What Donald Trump Doesn't Understand About The First Amendment

What Donald Trump Doesn't Understand About The First Amendment

When you threaten the media, you threaten democracy.

For a President who likes to use social media and news outlets to convey his thoughts and positions on many issues, Donald Trump sure does want to silence these very outlets. Our President has waged all-out war on our media which is protected by our first amendment. This amendment reads,

“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.”

To summarize, this means the government cannot persecute you for what you say or how you say it. While there are exceptions to the speech the First Amendment protects (i.e. obscenity), critical rhetoric regarding the government is surely not one of them. In United States history, the media has exposed national scandals, unfair business practices, and, most recently, allegations of sexual assault.

The press is vital to our system and keeping the government in check whether you like it or not.

Sadly, our president is doing everything he can to attack one of America’s most important democratic factors.

Recently, he tweeted about the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) revoking the network licenses of news channels who wrote or reported what he deems “fake news” stories about him or his administration. There’s one small problem with this though. The FCC doesn’t grant licenses to networks or cable channels. The channels he often attacks such as CNN, MSNBC, and ABC don’t have licenses to revoke. The FCC deals with things such as indecency and cross-ownership rules. Not whether or not MSNBC reported Trump’s new bill the way he wanted them to. You can’t shut down criticism of the government just because you don’t like it and the first amendment protects news stations from this very incident.

Another event having to do with free speech that has dominated the news recently is the NFL protests which Trump has attacked with zeal. Many tweets have been sent out on the subject but Trump has made it very clear that players should be fired for kneeling. Peaceful protests and symbolic expressions have been the backbone of many changes in our democracy. The first amendment protects symbolic expression as determined by the 1925 Supreme Court case Gitlow v. New York. It also protects symbolic expressions, such as flag burning, as determined by the 1989 Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson.

Free speech and the protection of it is vital to our democracy.

Our President’s apparent lack of understanding of it threatens what makes America actually great. We have distinguished ourselves from other governments because our press can report on controversial topics without worrying about being arrested or attacked. Trump’s zeal for wanting to attack and silence all of his critics is concerning and a threat to American democracy.

Cover Image Credit: @realDonaldTrump

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.

Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school. I’ll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted. Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I’m 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?” A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?”, I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week.” I let it roll off of my back, I’ve spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back”… but I think it’s time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister. She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn’t have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her. I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn’t though. I didn’t let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization. Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn’t directed to what we, in today’s society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one’s self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 ‘You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 ‘Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so. This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God’s creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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​11 Reasons I'm Thankful Hillary Clinton, With Her Normal-Sized Hands, Is NOT In The Oval Office

A woman as president? No way.

The reaction to the 2016 Presidential Election has probably been one of the most split in decades. Some people were overjoyed to see that the electoral college welcomed Donald Trump into the oval office and others were very much not. When it comes to my own views, there are SO many reasons that I’m so glad Hillary wasn’t elected to office.

1. It would have sucked to have a woman as president.

God, we really dodged a bullet with this one. It was almost too much to have the first POC as president with Obama. But a woman!? Really? Come on, America. Clearly, the best thing for us right now is to have another white, male president. We almost progressed too much there. The best thing for us right now is to go back to the same ideals that the white guys that founded the country had back in the 1700s.

2. Public policy is so much more convenient and professional when announced on Twitter.

Crooked Hillary probably would have gone the traditional route and made an official release of public policy and other important announcements. That would have been a total bummer. As a millennial, I want every single important thing to be sent directly to my iPhone. It would have been a total drag to have PROFESSIONALISM in the oval office.

3. Pride Month may have actually been recognized.

Hillary, an ally of the LGBT community, would have probably made an effort to recognize the community every June. Not in my good Christian White House! I feel so much more comfortable with an administration that ignores this abominable month that advocates for a lack of discrimination and violence against human beings.

4. POC and the LGBT community may have felt safe.

Speaking of, I can’t believe the American public REALLY thought that POC and the LGBT community should feel SAFE. Crooked Hillary may have actually fostered a nation full of people with an attitude of acceptance, support, and without racism, homophobia, and transphobia. Could you even imagine? Immigrants, POC, LGBT people, minorities of any kind….feeling safe!? Nope. Nope. Nope. Thank GOD Hillary isn’t in office.

5. She has regular-sized hands.

If my president doesn’t have puny hands, then they are #NotMyPresident. This is a NECESSITY for a qualified candidate. I can’t believe she even considered running for office; she probably doesn’t even have to custom-order her gloves. The audacity.

6. Hillary actually had government experience.

Senate, secretary of state... what? That would have been ridiculous to elect someone with actual experience to qualify her for the job. I feel much better knowing that the guy with all of the missile codes has next to no qualifications for his job other than bold claims and dangerously enthusiastic supporters. Hosting a reality show is really all you’d ever need. I wonder if Carson Daly is considering a new job?

7. She knows not to poke the bear.

One thing that has been absolutely refreshing within the last year is to see Donald Trump so boldly go after Kim Jong Un with all of his United States-reaching nukes. He really gives no regard to how badly angering North Korea could go. Hillary probably would have wimped out and left him alone with his nukes. I’m glad we didn’t put that maniac into power.

8. Hillary might have chosen to talk to experts about pressing issues.

That would have been idiotic to think of talking to people who actually know a lot about what they’re talking about. I’m so thankful we have Trump to talk to people like Kim K on prison reform. I hope he got some bonus cash on Kim Kardashian Hollywood for meeting with her while he was at it.

9. Hillary may have actually accepted criticism, rather than attempting to discredit those that offered it.

If Hillary had been in office, I wouldn’t have known about all of the #FakeNews out there. I’d always known that journalism can be skewed, but until Trump, I had no idea bad media was as easy to spot as seeing if they’ve ever said something negative about Donald Trump. With this quick indicator, I’ve been able to weed through journalists with ease. Thanks, Don!

10. No wall!

Nothing promotes a positive relationship with other countries better than a dividing wall between us! Hillary had absolutely nothing to bring to the table that topped this idea. I can’t believe she couldn’t cook up a genius idea like this. Let’s make it #TenFeetHigher for some real results!

11. Hillary might have done something about gun violence.

There’s nothing like the systematic death of our children in schools to promote gun reform. With Parkland, Santa Fe, and the countless other school shootings in recent news, many are calling for stricter gun laws. Crooked Hillary may have listened and tried to take guns away from good American citizens! No, no! The right thing here is to do nothing but tweet half-hearted condolences and promise your supporters that they won’t have to worry about losing their extensive assault rifle collection just because of a few “wacky” kids.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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