09.05.2017 Author: Grete Mautner

Does Anybody Really Want American-style Freedom of Speech?

47534324234Freedom of speech, just like the freedom of the media are among the fundamental values that are to be promoted and defended by any state that deems itself democratic. Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

However, in spite of this declaration and a set of common believes about the way journalists are to be treated, they are still being prosecuted in a great many of countries which prevents them from performing their professional duties to the best of their capabilities. What is curious is that the freedom of speech has come under assault in the United States today. However, any reports about such instances are being suppressed, while Washington keeps actively promoting the so-called “America-style freedom of speech.”

In a bid to advertise the alleged respect that the White House towards journalists and their freedoms, on the eve of the National Day of Prayer, Donal Trump with a group of Catholic cardinals in order to publicly sign an executive order that would allegedly strengthen the protection of freedom of speech and religious freedom in the United Stats. Upon signing this decree, Trump announced that his administration has just made a historical steps in a bid to defend religious freedom in the United States. The US President would boldly announce that:

We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore, and we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination

Trump had previously promised to ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson’s amendment prohibiting members of religious groups from campaigning for election candidates, although he has no authority to bring down the amendment altogether. Its curious that the amendment was introduced in 1954 by Lindon Johnson, who a senator at the time who would later become the president of the country. In particular, this amendment puts a limit to the freedom of speech of pastors, in fact, threatening churches and non-profit organizations with a loss of tax-free status in the event of their rooting for a political candidate.

It is very symbolic that Trump signed the above decree on the day when the whole world celebrated World Press Freedom Day, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of press freedom and remind governments around the world of their obligation to respect and uphold the rights that journalists must universally enjoy.

However, numerous facts show violations of the most basic principles of the freedom of speech in the United States. In spite of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, that guarantees protection of the freedom of speech in the United States, Donald Trump’s adviser, Kellyanne Conway has recently penned a new term in the dictionary used by the Tramp administration – “alternative facts”. This happened after the 45th US president came into a confrontation with a number of American media people, in particular those who represent The New York Times, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, The Washington Post, Politico, by accusing them of publishing “fake news”. Trump would go as far as to describe them as the enemies of the American people. In his public appearances, Trump has repeatedly tried to prevent some reporters from attending press briefings in the White House.

Foreign media sources, those that are linked with Russia, have fallen victims of the recent Russophobic campaign launched by the White House, with certain political figures accusing RT and Sputnik of pretty much anything and demanding the US Senate for revoking their licenses.

In order to strengthen control over the way that facts are being presented to the general public, President Trump is planning to expand the stuff that is managing his own accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as it been reported last February by the CNN. And the new US National Security Minister, John Kelly, in February suggested introducing additional measures to determine the reliability of travelers entering the US, requesting visa applicants to hand over the passwords to their social network accounts.

As it’s been noted by Julian Assange, the creator and editor-in-chief of the notorious WikiLeaks portal, Mike Pompeo, in his first speech as director of the CIA, chose to declare war on free speech rather than on the United States’ actual adversaries. Assange would note that Pompeo liked WikiLeaks when he perceived it was publishing material revealing the shortcomings of his political rivals. The “Pompeo doctrine” articulated in his speech ensnares all serious news and investigative human rights organizations, from ProPublica to Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch.

The “accountability of the media” in the United States has also been evidenced by the fact that the US State Department has a special program that is designed to train Middle Eastern journalists and establishing control over all sorts of media sources across the world. In order to affect public opinion through various publication the US government has even allocated 1.5 million dollars in the year 2017 alone. In the list of the countries that are to be targeted one can find Ukraine, China and Syria.

So is there any freedom of speech left in the US for journalists to enjoy does anybody really wants the American-style Freedom of Speech?

Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”  

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