the media IS effectively lying by omission, or by intentionally mischaracterizing/quoting out of context/etc, WTF do you expect him to do? Fall to his knees and kiss their feet? That's what conservatives have done for decades, while getting the same mistreatment to lesser degrees. Trump saw that didn't work, so he went on the offensive... And has mostly been kicking their asses.

    That nonsense about the UK is why ALL those international "freedom" ranking things are bullshit IMO. They rank police states in Europe/Canada/etc as being more free than us, when their speech, right to own firearms, unreasonable searches, etc are all horrible compared to us. Even on economic freedom no large country comes close, only micro nations. Europeans are all slaves, and list that says otherwise is BS. We're less free than we used to be, but we're still leaps and bounds better than any other large country on all the important points.

    1. The fact that you and most of the other writers at Reason seem to be so detached from reality as to not see this stuff that is right in front of your face is why you get lambasted so much in the comments. I know, I know you want to be invited to the cocktail parties...

      But you could still admit that the media is horribly biased, completely unfair, and seems to be coordinated in an effort to attack Trump in a manner not actually based off of real issues there are to be had with him, and STILL defend their right to be lying pieces of shit.

      But you don't. You play along with their lie that they're being objective and non biased. This means you guys are all either idiots, know the truth but are too cowardly to say it, or are intentionally helping them along because you agree that being unscrupulous is okay BECAUSE TRUMP. None of those options make any of you look good guys...

      I really hope you guys pull your heads out of your asses someday. I mostly only come here anymore to be outraged by the sheer stupidity of the articles. I'd love to be able to come here and actually be pleased to rear the articles again...

      1. Ditto. The comments are really why I haven't completely abandoned coming here. It's really disappointing to see most articles here with a disingenuous take by at least the second paragraph. The headlines and subheads are more frequently highlighting TDS and pathetic emotional appeals in favor of their anti-cop and open borders stances.
        I started coming here because I got tired of religious posturing on right wing outlets and have become more libertarian. Initially they seemed to come at things from a strong libertarian perspective with only a few articles leaning center right/left. Over the past 2 years the stronger libertarian writers have become quieter and each new one is more blatantly leftist (Stossel being an exception). I've been reading their arguments and the similar ones in leftists media, but none of it has succeeded in convincing me that Trump is uniquely horrible. I still think the man is a piece of shit, but whether intentional or not his actions have been a change for the better.

        1. Totally. IMO Reason is suffering from the same thing the mainstream media is... Being completely disconnected from most of their readers.

          The MSM is blatantly left wing, yet half the country is not, and another couple dozen percent are center left, emphasis on the center part... So 90% of the media tilts one way, when 70%ish of the country is to their right... A little off right?

          Libertarians have their left/right split, and in my personal experience about 80-90% of libertarians I have met IRL were right libertarians... Yet somehow the left libertarians have taken over almost all the influential libertarian organizations. Hence Reason is as disconnected from most real world libertarians as the MSM is from all Americans.

          I don't know how the hell we ever got to this point, but with respect to Reason it has got exponentially worse the last several years. They REALLY need to bring some more right libertarian writers back into the mix. You would think libertarians would be okay with some lively debate and differences of opinion right??? But no. They just ignore facts they don't like, and carry on like they're 110% correct, and everybody else is evil, just like the MSM. Sad.

          1. It's "the march through the institutions"; The left has made taking over institutions an explicit goal, and the right... haven't. So, in the long run, one institution after another gets taken over by the left, because they're trying to, and nobody is systematically opposing them.

            You're running an organization, you want to advance the purposes of the organization. A leftist shows up, wants to help. You say, "Sure, why not?", and bring them in.

            They are eager to do the scut work like running HR, while you get on with whatever.

            But eventually you discover that from their perch in HR, they've been seeing to it that only their fellow leftists get hired. And now you're in the minority, and get shown the door.

            Robert Conquest figured this out decades ago:

            1) Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
            2) Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
            3) The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

            1. All true. People don't understand that taking over institutions was/is a publicly stated goal of leftist organizations going back many, many decades. #2 on your list there is absolutely true also. You can see it in a ton of things that used to be very neutral. The scarier part is even things that used to be moderately right wing explicitly have even been taken over!

          2. Well Vek, those media people are our betters, and we need them to tell us what to think and who our political,choices are. When we go off the reservation and nominate and elect Trump, what are they to do?

            We were supposed to coronate Hillary, as it was decided it was her turn. In the later stove, they would hold their nose and perhaps allow us a third Bush.

            Anything else is just racism and nativism by a bunch of uneducated racist nativist deplorables, homshould know who their betters are.

            FYI, this is exactly how the Rev. Arty thinks.

            1. That's about it. Common sense is evil, don't cha know? And if you believe your lying eyes and see that some policies don't have the utopian effects our better claim... Well you better believe them instead of your own eyes!

          3. Libertarians have their left/right split, and in my personal experience about 80-90% of libertarians I have met IRL were right libertarians...

            Something tells me that you divide libertarians into left and right along where they stand on 1 or 2 issues. I'm guessing those issues are immigration and/or abortion. Regarding abortion, there is definitely a conflict regarding the rights of the fetus and the rights of the mother, so this issue is very much a gray area with respect to the NAP. I don't think you ever really resolve this conflict as long as biology works the way it currently does, so it will be eternal. Immigration, on the other hand, is not in such a gray area and restricting peaceful immigration from one place to another is obviously a violation of the NAP. So, if I'm correct about the way you divide libertarians into right and left, the right-leaning libertarians are those who are more comfortable with certain violations of the core principle of libertarianism and the so-called left libertarians are the more "pure" libertarians.

            1. Why must every lefty jump on the immigration virtue signaling train without ever mentioning the welfare state? Do you actually think we can feed and shelter a billion people? You'll love your open borders when democrats start pushing free everything. Just admit you like big government already "libertarian"

              1. Hey, outrage, libertarians are OPPOSED to state "welfare".

            2. Juice, not really. 1st, I am NOT a purist libertarian. I think purist libertarians are morons. I'm pragmatic. I'd say I'm about 90-95% libertarian though. The fact is that there are common sense exceptions to any rule, and the NAP is no different. As far as immigration goes, I am for skilled only. Why? Because we live in a world with several billion half illiterate people from cultures that don't share our values. Low skill people don't bring anything to the table to make the country better off economically, and will drag down the average standard of living EVEN ABSENT A WELFARE STATE. They will also piss on our freedoms. So screw 'em. Let them improve their own countries.

              No 1st world country can survive as a 1st world country with open borders. PERIOD. I accept that it is a violation of the NAP, and I don't care. I want to keep my country BETTER than the rest of the world... Not let it be dragged down to the mean economically and politically, which is the only possible result of open borders.

              In short if adhering to a principle means suicide, I think anyone who adheres to that principle is a retard. Whether someone is on the left or right side of libertarianism, they should have enough common sense to realize turning the USA/Europe into Brazil IS NOT a good idea practically speaking.

              Abortion, I don't care about it personally. I'm for it being legal, and have no moral qualms. So that's never been one of my criteria. You are right about it being a legit argument though.

            3. How I've always divided people into left/right is something along the lines of:

              1. Do you care more about silly social issues like gay wedding cakes/legal weed/tranny bathrooms/having zero social standards of behavior (even if privately imposed only)/etc

              OR size and scope of government/gun rights/spending/taxation/regulation/etc.

              I think we should have legal weed, gay marriage etc. BUT in no possible world are those minor things along the periphery more important than other issues. Keep in mind some of those are intertwined with the big issues, like making weed legal reduces size and scope of government... So it's a matter of would you rather cut 500 billion in spending or have gay marriage to me. Anybody who chooses gay marriage has shown that social issues are their primary driver. I can't abide.

              2. If you had to pick on social issues, would you lean right or lean left? In other words, in a perfect world how do you think people should behave? A principled libertarian can say something should be legal, while still not liking it. This is my personal take on LOTS of things nowadays. I have become more conservative as I have aged, and now realize that the libertine anything goes attitude in fact makes for a shit society. When I was younger I didn't understand this... Then I read psychological studies, statistics, etc that showed how most traditional values create vastly better real world outcomes. Ooops! I guess those old stogy Bible thumpers were right about some stuff...

              1. Sam Francisco is an example of why "anything goes" doesn't work.

            4. With no societal standards imposed on bad behavior, people are making bad decisions that make their lives worse, and society at large worse. The breakdown of marriage and the family being a prime example. Public shaming of bad/irresponsible behavior should be acceptable in a libertarian world, but left libertarians INSIST there should be no judgment of bad actions. This is largely a mindset thing, because as I said one doesn't need to believe we need things to be LAWS.

              I could rant on, but that's mostly about it. If you elevate minor social issues over large scale structural issues, and if you tend to see no value in conservative values EVEN IF NOT ENFORCED VIA LAWS, or in fact are actively against any objective criteria for behavior... Well, I'd probably say you're a left libertarian.

              Or perhaps an even simpler way, if you had to choose one party rule for eternity... Would you pick SJWs or stogy old conservatives? I don't like lots of stogy old conservative ideas, but I'd sure as hell take them over SJWs! They'd at least have a functional society...

              By these approximate standards, almost all libertarians I have ever met were right leaning. Their natural inclinations are right wing-ish, but as a matter of principle we concede some things simply shouldn't be controlled by government. I think the divide in Ls is the same as R/Ds... Left libertarians are more driven by emotion on tear jerking/bleeding heart issues, and the right by logic on practical issues.

            5. Occupying territory, that one is not legally entitled to, peacefully or not, is the violation of the NAP.
              Every society has decided that it wants to control its borders and to put limits on who, and when, it allows people to join its community. Preventing invasion is no more aggressive than self-defense.
              It does not seem to be a libertarian position that laws, especially ones as universal as immigration ones, get to be ignored.
              That is not libertarianism.
              That is anarchy.

              1. And the best part, is that even rabid open borders libertarians DARE NOT say that we shouldn't be allowed to exclude known serious criminals... Which is technically a violation of the principle in the first place! If you're excluding anybody based on qualitative grounds, the NAP has been violated. So why stop at people who committed murder in the past, but perhaps served their jail time in their home country? We could extend it to car theft right? That's reasonable... What about drunk driving? What about intentionally writing a bad check? What about illegally accepting welfare? What about identity theft? Ooops, those last two are things current illegal immigrants do all the time!

                If you're going to draw a line, ANY LINE, then you've given up the moral absolutist position. Then it's just a question of if we're going to ban murderers, why shouldn't we ban people that are 100% guaranteed to be net tax drains on people? There is no argument in moral terms, so it must be made on practical terms... And there is no pragmatic argument to let in millions of people that will drag down the natives in a nation.

          4. Well who would be considered historically a leading right libertarian? And what happened to her? That's when it started. This is what we get.

            1. HIM you mean? Ron Paul, as a recent example. And most every other leading libertarian that ever existed until the last 2ish decades. They were almost all right libertarians. This whole Cosmotarian/Libertine/Left-Libertarian establishment really only started coming to power around the same time as the regular left started to solidify its dominance in broader culture. Maybe the 1990s and beyond?

              Yet most of the rank and file seem to still be right-libertarian. Just like most Americans still lean right, despite most institutions being totally taken over by the left.

              This is why Reason is relentlessly mocked by half the people that post here. I'm no purist libertarian, but I am still probably in the top 1% of libertarian views out of the whole population... As are most other posters here that disagree with Reasons lefty takes on some issues... So if even I'm like "WTF GUYS!?!?!?" you know most other normal people would be even more WTF.

      2. Well put vek.

  6. Americans owe their freedom of expression to the quasi-magical powers of words written more than two centuries ago.

    It's not the words themselves, it's the idea behind them that gives them force. And "Give me liberty or give me death" is hardly an original idea, down through the ages there have been any number of other men who have been willing to die for the right to express their opinions.

    /Trusting no libertarian thinks the First Amendment is the source of their right to free speech.

  7. "When my Team is in power Reason is on the other Team, because anyone who criticizes my guy is with the other guys!"

    1. You seem like a profoundly unhappy person

      1. You seem like a profoundly stupid person.

        1. "You seem like a profoundly stupid person."

          A response such as that isn't going to make you any less unhappy, and certainly does not make you seem less so.

          1. When the phone doesn't ring, that's me asking you for your opinion.

            1. You give your unsolicited snarky opinions all the time.

              Wait by the phone.

            2. But of course you don't need my opinion, as it's merely a reflection of that which you know is true.

              And your sentence is very poorly put, or simply a Freudian slip because you crave the approval of anonymous handles on the internet.

              "When the phone doesn't ring, that's me asking you for your opinion."

              So anytime the phone isn't ringing, you are asking for my opinion.
              The phone's not ringing now.

              So, my opinion sarcasmic, is that you're very unhappy, and you try to alleviate that unhappiness by making snarky comments.

        2. Sarc, Nardz is far more intelligent than you. You should stop being rude and listen to him.

      2. Sarcasmic hates all the government guys. He was anarchy, you see. The quicker this house of cards is burned down, the quicker Anarchy-land can be established by Sarcasmic and none of his misanthrope 'friends'.

        1. Speaking of stupid...

          1. Yeah, you are pretty stupid. Glad you admit it.

            1. You can't even understand basic words autistic child.

              1. I am a Libertarian, thanks for noticing.

                1. I'd call you a paleo-conservative personally.

                  1. I'd call you a paleo-conservative personally.

                    Paraphrasing Wikipedia that means small government, restricted immigration, protectionism, nativism, economic nationalism, non-interventionist foreign policy...

                    Yeah, that's lc in a nutshell.

                  2. Naw, I'll stick with Libertarian. Thanks for your concern.

                    1. Naw, I'll stick with Libertarian.

                      Add Libertarian to the long list of words you are too stupid to understand.

                    2. Paraphrasing Wikipedia that means small government, restricted immigration, protectionism, nativism, economic nationalism, non-interventionist foreign policy...

                      Yep, I've always thought of paleo-conservatism as an off-shoot of libertarianism that strongly manifests collectivist tendencies, i.e., ILC to a "T", and definitely not libertarianism.

                    3. Kewl new word!

                      I shall call you and Sarcasmic, Paleo-Anarchists.

                    4. Pshhh, I'd take a paleo-conservative government to the shit show we have now any day of the week!

                      It's a hell of a lot more libertarian leaning than anything on the table now, and IMO is correct on a few of the points where extreme purist libertarianism falls down in the real world. Restricting immigration within reason for instance. Or even being an economic nationalist... What does that even REALLY mean other than looking out for your own nations economic interests first? Is that horrible?

                      So as far as insults to throw around, calling somebody a paleo-conservative ain't the worst!

                    5. Or even being an economic nationalist... What does that even REALLY mean other than looking out for your own nations economic interests first? Is that horrible?

                      Nothing says looking out for your country's interests like levying an additional tax paid for by American consumers via higher prices. Honestly, getting rid of all trade barriers and tariffs is good for Americans, regardless of other countries' protectionism.

                      So as far as insults to throw around, calling somebody a paleo-conservative ain't the worst!

                      It wasn't intended as an insult. It was intended to be as accurate of a description of my perception of his views as possible. Nothing more, nothing less.

                    6. What Gandalf said.

                    7. Ah, and here we see your every argument, sarcasmic:
                      "What some other person said"
                      Coincidentally, parrots can be quite argumentative, if unoriginal.

                    8. "...getting rid of all trade barriers and tariffs is good for Americans, regardless of other countries' protectionism."
                      Not if that protectionism draws manufacturing, and jobs, over to those other countries.

                    9. Pshhh, I'd take a paleo-conservative government to the shit show we have now any day of the week!

                      Agreed. If my choices were today's government vs a paleocon one, I'd actually register to vote so I could vote paleocon.

                    10. Here's Sarcasmic butthurt from all the comments where he gets owned.

                      He criticizes for insults but throws insult bombs. Sorry, throws insults and bombs.

                    11. ILC, you don't "own" anyone in the comments section. You get summarily embarrassed and shown your utter lack of comprehension skills. It's actually pretty amusing watching you flail around thinking you're "owning" people when all neutral observers are laughing at your ignorance.

                    12. Sorry Grey Pilgrim, people chiming in to agree with him and pointedly disagree with you means that yes, in fact, you and sarc got owned

                      Those 'neutral observers you're hoping for are only in your head.

                    13. Sarc, you are not smarter than the people you are insulting. You're just embarrassing yourself. Stop.

                    14. "Nothing says looking out for your country's interests like levying an additional tax paid for by American consumers via higher prices. Honestly, getting rid of all trade barriers and tariffs is good for Americans, regardless of other countries' protectionism."

                      Meh. I am fine with bludgeoning other nations over the head until they bend to our will. I think if we were totally committed we could 110% get China, and everybody else, to take down all barriers. We have the upper hand. We could put China into a depression TOMORROW if we wanted to. They would have to blink first. Unfortunately I don't think we have the political will to do it hard enough to work... But it won't do much harm anyway, so I say let Trump see if he can get some shit done.

                      I would obviously prefer bi-directional real free trade. Personally I think we should have a policy of matching what other nations give us. That gives positive incentives for others to reduce barriers, where there are none now. We could have forced real free trade on other nations decades ago if we had such a policy, or at least freer than it is now. Incentives work in the real world. We could simply lower other taxes to allow for paying for their tariffs, with little/no harm done to American consumers. If you have to play in a shit game, might as well play it right.

  8. The president of the United States does not seem to believe in freedom of speech. Luckily for us, his beliefs are irrelevant.

    We will survive Fat Nixon - just like Nixon before him.

    1. So clever.......

      That it went over like explosive dhiarrea.

  9. Trump! The best president in over 100 years.

    1. Oh bless your heart sugar. 😉

      1. You know it too, which is why it scares you so much.

    2. I'm waiting for him to abolish an entire agency like Jimmy Carter did (Civil Aeronautics Board). He's about halfway to Carter's Middle East peace efforts, and not even 2 years in! He's not there yet, but he very well could make it.

  10. The First Amendment is also the reason Trump's description of "the fake news media" as "the enemy of the people," although poisonous to civil and honest debate, has not curtailed freedom of the press.

    Yes, TRUMP has caused all of the poisoning of civil and honest debate. Sure.

    The president of the United States does not seem to believe in freedom of speech.

    Yet he didn't call for wholesale ignoring of free speech rights as his predecessor did.

    1. How did his predecessor call for ignoring free speech rights?

    2. The whole problem is that Trump refuses to be everyone's punching bag, amd freely exercises HIS first amendment rights........ aggressively and often. People who don't like Trump don't like that.

      They better get used to it. The days of conservatives and libertarians meekly knucklimfpg under to the progtards is over. Time to hit back, and hard. Which is the way it should be. Progtards are really nothing more than smelly hippies. And why would ANYONE meekly back down to a worthless smelly hippie?

      1. The time for playing nice with Lefties that want murder us is over.

  11. Reason is just a bag of dumb fucks. Trump has done ZERO in regards to any infringement of 1A. He as a citizen also has a right to free speech. OMG the horror!

    Now government funded Universities and local municipalities have certainly suppressed 1A. Shh lets not say anything about hat because they ONLY suppress Conservative speech or even should I dare say libertarian speech or basically nay speech to the right of of Che Guevara

    But we are at the faux libertarian site "Reason" or lack of. Calling Reason libertarian is Orwellian.

  12. Sullum, you're is usually one of the better authors here at Reason, but this article was sad. I was glad to see you point out the ridiculous "freedom index" though.

    Our free speech rights don't flow from "quasi-magical words" though. They flow from an idea and a tradition that states they are a part of our humanity, that cannot be rightfully separated from us.

    Also, Trump has done nothing to threaten the first amendment. At worst, he has threatened to strip you and your profession of a special carveout protection that the common man does not receive. You poor babies, how dare someone threaten to make you normal citizens, and stop placing you above the law of the plebs.

  13. Trump has NEVER threatened the First Amendment. Not even with his desire to make it easier to prove libel.

    400+ Media outlets colluding DOES.

    Reason was once able to understand that.

    1. What about when he threatened to revoke licenses?

      Just like the article states, if you don't believe in freedom of the press or speech for those you disagree with, you don't really believe in that freedom.

      Anyone in the news can go on air and claim that the president wasn't really born in this country or is secretly a Muslim... or make up anything they want really. Bush and Obama were strong enough to tolerate all kinds of criticism, whether it was based in fact or total B.S. ( Even the flat earth society gets to have a paper if they want. ) Every time Trump criticizes the press he shows us he is not as tough as past presidents and he's not supporting the first amendment like them too.

      1. "...if you don't believe in freedom of the press or speech for those you disagree with, you don't really believe in that freedom."
        But what the "press" has is a super freedom, where they can say something, that an individual would be subject to consequences for, without any repercussions.
        They present things as facts, which are no such thing, and are prevented BY LAW from having to show proof of the veracity of their statement. Even if you can show, that what they say is patently false, you have the almost insurmountable hill to climb of proving "actual malice" in the lie being presented.
        Freedom of speech is in the same sentence in the First Amendment as freedom of the press, but the latter has been granted a freedom that the individual has not.
        That's what Trump, and many Americans, see as the issue. Treat everyone the same. Don't give one group special freedom that no one else gets.

  14. Jacob Sullen, grow up and stop coming up with sorry-ass excuses to attack the President like you always do. He's imperfect (just like you). He gets things wrong sometimes. His tariffs and his paranoid attitude about immigrants are outrageous. He doesn't even know what "eloquence" means. All true.

    But, his viewpoint on the mass (that is, left-wing) media? Brilliant. He has the big balls to tell the truth. (And, he has the sober mind to tell it.)

    It has been wonderful to see a President unintimidated and unbought by the media messiahs.

  15. Hey, Jacob, why don't you spend 5 fucking minutes reading about Operation Mockingbird before you make any more comments that reference "fake news". Start with the Church Committee hearings.

  16. The author is confusing corporate-controlled "news" and left wing propagandists at fake news outlets with real free press.

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