The Threat To Freedom Of Speech Comes From Both Left And Right Sides
Who is the greater threat to free speech: President Donald Trump or campus radicals?
Left and right disagree furiously about this.
But it is the wrong question, akin to asking which of the two muggers currently assaulting you is leaving more bruises. What matters is that big chunks of both left and right are assaulting the most fundamental of liberties—the ability to say what you think. This is bad both for America and the world.
The outrages come so fast that it is easy to grow inured to them. The president of the United States calls truthful journalism “fake news” and reporters “enemies of the people”. In June, when a reporter from Time pressed him about the Mueller inquiry, he snapped, “You can go to prison,” justifying his threat by speculating that Time might publish a picture of a letter from Kim Jong Un he had just displayed.
Mr Trump cannot actually lock up reporters, because America’s robust constitution prevents him. But his constantly reiterated contempt for media freedom reassures autocrats in other countries that he will not stop them from locking up their own critics. On the contrary, when Saudi Arabia blatantly murdered Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, in its consulate in Istanbul last year, Mr Trump was quick to reassure the Saudi crown prince that this would not affect any oil or arms deals.