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EDITORIAL: THE FIRST AMENDMENT BATTLEFIELD

The first ten amendments of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States were ratified on December 15, 1791.  The importance of the Bill of Rights cannot be understated.  It represents the first step that “We the People” took in amending the Constitution “in Order to form a more perfect Union.” The original, unamended Constitution was a remarkable achievement, establishing a revolutionary structure of government that put power in the hands of the people. The Bill of Rights built on that foundation, protecting our most cherished American freedoms, including freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and due process of law. For more than two centuries the Bill of Rights has shaped and been shaped by what it means to be American.

However, the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment, has been taking a pounding in 2020 as the COVID pandemic actions taken by different levels of government in the name of health and safety has laid in question whether citizens’ specific freedoms can be put on hold. 

The year 2020 not only has endured a pandemic that possibly changed the way society does business and other life functions, it has also seen the most divisive and vicious election season probably on record.  Between the pandemic and the election the conglomerate main stream media companies such as CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post and many others have published more than 90% negative stories having to do with President Donald Trump.  Why is that?  Has Donald Trump acted so egregiously more than 90% of the time to deserve such coverage? Deserved or not, that is a big percentage of negativity going to the American people day after day about their President.

In addition, as 2020 has evolved, the citizens of the country have begun to question stories about the Presidential candidates, the riots in the streets of our major cities and the excessive and seemingly unconstitutional lockdowns because of the pandemic that has threatened our First Amendment rights, as well.  As the citizens began to look for answers the media, social media and even many in the government agencies became even more restrictive.  Churches have remained closed in some areas, schools are still shuttered in many states, and people are not gathering and socializing like they have since the start of society as we know it.

These questions and concerns were not answered fairly, it seemed to many, by the media and our leaders.  So, the people turned to social media for their news and information.  They started following political pundits and citizen reporters who made sense to them and their reality.  The movement grew as the distrust toward the media grew --- definitely boosted by President Trump’s constant “Fake News,” comments.

In July, we the people got our first indication that perhaps even social media was not fairly disseminating information for and by the people.  As the election, the pandemic talk and the riots took center stage in our collective conversation, it seemed some conservative pundits and experts were being silenced.  We knew for sure that was the case when the Frontline Doctors went to the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. and explained that there are effective and safe therapeutic drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, zinc, azithromycin and others that, when given early in the COVID disease, can give a positive outcome.  Because the information provided offered hope, this video and all its information swept like wildfire across social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  All of a sudden, the Frontline Doctors’ videos were taken down and suppressed off of every account and those accounts either got suspended, deleted or a checkmark for their actions.  The Frontline Doctors who made the presentation were treated even worse.  Dr. Simone Gold and her associates had their accounts deleted, even their webpage deleted, their personal and professional reputations smeared, and Gold was fired from her job.  The radical response by social media to this information was strange and out of character given the information that was provided.   

As we now enter the last month of the election season and people are even already starting to mail in their ballots, the First Amendment right of a free press and the right of free speech has been eviscerated even more.  On October 14 the New York Post wrote a shocking article about emails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop that was left at a computer repair shop.  The emails indicated that Hunter, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden and current Democratic candidate for the presidency, was involved in a lot of dirty deals with foreign actors in (at least) Ukraine, Russia, Iraq and China. 

Whether these emails are authentic or true still remains to be seen.  What is true, however, was the unbelievable actions of the media, particularly the social media platforms that actually shut down access to the article and froze the accounts of those reporting on or sharing the information.  Those in the crosshairs of censorship on that first day included the presidential press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump 2020 Campaign, and hundreds of conservative political pundits.

By October 15, when the second installment of the story came out by the New York Post, the main stream media went into high gear and fully deleted hundreds of citizen reporters’ accounts, thousands of conservative user accounts, and still kept the links to the original articles suppressed.  The main stream media was almost entirely quiet on the subject instead of digging in as journalists should and getting to the bottom of a huge breaking story.  Finally, that night at a Town Hall Meeting candidate Biden was not asked a single question by ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos about the emails and contents of the laptop.  Every headline from the major newspapers and TV news shows that night was positive toward Biden’s performance.

There is obvious bias in our media outlets and social media.  It has now gotten to the point that many Americans don’t understand what is going on.  Our once trusted media seems unfair and partial in its reporting and now, they are actually suppressing our voices. 

In an age where nearly everyone communicates on the main social media outlets and news outlets what happens if your voice is all of a sudden squelched?  Will social media suppress the election results on November 3rd?  We’ve already heard Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg make a statement telling us Facebook will take down all ads and information about election results on election night. 

But will the traffic be too great for the social media platforms to deal with?  People not only in America but around the world are watching this election closely.  What happens if social media platforms are overrun, and the narrative they have been operating on for some time is going south?  Would they actually pull the plug on social media?   It is an incomprehensible thought, and one would hope our Constitution still stands when this election is completed.

Finally, if you are one of those users who have been suppressed, censored or banned from social media platforms there are a few alternatives that have recently cropped up in response to this censorship.  These platforms seem to not have a political bend as of now and are allowing the free flow of information.  Parler is a new app that acts much like Twitter or Facebook.  Vimeo was filling in for many YouTube journalists who had their accounts deleted until they started being censored on that platform, as well.  Now, there’s a new video sharing app called Rumble that many video producers are using to continue to report the news. Bitchute is another platform starting to see more use.  Interested viewers can open accounts on these platforms and follow favorite pundits and content creators who have been suppressed and censored by Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc..

As it was nearly 245 years ago, the American people believe in the special God-given freedoms that have been bestowed upon them.  They didn’t allow tyranny in the eighteenth century to take away those freedoms, and it seems once again they are up for the fight to maintain those freedoms into the twenty-first century.

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