Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Trump Threatens Free Speech on the 100 Year Anniversary of the Sedition Act

President Donald Trump recently announced Fake News Awards while telling lie after lie and leading under a cloud of suspicion with the Russia collusion investigation hanging over his head.  He also recently called for stricter laws and penalties surrounding our libel and defamation laws, again, all while he potentially uses the media to defame others.  It is his goal is to silence his critics and threaten the free press or those who would speak out against him.  This all may seem fitting as we look back at the 100th anniversary of the passing of the Sedition Act of 1918.

The United States Congress, during World War I, passed the Espionage Act of 1917 and then extended it a year later, seeking to cover a bigger range of offenses, most notably speech and any expression of opinions that could cast the government or the war effort in a negative light – or interfere with the sale of government bonds.

It’s hard to believe our nation, which lives by the principle of free speech, would pass laws to silence Americans.  Luckily, it was repealed in 1920, but its legacy is lasting.

The Act had forbade the use of “disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language" about the American government, its military, or that caused anyone to see the American government or its institutions with contempt.”

People actually got convicted and prison sentences ranged from 5-20 years.  The Act also allowed the Postmaster General to deny mail delivery where he believed appropriate.

Can Trump twist our laws to silence others? If not now, will he obtain broader powers during times of war, should he ever go to war?

Trump also wants to do away with Net Neutrality. Such an action will stifle free speech. The FCC has already repealed it, so it will be an upward battle to bring it back.

Hopefully cooler heads prevail, but there’s always a vocal minority that believes not all speech is equal, that the press has too much power, and that the Internet needs to be contained.  

In other countries, like China, we see censorship and speech bans in play.  But we hope America doesn’t ever return to its dark days, as experienced a century ago.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. 

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